Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…

bttf2

HAPPY FUTURE DAY!!!

I remember thinking about this as a kid. What would the world be like in 2015? It seemed like such an impossibly long time away. But here we go. It is the future.

I’ve heard people complaining today that we still don’t have so many of the things BTTF2 predicted. I, on the other hand, think that the movie got an amazing number of things right, or nearly so. This video makes a pretty convincing case.

We’ve got tablets and wall-mounted big screen TVs. We’ve got (FREE!) video conferencing. We had Google Glass, but nobody wanted it. But Oculus Rift, the VR goggles, come out in a few months. (My fiancé and I tried them at Awesome Con, and they were amazing. You can also get VR goggles that your phone can plug right into. It’s an app! My fiancé already wants a pa`ir.)

And yes, BTTF2 totally called those 3D movies and our shark obsession.

We’ve also got 3D printing that can replace amputated limbs. We’re working on using stem cells to grow new organs. We’ve got the internet at our fingertips, in which we can access the Swhole of human history instantly. Things that used to take us hours or days to research can now be done in minutes.

And who needs flying cars? We’re working on cars that can drive themselves.

So there’s no Pepsi Perfect, and that whole Hoverboard thing is kind of a disappointment. I think the reason we’re not as amazed today as we thought we’d be is because the future…is the present. In other words, if we had hopped into time machines 30 years ago like Marty did and traveled to 2015, it would look pretty friggin’ amazing. But of course we didn’t wake up this morning and suddenly get dazzled by wall-mounted TVs and Skype calls and tablets, because we’ve been living with them for years. They aren’t our future anymore. They are our present.

Think about that. The future is now the present.

This is heavy, Doc.

(But I still want that instant food rehydrator. If I could cook meals in five seconds, I’d be a very happy woman.)

New “Star Wars” Poster–and a Rant

Disney has just unveiled the official poster for The Force Awakens.

Cue Beth geeking out.

Cue Beth geeking out.

Here’s what I’m seeing here:

OMG, EVERYONE IS BACK!!! There’s Han and Leia and Chewie and R2-D2 and C-3PO and…wait, where’s Luke?

Daisy Ridley as Rey is front and center, with John Boyega as Finn right beside her. She looks incredibly badass. Love that! She also very strongly resembles the Skywalker women, particularly Natalie Portman as Padme. Coincidence? Probably not. (Just hope she’s a stronger character than Padme. Natalie Portman deserved so much better.)

The way Kylo Ren looms over all of them…very interesting.

Is that another Death Star?

But here’s my rant: I discovered the new poster on this Yahoo article. Scroll through the comments section (which one should probably never do if one wants to keep one’s sanity), and you’ll discover comment after comment of racist, sexist garbage, basically all equating to the same thing: “How DARE they make a Star Wars movie with a female lead and a black lead!!! Damn you, PC Hollywood liberals, diversifying everything I hold dear!!!”

It burns me that in 2015 we still see and hear this garbage. Listen up: casting women and minorities in larger, more prominent roles isn’t an attempt to “PC” the movie; it’s an attempt to get with reality. And the reality is, guess what, women and minorities exist! And many of us have been dying to see representations of ourselves on screen.

I am a woman who loves science fiction and fantasy. I have also loved Star Wars for a very long time. If Rey gets to take a more prominent role in the new trilogy, even the lead, that would be AMAZING! Honestly, in the pre-Katniss era, who were the female leads of sci-fi/fantasy? Ellen Ripley, of course. Sarah Connor, maybe, although she always played second fiddle to her own son. Leia got to do some cool stuff, but she was never the lead of the movie. To make matters worse, the big thing most people remember is Leia in her slave-girl gold bikini, when she was held captive by Jabba.

Is this what comes to mind when you think of Princess Leia? Yeah, I thought so.

Is this what comes to mind when you think of Princess Leia? Yeah, I thought so.

And if John Boyega as Finn is the lead–which was my speculation upon seeing the second teaser trailer a few months ago–that’s also amazing. I recently had a conversation on Facebook about this article discussing why Hermoine Granger was cast as white in the Harry Potter films. The answer, I think, should be obvious: our media and culture assumes everyone is white unless proven otherwise. And in some cases, we take it a bit farther and assume everyone should be white unless proven otherwise.

The leading roles in the Star Wars universe have all, up until this point, been playing by white actors. So…a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…they had exactly the same racial dynamics as we do in the United States in the present (or 1977/1999)? Really? Not all heroes have to look like blond-haired, blue-eyed Luke Skywalker. Good for J.J. Abrams for figuring that out.

And you know what? I’ll cop to doing the same thing. When I read a book sometimes, I have to check myself, because I’ll assume Character X is white, and then get caught off-guard when a description tells me something else. But I realize that this is my own failing, and it’s something I try to work on.

Representation is important. It helps to eliminate the “otherness” of other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, etc. It also helps you broaden your horizons and realize that not everyone is exactly like you.

The bottom line is this: if you write off a movie, or a book, or a TV show, because the main characters don’t look like you…that’s on you.

Look, the new Star Wars movie may suck–God knows, the prequels did. But it won’t be because of the race or gender of the lead characters.

One Line Wednesday: Dale Learns The Truth

In honor of finishing (!!!) the bear of a rewrite on the middle section, I decided to post something in honor of one-line Wednesday.

I’m cheating a little bit, because it’s actually two lines.

John opened his eyes. I met his gaze. “Are you a demon?” I asked.

He laughed. “You mean you don’t know? I’m not a demon. You are.” Then he passed out.

What is it with men? Always falling asleep at the most inconvenient times, like when you want to cuddle, or when you need more information on your demonic heritage. How rude!

Jessica Jones and F*cked-Up Heroines

Photo source: Netflix

Photo source: Netflix

I’ve been hearing about the new Netflix series, “Jessica Jones,” for the last couple of months now. And I. Can’t. Wait. It kind of looks like “Veronica Mars” (which I also loved) meets Marvel. It can’t be a coincidence that Krysten Ritter, who plays Jessica, also played a supporting role on “Veronica Mars,” and returned in the movie last year? No, absolutely not.

But I think what really appeals to me about it is that, just from what I can glean from the trailers and the little bit I’ve read about the character’s backstory in the comics, Jessica seems…incredibly screwed up. Also, incredibly badass.

Exhibit A:

Did she just take out a bar full of huge, drunken men; turn on Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”; and take a shot while her knuckles were still covered in blood??? Oh yeah, I think she did.

Exhibit B:

Note the whiskey bottle on the nightstand. Also, I kind of want to do that to my alarm clock every day. Of course, my alarm clock doesn’t go off at 3:00 in the afternoon. (I’m also loving the dissonance between the sickly sweet song and the clock smashing. Awesome.)

Of course, there’s also David Tennant, which always helps…

Yes, he’s the bad guy, but even in this voiceover he’s still almost unbearably sexy. And is it weird that I half expected him to offer to whisk Jessica off in the TARDIS to see all of time and space? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

But I think one of the biggest reasons this series appeals to me is because it seems, more often than not, that heroines have to be perfect and likeable all the time. I do believe that imperfect or unlikeable female characters have a harder time being accepted in our cultural landscape than male ones, and it bothered me.

The Demon Within is coming out in less than seven months now, and it has one of those imperfect heroines. Dale is, quite frankly, really screwed up, and I spend so much time in her head that I forget sometimes just how screwed up she is. She blacks out and kills people. And even if it’s people who, arguably, “deserve” it, normal, psychologically healthy people don’t do this, because we realize it’s not the way to live in a  functional society. And instead of facing the music the first time she killed–when she was still a minor and might have gotten off easier–she changed identities and went on the run, avoiding the law for more than a decade and killing six more people.

In spite of all this, I find Dale to be, at times, both likeable and sympathetic. She wants so badly to be a normal person, but her own mind is out of her control sometimes. On the other hand, she’s got a core of protectiveness for others that she can’t eliminate, and it’s seeing other people being hurt/victimized that trigger her blackouts.

But ever since I wrote the first draft, I worried that readers would have a hard time accepting a character like Dale.

But seeing the trailers for “Jessica Jones”–just the fact that this show exists–shows me that maybe there’s room for characters like Dale: fundamentally flawed, fucked-up, and female.

PS: Can I say that I’m absolutely loving the depiction of NYC shown in the below teaser. It reminds me a lot of Sin City, but a little more cartoon-y. Not quite realistic but totally atmospheric. It seems like the creators realize NYC can be a character in and of itself.

New Twitter Handle

I changed my Twitter handle.

My guess is that I don’t have too many business cards/bookmarks still floating around with the old information on it, but just in case, you can now find me on Twitter @beththewoodward.

I’ll miss my good ol’ BWhuggebear handle–which has been floating around in various forms, on various platforms, since I was in high school–but now that I’m starting to promote myself more as a writer, I think it’s time to have a handle that’s more reflective of my name. (Unfortunately, Beth Woodward is a common enough name that just @[myname] wouldn’t do it. But I think I might have gotten the better end of this one, anyway.)

Self-Discipline

One of the biggest problems I have, as a writer, is self-discipline.

Part of it is just economy of time/energy. I did not receive an advance for The Demon Within; even if I had, as a first-time, unproven author, it likely wouldn’t have been much. So I maintain a full-time job in order to pay my bills. My ultimate goal, though, is to be able to write full-time.

But between working, wedding planning, cat-wrangling, maintaining some semblance of a social life, trying to get to the gym every so often, and the necessity of food and sleep, sometimes I’m just too exhausted at the end of the day to do much writing.

But that’s just an excuse, really. Here are my main problems.

Inability to focus. I’m ready to sit down and write and then–squirrel!

The internet is evil. I’m a bit of a social media junkie, but it doesn’t matter–I can go down the rabbit hole of the interwebs anytime, anywhere. See above.

First draft vs. revision. I love writing first drafts. They’re new and shiny and exciting. I feel like anything can happen. But I finished the first draft of The Demon Within back in December of 2010. I’ve tinkered with it endlessly since then. There are still moments of excitement and newness and discovery, but they are much fewer and farther between.

I feel like novel revising is like playing Jenga–which I was never very good at! Every time you move one part, you risk the whole rest of the tower falling down around you.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Jenga. Photo source: Wikipedia.

I don’t get those moments of transcendence, that thrill of discovery, the way I do with first drafting because I keep thinking, “But if I change X on page 23, then it’ll screw up Y on page 192. And don’t even talk to me about Z on page 212. There’s no way I’m going to discuss page 212 yet!” Every change means more work, with a deadline that’s beginning to loom scarily close.

Writing is work…and sometimes work sucks. This is something I find very difficult to discuss with my non-writer friends because, for better or worse, they usually just don’t get it. “But you love writing,” they say. Yes, I do. But sometimes I hate it, too. I hate it when I get stuck and I can’t figure out how to get out of it. I hate it when I’ve been working on a particular scene for a long time and I’m bored as hell of it but it has to get done, and I hate not knowing whether my boredom is going to become the readers’ boredom. I hate it when I have a deadline that I’m pushing again, and my fingers are hovering over the keyboard with absolutely nothing coming out of them.

Think of it this way. You have a job. You may like your job. If you’re lucky, you even love your job. But no matter how much you like or love your job, it’s still work, and even work you love is not the same as sipping margaritas on the beach. Sometimes it’s just easier to browse the latest cute cat videos on Facebook, and that, unlike writing, is not work, and the dopamine hit is instant gratification.

Some days, writing can be amazing. Other days, it can be difficult, exhausting, and frustrating as hell. Which actually segues pretty nicely into my next thought.

Performance anxiety. The Demon Within will be my first published novel. Twenty-five years of writing are culminating in this little book. And that is…stressful. I think I’m having the writer’s equivalent of stage fright, and it’s manifesting in an inability to focus as much as I want to and produce as much as I need to.

I’m writing this down in my blog because I know I can’t be the only writer with this problem. Yet it seems like when I read other writers’ social media pages, it’s all “I wrote 9,000 words today,” and “I just finished my 14th book while working a full-time job and raising eight children and also pursuing my other dream of becoming a rock star.” Yikes. I mean…great for them, but I’m crazy envious. I can barely manage to come home, feed my cats, and turn my computer on without passing out on my keyboard.

The book will get done. But man, I’d be thankful to any suggestions on how to get it done faster and with less stress. Any programs to deactivate social media sites. (I had one once upon a time, but it screwed up my computer so badly that my computer geek fiancé took one look at it and said he had no idea why I’d ever downloaded the thing.) Cutting off social media won’t cure the problem, but it might help. Musical cures? Environmental suggestions? Scheduling changes? Getting up earlier is not an option; I’ve tried this, but I work an early shift and I’m just too damn incoherent before 6am to do something as finely tuned as revision. Besides, I’m not getting enough sleep anyway–I’m not kidding about the passing out on my keyboard thing–so methinks this will just exacerbate the problem.

I’d also like to hear from anyone else who has experienced these feelings, whether it’s to offer suggestions or just to commiserate. I know I must not be the only one.

Just One of Those Weeks

photo 1

I’ve been pretty busy over the last week or so, and I’ve been exhausted. Some quick updates:

–“Doctor Who” series 9 is amazing, and I’m glad that many of my pre-season wishes have already started to come true. This looks like it’s going to be Capaldi’s season, and Michelle Gomez has, in the first two episodes, stolen every scene she’s in. With news of Jenna Coleman’s upcoming departure, I’m starting to read a lot more into her interactions with the Doctor. So Clara died, again. Foreshadowing, or just coincidence?

–Part of my hectic week was dealing with kitty illnesses. Our elder cat, Annabel, has had kidney disease for the last 2 1/2 years. Last week, she stopped eating, became lethargic, and was hiding under the bed. We took her to the vet and they found out her kidney values had spiked to double what they were a few months ago. After two days at the emergency vet/vet hospital, a day of fluids, and some appetite stimulant, she’s gotten back to normal. They discovered her blood pressure was high, and we have her on meds now, which has also seemed to help. But otherwise, they don’t know why her values spiked, or what caused her illness, whether it’s just a part of her disease or if something else triggered it. That’s the bitch of kidney disease: it’s degenerative, so you’re always just waiting for that other shoe to drop. But Annabel is doing much better now, so we’re just taking things day by day.

–Speaking of, one of the things that makes me happy is that my fiancé feels the same way about animals–and specifically, about our animals–as I do, that they are part of our family. Volunteering at the animal shelter teaches you very quickly that not everyone feels that way. But J. does, and I don’t think I could marry anyone who treated them otherwise.

–Had a very lively discussion on my Facebook author page the other day about what movies/TV shows/books should be “required viewing” to have more of a cultural consciousness/awareness. One I forgot to mention on the page: the Harry Potter series. Certainly they’re not my favorite books, but you’re really living in another universe if you don’t get all the Muggle references that you hear nowadays.

–Speaking of required viewing, I am very much looking forward to the “Jessica Jones” television series that will be debuting on Netflix in November. The premise reminds me of my beloved “Veronica Mars,” but it looks like it’ll be even more badass than that. And hey, I do know a thing or two about violent, eff-ed up heroines. Plus, David Tennant. Need I say more?