Life, it keeps going

The kids are at their last of school before holiday break. I have turkey broth simmering on the stove. I’m sitting in my quiet living room beside the Christmas tree, attempting to find peace. I want to enjoy the holidays and make the most of them, but I need to get my head right. In truth, lately, I’ve been feeling kinda lost.

As I wait to hear word from agents about the dystopian novel I spent the last six years obsessing over I’m trying to focus on other things mostly unsuccessfully. Not only am I pitching one book, but I have high hopes of selling the series. I really and truly feel like I’ve put my best foot forward. It’s been professionally edited. The query is tight and the agents I’ve reached out I really researched. Waiting is harder than I expected. I’m finding it hard to focus on much, but I’m making myself write because if I don’t, my mind will implode. I find myself unable to sleep after waking from stressful dreams about simultaneously getting rejection letters and being chased by zombies. They always catch me.

Short fiction is helping. I’ve been able to get a decent string of solid stories out as I spin about the future of my series and plan a stand alone  book. One night while I was staring at the wind-buckling trees I asked myself, “What do I do if this doesn’t work?” This is when my mind lets in the idea of becoming a certified dog trainer again, but then I tell myself, “No you are a writer, and you have made the decision to pursue a full-time career in storytelling.”

I feel like a fake adult.

If I shut my inner-doubt down and really pay attention, I can see and feel how close I am. It’s been an uphill battle of discipline and the feeling like I’m wasting my time, but I am close. There is this weird thing that happens anytime I send positive vibes my own way. A part of me always wants to swat the self-boost away.  I’m not sure what this is, but my inner-doubt is one of the hardest things I have to manage. I think about that scene in Erin Brockovich when Julie Roberts yells, “I’ve taken time away from my kids. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.” I spend about 8-10 hours a day writing, networking, and cobbling this career together. Somedays I feel like I’m awesome and others, well like I’m living in a dream world reaching for impossible goals.

Writing all this down helps, just I I thought it would. I’m not gonna hear anything until after the holidays. I need just to put it out of my mind and enjoy the holidays. There will be a lot of down time moments where I can work through the concepts I have for my next book because right now I only have annoying fragments of things that don’t make very much sense, but that’s how it all starts out doesn’t it?

Writing and The Vulnerable Mind

Episode 46 Promo.pngToday I have New York Times Best Selling Author, Richard Kadrey back on the show talking about the writing process, juggling projects, the importance of listening to instincts and learning to trust yourself. We get into the power of pen and paper, and leaning into the story’s flow. Richard talks about writing DC/Vertigo’s Lucifer and the upcoming Sandman Slim film. Richard and I also talk about the impact of finishing big projects and the vulnerable mind.
I had a great time talking to him! I hope you enjoy!
 
 
This episode is sponsored by LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP. 

What I Thought About ‘Hearts Still Beating’ (Walking Dead Spoilers)

Well, here we are two days after the midseason finale of The Walking Dead. Everything is building before we take a break. February feels like a long time away. The premiers usually bring the payoff while the finale leaves us hanging. If you are not all caught up with The Walking Dead and care about spoilers, stop reading! Otherwise, you may continue.

I had to watch this episode twice before I could get my opinion together. A lot was thrown at us. I didn’t initially watch it with an open mind. I’ve been grumpy since “Swear.” I was frustrated through the first half of “Hearts Still Beating” waiting for payoff and the second half was awesome. The ending rocked. The second time through I was able to relax and just watch. Overall this episode was pretty great. I will admit that I am partial to the comic. I love it. It’s one of my favorites. So much in it is done right. I love the comic so much that my fandom makes me watch the show. Overall, I’d say it’s in my top three favorite television shows, but sometimes it’s just frustrating to wait and watch. The plot often feels clunkier to me then in the comic. Yes, I know the same story in different media has to have some changes, but still, the show doesn’t pack the punch the comic does. That’s all I’m saying.

Since my last several posts about the previous episodes have been mostly negative, I figured I’d start with what I loved.

Maggie is so cool! I love her raw, badass attitude. The scene where she takes Gregory’s apple and eats it rocked. The combination of her grief and dedication to her child growing inside her is a recipe for some serious character complexity. I would follow her before Rick any day of the week. I also really like that Edith, and Sasha is so committed to her. It’s similar to how Glen and Daryl had Rick’s back.

Yes, of course, I love Daryl. Part of this I think is that he isn’t in the comic so I have nothing to compare him to, and part of it is his kickass way of being loyal and morally correct. (Even though sometimes it get’s him into trouble… Hello, Dwight!?!) That being said, every scene Daryl was in this episode I loved. When he was rushing through the hallway, I was at the edge of my seat. I was relieved when he found food and clothes. Then he got discovered by a Savior. There was a pause, then the guy said he wouldn’t say anything and let him go. You can ask my husband, but I was shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!” Daryl did. He didn’t show mercy.

I said in my last post that Spencer needed to be zombie food. Well, Negan gutting him during a pool game for trying to usurp Rick was awesome! Thanks for the payoff. Man, Spencer was annoying.

I loved, loved the ending even though waiting for the rise will be painful. First Rick, Carl, and crew walk through the gates of Hilltop after Rick and Michonne have a heart to heart about fighting back. Then Jesus and Daryl show up. So good! So emotional! I crumbled into about a thousand pieces when Rick hugged Daryl.
Episodes 6 and 7 left me grumpy about the show, but I think if there was never an entire episode dedicated to Tara I would have made it through the whole first half happy as a clam. I still don’t see the point of that episode. Slamming on the breaks in the rapidly spiraling Negan storyline by going back in time two weeks to meet up with Tara and Heath after the satellite station slaying. Not only is this storyline before Glen and Abraham’s fall to Lucille, but it’s also before Dwight kills Denise with Darryl’s arrow. (Whew, that was a lot of D’s) That’s just bad structure. An entire episode dedicated to Tara and her discovery of all female society in the woods? No, not while Rick is defeated and others conspire against the Saviors. “Go Getter’s” leaves us in the back of a truck heading to Negan’s with Carl and Jesus. All” Swear” gives us is Tara? This storyline would have been much more digestible if it was shortened to fifteen minutes and worked into episode 14 of Season 6 “Twice as Far.” Imagine an episode where both characters of a relationship die simultaneously without ever finding out about each other. The show hasn’t done that yet. Instead of Tara coming back and finding out about Denise, she doesn’t come back. Rachel from Oceanside gets to kill her. Between the Sanctuary, The Hilltop, and the Kingdom the appearance of Oceanside was fatiguing more than interesting. As a foreshadowing to the power of Negan before Season’s 6’s gut-wrenching finale would have added even more terror to being surrounded by hundreds of Saviors in the dark woods.

Well, I’m looking forward to tuning back to TWD in February, which is also my birthday month.

What were your guys thoughts on the first half of the season?

Writer’s Block: The Way of the Unicorn

We’ve all heard those terrible two words entirely too often. Whether it’s a question or a string of unproductive thoughts, if you are a writer these two words may bug you as much as they bug me. Which is a lot, so realize what you are coming along for. I don’t hate these words because I fear them, I hate them because they simply aren’t true.

I’m gonna switch from saying “we” to “me” because I’m gonna say some weird stuff here.
My inner-doubt can transform into a dragon following me down the rabbit hole as it burns my toes with his fiery breath. I’ve gotten a lot better at managing my negative thoughts when it comes to my work and what the hell it is I’m doing but they are there, and a weight to manage. From the conversations I have had with other writers, this is a common theme. Inner-doubt is part of the gig. Saying I have writer’s block is one of the nasty tricks our minds pull and is an inaccurate way to put it.
Try this instead: “I have some more world building to do,” or “I need to dig deeper into my characters.”
That’s the truth.
I used to panic when I’d suddenly come to a halt or get hung up a detail that could quite easily be the first thing cut during edits. I think I’ve mentioned this on my podcast or right here, but writing questions to yourself is an amazing tool for unlocking your brain.

Seriously try it.

What is Molly’s motivation?

She feels a moral responsibility to free all the magical rabbits from captivity.

What is the island’s power source?

Magic.

Why?

Because the island is inside a vortex in a hidden part of the ocean.

It’s fun and how I work out a lot of kinks. I’ve been talking a lot to other writers recently about the importance of trusting ourselves. It’s hard for me. I constantly suspect that I’m up to no good. If something is telling me it’s not right, or it’s awesome, I need to listen to it and not assume my mind is out to get me for some godforsaken reason. I have to write everything down on paper for that reason. My brain clicks in different ways with a pen to paper rather than fingers on keys.

Writer’s block isn’t real. Not being able to see what comes next just means you have more thinking to do. Take a walk. Do a headstand. Make a playlist. Walk away. I almost always get the best ideas while I’m vacuuming. Write down everything you think until you find something cool.

Writing and what it feels like

45-promo-image
Author, Oli Jacobs is back on the show talking about his new book, The Children of Little Thwopping. Oli and I get into inner-doubt, getting lost in words, the importance of literature, and the shear insanity of being a writer.
 
 
This episode is sponsored by LuLaRoe Rebecca Clark VIP. Enter code Too Many Words Pod to receive 20% off your next order!

My Thoughts on “Sing Me A Song” (Walking Dead Spoilers)

After last week’s frustratingly dull episode “Swear” I was really hoping this week’s episode would give me everything I love about the show. But after ninety minutes of a hodgepodge of shallow storylines, missed opportunities of serious badassery, and three too many useless scenes, I’m only more frustrated. I’m not convinced the writers know where they are taking the story and characters. Or, they are trying to milk as much out of the ideas they do have that they are willing to sacrifice the pace. From this point on there are serious spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up stop reading.

I’m really having trouble wrapping my head around why we needed to spend an entire episode solely with Tara last week only to rush from characters in Alexandria to the Sanctuary and on the road between. I was super interested at the beginning of the season. Negan gained control over Rick’s group with brutal force. We went to the Kingdom to find a tiger and a leader with an interesting backstory. Over at the Hilltop grieving, Maggie showed signs of being the leader everyone needs. My attention was in their grasp. After two kinda terrible episodes with only one more till the mid-season finale, my confidence in the storyline has dwindled tremulously. I had thought the first five episodes were pretty great (even the single focus on Daryl) but now it all feels like it’s going nowhere.

Spencer’s attitude towards Rick and every scene he was in really chewed my nerves. What was the point? I’m not sure where the writers are going with Spencer’s arc, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario that won’t be equally as frustrating. Is Spencer really gonna rise against Rick in a substantial way? Probably not. I don’t care about his character, maybe I’m alone there, I don’t know. He has shown nothing but over-privileged stupidity and has brought no value to the plot or crew. Can’t we just feed him to the zombies? Tara too, while we are at it.

There was too little Michonne. Watching her walk through a deserted country road while whistling was awesome and felt more like the real Michonne and not some watered down version. Her zombie barricade was cool! Side note: The whole let’s kill Negan thing would be cooler if a group worked together.

Carl shooting two Saviors was really cool, but everything after that felt forced and disillusioning. Is anyone else wondering why Negan has so many people willing to put up his cruelty? Yes, we have seen his numbers, and he kills people with a bat named after his deceased wife, but I’m not buying it. I want to. Negan’s prolonged smirk-wrapped words don’t bother me as much as some, but the storyline surrounding him doesn’t sit well. He tire-ironed some dude’s face for sleeping with one of his wives but doesn’t kill Carl? Throughout the episode, Carl tagged along while Negan went about his business which was weird. The scenes where Daryl and Carl made eye contact were definitely some of the better moments. After several uncomfortable interactions between Carl and Negan, they go back to Alexandria. I found it strange that Negan was enjoying the houses so much since he had already been to Alexandria. Was he too focused on the guns? The episode left us with the impression that Negan wants to take Judith. I guess? Either way Carl messed up. What started out as something cool with a lot of potential fizzled into something hard to follow. It would have been more believable all around if Negan killed Carl right away. Why doesn’t he want to? I don’t understand Negan’s motivation for keeping alive. Which I guess is what he was questioning himself at the end while he held the baby in his arms…
Surprisingly enough Dwight (who I can’t stand) and his x-wife were some of the most intriguing parts of this episode. It seems like one of them (probably the wife) slid the note under Daryl’s door, telling him to go. The conversation the between the couple on the stairwell was some of the best writing in the entire ninety minutes.
I don’t like feeling that the story is slowing down. It’s almost halfway through the season so it should be doing the opposite. Between “Swear” and “Sing me A Song” there were at least six times where I thought something cool was going to happen but then it didn’t.
Now that I’m sour about where the season has gone so far I find myself less impressed with the first few episodes. Pay off is important and there seems to be missed opportunities every four minutes. It doesn’t really feel like the viewers are being considered here. Believe me. I get the writer has to write. But the story arcs here are sloppy and disjointed. There is no impression that they are following the characters honestly since it’s impossible to get intimate with any of them.
So, yeah I guess I have mostly negative things to say about “Sing Me A Song.” I am curious where the mid-season finale is gonna leave us, and yes, I’m still a fan, just a frusterated one at the moment. Hopefully it’s fleeting.

Perfectly Imperfect People: Gilmore Girls Revival

It’s taken me a second to get my thoughts together on the four-part reunion of one of my favorite shows. Like many, I was counting down the days until Gilmore Girls “A Year in the Life” became available on Netflix. After waiting for a quiet evening, I lit candles, poured wine, and grabbed a box of doughnuts. Within the first five minutes, I was in pieces. I experienced so much emotion on a variety of scales at such fast rate I was forced to take breaks between scenes. Like, seriously there is a lot in these episodes. They are very dense. I was concerned that there would only be four. I wondered how they could pull it off. But, they did do that. I don’t think I realized how much so until after I had watched it through the first time. There are spoilers below so if you haven’t watched all of it yet, stop reading and come back.

Before I get into specifics that stood out to me, I’ll say this: As a whole, I thought it was incredible and everything a die-hard fan could wish for. The creators rode the perfect balance between giving us familiar nuggets to hold onto and the proper growth in these complicated characters over the last ten years. Just, truly gorgeous. Sure, I would have liked to have seen more Sookie and Jess, but I’m sure I’m not alone there. The moments they were present were incredible. I really felt like I was visiting old friends. Gilmore Girls first aired in 2000. I was a thirteen-year-old insecure, bookworm with big dreams.

Rory rocked my world.

Finally a character on TV I related to and not just aspire to be more like. And, Lorelei (oh, how I love her) I didn’t relate to her when I was originally watching because I was a teen. That being said, I would have taken her as my mother in a heartbeat. Even though their mother-daughter relationship demonstrated how the linked the two were, they still had their issues. As a fellow young and quirky mother (though not as young), it’s really refreshing to see it as empowering rather than shamed or mocked. The whole show holds this flawed heart that is so real. The strong-willed are capable of anything. I love that message. It’s an important one. I rewatched the entire series once I became a mother and enjoyed the show in a whole different way.

One of the best things about Gilmore Girls is hanging out in Stars Hollow with the characters. Starting the four episodes in the town square with both Lorelai and Rory was the perfect way to start off.

“I smell snow.” (Such a great line!)

How can you not love the very real blend of weird, heartbreaking, and determined? Both Lorelai and Rory have dreamed big since the very beginning. The fact that they are selfish, and sometimes self-sabotaging only makes them better, it makes them real.

Since the episodes were so chock full of emotion, references and everything that made us originally fall in love with Gilmore Girls and I didn’t want to comment on a stand alone episode. I have a lot to say, but I’m gonna just focus on my top three things about the Revival that I loved the most. Who knows, there may be more posts to come about this. Just, so good! Amy Sherman-Palladino and Danielle Palladino truly did an outstanding job. You can really tell their hearts were so in. I mean can you imagine creating Gilmore Girls? I bet those strong-willed women would get restless on the shelf.

First of all, without a doubt, my favorite part was Emily’s story arc. I mean, wow this was standing ovation worthy.  Losing someone you love is a pain unlike no other. The effects are life changing. I know first hand how the experience of great loss alters you forever. Emily’s life was completely centered around Richard. She chose the path of a career wife. When Richard is taken out of the life they built, it all no longer means anything to her. That’s such an accurate portrayal. Watching Emily deal with the loss of her husband and change while she grieved for him, simultaneously punched me in the gut and reached out with a warm hug that said: “I’ve been there too.”

Throughout the year, we watch Emily fall apart, go to therapy, sell her belongings, sleep in, get a boyfriend, and lash out very “Lorelai-style” at a DAR meeting. The best part of all? When Emily takes to the sea by moving to Nantucket. Gilmore Girls is known for their media references, but this takes the cake, partly because no one comes out and says it. Emily moves to a house on the water and volunteers at a whale museum in Nantucket. The scene where she is standing in front of whale art similar to art found on a Moby Dick cover blanketed me in chills. Another fantastic aspect to the Moby Dick reference is that Rory quoted it directly right before her Logan stole the boat at the end of Season 5. I’ve included the full quote below. It’s always been one of my favorites.

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.” -Ernest Hemingway

Another one of my favorite aspects of the show was how unraveled Rory was. I’ve read several reviews that rips the revival apart for how disheveled and weak Rory is. The same reviews bagged on her casual and expensive affair with Logan. I love these things. Let’s not forget Rory was never put together. She was a perfectionist. Yale and the first round of Logan spit her out for a good bit. As a writer, I’m very familiar with what a confidence battle it can be. Rory’s confidence was never that great. She put on this facade. Maybe to protect herself? Maybe to remove herself from her mother’s exact path? I think where we find Rory at 32 in a very realistic situation. I found it oddly comforting.

The genuine augments hit me each time. Blowouts between characters on the show has always been something we can count on. While the show was airing on CW (possibly WB back then) the fights were there, and sometimes heartbreaking but nothing quite like the raw and impactful arguments that took place in the revival. I’m not sure if it was the fact that it was on Netflix, or now that everyone is older and has been through so much the writers decided to leave out any lightness. There were hilarious moments then bam these arguments between Luke and Lorelai, Lorelai and Rory, Emily and Lorelai were so real. The characters just went there with what they said.

So, yeah, those were my favorite parts. I hope there is more to come. Considering how much they left in the air and the last line (which I loved), there is a good chance there will be.

Other Favorite parts:
Kirk has pig
Luke and Lorelei’s Alice and Wonderland Wedding
Rory’s Buffy reference
Rory writing a book about her relationship with her mother
Jess turned out to be a good guy (just like we knew he could be)

What were your favorite parts? Things you didn’t like? Share in the comments below!