Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week 5 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Fedoras and Trust Issues
Current Pitch: Hardboiled fairy tale noir!
Slightly More Detailed Pitch: In an alternate post-WWII America, a cranky, bisexual PI and his ace, teenage Girl Friday try to solve the disappearances and/or murders of three different women.

Number of Murder Weapons Discovered: 1
Number of Brief, Fever-Induced Hallucinations: 1
Number of Snow White references in this chapter alone: At least 5

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Sinnerman” – Nina Simone

Goal Met: Halfway there

Making some progress. Still slower than I’d like, but I’m actually on schedule. I have to keep reminding myself of that because my Writer Brain routinely waffles between “holy shit, maybe this could be great” and “Jesus Christ, this is the worst thing I’ve ever written, burn it, BURN IT NOW.” Lately, I’ve been feeling more the latter than the former, and the temptation to put the novel away and write basically anything else is very strong.

You’re stronger, I try to tell myself. You are mighty like Thor. This declaration is not deeply convincing, but it does make me smile.

This week’s chapter: Prince, still trying to wrap his head around the potential fallout from the Big Discovery he made two chapters ago, finally finds the Scene of the Crime and does some sleuthing. Couple more chapters, and we’ll hit the big, climactic showdown shit. And two short wrap-up chapters after that, we’ll finally be at Part III!

Guess it’s time to go back to work. One more week of the Write-a-Thon to go!

Finally, your Random Line of the Week:

I understood money coming before blood.

Posted in WRITING | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The 4th (Probably 4th) TV Quotes Challenge – ANSWERS

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

(Also, this is mostly spoiler-free, but it does assume you’re up to date on The Flash and iZombie. If not, you should probably skip those sections.)

1. Santa Clarita Diet

“Nice try blending in, you handsome, thick-haired son of a bitch.”

“Eric doesn’t own a football, or anything else that might make him come outside.”
“That’s exactly what he said, only with less implied criticism.”

“Check this out. She said she started a new spin class, but really she’s having an affair with a guy named Bob”
“No way.”
“Yeah. She accidentally linked her cell phone to my computer so I can see all of her texts. Today Bob copied and pasted all of the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Which seems lazy and on the nose.”

My favorite thing about this is that, for the first time ever, I got to use the BOB pseudonym for a character named Bob.

I binge-watched this series in, like, a couple of days, and while it sometimes relies a little too heavily on its “we’re not equipped to handle zombie life/we’re realtors,” hook, for the most part I really enjoyed the show. The dialogue is snappy, Timothy Olyphant is hilarious, and I love the family dynamic between Sheila, Joel, and Abby: it really anchors the whole show. I’m particularly eager to see how the second season resolves that last cliffhanger. Curse you, cliffhangers!

2. The Flash

“Okay, let’s just try it again. This time up the creep factor, like, a lot more, and make it a little more sincere, like you really love me but you’re going to have to kill me anyway.”

“Do you think your guns can stop God?”
“Why in the hell would God need to rob banks?”

“I’m so glad you’re back cause we’re about to die.”

Oh, The Flash. You can be so vexing sometimes! Still, I hold out hope for Season Four. I am entirely delighted that our Big Bad isn’t going to be a Speedster for once. (Seriously. You can’t just keep making faster and faster villains without losing serious credibility. What would the next one even have been? A literal speed demon?) I’m excited that Caitlin isn’t completely back on the Side of Good; hopefully, that will allow her more time for character development. At this point, I’ve basically given up on the idea of Iris having character development, but I’d loved to be proven wrong about that. And when Barry inevitably escapes or gets released from Speed Prison, I think we really need a full season free of time travel.

Musicals, yes. Crossovers, absolutely. But definitely let’s take a huge pause button on the time travel, please and thank you.

3. iZombie

“Well, I hope you like jagerbombs and homoerotic subtext.”

“Really? You’re gonna go with the Boy Named Sue defense, huh?”

“Well, I appreciate the pep talk, big fella, I really do, but I don’t think there’s an emoji that rightfully expresses my feelings about losing $50k a month, you know?”

One of the few shows that nobody got, which only proves to me how tragically underrated it really is. iZombie’s third season was probably my least favorite, unfortunately, but there were some great standout moments, and I love how witty and ambitious the whole series is. This is a procedural that isn’t afraid to change the status quo from season to season, and that’s exciting to watch. I’m definitely interested to see where things go in Season Four, now that the whole world knows about zombies. I’m also really happy that Bozzio’s back, because I always really liked her and Clive.

If we can just avoid any unnecessary love triangles in the future, though, that would be great. Also, funny as the show often is, sometimes Liv’s case-of-the-week personalities are frustratingly one-note. Like, okay, maybe I don’t know any dominatrixes personally, but I feel reasonably confident that they’re not in Dominatrix Mode during every aspect of their lives. Same goes for the D&D Master. Personality traits aren’t quite the same thing as hobbies or professions. (That being said, the group playing D&D was definitely one of the standout moments of the season. Clive, man. Clive is the best.)

4. Orphan Black

“I tried to say ‘eff it’ today, and I blew up my whole life. I just wanted to say ‘eff this’, ‘eff you’, and I effed it, I effed it all up.”

“Felix. Gay friend.”
“Acting coach.”
“Oh, that’s . . . perfectly fine here.”
“Which one?”

“What’s wrong with your voice?”
“I have a cold.”
“Yeah, it’s one of those really bad ones that messes with your . . . syntax.”

Orphan Black is one of those shows that I absolutely adore for the characters (and for marveling over the amazing talent of Tatiana Maslany) but not always for how it integrates those characters into the main plot. I’m actually several episodes behind in the current season. (They kinda pissed me off in the second episode, and then I got really into Avatar: The Last Airbender, so we haven’t quite gotten back to it yet.) Regardless, the show’s given me a lot of joy over the years: the various crazy Allison/Donnie scenes, the Helena and Sarah road trip, any of Siobhan’s many badass moments, the clone dance party, Felix’s truth voice, etc.

This is also the only show on this list that I’ve cosplayed a character from. (So far. Liv from iZombie could be fun to dress up as, and I’ve actively considered cosplaying a character from Show No. 9.)

5. Gilmore Girls

“I already wrote his name in my revenge notebook.”

“You do or say anything to upset Jess and make it harder for me to keep him on the right path, I’m gonna put your head through a wall, any wall, you can PICK the wall, but it’s gonna be a wall, okay?”

“What’s she like?”
“She jogs.”
“Enough said.”

As much as I didn’t like the Gilmore Girls revival–and with a few small exceptions, I really didn’t like it–I still enjoy watching scenes from the original show, especially the earlier seasons. The dialogue is spectacular, and I love so many of the characters: Paris and Emily and Lorelei and Lane and Luke and Mrs. Kim and even Rory, once upon a time. Though I think it’s fair to say that my least favorite part of the show was always Rory’s love life. I was probably the only person in the world happy to hear she didn’t end up with Dean, Jess, OR Logan, and I would have given a whole lot to see a season where she didn’t have a love interest at all. Alas.

6. The Librarians

“So, your explanation for having impossible grades is that you ‘O Captain, My Captain’-ed them?”

“I’m home. But before someone asks me to throw another shrimp on the barbie, just know I will punch you in the throat.”

“Cassandra, please do not fangirl over the arch-villain.”

I had delayed watching Season 3 because I assumed it would come to Hulu eventually. When it completely failed to do so, I just gave up and bought it on Amazon–and then ended up re-watching the whole series because I’d forgotten how much I liked my super silly fantasy-adventure show. In these dark times, sometimes what you really need is team dynamics, terrible CGI, and group sing-a-longs that can defeat mind control.

I still think first season might be the strongest overall (this is definitely a show that does better with its case of the week than its overarching season shit), but I’ve loved plenty of episodes from years 2 and 3 too. In fact, “And The Point of Salvation” still remains my favorite Librarians episode to date. (Side note: when I started the show, Ezekiel was easily my least favorite character, which was odd considering how much I should have liked him: I mean, a Korean-Australian thief? OMG, YES. After three seasons, however, he’s somehow become my favorite–or at least tied with my other favorite: Jenkins.)

(Actually, come to think of it, Ezekiel was never really my least favorite. Flynn has been, and forever will be, my absolute least favorite. Sorry, Flynn.)

7. Lost

“Everything’s going to change. Have a cluckity-cluck-cluck day, Hugo.”

“So, you wake up in the middle of the night, you grab your Jesus Stick, and you race off into the jungle. You don’t call? You don’t write?”

“What is that? Some kind of code?”
“No, John, unfortunately we don’t have a code for ‘there is a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter’s head,’ although we obviously should.”

I honestly haven’t thought about Lost in a while. It, well. It obviously had its problems. But it is one of the rare shows I actually stubbornly stuck with from beginning to end, despite a couple of times I came awfully close to jumping ship. I didn’t hate the series finale quite as much as everyone else did, but that’s mostly because by the time we got there, I had pretty much given up on getting the answers to almost anything: after all, they had so many unsolved mysteries going into that finale that the only way they could’ve solved them all in time would’ve been to chuck any semblance of a script in favor of a Q&A with all the characters lined up on the beach. (In retrospect, that might have been absurdly meta and delightful.)

The show might have been frustrating at multiple points, but it did have some highlights: the pilot, for instance, is probably one of the most solid pilots in TV history. And if nothing else, I have to be grateful to it for introducing me to a number of talents, most especially Michael Emerson.

8. The 100 

“You’re the most beautiful broom in a broom closet of brooms.”

“Without the treatments, we die. What are we supposed to do?”
“Die.”

“Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things.”

Another CW show that nobody got. The 100’s first few episodes were kind of excruciating, but it did quickly manage to jump from Exceptionally Generic SF YA to Gritty Badass Apocalyptic YA. And while third season was certainly marred by some poor storytelling decisions, I still find an awful lot to like about this show, especially the female characters. Who would have thought that I’d grow to like Octavia as much as I have? God, I hated her in the beginning. And from Octavia to Clarke to Abby to Emori to Echo to Raven (ALL HAIL RAVEN), these are some badass women who are constantly faced with ruthless decisions and hard choices that is their responsibility to make.

I’m just saying. Unlike some other CW shows I could name, this is NOT a show where the women are around only to define the men.

9. Voltron: Legendary Defender

“As everyone knows, vomit is NOT an approved lubricant for engine systems.”

“She’s not my girlfriend! She’s just a rock I met and admire very much.”

“How’s your wound?”
“My wound’s great. It’s getting bigger all the time.”

I feel like I’ve talked a lot about Voltron lately, so I’ll keep this relatively brief: I tried this out on a pretty random recommendation, and while the first episode was basically just a bunch of setup, by the end of Season 1, I was pretty into it. By the end of Season 2? I was hooked. Season 3 comes out next month, I believe, and I’m super pumped. Must. Resolve. Cliffhanger.

(Also, in case it wasn’t obvious, Pidge is the character I’ve considered cosplaying from this show. Cause Pidge is the best. Although I’ve also found this Anti Mind Control Jellyfish Hat, and I’m trying to tell myself I don’t need it considering all the other things I want to buy . . . but it may be a losing battle.)

10. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

“So, if the compartment was locked, how did you get in?”
“I hit the lock with me shoe.”
“Your shoe seems to have the ballistic capabilities of a .38 revolver.”

“No. I mean, yes! Yes, but no, I’m supposed to ask you.”
“Well, we could all die waiting for that to happen.”

“Oh, Miss Fisher’s gone on holiday again, sir.”
“Huh. Anyone dead yet?”
“Only one so far, sir.”

Finally, I was so-so on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries during the first season, but I enjoyed it a lot more during the second. Not sure why, exactly: it just became a nice comfort watch for me. Phryne’s 87 million talents are sometimes a bit ridiculous, but she’s still a fun heroine to watch, and I absolutely ship her with Jack, who remains my absolute favorite. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for the dry wit.) And while I just can’t bring myself to care about Hugh one way or the other, I do quite like Dot and how her character has grown and changed over the past three seasons.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Thanks, everyone, for playing!

Posted in TV STUFF | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week 4 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Fedoras and Trust Issues
Current Pitch: Hardboiled fairy tale noir!
Slightly More Detailed Pitch: In an alternate post-WWII America, a cranky, bisexual PI and his ace, teenage Girl Friday try to solve the disappearances and/or murders of three different women.

Number of Times I Had To Go Back And Edit A Previous Chapter: 3
Number of Times I Rewrote The Same Damn Scene: 6
Number of Expletives Spoken: 37, give or take

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Turn the Page” – Bob Seger

Goal Met: Surprisingly, yes

I only had to write one chapter this week, a short chapter even, and let me tell you: it was a monumental pain in the ass. Okay, maybe not monumental, but I was definitely grasping and clawing for every other word. Part of the problem, I’ve discovered, is very typical of my quote-unquote writing process: as I work on new material, I keep realizing how much needs to be added to an earlier section, or how a scene I wrote six chapters ago is completely wrong and needs to be entirely rewritten. In an effort to maintain a sense of forward momentum, I’m trying to curb that impulse by just keeping a list of all the stuff I need to fix so I can work on it after I finish this draft . . . but sometimes I just can’t fight that bone-deep need to rewrite the shit out of my previous work. One would assume, at least, that I’d produce better first drafts than other writers. Let me hasten to assure you this is not the case.

That all being said (or vented), I did get the chapter done. It almost entirely consists of one phone call between friends and sets up a meet that may or may not be a trap. It’s also the kind of chapter you write knowing that it won’t fully pay off until the end of the book, when All is Revealed. So, I can only assume that I’ll be frantically rewriting this scene 20 chapters from now too.

Finally, your Random Line of the Week:

Seemed like a good place to go to ground, if people were after you. Which by the way: why are people after you?

Posted in WRITING | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The 4th (Probably 4th?) TV Quotes Challenge

So, I haven’t done a Quotes Challenge in a while. I mean, it’s practically a summer tradition, right? Don’t answer that. I’ve decided to go back to TV for today, but maybe I should try a book one sometime. Would anyone be interested in that?

If you’ve never played before, here are the rules: I’ve picked out ten TV shows and given you three quotes per show. Anytime you see the name BOB, it’s a stand-in for the character’s actual name. (Look, I can’t make it that easy.) Comment with your guesses and have fun! (If you play, Alyc, feel free to email me your guesses if the first three comments don’t succeed. I swear, I don’t know why my blog hates you so very much. I am working on it.)

Here we go!

1. “Nice try blending in, you handsome, thick-haired son of a bitch.”

“BOB doesn’t own a football, or anything else that might make him come outside.”
“That’s exactly what he said, only with less implied criticism.”

“Check this out. She said she started a new spin class, but really she’s having an affair with a guy named BOB.”
“No way.”
“Yeah. She accidentally linked her cell phone to my computer so I can see all of her texts. Today BOB copied and pasted all of the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Which seems lazy and on the nose.”

2. “Okay, let’s just try it again. This time up the creep factor, like, a lot more, and make it a little more sincere, like you really love me but you’re going to have to kill me anyway.”

“Do you think your guns can stop God?”
“Why in the hell would God need to rob banks?”

“I’m so glad you’re back cause we’re about to die.”

3. “Well, I hope you like jagerbombs and homoerotic subtext.”

“Really? You’re gonna go with the Boy Named Sue defense, huh?”

“Well, I appreciate the pep talk, big fella, I really do, but I don’t think there’s an emoji that rightfully expresses my feelings about losing $50k a month, you know?”

4. “I tried to say ‘eff it’ today, and I blew up my whole life. I just wanted to say ‘eff this’, ‘eff you’, and I effed it, I effed it all up.”

“BOB. Gay friend.”
“Acting coach.”
“Oh, that’s . . . perfectly fine here.”
“Which one?”

“What’s wrong with your voice?”
“I have a cold.”
“Yeah, it’s one of those really bad ones that messes with your . . . syntax.”

5. “I already wrote his name in my revenge notebook.”

“You do or say anything to upset BOB and make it harder for me to keep him on the right path, I’m gonna put your head through a wall, any wall, you can pick the wall, but it’s gonna be a wall, okay?”

“What’s she like?”
“She jogs.”
“Enough said.”

6. “So, your explanation for having impossible grades is that you ‘O Captain, My Captain’-ed them?”

“I’m home. But before someone asks me to throw another shrimp on the barbie, just know I will punch you in the throat.”

“BOB, please do not fangirl over the arch-villain.”

7. “Everything’s going to change. Have a cluckity-cluck-cluck day, BOB.”

“So, you wake up in the middle of the night, you grab your Jesus Stick, and you race off into the jungle. You don’t call? You don’t write?”

“What is that? Some kind of code?”
“No, BOB, unfortunately we don’t have a code for ‘there is a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter’s head,’ although we obviously should.”

8. “You’re the most beautiful broom in a broom closet of brooms.”

“Without the treatments, we die. What are we supposed to do?”
“Die.”

“Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things.”

9. “As everyone knows, vomit is not an approved lubricant for engine systems.”

“She’s not my girlfriend! She’s just a rock I met and admire very much.”

“How’s your wound?”
“My wound’s great. It’s getting bigger all the time.”

10.”So, if the compartment was locked, how did you get in?”
“I hit the lock with me shoe.”
“Your shoe seems to have the ballistic capabilities of a .38 revolver.”

“No. I mean, yes! Yes, but no, I’m supposed to ask you.”
“Well, we could all die waiting for that to happen.”

“Oh, BOB’s gone on holiday again, sir.”
“Huh. Anyone dead yet?”
“Only one so far, sir.”

Posted in TV STUFF | Tagged | 7 Comments

Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week 3 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Fedoras and Trust Issues
Current Pitch: Hardboiled fairy tale noir!
Slightly More Detailed Pitch: In an alternate post-WWII America, a cranky, bisexual PI and his ace, teenage Girl Friday try to solve the disappearances and/or murders of three different women.

Number of Plot Relevant Breakfasts: 3
Number of Minor Plot Holes Caught This Week: 1
Number of Irritated and Slightly Shifty Coroners: 1

Song From Current Project Playlist: “This Devil’s Workday” – Modest Mouse

Goal Met: Not exactly

So, I’m a little behind this week on my two-chapter deadline. Luckily, I have the next two nights off and I’m pretty sure I can finish them before Sunday . . . well, before I go to bed Saturday night, anyway, which of course will technically be Sunday morning.

The writing itself is going okay, other than that nagging plot hole that I have to fix. (It’s not a huge plot hole, but it vexes me, and I don’t like any of my current solutions.) Right now I’m working on a chapter where our heroes are going over what they know before making a plan of action–a plan that our Girl Friday will secretly judge as dumb and disregard roughly five seconds after she agrees to it. The main challenge here has been shifting the POV; in the original story, we saw this scene through Prince’s eyes. Now we’re seeing it through Jack’s, and Jack and Prince both share a secret right now that they have different perspectives on. It’s kind of fun for me. Minus the goddamn plot hole.

After that, my next chapter has some Big Revelations: the why of the murder case, if not exactly the who. Also, some mildly gooey but also emotionally stilted relationship talk between Prince and his love interest. Is it wrong to hardcore ship your own characters? It’s wrong, isn’t it?

Here’s your sad confession for the day: I was daydreaming about adding big speculative elements, but realized it wouldn’t be right for this story, no matter how much fun it could be. So instead I started daydreaming about how I could add those spec elements in a fanfiction, a fanfiction for my own goddamn unpublished, unfinished novel.

Sigh. I will not do this thing. I will not. There have to be limits to my ridiculousness.

Finally, your Random Line of the Week:

You had to hope wildly, foolishly, recklessly . . . and then make as many contingency plans as possible when those hopes broke upon the shore.

Posted in WRITING | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The 2016-2017 TV Superlatives

Okay, people! It’s that time again: I present the 2016-2017 TV Superlatives!

Rules are basically the same as they were last year. To be eligible for these super duper prestigious awards, a show must have begun its season sometime between June 1st, 2016 and June 1st, 2017. This means that shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter aren’t eligible for their current seasons, but are eligible for seasons that aired last summer. Meanwhile, Voltron: Legendary Defender managed to sneak in both its first and second seasons, while shows that would normally be eligible, like Game of Thrones and Orphan Black, won’t show up here today because they both postponed their premiere dates. And because my fiendish buddy Alyc got me into kdramas, I’ll also be including any Korean shows I watched that originally aired within that June-to-June timeframe. (So far as I can tell, it only includes a couple. Most of the shows I’ve checked out so far aired in 2015 or earlier.)

With that all settled, let’s get started.

Continue reading

Posted in LISTS, TV STUFF | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week Two Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Fedoras and Trust Issues
Current Pitch: Hardboiled fairy tale noir!
Slightly More Detailed Pitch: In an alternate post-WWII America, a cranky, bisexual PI and his ace, teenage Girl Friday try to solve the disappearances and/or murders of three different women.

Number of Dead Bodies On the Page Thus Far: 3
Number of Surreal Nightmare Scenes Just Because I Could: 2
Number of Secrets Our Heroes Are Keeping From One Another: LOTS

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Life in A Glass House” – Radiohead

Goal Met: Yes

This week’s chapter is a short one. It’s 1/3 plot advancement, 1/3 secret nighttime confessions, and 1/3, er, morning-time confessions. (An aside: why is nighttime a word but morningtime isn’t? In news shocking no one, the English language continues to make no sense.) Fair amount of Feels in this chap. That’s been an interesting challenge of the book so far, actually, trying to determine if my Plot to Feels ratio is working. I have a lot of characters and relationships to juggle. Since I’m basically obsessed with character dynamics, I obviously want to do justice to said dynamics. I also don’t want readers to think, “Jesus Christ, can we get back to the mystery yet?”

I’m a little worried about the word count, even though it’s kinda early for that. I don’t even have a completed draft yet, much less an edited down draft. Still, the nature of the story makes me uneasy about the length: mysteries tend to run shorter than SF/F because SF/F novels almost always have a lot more world-building and magic systems and shit to describe. My book might not have magic systems, but it is an alternate history with a quarantined city shaped by corruption and disease. I’m actually expanding the world-building quite a bit from the original stories, and while that’s kind of exciting for me, it’s also been something of a roadblock. I don’t come to world-building quite as naturally as I come to character work, I’m afraid.

Finally, your Random Line of the Week:

That’s life in Spindle, dear. If you can’t make the hard calls when you need to, well. You’ll never make it out at all.

Posted in WRITING | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment