Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Powerful Women in Black Panther

***WARNING: Haven't you seen Black Panther yet? Oh, well, if you haven't, you may not want to read on, as there are spoilers below. I've seen it, and if we didn't have to watch our pennies, I'd go see it again in the theater. It was that good. So, go on, add to its box office numbers if you haven't already!***

It's actually really hard for me to talk about Black Panther because I feel like I'm not going to do it justice. There's so many layers to the movie that this measly little blog post won't be able to cover it all. Plus I'm sure there are layers that I don't understand as deeply as many other people. I'll leave those layers to the more knowledgeable ones.

The main layer I want to delve into is all the strong women in this movie! OK, so this isn't really going to be a typical review, but more of a reflection (and I'm going to try to keep it brief). I'll probably mention more than just the strong female characters, but don't expect me to pick the movie apart.

Wow, I have to say, wow. I mean, I'd been looking forward to this movie for a long time. It got to the point where my husband was poking fun at me because I'd squee every time a preview came on. It called to me, and I knew it would be different (in a good way) than the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it was. But I had no clue how many powerful women would be in it. This made me love it even more.

Shuri, Nakia, and Okoye -- these three women stole the show. Almost literally. Many times their characters overshadowed Black Panther/T'Challa himself. It honestly felt more like a movie about the people surrounding and supporting Black Panther, not just a focus on Black Panther. And his strongest support are all women.

The beauty of these three women, though, is that they are very different from each other.

Shuri has a razor-sharp wit along with a razor-sharp brain (she totally reminded me of Q from James Bond with all of her awesome gadgets). In a pinch, she's also still willing to jump into a fight. How cool are her panther guns? I may have just ordered a Funko Pop of her yesterday from Hot Topic. ;)

Nakia is the love interest for Black Panther, but she's not fawning all over him, and she makes it clear that her life goals are more important than love. While Black Panther still tries to nudge her, he still understands who she is and needs to be. I love it that he's not trying to protect her the whole movie because he knows she can take care of herself. Nakia also declares she's not a fighter, but a spy, even though by the end she jumps into the fighting and kicks plenty of ass.

Finally, Okoye, is a fierce warrior. One who is devoted to tradition and the culture of Wakanda. She even refuses to support T'Challa's family when he (seemingly) loses the challenge to Killmonger. She fears nothing, and she'll defend whoever's on the throne, unless they break or ignore the rules.

I seriously can't wait until the second movie, and I hope some of these women show up in some of the other movies in the MCU!

One final thought from me, but about Wakanda. I enjoyed the integration of culture and tradition right alongside technological advancement. It was nice to see the technology didn't destroy the culture that existed in this society. There was also a bit of a mix of fantasy among the science fiction with the Heart-Shaped Herb and the spirit realm.

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many layers, and I thought for the most part they were woven together wonderfully.

"Wakanda forever!"

Thursday, February 08, 2018

1001 7 Reasons Not to Write

What, you were expecting 1001 Reasons Not to Clean? I really hope I can't find 1001 reasons not to write. But lately, as you can see by the delayed blog post, a lot has been getting in the way of my writing. So, here's a mini list. I hope someone can get a chuckle out of the aggravation below (or others can completely relate).

7 Reasons Not to Write

1. The flu. Not just you with the flu, but your eldest child and your husband. Of course, the youngest child escapes the wretched sickness unscathed, so not only are you dealing with feeling miserable, but you have to contend with a preschooler's high energy level. Even if you had the energy to write, or the brain space, your joints hurt too much to type.

2. One of your cats has a UTI. And the first round of meds didn't work properly. So you're trying to keep an eye on his litter habits and also conferring with the vet. Then you need to take him in another time because the second round of meds still aren't doing it. Finally you need to stress over buying him new, expensive food (that you feel is filled with crap)... which all three cats in the house will need to eat because you'd waste too many hours keeping them separate. Exactly when am I finding time to write with all this going on?

3. One of the computers in the house decides to stop starting up properly. Since you're the one who built the computers in the house you not only need to fix it, but also troubleshoot what's wrong. This includes taking apart your other computer to test a part in the problem computer. After determining the failing part, you need to jump through hoops to request a replacement because it's still under warranty. Though you wonder why you just didn't buy a new one after paying an insane amount of shipping to send out the bad part. When the replacement part arrives and you sit down to install it, you realize they forgot one of the cords needed (oh, you think I don't need power to the CPU?), so then you need to stop in the middle and wait for them to send the missing cord. Once it arrives, you finally fix the computer, and breathe a sigh of relief when it turns on and stays on. Writing? Hell, yes, this whole debacle sucked up a lot of writing time.

4. Yup, caught the cat with the UTI peeing in a corner (unfortunate side effect of the poor kitty being sick). After dealing with the mess he made, you realize that the computer room hasn't had a good, full clean for years, and your paper clutter is turning into new, sentient beings. So you move everything out of the computer room and decide you're taking a week off of writing to get this room cleaned and then everything moved back in, excluding the paper clutter that needs to be gone through, then recycled, shredded, or filed. Surely this will only take you a week. Two weeks later with that paper clutter still filling the dining room and living room, you laugh. It's a sad, miserable laugh because you've spent a decent amount of time dealing with it all, but life still decided to get in the way of better progress.

5. It's fucking cold. All you want to do is hide upstairs under the covers and hibernate. Winter sucks and needs to go away. Typing at the desktop computer freezes your hands and feet. And of course since you have Scrivener 3 on the new Macbook, it will be a headache to convert files back and forth from Scrivener on your desktop (since 3 isn't out for Windows yet), and you don't want to deal with the slow as molasses HP laptop when you have a super speedy and shiny Macbook which is ten times better. Revisions? Hahahaha.

6. You have to walk in that fucking cold 2 days a week for 2 hours each of those days (the things us parents do for our kids). And no matter how much you try to resist falling asleep in the afternoon, it's a losing battle since you're so exhausted from the cold and the walking that you nod off instead of writing.

7. Because all the proverbial shit seems to be hitting the fan, your will to even try has been depleted. To the point that it's coming up empty. I mean, every time you try, you just get more shit flung back in your face, so what's the point? It's much easier to play a game on the iPad or watch some TV to drown out the screaming coming from the inside of your own head.

***NOTE: I understand some people have it a lot worse off than I do. The above are all a bunch of little, rather annoying things. But they're all my little, rather annoying things, and it feels like a lot when it's personal. Right now, I don't have enough spoons left to think past my own personal world, so please forgive me.***

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Darkness in Star Trek: Discovery

***WARNING: You bet there are spoilers! Hard not to with this series if you've watched past episode one - lol. So, if you don't want to be spoiled, move along. And I'm sorry to those who can't watch this show due to it being on CBS All Access. Honestly, it's worth the price.***

Yes, we shelled out the money for CBS All Access so we could watch Star Trek: Discovery. I have been a Trekkie since I was a kid, when my dad would turn on the Original Series (and promptly fell asleep in his recliner while I watched -- lol). So it was impossible to resist a new Star Trek series.

However, I'm guessing a lot of hardcore Trekkies might be disappointed. It's not your typical Star Trek. No, it's much darker.

And I love it.

While I also loved the old stuff, I'm not one of those people who is going to poo-poo this new series just because it's different and not what one would expect from Star Trek. I feel it's wonderfully written. And oh, do I love the darkness (which is why I tend to write dark myself).

Most Star Treks feel more distant, as you're following the bigger cast for the most part. Discovery, though, feels more up close and personal -- you're clearly following Michael Burnham around. From one ship to the next even. Though scenes aren't relegated to only ones with her in it, she still seems like the central glue that holds it all together. And it makes for a pretty powerful story, in my opinion.

Yet even though she's the focus, the things that happen aren't always done to her, which was well thought out. In the episode where Harry Mudd is resetting the timeline (and killing everyone on the Discovery off each iteration) it's not Michael who realizes what's going on, but Lieutenant Paul Stamets. Of course it made sense that he was aware of it, and it was refreshing to see that it wasn't Michael who first realized the problem.

I do love the show, and waiting a full week for the next episode has been a special kind of torture (the long break was even worse). But that doesn't mean I don't have some dislikes and criticisms.

My biggest issue, even 11 episodes into the season, is the physical change they made to the Klingons. I prefer them looking like Worf. Really a small quibble, if you think about it. I understand why they wanted to make some changes like this, but I can't help but wish I was looking at the Klingons I grew used to in Star Trek: Next Generation.

The other thing that kind of gave me an eye twitch was the false bait in the previews. "Oh, look, it's a Star Trek with a female captain and female first officer." I was super psyched for this. But then by the end of episode two, the aforementioned captain is dead and Michael is stripped of rank for being a mutineer. I mean, it's great story-telling, of course, but I still feel like I was fooled. Now we're on a ship with both a male captain and first officer. Though in the alternate universe, things do get a little mixed up (Emperor Georgiou, anyone?). Michael's actually a captain, and so is Tilly (I hope she keeps that hairdo when she returns to the right universe - lol). Still, that false hope from the previews still has me a little bitter.

OK, enough of the negative. I shouldn't dwell on that because overall Star Trek: Discovery rocks.

I actually re-watched episodes one through nine before the second half of the season started up. And lo and behold, I noticed several things I had missed my first watch-through (I don't read many articles and Easter Egg bits on the internet, so don't raise that eyebrow at me). The biggest was that Captain Lorca has a Tribble! And once I noticed the darn thing in the first episode, I wondered how I'd missed it the whole time when I kept seeing it in subsequent episodes. The noise I had mistaken for a computer was actually the Tribble!

I love Tribbles. I should have named one of my cats Tribble... maybe a future cat. ;)

Anyway, I can't wait to see the rest of the season and what new darkness will be discovered.

What do you think about Star Trek: Discovery? Love it, hate it, aren't quite sure yet? No matter if you agree with me, I hope you live long and prosper!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

2018... What? Already?

Nothing like the end of a year and the beginning of the next sneaking up on you. I'd love to snap a picture of my 1-Year Plan written in my Bullet Journal for this post, but alas it hasn't made it into the Bullet Journal yet.

At least I have a 1-Year Plan, even if it's only in a Word doc right now. Guess what? I have a 5-Year Plan, too! That was pretty damned hard to do, though it's only drafting, revising, and publication goals.

Last year, I jumped into the year with too high expectations for my productivity. I can declare this, since I didn't hit all of my goals. But I'm still thrilled with the progress I did make. So this year, I'm going to be more realistic. I crunched numbers (numbers are fun), and my plan for this year follows how productive I was last year. Yay for realism? Hehe.

Before I get into a few items from my 1-Year Plan, just know, if you're patient, you'll discover which Tarot card won in my survey. You just have to read to the end for it. Oh, the suspense! ;)

I decided I needed a few mantras for 2018. Maybe if I repeat these every day, they'll sink in. And I think they say a lot about where I am in my writing career right now.

2018 Writing Mantras

❦ Slow Down.

❦ Just Write.

❦ Live.

❦ One Word At A Time.

❦ Any Progress Is Good Progress.

❦ All In Time.

Writing kind of took over my life last year, which is why the first one is, "Slow Down." I love to write and I have a writing career to build, but I don't want to sacrifice everything else in my life, including family time. In 2017, I felt like I was scrambling with writing all year and ignoring everything else too much.

With that said, my main writing goals for this year follow! (Note: This excludes any developmental editing and beta reading work -- I do have a limit of work hours per week scheduled for that as well, though.)

2018 Writing Goals

❦ 10 hours per week of writing and writing related tasks. (No more, no less -- though I have some scheduled weeks off.)

❦ Maximum 2 hours per week of critiquing.

❦ Complete revisions and do an edit of Thorns Entwine the Blade.

❦ Draft, revise, and edit the next Fortunes of Fate story. (What card will it be based on? Keep reading!)

❦ Start revisions on the poor, neglected novel, Dead As Dreams

❦ 1 newsletter per month -- each one will include a chapter of the first draft of Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession in mobi and epub formats!

❦ 1 blog post every 2 weeks. (Yup, I'm reducing the blog post frequency again -- I may have a few extras, though, depending on how the year goes.)

That's the main stuff. Oh, you wanted to know about publications? Yes, yes. I still plan to release two titles in 2018, but right now I don't have publication dates. I don't want to stress myself out with firm deadlines. Progress is what's important.

2018 Publications

Thorns Entwine the Blade (Trinity Torn, 2)

Untitled Fate Story (Fortunes of Fate, 7) -- Sorry there's no title yet!

This post has gotten rather long already. So I won't go into my 5-Year Plan extensively, but I will mention some general details. Again, it mostly contains word count goals for drafting and revision along with hopeful publication dates. I expect it to change each year, as a plan like this is mainly just to see where I'm heading and isn't set in stone.

You already know the publication goals for 2018. So... 2019 -- Dead As Dreams and GSD vs. Everything. 2020 -- I'll be working on the draft and revisions of the third Trinity Torn novel for most of the year, so publications will hopefully be 1 Fate story and 1 other story connected to Trinity Torn. 2021 -- The third Trinity Torn novel, a Fractured Fairies story, and a Devil Made Me story. 2022 -- Downward Spiral, the first title in my Urban Unicorn novel series, 1 Fate story, and 1 collection of short stories (old and new).

5-Year Plans are scary, no? I think they are.

OK, I promised to reveal the Tarot card, didn't I? This post is huge! Maybe I should leave it for next time. You can wait two weeks, right?

Fine, fine. I'll be nice.

I had 2 votes each for:

❦ The Chariot
❦ Temperance
❦ The Empress

But there was a card I had 3 votes for. And that card is...

❦ The Hermit

So that's the next one I'll be doing! This will be interesting. Jasp, the protagonist of the last Fortunes of Fate story, was a bit hermit-like. Which means it will be fun to see what I can do to make this next story completely different. The options are plentiful, especially since I can pull from the upright and reversed meanings of the card.

Thank you to all who voted!

I hope everyone excels with their 2018 goals. I'd be happy to hear what anyone else has planned for the year, writing related or not!