Monday, November 26

Missing In Action

If you noticed my absence in the last month, you aren't the only one. I wish I could tell you that was all in the past, but alas, I cannot. Due to reasons relating to my CFS, I'll be taking a break from social media and blogging over the next several months. Every bit of energy I can muster needs to be devoted toward getting better, so I'll be stepping away for a bit. 

Hopefully, this means I'll have tons to share with you when I return.

So until then . . .

Tuesday, October 16

Losing Steam (Revolution Ep 5)

Revolution has two things in its favor presently. Two realities that keep me wading through what's quickly becoming a shrill voiced, tension-less mess of other plot.

1) The evolution of our characters over the last fifteen years. There's a reason the flickering opener begins with the word "evolution" before the letter "R" blinks on. The show's focus not only on the simmering rebellion, but also on the evolution of individuals in a world turned upside down is a huge plus. I always have more questions concerning both characters I love and characters I hate.

2) Miles. With Maggie dead and Nora's bodysnatcher of a personality shift this week, I have just one character I care about, and it's General Miles Matheson himself. Get rid of everyone else, and I'd still watch him. Lose his essence as a character, and I'm out. 

But then, I might be out anyway. Did you see the previews for next week? *shakes head*

If we don't start developing the other characters in consistent and sympathetic ways and build some credible tension, I won't be watching. And I'm not the only one: this guy hits the nail on its proverbial head.

Weigh in. Am I the only one still watching? If not, do you think I should cut the show some slack?

Friday, October 12

Chasing Dreams No Matter What

stage is yours by RAWKU5 at Used by permission.
I'm not a reality show junkie. I am, however, devoted to The Voice and X Factor. Wanna know why? The Voice begins with blind auditions based solely on vocal ability, and these aired performances are void of the awkward fails AI is famous for (a plus in my opinion). X Factor's contestant base stretches wider than any other, and the judging panel includes Demi Lovato (who I'm a fan of). Also, both shows offer a mentoring portion, which I really enjoy, but none of these reasons fully explain my love. No, my favorite part of watching has to be "the dream."

Contestants from all walks of life, of all ages, and of all economic backgrounds all come audition for one reason--they have a dream they're chasing. No matter the hardships. No matter how long it takes. No matter what job they have in the meantime. Sacrifice, hard work, and determination keep that small dream in their hearts alive, and there's something incredibly beautiful about that. Sure, some have more natural talent or a more marketable look than others, but the people who always catch the judges' eyes? Those with passion. Those who don't crumble when faced with an impassive panel eerily similar to those dreaded agent/editor appointments we writers face. 

The people who don't give up, they encourage me. They challenge me. They spur me to turn off that TV and go work on my own dream. To keep striving just one more day. In fact, writing about them makes me want to wrap this up and write. So, I think I will.

What about you? Would you tell me about your dream? What helps you keep it alive?

Wednesday, October 10

Attack Dogs And Swelling Crescendos (Revolution Ep 4)

Evening! Can I just say out the outset how much I am still enjoying Miles' founding father status? I cannot wait for more details. Will we get them tonight?

Miles' reputation must be really intimidating to cause a stranger to answer all his questions with very little coercion. Wonder what it is.  I'm not quite as impatient as Charlie though. I'd prefer to let the details trickle in as we observe his interactions with others. Also, Miles' ability to put her in her place brings me joy. Too much? I'm trying to like her, really I am.

Why don't I know Lady Doc's name? Will someone please clue me in? I mean, it's a good nickname and all, but still. Oh, it's Maggie. Yay. Carry on, then. Aw, Charlie let Maggie hug her. Point for Charlie :)

Um, rabid dogs? Maybe we shouldn't have thrown away that torch. 

It's mom again! What's she working on? Why is she so nice to Monroe? And since she hasn't cooperated, why hasn't Monroe tortured or killed her yet? Oh, here it is. *wince*

Who is watching the gang, and how come no one's aware of it? There are at least three people in the crowd who should be, but we are all distracted with lesser problems. Also, turns out I don't mind it when Nora gives Miles what for. I don't mind at all. Miles plans to leave? Subtract ten points from his awesome register. (Especially because this is really . . . weird timing. Didn't we just make contact with Nora so that we could rescue Danny?)

Flashback: Why don't I feel like mom was actually going on a supply trip? Did Ben know what she was up to?

Ooh, scary compound with scary man. Cool visual.

Although that storm visual is even better. Bad weather really is upon us. 

How did "Nate" get free? And why is Charlie defending him? It's not like Miles was killing him, and she knows what "Nate" plans to do.  What does she see in him that I just don't? Anybody else wanna weigh in, please?

On behalf of teenagers everywhere, can we introduce a character that isn't rash, spiteful, and omniscient? I get that Danny and Charlie have been through a lot, but some character variety in that age range would be awfully nice. It would provide a contrast and believability for the two already on canvas.

Did Danny really get free? *sigh* I didn't think so.

While Maggie's speech about letting go is poignant (and the cue-giving music with it), I need it to not work on Miles. That would be just a little too easy.

Maggie, NO!! This feels pointless. What's the purpose of this attack dog thread? Why are we losing Lady Doc?

I'm not sure that I've said it before, but I will now: Captain Neville is a great character. His motivations for playing a "villain" are compelling. He's three dimensional, and I respect that about him even though I hate him.

Charlie's decision to stay with Maggie (still grumbling) gives her a few more points. Maybe she and I are going to turn a corner here?

Wait, did the tornado stop right in front of the barn Neville, Danny, and the army were holed up in? Really? 

Maggie's been carrying around the book she was reading to her boys. . . . *sob* Why does she have to die? Why? 

Oh. Charlie's "Everybody leaves me," it got to me. Stupid emotional manipulation. 

Hey, it's mom again. Why does she look okay? What have we been doing to her? I'm beginning to worry about her state of mind. Have they been ripping out her molars? Why isn't her face swollen? Wait, she came willingly? AT MILES' REQUEST? Why? What would she be good for?

And, where is Grace? We are going to find out, right?

Okay, guys, it's your turn now. What did you think of episode four? (Is it just me, or did this episode seem a little more predictable than the last? I love nonetheless, just wondering.)

Wednesday, October 3

Wait, Who Was A Founding Father? (Revolution Ep 3)

First off, welcome back, lovely revolutionaries :) Do you come prepared with your own rants and raves of the week? Here are mine:

I appreciate that the writers have differentiated between individuals who resist Monroe for their own reasons/profit (like Miles) and those belonging to an actual rebellion (like current-day Nora). In dystopian lit, it's easy to divide people into two groups: those for and those against the regime. Revolution colors in that gray area in between. (Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy does the same).

Speaking of the rebellion, they are losing. Badly, and their position is vulnerable. This does not inspire hope.

Oh, look it's Aaron and Lady Doc. We get that Aaron would love to go back to his computers (and his money), but isn't the bigger question: What happened to Grace? Shouldn't we be trying to find her instead of rebuilding . . . whatever?

Did you see how Miles grabbed Charlie and shielded her with his body? I like this guy. Have I said that before?

Nora's fighting Monroe until she dies or takes him down because she lost her baby in a stupid militia fight that never should've been? I believe it. I'm close to adding her to my "care about and need good things for" list. I need to be sure for the long haul, or she'd already be on it.

I'm cringing for Danny and want it to stop. But in the back of my head, a little voice whispers, "You knew his mouth was going to get him in trouble. Consequences, consequences."

Okay, Charlie just solidified her top ranking on my "characters I dislike" list. She suggests fighting the militia with little-to-no ammo? And she called her father a coward for not fighting the militia when they came? A COWARD? His protection is worth nothing to her? Didn't take much for Little Miss Don't Kill Anyone to change her tune, huh? (Inconsistent characterization and unlikable. Double marks against her.)

Miles was a founding father, second in command to Monroe?! How? What happened to make him desert? Because he did desert, that much has been clear in the last three episodes. Spare me Charlie's ridiculously slow, betrayed expression.

Oooh, the initiation of the power grab came from Miles? Who just wanted to help and restore order? And not Monroe? Interesting.

Why did the locket turn on by itself? That cannot be a good sign. Why aren't we more concerned about that?


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Monday, October 1

A Dystopian TV Show? Count Me In (Revolution Ep 1&2)

Okay, I know I'm coming to the party two weeks late. I thought about doing a one-time fangirl post about NBC's new show Revolution and leaving it at that. But a dystopian TV show? I have to get in on the conversation, and I know I'm not the only one who wants to discuss. So, welcome to my weekly recap roundtable! Plenty of established sites will post scene-by-scene dissections of each episode. I'm going to focus on my reactions while watching and the lingering questions I'm left with. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts as well :) 

Without further adieu, my thoughts on the pilot and episode two:

Pilot Episode (aka Storyworld Hooks Me)
The first three minutes hooked me like the best kind of "first page." I couldn't look away. I wanted to take in every detail. Who were we meeting? What was happening? Where were we? Why did the power turn off? What did Ben know about it? You see, what I mean? Tons of great questions. Often times in dystopian lit we don't get to see the moment it all went wrong. We see glimpses of the change and definitely the effects, but the moment of contact? Brilliant move on the writers' part. I can't wait for them to tell us how we got from that moment to where we pick up fifteen years later.

The images of a dilapidated Chicago were pretty incredible I thought, and the Militia with their threats of conscription and re-education? Appropriately scary. So far the storyworld has my attention. Plenty of information and, at the same time, unanswered questions; you need both in a speculative world, right? *Makes a note to give prologue even more tension, info, and questions*

Aaron owned a plane and worked for Google? Why does this make me suspicious of him?

Lady Doc (isn't it horrible that I don't know her name?) carries spiked liquor? I love her.

Miles is Billy Burke? I have a character to care about! I am more happy than I should be that Miles puts Nate in his place. Somebody needed to.

Wait, there is more than one republic?? How many? How are they divided? Are they all this bad?

Even when Miles is being a jerk, I still like him, and Charlie showed some vulnerability! I just experienced a shade of empathy.

How did Miles know Nate was militia? Because he's awesome :) See the way he put himself between Nate and Charlie? He does care. And that fight scene? I have no words. He took on more than thirteen guys! Incredible. I'm in love.

General Monroe is Miles' marine friend?? How did he manage that? What has he been up to in the last fifteen years? The writers could've given us a personal villain with power and that would've been great but also tying that villain to our protagonist family? Kudos, guys, really.

Also, anyone else want to weigh in on the "the good brother dies so the bad brother has to save the day" scenario? I've seen it used several times in books and movies recently, and while I have to agree with its effectiveness, can't the good brother be a hero too once in a while? Just saying. But maybe I'm not objective about that ;)

Episode Two (aka Miles Continues to be Awesome)
Um, is Charlie serious? I wish I wasn't annoyed by her innocence and belief in the good of people.

See, I knew not killing that bounty hunter was going to get us in trouble. Are we going to listen to Miles now? I have the sinking feeling that we won't. And really? Charlie judges killing the bounty hunter even now? *shakes head*

Mr. Militia quoted republic law verbatim, and an American flag is contraband? Details get even richer. Also, General Monroe is capital "S" scary.

Maybe if you didn't argue with and judge Miles all the time, he wouldn't leave you behind. Only a thought I had. And following him, really? This is the kind of female stereotype I don't get. I'm all for strong women; my books are filled with them, but this headstrong, running into danger against the wisdom of others archetype gets under my skin. They pretend to be strong to convince you to ignore all of the times they have to be rescued. At least damsels in distress admit it.

The swelling music isn't fooling me. I don't buy the conflicted chemistry between "Nate" and Charlie. It's a good thing I like the storyworld, Miles, and Lady Doc so much.

Lady Doc had kids?? I'm so, so sorry.

What's Grace's story? How did she know Ben? Who's she talking to? And what is Aaron up to?

Turns out Danny has the same "mouth runs away with itself" disease that Charlie does. Where did they get that from? I don't see either one of their parents having that trait.

(Avengers commercial: SQUEE!!)

I am over Charlie's self-righteousness. 

Why are we carrying that locket around in our hands?

Who's coming after Grace?! He has a locket too!

Mom's not dead! What's going on? How long has she been there??

I'm still not a fan of Charlie or Danny, but the world and Miles? I'll give them a little more time :)

What do you think? Why are you watching?


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Tuesday, September 18

Panic ... Excitement ... ACFW

This time last year, I printed out one sheets and crammed four days worth of outfits into a small carry-on bag. Erynn and I flew from RDU to St. Louis for our first ever ACFW conference. I was overwhelmed and slightly panicky. Okay, I was moments away from a full blown panic attack. 

But the conference exceeded my highest expectations. (See posts here and here). God confirmed His will over and over again. I survived pitching to agents and an editor. I had lunch with the fabulous Melanie Dickerson, and I met the lovely ladies below. Amanda, Jess, Erynn, and I have become sisters and critique partners in the last year, and I cannot tell you how much knowing them has blessed me.

Last Year at ACFW with the Girls
This year, the conference is in Dallas, TX. I'll be flying alone. I'm not a newbie, and I've an agent pitching my book as well. Other things remain the same, like cramming four days worth of clothing (including a formal dress) into one carry-on bag.

I must admit to being anxious still. Even though I know what to expect. Pitching your book is a lot like asking a guy you like to the Sadie Hawkins danceyou still have to put your heart out there and hope it doesn't get squashed.

All I can do is trust God with my fragile heart and ask you to pray. So I will :) When you think about me over the next five days, would you please pray

  • that I would feel well and have stamina despite the long, busy schedule,
  • that I would find food to eat and enjoy without compromising the doctors' instructions,
  • that God would grant me favor with whoever He wills,
  • that God would strengthen existing relationships and initiate new ones,
  • that I would seek out ways to encourage and support those around me.

God has a plan already set into motion for this year, and I'm praying my eyes are open to see it. Maybe this week will be even better than last year.