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PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy these Reviews, Responses, Works of Fiction, and Retellings brought to you by one who hopes to someday join the ranks of those who have written something worth reading.
(Kaylia Metcalfe)

The 100



The 100



I want to like this show.

Why is this show making it so hard to like it?

Sigh. Ok, here goes.

What we know from the get go: space, adventure, teen, The CW.



What we can posit: sci-fi, teen angst, plot contrivances, pretty people, the need for suspension of disbelief.

Then we watch the 5 minute preview on Hulu.

And we get excited. Very excited. The first five minutes gives us exposition (handled well –quick, succinct gives we what we need to know and moves on). It gives us a heroine who is strong, feisty, and likeable. It gives us some cool space shots of space stations and other such things. In other words, there is a good budget on this, that bodes well. It gives us a peek at some of the coming drama, but it seems tempered by the story. So far so good.

Then we watch the whole first episode.

But wait… first let’s make a check list:

Teen angst means unrequited love, someone being dramatic for no other reason than being dramatic, the line “you just don’t understand!” and a pretty girl getting mostly naked.

What else can we expect? Well, I am going to predict a stereotypical villain doing something villainy, adults looking stupid, and hints to a bigger story arc, and probably the death of a somewhat central character fairly soon to show us how edgy and stuff the show is.

--- an hour later ---

That check list is now a mass of checks and stars and underlines.

Here’s the central plot: The humans destroyed their planet almost a hundred years ago and the survivors have been living in the Ark space station. All crimes are given the same weight (wha…?) and prisoners are judged on their 18th birthday. For some reason, the powers that be decide to jeteson 100 teen prisoners down to Earth with no supplies but equipped with wristbands that let the Ark monitor their vitals in order to determine if the air is safe down there. During the landing, the communications between the teens and the Ark are destroyed.

Here’s the thing. Some of the acting is good. Some of the storylines are decent. But there is a fair bit of WTF and that makes it very hard to concentrate on anything else.

The good: The show has potential. Especially up there on the Ark, a few things happened that made me wonder what the background was. I could see the introduced villain turning out to not be the villain (hopeful eyes) because he really isn’t all that evil. At least not yet. What a switch that would be! 



More good: despite hitting everything on my checklist the teens down there are interesting. The show on the ground is more Lord of the Flies meets Lost, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The bad: We do not understand the motivations of some main characters who are doing colossally stupid things. Over and over and over again. Who needs food, lets just hang out and play with the trees. Who need water, lets take off our clothes and have knife fights! Also? That check list thing is pretty annoying. We shouldn’t be able to predict the entire first episode. Also? All the teens look like they are 16 and 17. (It was established that they aren’t 18.) So. In a space station that regulates the breeding of the population and is all scrappy and hardly making do, there were a hundred 16 and 17 year old criminals? That’s… mighty specific and really really tough to swallow. 

 

Fingers crossed the show finds itself and makes it work. We need better sci-fi on TV.

---

Post Script. I watched the second episode. Let me just say, the good is slipping and the bad is getting worse. I got a head ache from all the eye rolling. So far? No problems have been fixed… but a whole lot of more crazy you have to just ignore it if you want to stay sane stuff has happened.



Le sigh

On the heels of that... something else.

Big changes in Kay-land.

Written out and over explained here

Time for the M&Ms.

The Road Thus Far

It is hard to look at one’s self fully in the mirror, to not look way, to not let your gaze linger on the parts of your face or body that you like or skip horridly over the parts you don’t.

Hard, but sometimes necessary.

When I graduated from college (May, 2005), I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to hold down some sort of boring but important job (administration assistant) and write short stories and eventually a novel. Or two. I wanted to be published and respected as a writer who created something worth reading. I wanted to see my name online and in print, to see my books on shelves. I wanted to eventually be able to quit that boring but important job and write full time. To take long walks and then sit quietly and write long novels full of literary symbolism and allegory. I wanted to write the sorts of things that English majors would argue about later, “Did you notice the two phone cords in the first chapter, how they were coiled up but  also intertwined… don’t you think that was foreshadowing???”

I got the job but I didn’t write. Instead I embarked on a spiritual journey, leaving my Christian faith behind once and for all and finding meaning in the Pagan world of symbols and chanting, of spoken word stories and of ritual.

I revised my plan. I would be a boring job person by day and a Priestess by night. I would learn the jargon, learn the stories, I would write the songs for the next generation and carry the symbols to others, I would share peace and love and faith in the Goddess.

I wanted to explore myself in new ways. I started thinking more about who I was as a writer, as an artist. I felt disconnected and tried to live my art though life moments, fleeting moments that were full of self deluded clarity. In the mornings, I was still me, still trapped, still floundering.

My marriage ended. (That’s a whole other story)

I took new vows, vows to the Goddess., vows to my Circle, vows to the person that I wanted to be; an artist full of holy grace. I wanted to paint and plant flowers and do something huge and beautiful with my life.

And then I was raped. Brutally and without mercy.

In the moments that followed, I tried to cry out to the Goddess, but it was hollow. I thought about calling out to God. It felt just as empty. I thought about my ex husband and was filled with shame. Not longing, which surprised me, but shame. I found a way to stand up. I found my anger.

And then I found solace in the bottle. Many many many bottles to be exact. Bottle of beer, which I hate. It was like double punishment, forcing myself to drink something I hated in order to black out from a life I was also starting to hate.

The rats in the walls closed in. The “cheerful” Christmas lights on my windows seemed to mock me.

I drank.

And I wrote.

And wrote. And wrote again.

Poetry. Stories. Sketches.

I found my fiction voice again. I escaped into stories of other people, people suffering, but also people who weren’t suffering, people who were just living their lives.

Eventually I decided to get sober. (That’s a whole other story too).

I kept writing. I was amazed I could write without drinking. Sometimes I couldn’t.

I met a man who challenged me, supported me, loved me without saying the words. (He eventually said the words.)

I realized that I had left the Goddess behind and had hardly even noticed. I read science books and atheist books and relabeled myself. Again.

I began to write about science, about critical thinking, about politics.

My fiction was published but instead of feeling accomplished I felt afraid, worried that my best fiction was behind me. I was afraid to start again, afraid to fail when I had gotten the tiniest taste of success.

I wrote more nonfiction, critical essays, more politics.

I started a novel. And then another one. And then another one. They gathered dust.

But nonfiction was easier, it had a quicker pay off.

It was published, applauded, accepted.

I took my place as a blogger, a monthly columnist, a political writer and reporter of the news.

I had a daughter and felt another bit of myself atrophy and die, replaced by being a mom, but still. Could I be more than a mom?

I looked at my fiction and was bored, was afraid, was intimidated.

I hid from fiction and wrote more nonfiction, I took on another role, another blog. I liked listing off my nonfiction accomplishments.

But I would wake up at night and wonder, what am I doing? What am I doing it for?

How can I teach my daughter to follow her heart if I can’t even find the time to follow mine?

And then my fiction was critiqued as being “too nonfiction” in a workshop.

And then I was offered another two opportunities to go further in the nonfiction political world… avenues to name in print, name on blogs, more little tick boxes on my resume.

But, I had hit a wall, and I knew it.

Today I wrote my last Community Alliance article. I sent in my letters of resignation. I closed a few doors firmly and even locked a few.

Fiction. My old friend, My on again off again lover. My muse and my hope and my curse.
Fiction.

Short stories. The novel, a new one of course. Reviewing fiction, reading fiction, WRITING fiction.

There are only so many hours in the day. There are only so many days in our lives. I want to be a writer of fiction. I want my daughter’s mother to be a writer of fiction. I want to be seen in the circles of friends and writers and everywhere else one circles in… as a writer of fiction.

Already I have written 3200 words in a new fiction piece and started to feel the need for a drink, for some time on you tube with cats. Already I have thought about writing a nonfiction article about… anything else.

A new chapter in the same book. Perhaps someday a new book.

I am going to be a writer. I am going to hold down a never boring and always important job (Stay At Home Mom) and write short stories and eventually a novel. And then another one.

One word at a time.

I will build for myself the life of words that I want.

I will be a writer of fiction. I will be published. I will see my name in print, my books on shelves.

Word by word I will create something worth reading.

In the mirror of introspection, I look at my eyes, dark and full of fear. I look at my mouth, too big for its own good at times.

I look long and hard at the body of work I have and the body of work I want. Counting calories, counting words. Pushing myself to sweat, and to also sometimes to stay still and keep typing.

The mirror version of me is ready. And so am I.


The Glass Castle



The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls



I am not normally a big fan of memoirs, but I am very glad I made the exception for this one.

Written with a powerful clarity and possessing remarkable prose, this is a story that reads like a fairy tale for the modern time.

Nomadic and possibly mentally affected mother, an alcoholic father, extreme poverty, and the struggles that are born from each make up the background.

Jeannette tells her story with humor and humility. We are never preached to, and her story is not part of a self positioned pedestal. Instead, we have her story of triumph and escape from a highly dysfunctional situation that is both inspiring and heartbreaking.

What really makes this book fascinating is her tone. She loves her parents despite their obvious and detrimental flaws, and that love shines through. It is easy for a child who doesn’t know any better to idolize her father and not see his sins as sins, but even as she ages Jeannette manages to show both the good and the not so good in her parents with descriptions that are honest and haunting, and which never place her obvious love for them in doubt.

The pace is clear, the characters are well developed, the stories from her youth as fully fleshed out and act as perfect threads that weave the story of the Walls family in vivid and tragic relief.

I highly recommend this book.

Incentives!

I'm trying to lose weight.
Aren't we all?

I have an app to track calories. I have work out videos I do sometimes, but not as often as I should.
And now I have some fun incentives!

Beginning weight: 160
Goal weight: 140

Incentive Plan:

At 155 (yay, the first 5 pounds!) a haircut!

I think I could pull this off....

At 147 (more than half way there!) a mani / pedi

Not my feet / hands. 

At 140 (whew, last 7 pounds are the hardest, right?) New dress and date with my sweetie.


Something bright and flirty like this





So far all I have done is NOT gain... but I will take that as a good sign and keep plugging away.



Annie... Remake Comes Out in December

I am trying to ignore the M&Ms in my kitchen.

Ahem.

Ok, I am gong to go either read, write, or exercise... any of which is almost guaranteed to make me feel better about not eating the M&Ms. I hope.

But first a quick note on remakes.

A wise person once said that comparing books and the movies adapted from those books is like comparing apples and apple pie. They might have the same stuff, but they are vastly different mediums. (Ok, maybe that wise person was me).

The point is, sometimes an adaptation is well done, it hold true to the essence of the story. Sometimes it can do that while dismissing a lot of the original trappings of that story.

I have high hopes for the new adaptation of Annie.

Maybe because I LOVE the musical. I LOVE the Carol Burnett version.





And I really really hope to love this new version as well.

Fingers Crossed.


FogCon Session Notes

I went to FogCon!
It was awesome!
I took notes!
Because I am socially awkward and a nerd.
So…. I am going to type up my notes and share them. Please keep in mind, if you decide to read them, that they are MY notes… so they reflect on what I was finding particularly interesting in that exact moment… and they might be a tad random. They are really more for me, to help remind myself and to give me a nudge in a few months when I am trying to remember something. Also, I know I have misrepresented the names of books or authors etc… but that is my own ignorance and inability to always hear things correctly so if I get most of the letters right I trust that I will be able to figure out what was actually meant. (and if you can add to the list or correct titles etc, please feel free)

In other words, read at your own risk and feel free to skip.

Portal  / Secret Worlds
·         Currently unmarketable
·         Books etc mentioned
o   Secret Garden
o   10th Kingdom
o   Never-ending Story (the book)
o   Forbidden Games Trilogy
o   Darkness Rising
o   Fairyland books
o   Phantom Toll Booth
o   The Magicians
o   Nightwatch
o   Songs of Earth and Power
o   Lego movie
o   Fistful of Sky
o   Lamplighter Trilogy
o   Amber (?)
o   Wizards of Waverly Place
o   Many Colored Land
o   Spell Song
·         Secret / hidden world vs actual other realm
o   Importance of how the secret stays safe, who or what guards the boundaries?
·         Importance of the exclusion / inclusion aspect… who is allowed in vs who isn’t
o   Chosen vs happenstance of entrance
·         Importance of Home as a concept
o   Journey to return, but as a changed being
o   No place like home
·         Concept of transition period / symbolism of growing up
o   Children are the ones who often leave, allegory of teen and leaving etc
·         Odysseus – journey, going home changed, resisting the pull of immortality
·         Difference between portal world and multiverse
·         Portal world has a different power structure, play with themes of who has power etc, symbol of class system and struggles
·         Prophecy vs happenstance
·         Refine vs acquire skills… part of the hero’s journey, changes how we root for the protagonist
·         Are there horror portal stories (Dead World would fit in this, need to finish writing it.)

Secret History
·         Books etc mentioned
o   Possession
o   V
o   Notebooks of Dr Br---
o   Bad Monkeys
o   Daughter of Smoke and Bone
o   Name of the Wind
o   Last Call
o   The Decoy Princess
o   Cloud Atlas
o   Liar
o   October Day
o   City in the City (?)
o   Yiddish Policemen’s Union
o   Grass King’s Concubine
o   Cold Magic Trilogy
o   The Historian
o   Pym
·         Plot is based on discovering secrets
·         (Stories of our parents… who will edit my life?)
·         3 things, Promise, Lies, Secrets
·         Knowledge can lead to obligations
·         Universal theme of “finding out”
·         Build tension with little secrets, then big reveal
·         How to build connection, either we care FOR the characters or they care SO MUCH we get caught up with them, comes down to good writing
·         Theme of the anti-chosen one
·         Noir + Fantasy = secret history
·         What about the secret history quest to discover your OWN history
·         Secrets can be dangerous, instant tension
·         A secret is very close to a lie… interesting line to play with
·         Writer advice: Leave out the parts readers skip over

When Will your Heroine Finally Get Raped?
·         The answer is “never” for Seana
·         The way we talk about rape in our culture, the inevitability of rape,
o   Yeast infections are inevitable
o   Rape doesn’t have to be, need to change the conversation and context
·         Also important, what we leave out… how we smooth over the rough edges
·         Seana: rape is not a narrative inevitability
·         Mundane life bits vs plot devices and action movements
·         Rape is part of the context of OUR world and society… but if you are in a different world, it might not be the general inevitable context
·         Rape: needs to be treated respectfully, not for titillation
·         The laziness of rape
o   Woman in peril = rape! Worst thing to happen to a woman, worse than death… but to women, for a man the worst thing is his death or the rape of one of his women
o   Shortcut to villainy, how to make a bad guy into a BAD guy… Rape!
o   Rape is the meet-cute of villainy
·         Mechanics vs emotional toll, -- motivation
·         Social context of rape is the stranger rape (which isn’t accurate) leads to men and women not recognizing rape when they see it, when they experience it, when they commit it
·         Need to change the understanding of rape and the villain construct
·         Anti-hero… we never let them go all villain (they don’t rape) because that is the unforgivable sin. Murder? Sure. We forgive that. we justify that.
·         Rape culture vs consent culture
·         The cookie cutter response to being raped, … “and then she took a hot shower”
·         Audience question of how to write a rape, answer: don’t (I disagree)
·         Language of “getting raped”
·         Why be so sensitive? People who have been murdered don’t read your books, survivors of sexual assault do.
·         Murder is always the answer, not rape.


Networking
·         The artist in the attic
·         Share your glee with others who have the same interests
·         Networking is friendship with a mercenary bent
·         BE part of the community you want to be a part of
·         Don’t be creepy
·         The line between stalking and networking is fine and must be found by you and you alone
·         Twitter is more of a word board, FB is more of an image board
·         Blogs can work but they can also not work, depends on audience
·         Pick one aspect of Social Media and focus on that
·         Author pages at FB aren’t getting as much traction anymore
·         Need to back up blogs and own your own content
·         Tweetdeck is a tool although not free
·         Real life vs online life…. How much you share is up to you, be careful
·         It is the agents job to reject your work, not your job to reject your work
·         You only need to sell your book once, don’t oversell to your fans
·         Network with your fans, network with fans of the stuff you like
·         Be self aware
·         Mailing list is a good thing


The Book Lies to You and Makes You Like It
·         Works mentioned:
o   Among Others
o   Code Name Varrly (?)
o   The Thief (Turner)
o   Downt he Stream of Stars
o   Rule 34
o   Wet Ridge
o   Gone Girl
o   My Sister’s Keeper
o   Life on Mars
o   Turn of the Screw
o   Life of Pi
o   Pain and Gain
o   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
o   Awake
·         The Unreliable Narrator trope
·         Is it harder in a book or a movie to trust / not trust the narrator?
·         The distance from the narrator, the audience , the different relationships, see the whole context of things opposed to narrow scope
·         Is there such a thing as objective reality? My reality is reality
·         Our own sense of self edited history… memoirs, the epitome of the unreliable narrator
·         Art is what the artist defines it as
·         Author intent vs Audience response


Inspiration to Draft
·         Encouraged to set the writer’s mood… read things similar to those you are writing, be influenced.
·         Training wheel method, model your characters off of other characters until they are fleshed out on their own.
·         Experiment recklessly
·         Stories need a cool person, cool place, cool thing
·         To get over the hump:  
o   Change perspective
o   Flip things around
o   Decide, will story have a victory or a loss and for who?
·         We all tend to write our origin story unless we fully understand it
·         First drafts are hard and awful
·         Story Spine is a tool that can be used
·         Structure… works for some, not for all, need to find what works for you and then try other things as well
·         Create your writer’s toolbox, full of ideas, partly written things, moods, pictures, 100 words a day, whatever it is.
·         Understand formula and structure even if you don’t write like that

·         Set attainable goals, celebrate when you get there



Writer Type News!

I have some exciting news about my writing career.

Click here to read it on my official site.

Hooray!

Promotion!

Who has two thumbs and just got promoted to Bureau Chief (LGBT Division) at the Fresno Community Alliance?

That would be me.

Bureau Chief Me

I think I should get a little hat... but in the meantime I will settle for attending meetings and helping shape the scope and direction of the LGBT themed articles at the paper.

Like all good promotions, this one involves more work and no change in pay. But a TITLE!!!

Woot!