“Impossibility is a Kiss Away From Reality.”

I first heard about Sense8 a couple of weeks before it aired on Netflix. Instantly, I was intrigued: a story about eight different people, all over the world, who become psychically linked in some way, who can share thoughts and abilities and even their own bodies with one another, eight people who are also somehow one. I thought it sounded fascinating.

Then reviews started to trickle in and they were . . . mixed, at best. Critics didn’t seem to like it at all, complaining that the show was slow, muddled, and confusing. At the same time, my Twitter feed was blowing up with mad love for Sense8, praising their in-depth, complex characters, particularly their multiple queer characters.

I figured, Well, there’s only one way to find out for yourself.

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Overall, I agree more with the Twitter folks than the critics.

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2015 Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week One Update

Current Project: Untitled Fantasy/Murder Mystery Novel
Current Pitch: Pinocchio meets In the Heat of The Night. Plus Practical Magic.

Epic Romance: Begins on page 1
First Death: 17 pages in
Exposition Fairy: Busy as a motherfucker

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Simon’s Sleeping” – Pretty Balanced

Goal Met: Yes

Well, we’re one week in, and I’m already having writer’s regret. So, that’s healthy.

So far, I have one prologue and one (pretty short) chapter completed. The prologue doesn’t count for anything — I wrote the first draft of that months ago and polished it up a bit last week. And the prologue’s actually longer than the first chapter, which probably isn’t a great sign. Then again, the first chapter is really just a short introduction and a handful of exposition before a dead body pops up to kick off the mystery. You probably don’t want that chapter to be too long, right? Right?

Here’s what I’ve determined/reaffirmed this week:

A. Opening sentences are bullshit.

B. I really hated describing scenery, so I absolutely went the right direction by choosing to write a second-world fantasy.

C. I’m drawing from a lot — a lot — of fairy tales and fairy tale tropes, but I don’t particularly want my world to resemble, like, Medieval Europe (or worse, Hollywood’s all white, all the time Medieval Europe). Partially because 90% of fantasy looks like that anyway, and partially because my voice is rather, well, distinct — and part of that distinction is the fact that I’m pretty American. I can cut some of the Californian if I work at it (even though a sentence clearly isn’t a sentence at all if it doesn’t have at least one ‘like’ in it), but if I try to thee and thou it, I’m done. So instead, I’m trying to work with the American, not just in language but in geography and government and religion. I don’t know if I want states, but I’m interested in territories. I definitely want dragons, but I’m not so sure about castles. I want to play with melting pot/salad bowl theory without being a total clueless asshole. It’s a work in progress.

D. I haven’t quite figured out my detective’s voice yet, but I figure I’ll get there. Probably before I figure out how to describe a sunset, anyway. (It’s, like, pretty? There are colors and stuff? Godamn scenery.)

Finally, your moment of zen random line from Chapter One:

“Fire couldn’t melt stone. It had to work hard to crack glass, but paper — paper surrendered. Paper crumpled to ash.”

(Please don’t comment to tell me that stone can be melted at a high enough temperature. I know. I can’t remember a damn thing I learned in any of my science classes, but I can still Google like a pro.)

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“You’ve Got To Laugh. Otherwise, You’re Gonna Go Nuts, Man.”

The Plan: Watch Lawrence of Arabia with dinner.

The Flaw: . . . wait, HOW long is it?

The Options: We could be good and continue forward with our nearly four-hour Oscar-winning epic, or we could watch that terrible looking horror movie on Netflix.

The Inevitable Conclusion?

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The funny thing is that Don’t Blink turned out to be a surprisingly decent low-budget thriller. Right up until the completely lackluster ending, that is.

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Belated Thoughts — Game of Thrones Season Five Finale

I wasn’t planning to post my reactions to Game of Thrones’s fifth season finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” but then . . . well, I just had to.

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BIG TIME SPOILERS AHEAD

So, fifth season . . . not my favorite. I’ve liked plenty of scenes here and there, and in some ways, I actually think it’s improved on the books — Daenerys’s storyline, for instance, may be a bit dull right now, but it’s still so much more interesting than “Annoying Dany and Her Endless Parade of Potential Lovers” from A Dance With Dragons. Still, as a whole, I’ve been disappointed this year, and overall the season finale only made things worse.

Taking each storyline one by one:

1. Because I’ve read A Dance With Dragons, I knew — among other things — that Jon was going to get stabbed to shit, and it’s a great way to end the season. Adding Benjen Stark to the Previously On Survivor Section was a really clever misdirect. I was like, “Holy shit, is the show actually going to do something with Benjen? That’s amazing. We’re finally going to prove or disprove so many fan theories!” And then that Little Shit Ollie is like, “Hey, we have news about your uncle!” and I’m like, “You total bastards. That’s brilliant.”

Now, I’ve never thought Jon was permanently dead, not once. This is partially because we still haven’t revealed Jon’s true parentage in the books or TV show, and partially because everybody who doesn’t get decapitated in the books comes back to life. Of course, Game of Thrones has famously (and frustratingly) not resurrected characters that came back to life in the books, but it’s an awfully big coincidence that a priestess who can bring people back from the dead and is almost certainly suffering a religious crisis now that her messiah is (maybe) dead has arrived at the Wall just in time for a major player to get murdered. I would honestly be surprised if Melisandre doesn’t bring Jon Snow back. (Also, when exactly did she leave?)

2. Davos, though. His face when he hears about Shireen: SO SAD. (Although I’d like him to enact bloody revenge when he finds out how Shireen died, preferably after Melisandre raises Jon from the dead.)

3. So, this is what I’ve learned: whether in the books or movies, the Battle of Winterfell is disappointing as shit. In the books, it’s disappointing because you’re waiting a thousand pages for that fucker, only for it to never happen. In the show, it’s disappointing because Game of Thrones clearly blew their battle budget back in Episode 8 and couldn’t show the total annihilation of Stannis’s forces.

On one hand, I actually love that a bunch of mercenaries were like, “Uh, how about we not fight for a dude who’s so fucking crazy he burns his own daughter alive.” I mean, that’s just common sense right there. Plus, it’s great that Stannis’s big sacrifice to win the battle is actually what lost him the battle. That’s excellent and no more than he deserves, that unbelievable dick.

On the other hand . . . seriously, ALL SEASON you’re waiting for something you don’t even get to see. Maybe if we at least got a long, bloody montage of Stannis’s men being butchered to, like, sweeping Lord of the Rings music or something, but as is, I was really underwhelmed.

4. If anyone deserves a gratuitously violent on-screen death, it’s Stannis . . . which makes the cut-away that much more annoying. I’m rarely a big fan of the dramatic “did-you-kill-him” cut-away, as 99.8% of the time it means “no, no, you didn’t.” I suspect that Brienne didn’t kill Stannis, that either someone comes up from behind to stop her, or that she decides not to kill him so he can help rescue Sansa or something. (No, I have no idea how that would even make sense.) But if that’s not the case, then screw you, show. I will not apologize for my bloodlust. I want to see Stannis die HARD. I’d be fine if it happened by either Davos’s or Brienne’s hand — although, really, the latter’s basically been staring at a tower for an entire season, so maybe she deserves it more, just so she has something to DO.

5. But speaking of characters who did nothing  . . .

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Jesus fucking wept, really? I was annoyed by the controversial rape scene that happened earlier in the year (though not quite as much as some people, certainly not as much as I was by last year’s controversial rape scene), but I was hoping that at least Sansa would get to do something useful at the end of this season, something to take her power back. And look, I’m glad she escaped — presumably, not that I think anyone could legitimately survive that jump — and I know Theon needed his own Moment to reclaim his identity, to gain redemption, but man, this kind of sucked. She couldn’t have even taken out a guard or something? She couldn’t have stabbed Ramsay even a little?

At the end of last season, I really thought Game of Thrones was setting up for Sansa to take command of her own story — but with the brutal, unnecessary rape scene, we made her a helpless victim again, and by the end of the season, that’s still all she is: a powerless princess getting rescued by someone else.

6. Arya got to kill someone, at least. Arya got to kill the hell out of someone.

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But while I knew going in how her story would resolve, I did feel like that resolution was pretty rushed. And the actual ‘going blind’ scene itself was kind of confusing. It’s not a huge problem, but I still feel like it could have been done better.

7. Speaking of lamesauce executions: Dorne in its entirety was utterly disappointing this season.

We spent so little time there that it felt like a completely extraneous subplot, solely designed to get Jaime away from King’s Landing. And it probably isn’t totally extraneous because I’m assuming that war Prince Doran was trying to avoid is going to ignite next season — because there’s no way Jaime and Cersei are going to react well to the princess’s death. Still, Dorne felt utterly unnecessary all season. We’re introduced to a bunch of new characters (all the Sand Snakes, plus Prince Martell), only to spend most of that time on one girl’s boobs. Not to mention, Jamie’s whole plot can be reduced to a single sentence: Jaime travels to rescue his secret-daughter, gets arrested, and has a single moment of parental happiness before she’s poisoned, presumably to death.

Here’s a tip, Myrcella: don’t be kissing people who tried to assassinate you. Honestly. The Kiss of Death was so obvious, too. I liked the scene between her and Jaime, but I was still practically snapping my fingers, waiting for her to bite it.

8. About Cersei’s Walk of Shame — I have mixed feelings.

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Like, it’s a horrific scene, hugely icky, but also very effective, primarily because Lena Headey acted the hell out of it. I was disturbed, but the scene didn’t piss me off the way Sansa’s rape did, or Cersei’s own rape, last year. (Although I’m not sure we got enough loving pans to her lady parts. I feel like we could have lingered a little more there.)

But it’s interesting — I was talking to another co-worker, and she told me that she hoped Cersei got bloody revenge on all of them next year. And really, I didn’t have that reaction at all. Despite it being an atrocious humiliation, my sympathy for Cersei remains limited — not because of all her murderous, incestuous, and generally awful ways, but because she’s the one who brings the religious order to power in the first place, entirely to get rid of Margaery. I have no doubt that, had Cersei stayed in power, she would’ve been fine, possibly even amused, watching Margaery suffer this same humiliation. So, no, I’m not particularly on her side here.

And what the hell happened to Margaery anyway? She and Loras were entirely dropped from the story, which really annoyed me. Are they still imprisoned? Dead? Did Olenna just go home? It’s pretty sloppy writing.

You know what would have worked for me? If at the end of her walk, Cersei had seen Margaery there, also shorn, and the two had shared like a nod of, “Let’s work together to kill these fuckers.” Then, I think, I could’ve gotten in on the vengeance spirit.

9. Finally, to the East . . . *shrug*

I don’t at all care about Dany being surrounded by a bazillion Dothraki. Absolutely no interest in that storyline at the moment. I do, however, have interest in Tyrion ruling Mereen. I bet he could make those politics interesting, in the exact way that Dany couldn’t. Also, Varys is back! YES!

Next season needs at least 70% more Tyrion and Varys.

FINALE GRADE: C+
SEASON GRADE: B

MORALS:

If anyone who has previously tried to kill you later attempts to kiss you, push them away. Seriously. No kissing people who want you dead. I don’t care if it seems rude. This is common sense.

Never lead the Night’s Watch. They mutiny more than fucking pirates, and you will end up deader than shit.

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The 2015 Clarion West Write-a-Thon

It’s that time of the year again.

The Clarion West Write-a-Thon is UPON US.

. . . I don’t know why I felt like making that all bold and doom-like. It’s not really a doom thing.

For those of you who don’t know/haven’t already suffered through two years of these posts, the Write-a-Thon is a fundraiser that Clarion West runs to raise money for their six-week workshop, a workshop I attended three years ago and that maybe, kinda changed my life. I couldn’t participate last year, but this year I’m back in it, working on THE NOVEL.

(I haven’t attempted anything close to a novel-length project in three years, so it definitely deserves the doom-like bold font. My goal here is to complete a chapter a week, which may or may not be doable, depending on how long my chapters need to be.)

Here is the very brief synopsis/blurb I wrote for THE NOVEL:

A toymaker and a magician create three children together, daughters made out of love letters, wishing stones, and death glass, respectively. Once close, the three sisters have grown up and grown apart — but when one is found dead in their childhood home, the other two must come together if they want to solve her murder and, just possibly, bring her back from the dead.

If you’re so inclined/capable, you can donate money here. You can also find links to the many other authors participating if you’d like to donate to their pages instead of/as well as mine. If you do sponsor me, I’ve taken someone else’s idea come up with some incentives that you’ll hopefully have fun with, assuming you’ve ever enjoyed silly personality quizzes. (And don’t even lie. You know exactly which Disney Princess you are, just like you know which Hogwarts House you belong to. Also, did it ever bother you there were really no good Slytherin students? I wouldn’t even be Slytherin, and that bothered me. No, Snape doesn’t count.)

Anyway. Incentives:

If you donate $5.00 to my page, I’ll send you a brief personality quiz so you can find out if you’d be made from wishing stones, love letters, or death glass.

If you donate $10.00 to my page, I’ll send you a slightly longer survey so you can find out what completely original material you’d be made from. No one will get the same answer — you’ll all be your own special snowflakes.

Of course, I’ll happily accept more than $10.00 donations, but all I have to offer you then is additional gratitude. I can say ‘thank you’ in different font sizes and colors, though, if you’d like.

The Clarion West Write-a-Thon officially starts this Sunday, June 21st, and ends July 31st. You can donate any time from now until it ends. Wish me luck!

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The TV Resurrection Poll – Results

There are so many TV shows, long since dead, that are making their return to the small screen. Unfortunately I’m not terribly interested in most of them, so I picked seven shows I would have interest in and asked you to choose between them: would you rather resurrect Carnivale, Pushing Daisies, The Unusuals, Veronica Mars, Harper’s Island, Dark Angel, or The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.?

Well, you bastards left me with a tie, and so I did my best. If this poll had any legitimacy or actual power behind it whatsoever, the show that would come back to our television screens?

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Carnivale and Pushing Daisies ended up getting the most votes, and while it was a very hard call, ultimately I felt like I had shows (such as the excellent iZombie) to fulfill my quirky procedural needs, whereas there’s just nothing quite like Carnivale on TV today. Plus, it left me with a cliffhanger that will never be resolved. I want resolution, godamnit.

The Unusuals and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. took third place, while there was no love at all for Veronica Mars, Harper’s Island, or Dark Angel. Sorry, guys. You’re not only merely dead; you’re really most sincerely dead.

Thanks, everyone, for playing!

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Today’s Dream Cast: SAGA

I’ll probably never be, like, an Authority on Comics — nor do I have any particularly deep need to be one — but I’ve really been getting into graphic novels the past couple of years. (Trades, primarily. Let’s be upfront about that. I wildly prefer reading trades to single issues.) One of my favorite comics right now is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and if you haven’t read it, Saga is one joyful mindfuck of space weirdness. It will never be made into a movie or TV show. I can’t even imagine what a translation of it would look like, not to mention Vaughan’s been pretty firm about keeping it out of Hollywood. I’m not sure I’d even want to see someone attempt it. And yet we dream-casted it anyway. Cause that’s what we do around here.

Alana

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Rosario Dawson

Mek and I have been idly tossing back and forth casting ideas for months now, but Rosario Dawson was a pretty immediate lock. I don’t know what it is about her, but she has so much force of presence, and I can easily see her playing this romantic, sexy, badass mom and ex-soldier. Some actresses, I think, might try to paint Alana as either All Serious or super girlish and annoying, but Alana is the kind of character who can be violent, funny, and find inspiration in trashy romance novels. She’s a pretty great character, and I’m sure Rosario Dawson would be excellent in the role.

Runner Up: Lyndie Greenwood

Marko

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Kevin Alejandro

Kevin Alejandro is one of Those Actors — you know, the kind that pop up all the time on TV but usually as a recurring guest star, rarely main cast? (Honestly, a lot of this cast fits that bill, so much so that I’ve been playing with the idea of making a list of actors I’d like to see in bigger roles — call it ‘Always a Bridesmaid, Never Main Cast’ or something.) Anyway, I like the guy, particularly for the work he did as Jesus in True Blood. Jesus had a nice affability to him that I think could work particularly well for our funny pacifist Marko. Also, if there’s any way I could get Marko to say brujo for some reason, guys, I’d pay money to see it. I don’t know what it is — no one has ever said brujo as emphatically as Alejandro does. It cracked me up every single time he did it in True Blood.

Runner Up: Pedro Pascal

Izabel

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Bex Taylor-Klaus

Izabel might be my favorite character in Saga, which is probably why we struggled so hard trying to find someone for the role. But I enjoy Bex Taylor-Klaus immensely (in Arrow, iZombie, The Librarians, etc.), and though Izabel’s a great deal, er, pinker than Taylor-Klaus’s usual roles, she’s spunky and sarcastic as hell and just a lot of fun. And, like Kevin Alejandro, I’d really like to see this actress in a main cast somewhere, preferably on a show that didn’t utterly suck. (So, don’t fail me, Scream.)

Prince Robot IV

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Robert Picardo (voice)

You know, it’s harder than you’d think, casting a robot prince with a TV for a head. You’re automatically casting for voice, not expression, but the dude’s also a chief antagonist who’s rocking a hardcore case of PTSD, so you do want someone with a bit of range. Perhaps I was thinking of Picardo’s work in Justice League (where he voiced Amazo, an android who assimilates everyone’s superpowers), but as soon as I thought of him, I was like, “Finally, I got it.”

The Will

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Faran Tahir

I think I first saw Tahir in Iron Man, but he really impressed me in Star Trek, mostly because he only had about two minutes to make me care about him, and I did. And then I enjoyed him as Adwin Kosan, one of the regents in Warehouse 13, and I’m like, “You know, this guy is kind of awesome. I am officially ready to see him in bigger, more complex roles. Like an assassin who’s on a quest for revenge with a giant cat that always knows when you’re lying. Yeah, that’d be cool.”

Runner Up: Mark Strong

Lying Cat

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Keith David (voice)

Apparently — and I only just found this out — Lying Cat is female, something I either didn’t notice or completely forgot while casting. I’m going to go ahead and stick with my original choice, though, because Mekaela and I didn’t even have to discuss this one. My immediate instinct was to cast Keith David, and when I asked Mek, “Hey, you have anyone in mind for Lying Cat?” she instantly replied, “Keith David.” Mek and I agree on a lot, but this kind of ridiculous synchronicity is usually summed up as ‘fate.’

Gwendolyn

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Naomie Harris

I know I fall back on Naomie Harris a lot, probably more than I should, but I can’t help it — I just like this woman. She won my heart forever in 28 Days Later, and nothing I’ve seen her in since suggests that her total badassary as Selena was some kind of one-off. Gwendolyn is completely in Harris’s wheelhouse, and I just know I’d enjoy the hell out of her performance.

Klara

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Ivonne Coll

I’ll be honest here — I’m really only familiar with Ivonne Coll from Teen Wolf, but I liked her in Teen Wolf (her performance was always solid and intimidating, even if some of her material was silly) and I definitely think she could play this pissed off, stubborn, warrior who’s contemptuous of her son’s pacifist ways and downright eager to engage in some bloodshed and do what needs to be done.

Gale

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Reed Diamond

Okay, Reed Diamond could probably play this role in his sleep, but — fuck it, I like Reed Diamond, and he seems like he could be a good fit for the arrogant, snarky agent. Anyway, he seemed a touch less obvious than Mark Pellegrino.

D. Oswald Heist

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Danny Glover

Because when you think an old man who’s a trashy romance writer/secret pacifist revolutionary who’s also a cyclops, you think Danny Glover, don’t you? Sure you do.

The Brand

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Lena Headey

The Will and The Brand are siblings, and yes, I’ve cast actors from different ethnicities — because these are the actors I like best, and you know, why not? There are a bazillion families who don’t have the same skin tone — hell, my family doesn’t have the same skin tone, which is particularly noticeable in summer when my ghostly pale ass stands next to my mother. And dude, Lena Headey would ROCK IT as The Brand. Of this, I have no doubt.

Runner Up: Sarah Shahi

The Stalk

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Natalie Dormer

Because look at this picture and tell me she wouldn’t be AMAZING.

That’s all for now, kids. If you read Saga, let me know some of your own casting choices, particularly if you have someone for Sophie. I couldn’t think of anyone for her.

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