Girls with Guns

Last week I posted a rant about my disappointment with one of CW11's new shows this season, Hellcats. I started to worry they'd never be able to duplicate the awesomeness that is Vampire Diaries. I was so disheartened that I let the first 2 episodes of Nikita languish, unwatched, on my DVR. Until this week--and now I'm completely hooked!

I have to say I'm impressed with the quality of the show--the acting is much better than I expected, there are some great action scenes, and they couldn't have picked a better actress to play Nikita. She's not some silly girl tripping around in high heels, she is a w-o-m-a-n with a mission and she kicks ass. I especially love the relationship between Nikita and her younger protege, because it reminds me of my main character in The Revengeful and her relationship with her sensei. Total tough love. Also, I never thought I'd take Shane West seriously (A Walk to Remember=gag me), but he's doing a pretty good job pulling it off.

The best part? My hubby is into it, too! Or he might just be into Nikita's super-hot tattoo. But whether you're interested in the premise, or in girls with guns, or tattoos, you should definitely give this new show a shot.


Once Upon a Time...

...there was a princess.

And she was lost.

As she wandered around the forest, weeks stretched into months, and months into years. And even though she kept trying, the princess began to doubt there was a way out of her wooded prison.

One day, when she was gathering roots for a stew, she came upon a part of the forest she didn't recognize. The trees were thicker here--they blocked out the light so that it no longer looked like daytime. But squinting just so, she could see a path ahead of her.

Putting down her basket, she drew the knife she used to cut the roots and pushed farther into the forest. It's just another path, she told herself. Just one of the hundreds of paths she'd followed before, only to find herself more lost than when she'd begun. But as sunlight began to creep through the branches around her, she allowed herself to hope. Maybe this is the one, the way out. Just as she thought this, the branches gave way completely, and she found herself in a clearing. In the middle of the clearing stood a single tree.  Tied to the tree was a man.

No, not just a man. A prince.

The princess wasted no time running to his aid. "Who did this to you?" she asked, as she took her blade to his bindings.

"Dragons," the prince said. "You have to leave--now! It isn't safe for you." But even as he said it, his eyes widened, and the princess knew it was too late. She whirled to face the creature, its snarl turning up the ends of its mouth. It was laughing at her.

Well, the joke was on it. Back in her kingdom, the princess was a Level 5 Dragon Slayer. As the giant lizard opened its mouth to deliver a fiery geyser, the princess chucked her knife at its soft underside, piercing its heart. The dragon fell over, life pouring out of it in an oily, black river.

"The beast is dead!" The prince said. "Come, we must get out of these woods before his brethren return."

"You know the way out?" For the first time that day, she felt faint.

In answer, the prince grabbed her by the hand and led her away from the clearing. They didn't stop running until they reached they edge of the forest, where the princess fell to her knees and wept at the sight of her kingdom in the distance.

...Long after the pair were married, the prince liked to retell the story of the time his wife slayed the dragon and saved him. And the princess would always smile to herself as she recalled her favorite part of the story, the part he never remembered. That he'd saved her, too.

Happy anniversary, babe. Love you.



I have to admit, I had hopes for the new CW11 series, Hellcats. I'm a fan of Vampire Diaries and I liked the idea that 'Cats features college-age characters rather than another high school drama. Unfortunately, the premiere episode came off as...well, desperate.

In the span of one episode, the following plot points were established:
  • A poor girl backstory (Marti loses scholarship and needs to find a way to replace it)
  • 3 romances
  • A token non-romantic male friend character
  • A rivalry
  • An unexpected friendship
  • An unhealthy parental relationship (alcoholic, soul-sucking mother)
  • High stakes for the cheer squad (danger of the competitive program getting cut)
  • A 180-degree shift in Marti's perception of cheerleading (goes from "edgy" pre-law student to belly-baring cheerleader)

It was too much, too fast. I felt like the guy in a relationship trying to fend off a Stage 5 Clinger. Slow things down, honey--we've been on two dates. Probably a little too soon to start talking about moving in together.

The problem with this approach, for me, is that it accomplishes the exact opposite of what was intended. Marti's story is shoved down our throats and we're automatically supposed to sympathize with her. Instead, I found myself thinking: Who gives a crap? I haven't known this character enough to care about her or feel invested. So I end up feeling resentful that the writers are trying so hard to make me like her, instead of just putting the characters out there and letting me develop my own opinions of them. It feels false, and it's a huge turnoff.

The creative advantage of TV shows is that they can take on a narrative format. Unlike movies, where a story arc must be completed within 2 hours, in a TV show you can really delve into character development and weave multiple storylines. When you do it right, you get a show like Mad Men. Episodes don't get wrapped in a tidy bow. The consequences of someone's actions in episode 3 may not surface until episode 8. Or even the following season.

TV shows are like books, in this respect. Agent Kristin Nelson did a post on openings that kill manuscripts, and I would like to add to add this one to it: Don't give it all up right away. The more desperate you are, the faster they'll run in the other direction.


False Start

I love the week following Labor Day, always have. It's always "back to school," even long after I've had to step foot in a classroom. Time to refocus, attack things with renewed energy. I think that burst of energy started as early as last night, because at 9pm I was scrubbing down our master bath, instead of parked on the couch.

And then...this morning I woke up with pinkeye. So much for starting off the new "school year" strong. Today I'm benched, at home starting antibiotics so I don't infect the entire office. But I guess if you have to be home sick, it beats a lot of other reasons. Guess I'll take advantage of the bonus writing time.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Now get back to work :)



This morning I saw a toddler young enough to be in a stroller, listening to an iPod.

That is all.


The Dog Ate My Homework

I believe I've mentioned on this blog that I'm a bit of a procrastinator. This habit was ingrained quite thoroughly, when I learned at an early age that homework did not, in fact, have to be completed at home. That was what homeroom period was invented for. Or if I really wanted to cut it close to the wire, lunchtime.

Of course when you show up to Spanish class 6th period and your five sentences are something along the lines of Tengo hambre or Me gusta comida deliciosa, it shows. Especially when the kid next to you is translating lines from Tolstoy. (Possible exaggeration here.)

I should have put in more effort. But I didn't. Because I was making honor roll in my sleep. Because none of it really mattered--it was just high school. Except, I found out later, it did matter.

A decade older and wiser, I have become a firm believer that hard work counts just as much as talent. More so, actually. But old habits die hard, and sometimes I still find myself getting frustrated if things don't come easily. If I don't nail things on the first try.

Case in point: last week I had a creative review, which is basically where the team gets together and shares what they came up with during a brainstorm. I'm a copywriter, so for me that means taglines and the concepts behind them. For all of you who don't watch Mad Men and aren't versed in adspeak, let me provide an example of what this means: L'Oreal's "Because I'm Worth It" is a tagline. The concept behind this line is: Hey, we women work hard, dammit. Why not indulge our narcissistic selves every now and again? Because all the hard work is worth it when your hair looks fabulous (obvs).

So I show up (in my defense, this was my first creative review) with a paper of all my jumbled thoughts. Some completed taglines, some half-thoughts, some just random ideas that I thought were interesting. In the end I probably only had 2 solid lines. What does everyone else show up with? A neatly typed page of at least half a dozen taglines.

I was unprepared, and I looked unprofessional. I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I thought were cool without fully thinking them through or considering the audience they were directed at. In short, I stopped at Step 1.

So for Round 2, I buckled down. I picked my 2 strongest ideas and sweated it out over them (literally--I was laying in a lounge chair in 90-degree weather dripping sweat all over my paper). And guess what? I nailed it. Not the first time, but that's not what matters.

I think it's been about 2 years since I started getting serious about pursuing publication. And I've learned a lot. That rewriting is just as crucial as writing. That the first draft is just one tiny step in a long and involved process. That a great idea can only take you so far. And when I'm stressing about things not happening as quickly as I like or worrying that I'm progressing at a snail's pace, I just have to look back to my high school self, or to the first manuscript I completed, to see just how far I've come. And for the time being, that satisfies me.

What about you guys? Any personal goals/milestones you've achieved lately that keep you plugging away at it?