“We Share the Dark” at Curious Fictions!

Morning! I forgot to write about this here last week, so I’m mentioning it now: I decided to give Curious Fictions a try! CF is a website where authors can post stories that they’ve previously published in other magazines. Yours truly, for instance, has posted “We Share the Dark,” a story which was published in Shock Totem back in 2014. Since that was a print magazine, you had to pay to read said story; now, however, you can read “We Share the Dark” (or any other story at Curious Fictions) for free. (Other great authors very much worthy of your time: A.C. Wise, A. Merc Rustad, and Kelly Sandoval.) You can also choose to subscribe for a couple bucks a month and get updates on short stories and/or exclusive posts.

If you’re interested in checking it out, “We Share the Dark” is up HERE. Recommended for those who like ghosts (both literal and figurative), unusual love triangles, floating Shakespearian teddy bears, and moody, atmospheric stories about people trying to escape their scars. Also recommended for people who just want to see how floating Shakespearian teddy bears fit into all this.

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World’s Worst Trekkie: Carlie Takes On “Shore Leave”

Friends, this one started out promising, it really did. Sulu and Bones are on an away mission! Super wacky shit starts happening! A single massage ignites the passionate ship that is Spock and Kirk!

. . . sadly, then the episode continues.

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Gimme THIS, Please: Instead of a Jack Bauer Prequel . . .

It’s a tale as old as time. A geek opens her laptop, looking at various film and television news, and is inevitably disappointed to see that, instead of making this awesome thing or that awesome thing, The Powers That Be have chosen to develop this supremely disappointing thing instead. You know this story, right? It’s the prequel that doesn’t need to be told or the sequel in a series that should’ve died ten years ago. It’s the remake of a movie that doesn’t need remaking, the standalone focusing on the most obvious and least interesting character, the adaptation that’s clearly a mediocre knockoff of that other more successful adaptation. We’ve all been here before.*

Last week two such prequels were announced. The first? Jack Bauer’s origin story on FOX, which, yeah, no thank you, out you go. The second was a prequel film to The Sandlot, which just . . . come on, WHY? And while despairing about these announcements, I formulated an idea, not one that would have any practical value whatsoever, of course, but one that might make me feel better all the same: a new feature on the blog where I proposed projects I’d personally prefer to see, rather than whatever the hell was just reported.

Unfortunately, I quickly hit a snag. See, my initial plan was to swap Shitty Prequel Idea in favor of Cool Prequel Idea, Boring Spinoff in favor of Exciting Spinoff, etc. However, it’s readily become apparent to me that prequels are just Not My Thing. I rarely, if ever, see the point of them: many movies or TV shows have interesting backstories, of course, but they’re usually revealed in said movie or TV show. I generally don’t feel the need to see the story I already knew the beginning, middle, and end of. Likewise, finding out the secret origins of a defeated villain or doomed mentor type is kind of cool, I guess? Then again, I know what’s going to happen to them down the road, so . . . meh?

Still, I was committed to the prequel idea. The obvious choice was the Young Princess Leia movie, of course, but I felt like I should save that discussion for the next Star Wars spinoff idea that does nothing for me. So, I thought about it and thought about it and finally came up with something that at least mildly interested me, or at any rate, something I’d rather see than Jack Bauer’s surely grimdark origin story where he likely gets tortured for the first time and tortures other people for the first time and his wife, Teri, who he just got married to, says things like, “Don’t go, Jack! Think of your baby daughter!” and is otherwise useless.

Yeah. Instead of THAT prequel, gimme THIS prequel, please . . .

If you’re not familiar with The Pelican Brief, watch the trailer to get the basic synopsis. If you are familiar with The Pelican Brief, watch the trailer anyway because previews from the early 90’s are hilarious.

The Pelican Brief has two main characters: Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) and Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington). By necessity, this prequel would have to focus solely on Grantham; these two characters don’t meet until this movie, and while I like Darby Shaw well enough (or did–I have to admit it’s been some time since I’ve seen this film), she’s a young law student drawn into all this crazy political conspiracy murder shit. So, unless Darby’s a 16-year-old debate club prodigy investigating the overelaborate murder of the student body president, I’m having difficulty coming up with a solid prequel story here. (To be clear, I’d watch that movie in a heartbeat. I’m such a sucker for a good high school murder mystery.)

Gray Grantham, though, is different. He’s a seasoned investigative journalist; we meet him interviewing a Supreme Court justice, for Christ’s sake. He could have investigated all kinds of fun political conspiracies in the past, ones that would obviously have put him in serious danger and maybe forced him to take off his shirt once or twice. And while I’d be totally into watching a sequel with Denzel Washington reprising the role 25 years later (particularly in today’s ludicrously and dangerously dysfunctional political climate), I have to admit, I’d also be pretty okay watching a prequel starring this guy as the young Mr. Grantham.

Yes, as much as I’d love to see John Boyega get a role which would allow him to use his natural accent again, I’d still cast him in a fucking heartbeat here. Mind you, I have no idea what the actual conspiracy would be about, but I’m certainly entertained by the thought of Gray Grantham investigating shit, running away from bad guys, and actually asking hard questions of politicians, you know, the kind that so many journalists in this country refuse to ask politicians now. Maybe–and I’m about to showcase some damn dirty idealism here–he could even be something of a role model or otherwise aspirational figure, a reminder of what journalism should be about (albeit with a few theatrical explosions along the way).

The Pelican Brief Prequel–which would obviously need to get a sexier name, stat–could be a movie, of course, but I quite like the idea of it as a limited series, something on HBO or Netflix, you know, one of those networks that makes quality television and also has enough money to potentially entice Boyega away from blockbusters, however briefly. That way, the show could really set up a good solid mystery with a bunch of well-developed twists and turns and a decent ensemble of interesting and morally ambiguous characters, hopefully including lots of women. Anjelica Houston, for instance. Alfre Woodard. Zazie Beetz. Tatiana Maslany. Sandra Oh. Lucy Liu. You know, just to name a few.

Look, don’t get me wrong: I know that nobody’s making a prequel based off a 25-year-old John Grisham adaptation; like, that’s not where the money is, and even if it was, I’m pretty sure Hollywood would pick The Firm over The Pelican Brief any day. Still, I think it could potentially be a fun show, and anyway, it HAS to be better than that Jack Bauer shit, right? (I did try and come up with something to swap out The Sandlot with too, but there were even bigger problems there. Like, Mek and I agreed that no one wants to see The Goonies prequel about Chester Copperpot’s Big Doomed Quest to find One-Eyed Willie. And they definitely don’t want to see what Ray Brower did for his summer vacation right before Stand By Me.)

Well, that’s about all I’ve got right now. How about you? What prequels would you actually like to see? (If it’s the Jack Bauer show, I’ll try and only gently mock you, promise.)

*ETA: I feel the need to point out that I wrote this whole thing prior to Saturday’s news about a TNG sequel featuring Captain Picard. So it’s not that EVERY prequel, sequel, standalone, remake, or adaptation announcement is automatically terrible. It’s just most of them.

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World’s Worst Trekkie: Carlie Takes On “Balance of Terror”

With the Write-a-Thon over, I finally have some time to focus on what really matters: my super timely recaps of a 50-year-old science fiction television show!

Yes, my friends, we are back to TOS again. Today we’ll be discussing “Balance of Terror,” which, you know, isn’t a bad episode, per se, just sort of . . . meh? Like, it’s more “meh” on a personal level than a technical one, but still. It’s middling for me. That being said, there are definitely some worthwhile bits, like, we get our first glimpse at the Romulans! Also, Sulu and Scotty are actually in this episode!

Let’s just get down to it, shall we?

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Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Final Week Update!

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Who Murdered Superman? (It Was Aquaman, Wasn’t It, I FUCKING KNEW IT.)
Current Pitch: Six Wakes meets Justice League Unlimited

Number of Creepy Blackouts: 2
Number of Hidden Weapons Discovered: 1
Number of Plot-Relevant Flashbacks: 1 . . . so far.

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Red Song” – Suuns

Goal Met: YES. I am DONE!

I’m happy to say that I’ve finished Chapter 5, and–save one last update I’ll be sending to sponsors over the weekend–I’m officially finished with the 2018 Clarion West Write-a-Thon.

Can’t lie: I’ve definitely had some chaotic weeks, trying to keep up with my self-appointed deadlines. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with how this year’s project has turned out. Cause, like. I started a new novel! Admittedly, I’ll probably spend the next month rewriting, like, every chapter I’ve written for that novel, but still, we’re officially past the “I Have This Great Idea But Can’t Get Past The First 5 Pages, So I’ll Just Hop Over to One of My 67 Other Great Ideas” phase. I’m calling it a win.

As far as Chapter 5 goes: I have officially introduced my first flashback, and if you’re thinking, God, no, I’m still having Flashback Fatigue from Lost, cease and desist, please and thank you, dudes, I totally get it. But . . . yeah, the flashbacks definitely aren’t going anywhere. They are (as Starfire might say) most heavy with the plot relevance. Also, I think they’ll be fun, or anyway, I’m having fun writing them. I do, however, solemnly pledge that none of my flashbacks include mysterious tattoos or toy planes. Hand to God.

And . . . well, I guess that’s it. Honestly, I’m having a pretty good time writing this novel. I can’t say for certain that’s gonna translate into being good, nor can I proclaim I’ll be able to finish and sell it with any certainty, but I hope so on all counts. I’d like people to read this. I’d like to find readers who enjoy it as much as I do, at least right now.

Random Line From Chapter 5:

“Monsters,” she says blankly. “I hear monsters.”
That’s when Rosario starts to scream.

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Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week Five Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Who Murdered Superman? (It Was Aquaman, Wasn’t It, I FUCKING KNEW IT.)
Current Pitch: Six Wakes meets Justice League Unlimited

Beginning the Novel With a Character Waking Up: Check
A Character Describing Themselves While Looking in a Mirror: Check
A Dream Sequence That Provides a CLUE: Close enough

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Ghost” – The Acid

Goal Met: Holy shit, YES!

This novel already has so many no-nos in it. That mirror one, for instance. That’s like Numero Dos in the 10 Commandments of Writing:

Thou shalt not describe one’s protagonist by having her gaze into a mirror so she can awkwardly narrate all her physical features to the reader.

And hey, that’s a commandment for a reason, one I usually try to live by. However, when you’re writing a mystery about five amnesiac characters . . . I mean, that rule just become silly because OBVIOUSLY they’re going to scrutinize the hell out of these strange faces they don’t recognize, these faces that are apparently their own.

Last week, I said Chapter 4 would deal with clues and choices, which is still true. However, a huge chunk of it also deals with identity, especially gender identity; one character, in particular, is really struggling to conceive of who he is without the context of his past. I try not to be too prescriptive about writing rules (because as evidenced above, they’re really understood best as–say it with me in your best pirate voice–guidelines) but if you’re writing an amnesia story (a thriller, a romance, a slice of life, whatever) and you’re not making identity a central theme in your story? I kind of feel like you’re doing it wrong.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m doing it well. But hopefully, I can succeed. I’m really aiming for this novel to be both fast-paced and character oriented. I refuse to believe it has to be one or the other. (Feel free to provide inspiration, though, and tell me your favorite fast-paced, character oriented novels!)

Random Line From Chapter 4:

Shit. Is he picturing who he wants to be, or who he wants to fuck?

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Clarion West Write-a-Thon: Week Four Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: Who Murdered Superman? (It Was Aquaman, Wasn’t It, I FUCKING KNEW IT.)
Current Pitch: Six Wakes meets Justice League Unlimited

An Inconvenient Blackout: Check
A Mysterious Disappearance: Check
A Fair Amount of Blood Loss: Inevitably

Song From Current Project Playlist: Halo – MONO

Goal Met: Alas, FailWriter! continues.

Well. I completed Chapter 2, anyway.

While I’m aware I said this last week, I feel like I can still make my goal by tomorrow night, since I don’t go back to work until Sunday. Still, I hate being behind. It probably wouldn’t bother me so much, considering these are all made-up deadlines anyway, but if I ask for people to sponsor me with their hard-earned money, I feel obligated to actually meet my goddamn goals. You know, like a professional.

On the upside, Chapter 3 isn’t going bad so far. I’m really looking forward to Chapter 4, where I think the characters will finally have a little more time to properly investigate who and where they are. Thus far, they’ve spent the majority of their time either finding one another or reacting to all the scary shit that keeps happening. Not that I’m having a terrible time terrifying my characters, of course; being mean to your MCs is one of the finest sadistic pleasures that the artistry of writing has to offer. Still, I have ALL THESE CLUES that no one’s found yet, and I’m excited to see how my characters react when they do find them. The choices they make (who to trust, what to reveal, what to conceal, etc.) will depend greatly on how they interpret these clues, so yeah, I’m excited for all that. Interpersonal dynamics is where I live, yo.

Random Line From Chapter Three:

“Wait, you two aren’t gonna go and leave me like this, are you? With some probable Jigsaw shit going on out there? Uh-uh, fuck you, no thanks.”

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