#Herofail Chapter 1

Chapter 01

I still hadn’t learned to fly.

For most people, that wasn’t unusual. Less than one percent of the population developed superpowers and among those that did, not many actually flew. And not everybody needed to fly, really. Contrary to popular belief, there were more useful powers out there.

But given that I was dangling from my fingertips off a rooftop more stories up than I cared to count, flying would have been stupidly helpful right about now.

If I could fly, this wouldn’t be happening. I wouldn’t have a supervillain chuckling his sparkly little head off across the roof. He’d surprised me with a concussive blast, and I hadn’t realized I was so close to the edge. I’d caught myself, but my startled reaction had unfortunately traveled back to the command center loud and clear.

And I also wouldn’t have two women absolutely losing it over my earpiece.

“What even was that noise?” Angélica Rocha asked. She sounded like she was wiping away tears, the jerk. Easy for her to laugh when she was chilling in an underground base hundreds of miles away.

“Hold, please,” I said through gritted teeth.

“Gail.” Jessie Davenport, who’d probably never let a single supervillain knock her off a roof, took over the line. “A note for the future: the Raptor does not say ‘ack.’”

“He surprised me!”

The supervillain called, “Who are you talking to?”

I almost rolled my eyes at him. He wanted to talk? A properly evil foe would’ve simply vaporized me where I dangled, or at least stomped viciously on my fingers. This guy only shuffled toward me. My ears picked up every nuance of the way his boots—polished to a mirror shine—tread on the gravel. I decided to stay put. At least he’d picked a nice night for supervillainy. Chicago was experiencing a mild October this year. The wind off the Lake wasn’t even that cutting yet.

“Are you still there?” he said, finally stepping into range.

I hauled myself up, lunging forward over the edge of the roof. My fist slammed into his jaw at just the right spot, and his body thudded onto the gravel.

Without at least a little invincibility, he needed better armor.

I crouched and took his ray gun, and clipped it to my own belt. He had a few nasty tricks in his satchel, explosives and the like, but the shiny outfit and the toys seemed to be all he had going for him as a supervillain. Sorry luck to run into me, the Raptor’s apprentice, on his first villainous foray.

I pulled a zip tie from my pouch and pressed a tracking beacon on the front of his helmet, which I left on as a measure of respect. Time for me to book it: in this neighborhood, it’d take less than ten minutes for the cops to get here.

Time to go. I strode to the edge of the building and hopped over the side. A split second later, my boots landed without a sound on the pavement below.

I couldn’t fly, but I wasn’t entirely without tricks.

I darted to my motorcycle, careful to stay out of sight. Not that it mattered: my uniform had been chosen for its lack of character. It caught the light in some shade between bronze, dark gray, and black, and served to be absolutely unmemorable. When I pulled my motorcycle helmet on, it looked like any other full bodysuit cyclists wore. Nobody on the road would have any idea how many thousands of dollars I was wearing, and how much R & D had been put into my outfit.

My mask split away under the helmet as I swung my leg over the bike. The data stream switched to the visor, displaying a list of the local dispatcher reports. I ignored that and kicked the bike into gear. Angélica would alert me if anything came up. Since she’d been my trainer and we’d faced death together multiple times, I trusted her.

That didn’t mean she liked to take it easy on me.

“I thought you said that would be a one-punch bad guy,” she said as I merged into traffic.

“I mean, he technically was,” I said. “It only took one hit once I got around to it. He wasn’t much of a villain.”

“He knocked you off a building.”

“Everybody gets in a lucky strike once in a while,” I said.

In response, she played my own voice back at me, which made me groan. I really had said “ack” when he’d hit me.

Best to let that one go, I decided. “Anything else in progress?” I asked.

“Nothing others can’t handle,” Angélica said. A pause followed, and I imagined she was conferring with Jessie. “The boss is heading home. Go ahead and patrol.”

Patrolling meant driving around waiting for a supervillain to attack. Kind of boring, but also relaxing in its own way. It hadn’t always been like that. Before I’d been dosed with a radioactive isotope and turned superhuman, I’d have given anything for some relaxing boredom. Days had consisted of waking before the sun, working long hours at a job I hated, going home long after the sun had gone down, and falling into bed. Lather, rinse, repeat—with occasional bouts of pants-wetting terror mixed in as every supervillain passing through Chicago tried their hand at kidnapping me.

And years later, here I was, actively looking for those same supervillains. Patrolling for them, even.

Back then, they’d been after me because they thought I was dating Blaze, Chicago’s main superhero. I hadn’t even known his true identity, and had told them so repeatedly. Not that they cared. The kidnappings had been unfair, but the media had been even worse. They’d stopped using my real name and had dubbed me Hostage Girl instead, demoting me to a cheap human-interest headline. Like I actually was a superhero, only with the world’s lamest powers. Unfortunately, the name had stuck. I was so famous for being publicly kidnapped that people to this day ran through traffic to walk on the other side of the street if they saw me approaching.

“The police picked up the Ack-Man,” Angélica said, breaking into my reverie as I drove along the river.

“Let’s not make that his name.”

“Too late. It’s already logged. He’s in custody, they’re taking him in.”

“Hurrah, the day is saved,” I said. “Hopefully he’ll take the humiliation as a sign that he should pick any other path but villainy and not as inspiration to kick off a vengeance quest.”

“It could go either way at this point. Speaking of excitement, there’s a new dispatch. Something’s going down at the aquarium.”

Blue words scrolled across the corner of my visor. It took only a glance before I bit back a laugh. “I guess that’s for me,” I said. “Nobody else is around to interfere, right? She gets testy if that happens.”

“I’ll warn them off.” Angélica’s voice darkened as details from her monitor joined the feed in my visor. Nothing surprising: one hostage, one villain in purple and red, at least three traps (two of them explosive). The villain in question had brought along a portable spotlight. She had the hostage dangling in some kind of spider web-rope contraption from the trees in front of the aquarium.

Rather than scoping out the situation or preparing weapons, I parked in the visitors lot and made my way through the fleeing crowd—tourists—and the ambling crowd—locals—toward the building. Behind a low wall, I shucked the rest of the armor, stripping to the yoga pants and tank top I wore underneath. Even Chicago residents used to the lake’s wintry ire would side-eye the outfit, but I wasn’t cold. The Mobium in my system saw to that.

“What’s the plan?” Angélica said as I fitted my earpiece back in and shouldered the backpack now holding my uniform.

“I don’t need a plan.”

“You should have a plan.”

“Please. She’s like a pussycat.”

“I don’t—” Angélica broke off in obvious frustration. “Fine. Do it your way. It’s your call.”

“I’ll let you know if I need backup.” I trotted toward the front of the aquarium, staying Lakeward because I liked the city lights flickering off the surface.

She’d prepared for our encounter, I saw. An arrow pointing the wrong way had BAD GUYS THAT WAY painted on the sidewalk in shimmering green chalk beside it. I gave the sign a wide berth and continued on.

Around the corner, green luminescent paint covered the entire sidewalk, enshrouding everything in a faint glow. It had been splashed onto the trees, benches, trash cans, and the little awning for visitors outside the front doors. I hoped it wouldn’t be difficult for the city workers to clean up. Or cancerous, really.

In the middle of the tableau was the hostage. He’d been trussed up, ropes wrapped around his torso and suspended from a tree, dangling horizontally a good ten feet off the ground. Red marred one of his temples, darker than his hair, making my heart jolt. But when he lifted his head and raised an eyebrow at me, he didn’t seem to be in any pain.

I smiled and gave him a little wave. “Hi, Guy.”

My boyfriend, six foot four, the strongest man in Chicago, and currently hanging from a tree like a helpless kitten, gave me a look that clearly said we would be discussing this later.

I opened my mouth to reply, but the concrete planter to my left exploded. I dodged a chunk of granite the size of my head, cursing. Plaster dust plumed, filling the air and glittering as it settled into the glowing paint.

“It’s about time!” a familiar voice called.

My ears rang from the explosion, making the words sound tinny and far away, but I ducked forward. Rocket boots soared over my head, singeing the hair on the back of my neck. Their owner landed, skidding over the green goo, and spun around to jab a finger in my direction. “Did you take the long way? We’ve been waiting for hours!”

It had probably been ten minutes, at best. “I was in class,” I lied, since the backpack and casual clothes made me look like a student. “What do you expect?”

“I expect battles.” Razor X, premier supervillain, drew herself up to her not-very-impressive-yet-still-taller-than-me height and flicked her half cape over her shoulder with a practiced move.

It flopped right back down. Overhead and out of her line of sight, Guy rolled his eyes.

Raze aimed her ray gun at my chest. I hadn’t seen this one before, which was a little worrisome. “Why aren’t you wearing the armor I sent you?”

I’d never had the chance. Jessie had absconded with the armor down to her workshop. I hadn’t seen it again, though my own armor had mysteriously improved not long after. But I couldn’t tell Raze that. “Because I’m not going to fight you,” I said instead.

“Ugh.” Raze whined and tapped a button on her gauntlet. I immediately braced for whatever she might throw my way, but a spotlight kicked on instead. Guy squinted miserably against it.

“Is that necessary?” I asked.

Raze waved her arms about. “You should be mad! I kidnapped your boyfriend and I held him as a hostage. You hate it when hostages get involved. He’s helpless. Fight me!”

A muscle flexed in Guy’s jaw, but he stayed put.

I folded my arms over my chest and simply stared at Raze. “What have we talked about?”

Raze stomped her foot.

“Raze,” I said. It’d be handy to know her full name for a proper scold, but in the year we’d been “dedicated enemies” (her words, not mine), I hadn’t gleaned much more than a few gun and armor designs from her, and the fact that she liked raspberries and lemons. “What have we talked about?”

Her glare deepened, but eventually her shoulders sagged, her cape rippling at the movement. “I need to stop kidnapping Boy.”

“His name is—”

“Guy. I know. I need to stop kidnapping Guy.”

“This is the second time this month. Go on, let him down,” I said.

Raze kept her arms crossed over her chest for a long, considering moment, a pout firmly in place. I blinked, and her entire demeanor shifted. “Sure thing,” she said.

“Razor-whatever-your-middle-name-is-X, don’t you—”

She gleefully disintegrated the rope holding Guy up.

I put on a burst of speed and dashed across the courtyard. Catching Guy was pretty awkward since he was so much bigger than me, but I could cushion the blow somewhat. Not that falling from that height would hurt him, but Raze didn’t know that.

Freed from the ropes, he yanked the duct tape off. “I’ve told you a thousand times I’m not going to scream,” he said to Raze. “You don’t have to use the tape.”

“But it’s my favorite.” Now that Guy was on his feet, Raze looked like somebody had taken her favorite death ray away. “You know, we wouldn’t have to go through this if somebody would just be a damn hero for once and fight me.”

“Any other hobby,” I said, an old refrain. “Any other hobby we could pick up together, and I’m in. We could take a ceramics class and make things for you to shoot with your guns.”

For a second, she looked tempted, but the sulk settled back into place. “No thanks. It’s called fight or flight for a reason. If there’s no fight, I take flight.”

And true to her word, she took off on her rocket boots, streaking toward the skyline and leaving the mess splashed all over the aquarium steps. I really hoped it wasn’t dangerous to the fish inside.

Scowling, Guy ran both hands through his hair, making it stand up in spiky red tufts. He swiveled to face me. “Don’t even start.”

I couldn’t help it. I looked at him and the giggles overflowed.

“You’re a terrible girlfriend,” he said.

“She’s half your size! And you could flick your finger and—pow, she’d go flying. But—” I broke off laughing. After another minute of scowling, Guy finally shook his head and smiled. “Sorry,” I said. “I know, I know, it’s not really that funny, but if she only knew. What’s that on your head? There’s no way she could’ve hit you hard enough to draw blood.”

“Mango barbecue sauce.” He gave me an aggrieved look when I reached out to brush it out. “My hair’s all sticky. It’s awful.”

“You just happened to have that on you?”

“Since I was eating when she grabbed me, I did!” The aggravation only deepened. “She didn’t let me finish my sandwich.”

“That’s probably what he’s most upset about,” Angélica said in my ear, speaking up for the first time since I’d seen Raze. “And with good reason. He doesn’t have any more of those sandwiches, does he?”

I relayed this message on to Guy, who shrugged. “Take me back to the restaurant? I’ll make up a few for her.”

“He’s now my favorite,” Angélica said to me. “You’ve been demoted.”

“Please, he was always your favorite.” I toggled off my mic and turned to Guy. “Angélica’s probably already got the cleanup crew en route. We should scoot. Are you sure you have to go back?”

“Raze snatched me on my break. I’ve still got a couple hours left on my shift.”

I grimaced. Raze had been a repeat kidnapper back in my Hostage Girl days. Little had I known that she’d been doing so in hopes that I would develop superpowers and become her rival. In her mind, we were destined to be the next Fearless and Raptor. She was half-right, though she had no idea. The day I’d shown up in prison (wrongfully convicted) with superpowers had probably been one of the greatest days in Raze’s life. Since then, she’d done everything short of standing outside my apartment with a boom box held aloft to convince me to fight her. And when that hadn’t worked, she’d escalated to hostage taking. As Guy was the only one she’d ever seen me with, that made him a target. Which, if he’d been a regular human, might have been alarming.

Since he was the former superhero Blaze, it was more of a nuisance than anything else. And a real role reversal from our Hostage Girl days, though Raze didn’t know that either.

“Maybe I should just fight her,” I said as we headed for the parking lot.

“You give her an inch . . .” Guy shook his head. In addition to the barbecue sauce on his temple, he had a streak of something orange-red across one shoulder of his chef’s tunic. “How late are you patrolling?” he asked me.

“Until Angélica gives me the all clear. So much for hoping that Jessie would let me off early for the briefing tomorrow.” The official superhero emergency response briefing, called the Hero Emergency Connection—how X stood for Connection I didn’t know—was scheduled for 6 a.m. the next morning, east coast time. That meant 5 a.m. for me and 3 a.m. for my unfortunate west coast brethren. “What about you?”

“Lowry will probably ask me to stay late.”

I paused by the bike and chewed on my lower lip. Thanks to his redhead complexion, I could see the smudges of exhaustion under his eyes. Superhero invincibility didn’t necessarily come equipped with the ability to fight ordinary fatigue. “You could go home and get some sleep, you know,” I said.

But Guy shook his head. “I need to finish out my shift.”

“It’s one shift, Guy—”

“I need to be there,” Guy said. Not harshly, but firmly enough that I took a slight step back. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed at himself. “Sorry. But we’re serving flounder tonight, and he may be the master at it, but it makes Lowry grumpy. It’s better if I’m there.”

I looked down, ostensibly to open the compartment and retrieve the helmet, but really to hide my frown. “Want to drive?”

Guy took the helmet. “You sure? I thought Jessie had rules about who drives the bike.”

“She’s not here, and like my esteemed trainer and compatriot, she likes you more than she likes me.”

“In that case.” Guy strapped the helmet on and offered me a hand as he climbed onto the bike. “Thought you’d never ask.”

I gave him a smile and leaned against him while he drove away from the Lake. The minute I knew he was more focused on driving, I let the smile drop. The Mobium in my system had honed my senses to the point where I could hear somebody’s heartbeat or check the dilation of their pupils, if I chose. My brain could sort out any number of stimuli most humans ignored. In the field, it sped up reaction times and sharped my fighting skills. In my personal life, I wished I could turn it off.

Sometimes it sucked to know when people were lying.

When I was trying to get to the bottom of some mystery? Incredibly helpful. When it was my boyfriend and I couldn’t figure out the severity of the lies? Not so much.

I didn’t mention it when I dropped him off at the restaurant. An old fear nibbled at the back of my throat. Guy’s strange behavior could have been any number of things, most of them harmless. He’d retired from superheroism the year before to follow his dreams and become a chef. Though he hadn’t actually said anything, I had the suspicion that climbing the culinary ladder was more difficult than he let on most nights.

But why not simply tell me that? Why act like he had some kind of secret, if that was the case?

Guy pulled into the fire lane behind the restaurant and swung one of his ridiculously long legs off the bike. “Coming in?”

“If this thing gets towed, Jessie’ll have my head,” I said, taking the helmet from him. I glanced toward the doors. “Last chance to ditch, Bookman. I bet Angélica would cover for me if I decided to play hooky, too.”

“I really wish I could,” Guy said, and at least that felt genuine. So did the grin he shared as he scrubbed at the barbecue sauce on his temple. “But the two of us calling off work at the same time? That’s practically begging for a supervillain uprising. We’d better not risk it.”

“Once again, your logical side wins out.” I batted my eyelashes at him. “Your loss.”

For a second, he paused, then ruefully shook his head. “Stay here, I’ll get the sandwiches.”

I let the bike idle, hoping the silence on the comms meant that all the criminals in Chicago and New York City had maybe decided to call it an early night so I could go home and get enough sleep before the HEX meeting.

I should have known better than to even think it. Ten seconds later, my comms beeped. “Yeah?” I asked, toggling my mic back on.

“A friend of yours showed up in Battery Park,” Angélica said. “I bet you’re dying to catch up.”

“Of course I am.” So much for an early night.

The door to the restaurant swung open, haloing Guy with light from the kitchen for a brief second as he jogged out with carryout boxes in a plastic bag. “Can you at least stay and chat while you eat?”

“I wish I could,” I said, rising up on tiptoes to give him a quick kiss, “but as it stands, danger calls. I’ll see you later. Angélica, I’m on my way.”

And, sandwiches safely tucked away, I drove off in the night to fight another supervillain.

Tuesday Thoughts: Unpacking Rogue

Hey, all!

I was gonna write a list of my favorite superheroes today and what I like about them, but it’s obvious who I love. I have a type. And a not-too-great history with comics (they’re difficult for me to read and follow). There are great swaths of the superhero universe left undiscovered for me. I could list fifty superheroes and get comments in the vein of “But what about X?” and then I’ll realize, oh wait! I love X, too! How could I have forgotten X???ª

Also boring? Head to head battles between heroes on the same side. My favorite way of answer to the worn out question of “Who would win in a fight, Superhero Woman A or Superhero Woman B?” is “The patriarchy.” Because it’s true. That’s who wins. Pitting two minority communities against each other to fight for the tiniest sliver of pie while the patriarchy enjoys multiple fat slices to themselves? That’s just history repeating itself ad nauseum.§

So no ranked superhero list from me. Instead I wanna talk about Rogue.

Yes, that’s right. Rogue. The reason you’re here on my blog reading my stuff, even though you have no idea that’s the case. † Two-toned hair, a southern accent, and a deft-but-deadly touch.

Between tenth and eleventh grade, X-Men hit theaters. I saw it at least five times in theaters itself. I had posters. I had folders. I spent time daydreaming about it. I still listen to Logan and Rogue from the soundtrack as part of most of my writing playlists (there’s just a part where the music picks up that I adore).

It was clear to me—and hoo boy did this ever prove not to be the case, THANKS RATNER—that this was a great origin story for Rogue and for Wolverine. I never shipped them, but I liked their parallel arcs. And as a kid, I was obsessed with the movie Fly Away Home, basically ensuring that I hopped on the Anna Paquin fan train early and stayed there. My mom can probably quote that movie from start to finish just because I wore out our VHS tape of it.

Anyway, in X-Men, Rogue is…well, she’s a damsel in distress. But I was always okay with that because frankly, she’s a kid who had a horrible thing happen to her and she didn’t have the power or coping skills to fight back against the super powerful villains intent on using her for their apocalyptic plan. It was easy to imagine myself in her place. I wouldn’t know how to deal with that, either. In the end, she was saved by somebody willing to sacrifice himself so she could live and I liked that, too.

X2 built on it even more. Rogue is still a teenager, so young and powerless in a lot of societal ways, but she’s grown more confident. And we see her use her abilities in this movie to help save the day. She’s grown! She’s on the trajectory that I would expect her to take, given that by this point, I’ve done my research. I’ve gone and watched the old cartoons I loved as a kid, I went and found comic panels of her online. I knew how powerful she could be, and X2 showed those powers nicely.

And then X3 happened. How bad is X3? Well, canonically, it’s so bad that it killed X-men movies set in that era for YEARS and then they had to use time travel to completely undo its events. X3 burned its towns and villages and salted the earth even as it shot itself in the foot repeatedly. X3 killed my love for X-men movies, and that love has never returned.

And X3 did Rogue SO dirty. So, so dirty.

Rogue’s powers have always been a disability, even while they offer the opportunity for great power. For somebody robbed of a moral compass, they would be amazing! Not being able to share the simplest touch with somebody without draining their life force? Great for villainy, shit for every day interaction. And Rogue, obviously, is not soulless or amoral, so her powers work as a preventative measure against villains she can touch and that’s it.

Traditionally, comics have come up with workarounds so that Rogue can function semi-normally. X3, however, straight up offered an opportunity for her to be rid of those powers. And when Rogue, who has not been made powerful or been given the workarounds from the comics, jumps at the opportunity to be able to touch somebody again without killing them, she is shamed for it by Storm and by her boyfriend.

Readers, I nearly blacked out with fury.

First of all, I was pissed that they obviously didn’t care enough to give me the powerful, ass-kicking Rogue I knew from the comics and cartoonsƒ. And secondly, I was outraged on her behalf. She can’t touch people without killing them. How many times does she have to say that? For years she’s wandered around in full coverage outfits, probably touch-starved to hell and back. How utterly lacking in empathy do you have to be to see how miserable that is??? I’ve read some great discourse on how this is a great analogy for fights that happen in disability rights communities, and I can definitely see that. But I was just angrier that I wasn’t getting the Rogue who could fly and zap and superhero her way around. My wants are simple. I wanted the potential of what fifteen-year-old me saw in that first X-men movie to become true.

So eventually I ended up writing it myself. I’m not saying everything I write is motivated by spite. Only, like, 63% of it. Gail’s main influence will always be Lois Lane, but I can’t deny, there’s a whole hell of a lot of my feelings about Rogue mixed in there, too. And quite a lot of that fifteen-year-old me who went to the theater multiple times and hung up posters in her room and dreamed about what Rogue could be, even if it took me awhile to figure that out.

And hey, maybe someday they’ll do right by a cinematic Rogue.±

That’s all she wrote today, folks! Stay sexy!

ª ADHD. The answer to this is always ADHD.

§ Yes, I know we also do the same thing to Superman and Batman, pitting their powers against each other. But it feels different because we’re never in danger of not getting a Superman or a Batman movie because we already had one of the other and it didn’t do so well. That’s a constant danger with female- and superheroes of color.

† Or you didn’t until you read that sentence.

ƒ Fun fact: she gets her powers from doing awful things to my #1 bae Carol Danvers so maybe I should be retroactively grateful for that!

± But I’m not gonna hold my breath. Or get into what Days of Future Past did in this post because I only have so many hours in the day.

It's All About the Gail

Hey all!

On Fridays as part of Fifty Days of Fail, I'm basically filling out one of those early aughts email profiles we used to love back in the day. Obviously there are spoilers for SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS #1-3 in here, but there also might be some things you don't know about these crazy people who sprang fully formed from my head like living migraines. First up, we have Gail Godwin, the center of her (and my) universe!

Gail Olivia Godwin*

Hero name:
Hostage Girl, The Raptorlet


Superhero Apprentice, but for tax purposes she claims to be an admin

Any description in the book?
I've described her hair as curly, which is not fair to the character, as I have also never shown her struggling with this and any curly-haired person can tell you this is unrealistic. She's also very muscular, and has hazel-colored eyes.

My favorite thing about this character:
Everything? I like that she essentially plants herself in one place and forces the world about her to change. She's not going to make it easy for them, and she won't help them, either. Supervillains probably found her frustrating in her Hostage Girl days because rather than cower in fear, she treated them with unaffected and unrelenting sarcasm. It's fun to write a character who sticks to her guns, especially when I'm really not like that too much.

The most challenging aspect of this character:
See my previous answer. Gail is an inertia machine. If you plonk her somewhere, she will stay somewhere until there is a catalyst strong enough to force her to move. This catalyst typically involves dynamite, by the way. A lot of the time, I've had to resort to Gail being forced to act by other characters and by ticking time bombs. Once you get used to her, it's easy enough to figure out how to work around this, but writing SUPERVILLAINS ANONYMOUS was a nightmare.

How have they changed over the years?
Gail has gone through a total transformation over the last four books, which is a relief. If the opposite were true, they would be very terrible books--just saying. She started out as a woman perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop—which is understandable, as that other shoe usually kicked her ass when it did drop—and over the years, she's blossomed into her own. Being able to actually hit back and make a difference is a big part of that, but I think Gail owes a lot to the very patient people around her.

Dream actor:
Anna Kendrick. 100000% Anna Kendrick.

Authorial headcanons I've never shared about this character:
Not so much a headcanon but originally we were going to meet Gail's father and half-siblings, none of whom knew about her existence, and all of them would be part of Guy's world. But even though I wrote the first book living in the Hamptons, I really didn't like that lifestyle and Gail's father (and possibly other family) remains a mystery to this day. Not an important one, for her.

Favorite Quotes:
“Doing things the smart way is not in the Gail Godwin playbook.” - #Herofail, Chapter 13
Yeah because I had the luck of a one-leaf clover. - How to Save the World, Chapter 10

And that's all she wrote today, folks! See you back here on Monday for more Fifty Days of Fail, or you can follow along on my social media on the weekend!

Stay sexy!

* Gail's original middle name was Alexandria, but I picked that for a penname instead. Olivia is 100000000000000% after Olivia Dunham, light of my life.

Quotable Thursday (47 Days to Go!)

Hello, all!

As part of my #50DaysOfFail celebration, I’ll be posting some profiles, easter eggs, etc. On Thursdays, I plan to revisit previous books and out of sheer and complete vanity, list some of my favorite quotes from those books. Warning: they’re usually Gail sassing people. But without further ado, please enjoy these quotes from HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD. Um, spoilers, obviously.
I climbed out of the passenger seat. “Do I have a curfew, Mom?” I asked.
Jessie rolled her eyes. “Do your best not to end up in an inordinate amount of trouble.”
“So a moderate amount is okay, then?”
“Let’s go with ‘expected’ rather than ‘okay.’ Text me when you’re done.”
- Chapter 11

“Yeah, yeah. Give him the money, get the stuff. Deal with it when shit inevitably explodes,” I said.
The team leader gave me a look that said he was very used to dealing with superheroes and that he did not particularly enjoy his job.
Chapter 13

“I got out of Detmer so we could be enemies, Gail. I did that for us.” Raze’s lip quivered. She flipped her visor up to give me a pitiful look.
People made of sterner stuff than me would have crumpled under the pressure of those puppy dog eyes, even though the woman in the alley had personally put me in the hospital seventeen times. I reached out and gripped her shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “I know, and I’m sorry. Do you want to come over? I’m picking up Chinese.”
She brightened temporarily. “Can I poison it? I’ve got this new formula I’m working on, almost worked out the bugs with the projectile v—”
“Absolutely not,” I said.
- Chapter 1

“I find these files out in the open and you confirm that Mobius has been here, and then almost the same day, this guy decides to ransom Mobius? Did I somehow cause this?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” I said.
“You love me, and you know it,” Naomi said.
- Chapter 9

“Some days I’m tempted to become a supervillain just to go back [to Detmer].”
“You’d be terrible at it. For somebody so small, you’re just brimming with really stupid feelings.”
- Chapter 7

I flicked through the magazine I’d brought until I found an article that would make Jeremy grind his teeth were he awake. “Time to wake up, buddy,” I said. “Or you’re going to hear all about what this article on perfecting smoky eye has to say. And trust me, it’s a doozy. I think they paid the writer by the word.”
- Chapter 19

See you tomorrow for the first profile. I bet you’ll never guess who it is!

Stay sexy!

48 Days to Go!

As a follower to the blog, as part of my #50DaysofFail, you get a tiny bit more than my Twitter followers do on BookQW!

Angélica would alert me if anything came up. Since she’d been my trainer and we’d faced death together multiple times, I trusted her.

That didn’t mean she liked to take it easy on me. “I thought you said that would be a one-punch bad guy,” she said as I merged into traffic.

“I mean, he technically was,” I said. “It only took one hit once I got around to it. He wasn’t much of a villain.”

“He knocked you off a building.”

“Everybody gets in a lucky strike once in a while,” I said.

In response, she played my own VOICE back at me, which made me groan. I really had said “ack” when he’d hit me.

Best to let that one go, I decided.
48 days to #Herofail!!!! #50DaysOfFail

Stay sexy!


Hey, all!

So in 49 days, #HEROFAIL will hit e-shelves and the thing I am terrible about as an author is promotion. So I’ve decided to break it up from the two gigantic things I promise myself to do and instead I’m doing 50 days of small stuff.

Otherwise known as FIFTY DAYS OF FAIL GAIL.

That’s right! For the next 50 days, there’ll be a little bit about Gail, her friends, the new book, the old books. Book Quote Wednesdays, character profiles, excerpts, online giveaways, and the first three chapters! You’ll be able to follow it here on my blog, on my Lexie FB page, on my Twitter timeline, or by tracking the #50DaysofFail hashtag on Twitter.

Today, however, I can only share my joy in the Captain Marvel trailer finally being released. I have been waiting for this moment since October 28, 2014, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the final leg of our journey together. So let us watch, and let us revel, in the Captain Marvel trailer:

Until I see you again (tomorrow):
Stay sexy!

The Final Stretch

So when I was thirteen and fourteen, I was on a canoe racing team. Hashtag relatable, I know. It was through Girl Scouts and we met at a campsite every Sunday and raced laps around a lake in preparation of the General Clinton Canoe Regatta. You were either bow or stern and each spot had its jobs. Stern was in charge of steering, bow kept a look out for dangers up ahead, etc.

The two best events of the year were thus:

The camping weekend where we were dropped off on Friday and picked up Sunday night and in between, we had to pass a swimming test, learn how to portage, successfully empty and right a canoe that had been overturned in the water, and do things like paint the canoe trailer. Everybody stayed in a giant cabin on the campgrounds and we all listened to our coach, Cecil, tell us the tale of the Jersey Devil (to this day, my favorite cryptid). Important detail: the campground was in the middle of the Pine Barrens.

The big race up in upstate New York where we stayed on campgrounds and put on lavish demonstrations of animosity towards our biggest rivals. This included a very long lecture from Cecil about the drunks we would encounter on the river. Upon arriving in New York, a member of each crew was selected to go down the river, in order to be familiar with its hazards.

The hazards are the important thing to bring up. My race involved three segments. We were the last leg of the relay, which meant we crossed the finish line for our team after five miles of having nobody but each other (and we did not get along). Right before the finish line, there was a giant, open space where the crowd could see us coming.

That space also contained a wind tunnel. So after five miles of arguing, our muscles tired, throat aching from counting, neck and neck with the other racers, we had to fight through the wind to reach the end. It. Was. Brutal.

Right now, I feel like I’m back in that wind tunnel.

#HEROFAIL will be on e-shelves on November 6th, 2018. It’s a book that’s more than a year behind deadline due to illness, anxiety, bad luck, writer’s block, and editor woes (though I’ve worked with some very lovely people and consider it an honor). It’s a story that constantly causes me to teeter back and forth between love and absolute loathing. Some days I call it a masterpiece (vanity, thy name is author) and other days it makes me doubt my very existence.

Currently, I’m on my final edits. Apart from some copy-editing, I won’t touch the book again and then you’ll see the finished product in November. Chapters 1-3 will be on the website starting on my birthday (because I can do that) and then throughout October. I’m not having issues letting go of it for once. I’m actually super happy to hand it over and dust off my hands and return to another project1.

SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS began on November 1st, 2008. It was a way to distract myself from a job I hated and to make myself feel powerful. As a series, it will end 10 years and 1 week later. Here is a spoiler: it does not end on a cliffhanger. My goal was to give this book—and its series—a proper ending. I can see that finish line in sight. I am excited to reach it, and when I get there, I hope whatever melancholy I feel about walking away from Gail Godwin and her glorious adventures will be vast outstripped by a sense of pride and happiness in what I’ve accomplished.

I just have to get through the rest of this wind tunnel first. And hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side.

Stay sexy,

PS - This week's #bookqw cracks me up so I'm sharing it here.

1 - On September 1st, I am embarking on a project called Shitty Book September (+October) where I am giving myself permission to write the worst book possible. I'm really tired of high standards, guys. It's 1230 words a day and they don't have to be good words. Feel free to come along.

This post is literally just about my pets


So it's been like eight months since I updated here, as my sister Grace just pointed out to me. She's actually hanging out in my office with me—not something she usually does—because in the last few months some changes have happened in the Dunne household.

And both of those changes have four legs. One lives in my office under a heatlamp and the other likes to sleep in my office under my feet.

First up, meet Darcy Lewis Dunne, a five-year-old pit bull who once went by the name Goose.

She's a rescue that we brought home in April in hopes of providing some companionship for Nikki. Unlike Cindy, Nikki does not seem to fear her. It's more of....a tolerate. Darcy is happiest when sleeping on or near a human and her love of naps really allows her to fit in around here.

She thinks she's a lap dog
Our newest addition is much more recent. Our cousins are moving to Germany for a couple years and didn't want to take their eight-year-old bearded dragon with them. So now we have...Axel. Who I call Lizard.

How YOU doin'?
Axel has been the source of so much Googling over the past three weeks. Thankfully herp enthusiasts—that's what they call themselves—are plentiful and very helpful to each other online, making it very easy for a first-time owner to panic a little less. Care of Axel has fallen squarely into the hands of my siblings as no way in hell am I touching a superworm. We learned this the hard way when my sister accidentally flung one at me and I screamed.

Sleepy Axel

We've been feeding him worms and carrots and grapes, so he gets a much healthier diet than I do. Plus a lot more sunlight. He makes for a good office buddy; while I write, he skitters about or stares at me in judgment. Which are the two things I think all readers of the Superheroes Anonymous series do, really, so it's nice that he's preparing me.

And of course, there's always this one. Who wants you to know she loves you.

Just kidding. Nikki hates everything.

An Unranked list of 17 Good Things that Happened in 2017 Because It Seems Necessary

Nikki from 2011 Enjoying Some Snow and Sticking Her Tongue Out At You, You're Welcome

Hey, all!

I'm not doing an Accomplishments post this year because, frankly, I didn't accomplish all that much. I had the publishing date for my book pushed back twice, once due to illness and the other due to my own issues. My word count for the year, which typically averages out to 1k per day, is down to less than 100 words per day. And things are a little scary for people in my position right now, so I decided to focus on the positives. So without further ado, 17 That Didn't Suck about 2017!

1. Joined a D&D game DM’d by the marvelous ShinyKari, where I got to play a gnomish artificer with a “thunder cannon” named Matilda (she has a spare named Miss Honey). This also led to getting to play a mechanical tiger named Cooper Steadman, and is a highlight for the year 2017.

2. Bought a house. That was pretty cool.

3. Set up an office with a bitchin’ accent wall.

4. Got rid of a gallbladder that caused a lot of pain since 2015.

5. Spent a really marvelous day in Chicago with Christina Henry, where I learned both about Chicago architecture and how to play games like Fluxx. Am considering retiring from Fluxx having never lost.

6. Visited the Santa Monica Pier and the Time Travel store with my uncle and grandmother. Am now the proud owner of a pen that transform a caveman into a robot and really, you can’t beat that.

7. Ate In’N’Out.

8. Bought an Instant Pot, which is a magical device. The best thing about it is now I can decide if I want to make soup on the same night rather than having to wait at least four hours for stock to be done (I can’t have store-bought).

9. My very good friend drove all the way from New Jersey to watch the eclipse with me in front of a McDonald’s in St. Clair, MO—which is a very “we live in the consumerist future oh god oh god” sentence, if you think about it.

10. Watched The Good Place.

11. Watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

12. Got to see the cast of Dark Matter in person and ask them questions that I hope weren’t inane. (we’re not going to talk about Dark Matter’s cancellation)

13. All those times Nikki flopped down next to me and used my ankle as a pillow, really.

14. Watched Wonder Woman.

15. Watched The Last Jedi.

16. Watched Thor: Ragnarok.

17.  Got to see the cast of Wynonna Earp in person and was honestly too starstruck to ask them questions, so I don’t have to worry about whether they were inane or not. #SilverLining

Loads of other amazing stuff happened this year that I'll remember just as soon as I hit publish, for sure. But in the meantime, people should leave me comments about the awesome things they did. Let's end this year right, even if everything's on fire.

Stay sexy!

Returning from the Half-Dead

Hey, all!

How’s everybody doing? Well? Good-ish? I know it’s Monday, which is universally the most hated day of the week, but I thought I’d check in. I just woke up because I’m on Day 5 of recovery from surgery, but I’m feeling up to sitting at my desk and working, so I thought I’d stop in and check on the blog, which has been super neglected of late.

The reason for that being that ever since I bought a house, I’ve been pretty sick. I started getting horrible stomach- and backaches in the end of February that I attributed to a bad diet while I didn’t have a kitchen. Between my day job, handling all the paperwork dealing with a new house, getting a second dog (she’s so cute, you guys) and writing, it’s been…stressful. Even better than that: it took me two full months to realize that my chronic fatigue wasn’t just me being lazy. I was actually, physically, completely exhausted (and not a failure).

Just like it took two months to get a diagnosis on what was hurting me. Luckily, once we had a diagnosis, things moved quickly: a week later, I went under the knife. It was an outpatient surgery that involved sedatives and anesthesia, and I have huge gaps in my memory. I don’t even remember being wheeled out of my waiting room or saying bye to my parents before the surgery, or what I talked about to the nurses on the way to the operating room.1 The first two days weren’t exactly fun, but I prefer the incision pain to the gallstone pain by about a thousand percent. Now it’s Day 5, I’m off the ice pack and even better I’m drinking my first Dr Pepper since March 5.

It’s such a sweet, sweet nectar of life, you guys. I have missed this.

Now that I have more energy, I can make other announcements! I posted about my friend Dan Koboldt’s second book coming out, and you definitely should check out that post and go give Dan some love on Twitter. The second book is such a special experience.

But the first book is truly magical, which is why I’m so goshdang proud to mention that my friend Susan Mann’s first book The Librarian and the Spy will be out tomorrow. She sent me a copy and I can promise this is a great book with funny, heartwarming characters and a great and hilarious plot. It got me through the first couple of days after surgery. Susan’s a good friend of mine: we’ve been writing buddies from our (mumble mumble) days. Watching her take the leap to write her first novel, getting an agent, and getting published has been one of the most legitimately cool things I will ever get to witness. Like Dan, you should throw her some love on Twitter. She’s got a cute puppy named Lucy, and she’s one of the wittiest people I know, you won’t regret it.2

Oh, right, speaking of new books—did you know that I’m writing a fourth SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS book and that it’ll be available either late this year or early next year? That’s right! More Gail! AND you can already pre-order it. I’m so excited to return to Gail and Guy’s lives and ruin the completely. Everybody’s coming back in this book! More Angélica, more Kiki, more Jeremy, more villains, more evil masterminds, more…superhero history? Whaaaat? Gail’s terrible at school, but we’ll see how she does as the newest student of the first superhero (spoiler: probably not well). So make sure to preorder your copy of GAIL 4: THE GAILENING3 on your favorite e-store!

Speaking of which, I’d better get to work, eh? How’s tricks, everybody? Catch me up in the comments! I’ve got another week off work and would love to talk!

Stay sexy!

1Given that the first thing the nurse asked me when I was shaking off the effects of anesthesia was to spell my penname and tell her about my books, I DO have an idea about what I might have talked about.
2 Susan’s the witty one. Lucy might be witty, too, actually, come to think of it.
3 Title pending. It’s hard to follow up a title like HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD because that one’s…a little grandiose.