Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 7 Review

TLDR; Playing with my emotional strings like that, how dare you, Stranger Things? Will is caught! And Joyce & Hopper are caught! And Nancy & Jonathan are off monster hunting AGAIN! And everything is too tense for my heart!

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This. This is the point of the whole episode, right here.

The Bathtub

First thoughts of episode seven: LUCAS TO THE DAMN RESCUE! YAS. Stalker Repairman and His Candy Van Brigade are coming and the kids have to run/bike for it. Eleven’s face when she sees “Papa”, ugh, just stomp on my heart already and be done with it. Anyway, they paid their special effects team well for this show and it was worth every cent.

Everyone apologizes and for a brief, shining moment all is right with the world. Ahhh. But of course that lovely soft feeling cannot last.

Joyce and Hopper go to rescue Jonathan from the jail and, unwisely, a deputy tries to get in her way. She was ready to kill a HELLFLOWER with an AXE, dude, you will not be a challenge.

Just when I decided to hate his guts forever Steve has sudden decent impulse. Damn it, pick a character direction, Steve! I don’t want to trust you but you’re looking all earnest and remorseful and stuff and I don’t know what to think.

The kids are hiding out when the Government Men finally find them but it’s okay because Hopper shows up just in time for some problem-solving! Me *trying to sound stern but still laughing*: “Hopper, you cannot solve every problem by punching it.” Hopper: *punches the problem until it goes away*

And then finally, FINALLY, we are sharing our information as Joyce, Hopper, Eleven, and the rest of the kids all sit around Joyce’s kitchen table and brainstorm. It’s coming together! Upside down road trip to rescue Will, coming right up! Please? (Also, can Hopper, like, be Eleven’s dad now? He would be roughly 1001 times better at it than “Papa”. I’m just throwing it out there.)

We discover in this episode that ten o-clock at night is always a great time to call your science teacher to learn how to make a sensory deprivation tub. Always. I really love it when a show can take moments that are critical for plot development and make them funny. It’s one of my favorite tropes. Is it a trope? Oh, well, it is now.

Nancy and Mike: *make pact to tell each other everything and keep no secrets from now on*

Also Nancy and Mike: *Immediately break pact*

Joyce gives El love and encouragement for possibly the first time in her life. I just wanted to lie down and sob with a combination of relief and pain at this point. This could very well be the first time Eleven has been touched with kindness in her entire life and it HURTS to know that. For her new friends she goes hunting through the Upside Down, alone, looking for our two lost members. We all knew Barb was dead but FUCK that was disturbing. RIP Barb.

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Just shove an ice-pick through my heart, why don’t you.

Eleven does find Will (alive, at the present moment) so all is not lost. But there seems to be a problem with his hiding place being discovered by a rampaging Hellflower . . .

Wait—do not end there!

No, no, don’t do that! Do Not do this to me, Stranger Things, I swear . . .

Goddammit they ended there.

 

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is in The Zone

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group meets (online) on the first Wednesday of every month. During these especially scary days, it’s nice to know you’ve got a group like this at your back. If you haven’t already, come join!

The awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter (Hi!), Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

April 1 question: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

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Actual image of SE, getting ready to share the ZONE ritual

Why, yes, there is indeed a no-fail ritual I turn to and I would be delighted to share.

  • First, what you need is a good knife sharpener. Chef quality, if you can. You’re going to want a really good edge. Next you’ll need a good narrow filleting knife. None of those big ol watermelon chopper kinds, finesse is needed here.
  • During the next gibbous moon (waxing gibbous, definitely) head for any swampy, rich, muddy area close to you. Getting out of there with dry boots is a bad sign, I mean the kind of place that actively tries to suck your shoes off and eat them.
  • Bring a good reusable shopping bag, two green bell peppers (pasilla will work as a substitute), two spiders (doesn’t matter what kind), an empty container, lots of string, and a snack, cause this will take most of the night and self-care is important. (I suggest tacos.) The container is for blood. Blood will flow as streams for this ritual. When you find a good area to set up your trap you’ll need to leash the spiders and tie them to . . . oh.

Oh . . . wait. That’s not—haha, no, wait, that’s incorrect.

That’s the wrong ritual. Wrong one. Sorry, friends.

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*coughs nervously*

Ahem. In actual seriousness, I have no ritual to get me in the Writing Zone. I just . . . do not have one. Nor have I found one that works every time, because discipline and consistency are kinda anti-SE traits, and this is something I know to be true about myself after 33 years on this planet. I am a vague, oblivious, socially anxious, kind of ditzy, unorganized person with a bad short-term memory. I have developed life-hacks and habits to work with and/or minimize (cause this kind of personality doesn’t get the bills paid, yo), but I don’t have one magic bullet fix for my writing life.

The closest I get to a ritual, and if you want to steal this idea please do, is this: I always go back a chapter or two and re-read what was happening before I start writing.

*shocked gasps all around* I know, I know, this goes against current writing advice which is all VOMIT WRITE DIRTY ON THE FIRST DRAFT and NEVER SELF EDIT YOU INSECURE MUFFIN and YOU CAN’T EDIT A BLANK PAGE. Yes. Totally. I agree 100% if this kind of get-it-down-on-the-page works for you. But it does not work for me and my Dory-memory self.

I need to hit the refresh button before I can go forward, and that’s how I write. As I read through what I already finished I slip back into the world I was creating, remember where I was trying to go, and recollect what steps were next to get me across this constantly rushing torrent of ideas. It’s like shifting from park into drive for me, and it’s something I need.

Will it work for you? Maybe. Also perhaps not. We all hack out the words from the Idea Mines with a different pick. But I will enjoy visiting your blogs today and hearing what works for you. Happy IWSG Day, writers. Stay safe and healthy.

 

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 6 Review

TLDR; Help us Lucas, you’re our only hope. I was brutally attacked by FEELS in this episode and I don’t know if I’ll survive.

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I need a fluffy otter hug right now

The Monster

First thoughts of the episode: I want to know if Nancy’s okay! I’m going to regret this! But I want to know!! Oh god I’m already regretting this! Help!

I did live through the terrifying part where Nancy & Jonathan are trying to find each other, including yet another jump scare. The music just adds to the tension by a factor of twelve, may I say. Then, as my heart rate is finally slowing again and the monster hunters are dealing with their trauma, Steve pulls an Edward Cullen and regrets it immediately. Just accept you’re an awful boyfriend and move on. You have no idea what Nancy is going through right now. Or Jonathan, for that matter, who proves that he can just be quietly supportive and not pushy, EVEN SLEEPING IN THE SAME BED. Take notes, Steve Cullen.

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oh god my heart rate, it’s not healthy

Meanwhile Mike feels guilty about El, which he should, damn it. She overreacted to Lucas and should definitely apologize to him, but you YELLED at her like a huge meanie and I am mad at you. Never yell at my Eleven. Don’t even look at her in a mildly mean way. Give my El all the hugs and the loves and the kindness and absolutely no yelling. Dustin comes over and lays down some truths in his lisp and Dustin, I love you. (Please don’t die.)

Undercover Assassin Granny shows up at Mr. Clark’s house and my first thought was, “Awww, man, bullet to the head. Farewell, Mr. Clark.” Damn it, why did I admit to liking Mr. Clark, I know better! But he gets to live because she merely wants the names and addresses of all the kids, which is WORSE.

Turns out Eleven spent the night in the woods and she’s having a serious moment. It couldn’t be clearer that she feels like she’s a monster. Her stealing scene was awesome, although I was uncomfortable with her being forced to shoplift. Somebody fucking take care of her right, for once! Poor baby. And there were Eggos again. They haven’t been as critical as I was led to expect with all the memes.

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This is what you GET when you MESS with my ELEVEN, okay

In the very first miss-step I’ve seen the writers make, Joyce and Hopper go on a road trip to see Exposition Lady™ as she explains all of Eleven’s/Jane’s/Stolen By the Government’s backstory in one big infodump. I’ll allow it because there really is a ton to get packed in there and they kinda need it.

Then complete misogynistic douchery comes to play in Hawkins Indiana and all I could think was; STEVE YOU FUCKING TWATWAFFLE. Public slut shaming? That’s your big move here? REALLY? And the heavens opened and from them rained a Nancy bitchslap, which was so well deserved. Steve pushes his already crappy luck and in return gets his ass kicked by Jonathan, which he also deserved. I ain’t even sorry. The Nancy and Steve ship has officially sunk for me. Full speed ahead, Captain Jonathan.

As if that wasn’t enough, what kind of middle-school bullies are they growing in Hawkins? This little dude (he has no name in my head beyond “Bully”) pulls a damn knife on my nerds! A switchblade! Slow it down there, this ain’t The Outsiders, JD. For real. My school mostly had people, like, calling you names and chasing you into the bathroom, what the hell is in the water in Hawkins? Mike risks his life to save Dustin (he was totally going to die) and then El saves him in the coolest scene ever.

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Feelings attack me as they group hug. I’m not tearing up, you’re tearing up. So dang much happened in this episode and all of it hurt and I’ve definitely been smooshed by a train made of feels.

And . . . we end on yet another cliffhanger with G.I. Lucas as our only hope. He’s put the clues together and he’s the only one in a position to warn the other kids as they troop home, all unaware of Stalker Repairman and his Candy Van in the front yard. Things are definitely rushing towards the climax and the tension is almost visibly ratcheting up.

 

Throw Away Your Crutches: Author Toolbox

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2The author toolbox is the creation of Raimey Gallant, all about sharing resources, discoveries, and expertise. If you’re a writer looking for a diverse range of help in many different areas, this is your hop. Come join!

What do you mean by writing crutch, SE?

I mean something like those words we overuse (that, suddenly, like) but in the realm of scene setting and action beats your characters go through. Here are some examples of common writing crutches/habits/aids.

  • Dramatic sighs.
  • Locked eyes/gazes
  • Hearts leaping and/or pounding
  • Letting out a breath they didn’t know they were holding (looking at you, YA)
  • Throats closing/clenching
  • Stomachs jumping, clenching, or sinking
  • Furrowed brows
  • Trembling
  • Blushing
  • Laughing, chuckling, snorting or otherwise indicating amusement the same way every single time
  • Shrugging while rolling eyes
  • Licking lips
  • Nodding or shaking heads

Each of us has a writing prop or three we turn to when it’s time to throw in an action beat. It’s universal, and unavoidable. I’m in the process of editing and revisions for my latest finished MS, running headlong into all of my own writing props, and so this topic is very much on my mind right now. Oh wow do I have a repetitive range of action beats I reach for in almost every situation! Most of the time we don’t see we’re using the same descriptions until we enter the process of editing and realize ‘omg my character is constantly shrugging! Why are you always shrugging, you shrugging shrugger?!’

How do I fix this? What are my options? There are only so many ways to get those action beats in, you know!

Experts have done scientific study things, as they do, and most of them agree that somewhere between 70% and 93% of human communication involves nonverbal cues. Most of us pick up on them without even noticing we’re doing it.

So one possible solution for this issue is to start paying careful, close, almost stalker-ish attention to the nonverbal communication going on around us, and then apply the findings to your action beats.

As I’m revising I find it helpful to search out each repetitive behavior in my book, highlight it, and try to figure out what I was conveying with those actions. I condense it down to the main emotional beat or emphasis I was going for, and with that base in mind I go people hunting.

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NO, NOT LITERALLY. CALM DOWN.

Then I like to watch a movie or show and make a special note of how I’m seeing the emotion I got stuck on. Movies have the luxury of being visual and using that nonverbal communication we take for granted. As authors, we have to take the long way around and describe it so that the reader’s nonverbal communication radar is activated. Get as many examples as you can to draw off of when it’s time to write your character experiencing that emotion. Jot down notes, even. (What are all those empty notebooks for, after all?) Then filter it through your character’s quirks and personality as you kick away your writing crutches and revise your manuscript.

*NOTE* I’m not saying to get rid of every single generic description ever in your book. A) it’s not happening and B) sometimes they’re the quickest way to convey a scene to your reader and there’s no need to complicate it. And they’re not bad things, per se, it’s when they become a repeated refrain there’s a problem. Also, you have your own voice and writing style which should always be respected!

Keeping that note in mind, let’s look at some action beat inspirations:

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  • One of my favorite actors to turn to for huge, grandiose, over-the-top, physical acting. Look at how his whole body is involved in making a humorous point.

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  • Yeah, she goes far beyond the usual narrowed eyes to express anger. Also, it’s hilarious. How would I describe this in a book? I think I’d start with the quick, agitated brush waving and move on to the gritted teeth underneath a wildly flared nose.

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  • So much going on here! Tim Curry’s body screams confidence, control, suspense, humor, excitement. That cocked shoulder. That perfectly timed pause, with the widened eyes. Those quirked lips.

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  • Data is a beautiful example of filtering a character’s physical reactions through their personality. What would be a fluid and natural gesture to a human is stilted, abrupt, and somehow off in the timing when an android does it.

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  • Rowan Atkinson is a living legend when it comes to pure face acting. Here you can see why. I swear even his ears get into the act. This is FAR beyond the usual furrowed brow!

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  • Johnny Lee Miller expresses an entire world of feeling simply by closing his eyes and lowering his head a little. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Further reading: As well as having a nice, quick list of the more common generic reactions, author Nathan Bransford  has a different, good fix for this same problem. I really recommend his article if you’re struggling like I am.

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 5 Review

TLDR; Everyone is off on their side quests getting lost and separated and infighting and I need them all to get together and have a PLAN. Alone, it’s not working for them. Together, they might have a chance. Also we lost Nancy and I’m surprisingly sad about this?

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At least we don’t have to cringe through any more scenes like this? I guess?

The Acrobat and The Flea

First thoughts; what does a flea, or an acrobat, have to do with anything? (For the record: there was no way I was guessing what that episode title was about. Not even theoretically.)

Hopper has the best worst idea EVER. For nearly ten minutes I sat there saying ‘oh god oh god, oh god’ under my breath. His whole adventure was an exercise in don’t. Don’t go in there! Please don’t get face hugged by the hellflower. DON’T TOUCH IT what is wrong with you? Then was sure it was the monster behind him H E L P. But oh, no, wait it’s the government guys. OH THAT’S WORSE.

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Hopper being Hopper

The funeral just makes everything awfuller and awfuller. Poor Joyce, Poor Jonathan. But not poor Lonnie, fuck that dude. Pretty much everything he does is shady. Like, I’m happy he was there for his family, that was a decent thing to do but…it was also rock-bottom-bare-minimum decent. He belittles Joyce and goes a fair way to convincing her she’s crazy. He argues with Jonathan. Where is the support, dude? Ugh.

I was delighted to find that Hopper gets to live! Yay! Haha on the government guys, too, their little stage setting didn’t fool him for a moment. And it’s like . . . he’s engaged, his brain is firing, he’s kicking ass and taking names and finding the bugs they planted in his trailer. Hell yes, Hopper. I haven’t touched on his tragic backstory much because there really hasn’t been time, but it’s super clear he was depressed and directionless (and drinking a lot) after the death of his daughter. This is giving him purpose? A mystery to solve? A family to help? A cause to champion? Maybe all of those, at once. And I approve.

I just adore Mr. Clark and how enthusiastic he is, though. Oh god now that I’ve said that he’ll die, won’t he? Damn it, SE. I loved Dustin’s brain wave about the compasses and the changing of polar north by the gate. Brains, For the Win! But El looks . . . absolutely terrified. And she’s probably right. They don’t want to go storming that particular gate.

Hopper goes to see Joyce and affirms her Mama Bear sense. You were right, this whole time. It feels so good! I’m not Joyce and I still needed that good feeling. But everyone’s off on their separate side quests and they need to get together, compare stories, and work as a group. Monster/Gate hunting powers, combine! (Please, writers! Please. I’m begging.) I can’t help feeling their separate quests are doomed to fail and my beloved nerds do indeed end up with a fractured group, as Mike & Lucas fight and El uses her mind powers to throw Lucas. Major sad face.

The flashback to El’s powers being used in the sensory deprivation chamber is stunning, what a cool idea to have her basically treading softly on an endless dark ocean! But it makes me very angry on her behalf. They TORTURED her brain to spy on RUSSIA are you kidding me right now? She’s terrified, get her out of there!

Nancy & Jonathan find the wounded deer and the jump scare totally got me. Then yet another side quest ends on an epic fail when Nancy goes through to where this monster dragged a wounded deer, most likely to EAT IT, wtf are you thinking, Nancy? Of course she has a run-in with it, it realizes she’s there, she’s running scared, Jonathan can’t find her and . . .

. . . and it’s the end of the episode, isn’t it. DAMN YOU WRITERS the cliffhanger game is so strong in this show!

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is Traditional

Happy Insecure Writer’s Group day! It’s a very good day to rest gently in the support of your fellow writers cause, believe me, it’s a hard landing everywhere else.

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The rest of the Internet be like:

It’s March and I’m querying, so there’s two strikes against a good mood right there. Liberal application of walks in the sunshine (when the sun deigns to favor us with an appearance), rampant cussing (mostly under my breath), and the support of a good group are getting me through. My very first query letter just returned my very first standard form rejection of the query cycle, so that was cool.

Deep sigh.

I need to post a big sign over my work desk, something uplifting and motivating like; YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR, YOU IDIOT, SO SHUT THE PIEHOLE AND OPEN UP THOSE REJECTIONS. No? Too encouraging?

Anyway! On to the March 4 question: other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

The answer for this month is: No.

I don’t tend to include much of my own personality, traditions, or situations in my stories. I’m writing straight-up escapist, romantic fiction and honestly I don’t want to include reality. Reality is mean, and grumpy, and much too lacking in orgasms. Give me all the romance tropes and fluffy cheesy moments, please. Also I haven’t written any stories set around a holiday, so the chances I’ve had of including my family customs in them are pretty slim. I won’t say I’ll never include any family quirks in a holiday story, because I might. But I haven’t yet.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence! Don’t forget to go give their posts a look today.

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Leaving you with this fun image, because this is pretty much what my stories are all about.

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 4 Review

TLDR: I’m both ecstatic and furious about Will’s body being fake. This is not a fucking BUILD-A-BEAR situation, Hawkins government people. NO. There is a family GRIEVING and you’re messing with them like that, what the actual fuck?

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The Body

First thought of the episode: well that’s ominous.

We start out with no one believing Joyce and it HURTS. Jonathan can’t listen to her without having to walk away for a cry, and I feel for him so damn hard. Everything she’s been through does sound crazy, but…please. Somebody. Hopper. Try! She’s literally stalking around her house with an axe, she could use a listening ear!

Why does Will sound so pathetic singing a Clash song? Why do I start tearing up when I hear it? I should be happy he’s alive AND YET. These are the questions you’ve made me ask, I hope you’re happy with yourselves, Stranger Things fans.

After that nice little heart-punch, the viewing of the body brings ENDLESS SADNESS FOREVER. When Jonathan has to go throw up I just wanted to reassure him and step through the screen and hug him and promise not to let anything hurt him again, my precious baby grump. Joyce, however, continued to be her badass Mama Bear self, demanding to see the birthmark her Will has on his right arm. It’s clear she’s not buying it and you go, Mama Bear.

There was a makeover montage to disguise Eleven, thank you, my heart needed that soft landing. And El does look great but…that blonde wig is WRONG. My eyes don’t like it.

And, of course, the government people continue with the unwise sciencey shit by sending a hazmat suit dude through the portal/space rip/hellflower’s home on a long extension cord. Haha, yeah, I’M SURE THERE’S NO WAY THAT COULD END BADLY oh wait, they tried that trick in The Mist by Stephen King. We all knew what was coming but the visual of his PELVIS at the end of the cord, being dragged in a bloody swipe across the floor, was super what-the-fuck, well done there writers.

Nancy gets to have the fun experience of everyone knowing she totally boned Steve, so that’s nice. Poor Nancy, this boyfriend thing isn’t turning out like she hoped at all. And now her best friend is missing and while she’s trying to get the police and her mom to care about it they’re all focused on silly asides like, ‘was that before or after you went upstairs to ‘change your clothes’ nyer, nyer, we all totally know what that means, Nancy.’

The Loser’s Club continues to be the cutest ever as they try to Mission Impossible their way into school to use the stronger radio to locate Will, and are foiled by the dastardly fact that the door is locked. Dustin going ‘Abort’ was my favorite part. And then Eleven tops it by doing that fucking little pirouette after she totally takes on the bully and it was GLORIOUS. Glorious, do you hear me?

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That pirouette is everything right in this world

When they eventually do make it to the radio, Will talking to his mom through the wall was unhealthy for my heart rate. Cortisol, adrenaline, and stress levels, oh my! The emotion and tension of that scene was palpable and had me physically leaning my body forward, as though I could get Joyce to punch through the wall to get her son just by wishing it. Another sincere round of applause for the Writers on this episode.

Hopper punches his way into the morgue, which had me all, “YEAH! You go!” and then oops, he’s actually inside and can do what he came for, and that happy feeling backfired. You can see him working through his options and deciding, ‘eh, fuck it, I came in here, I might as well go all the way and be sure.’ He pulls out a knife to open the body up and I reversed course right into EEEWW, DO NOT DO THAT, DO NOT PUT KNIVES IN DEAD BODIES….Oh. Ohhhh.

Stuffing? WHAT. WAT.

And after that bombshell we’re left on the edge of our seats as Hopper decides he’s damn well going to do something about this. Writers, I curse you and your unholy cliffhanger skills.

 

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 3 Review

TLDR for those with no patience: I’m not feeling jolly after episode 3. The episode title is a lying liar. Why must you hurt me this way, Stranger Things Writers? I am STRESSED and CREEPED OUT by something as normal as CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and I need to know what that body was RIGHT NOW.

First thoughts of the episode went like: I really want to know how Barb is! Wait, shit, shit, no I don’t. I don’t want to know how Barb is. Damn it. I had to go and say that. Welp, she dead.

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Holly Jolly

There was a clear juxtaposition between Barb and Nancy’s hands as Barb desperately grips the edge of the pool trying to escape the hellflower monster and Nancy desperately grips Steve during their first sexual encounter. Well done there, Stranger Things. Playing with my emotional strings like that, how dare you.

This entire episode really brought some impeccable visuals. I’ve praised the writers and the casting already, and this time I want to commend the directing/editing and shot choices. From Nancy vs Barb, to the light trail leading the little girl down the hallway, to the terrifying angle focus on the letter N, this episode was a visual treat.

The interlude with the boys and Eleven came as such a relief after all the initial creepy, because El Continues to Have No Time For Your Bullshit, Dustin™. I burst out laughing when he dropped the Millennium Falcon in front of her not once, but twice. Then we check in on the scientists as they continue to do UNWISE sciencey shit and I have a Han Solo kind of bad feeling about this, probably prompted by the Star Wars reference. I want to go on record to say whatever thing they were bolting to the floor, it is a bad thing.

Moving on: Nancy, you might have wanted to consider Steve’s choice of friends before you decided to sleep with him. Seriously no one wants a reenactment of orgasms in the middle of the lunch room, Tommy the Taint. Any other friend in the universe would read Nancy’s clearly embarrassed body language and Steve’s stiff laughter and desist. Tommy. STAHP. (And also, shut up.)

After I had shifted to a more “meh” attitude for him last episode, Steve tries to get me to actively dislike him again in this one. Unauthorized paparazzi photos are wrong. No question. Jonathan crossed a line by taking that photo of Nancy with only a bra on, and it was inappropriate. But so is cornering Jonathan after school with a group of bullies, ripping up all of his photos, verbally abusing him, and breaking his camera. I’m conflicted as to who is the bad guy here, and starting to root for a boyfriend-less Nancy solving mysteries as a badass single lady.

All of El’s flashbacks continue to break my heart in new and interesting ways. Her “Papa” is the WORST. The actual worst. “Incredible,” is the EXACT WRONG RESPONSE to El killing the two men trying to throw her into her in the solitary confinement closet. (This is aside from the obvious fact that locking her in a closet every time you’re displeased is literal child abuse, dude!) Everything about him creeps me out, from his fluffy white hair, to his suit, to his dead fish eyes, to his soft creepy voice and I just want him to GO AWAY. None of those scientists should be allowed around children, ever.

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This is neither Holly, nor Jolly. My heart aches for Joyce

I’ve never been so happy, or so stressed out, about LIGHTS LIGHTING UP. Which is what lights DO. And then they do it and it freaks me out! But in slightly happier news, I finally understand a cultural reference! Yay, me. That’s what the alphabet Christmas lights are all about. And then things get disturbing as Will spells out RUN, the lights go nuts, and that HELLFLOWER THING comes out of the WALL oh my fuck.

AND THEN there’s a body in the quarry. What? Wait, what? Will wasn’t anywhere near the quarry. And he was literally just doing the creepy light-brite spelling with his mom. Was it…his ghost communicating with her? Trying to keep her safe? First of all, that’s heartbreaking. Second, Eleven seems to be operating under the assumption he’s alive and hiding. I’m going to go with what the writers seem to be clearly foreshadowing, that Will is somehow hiding in the place that hellflower thing comes from, trapped in the strange, spooky echo of his house. Which is definitely not safe in any way, but is still more hopeful than a soggy body in the quarry.

I need to know if that’s Will’s body and I need to know NOW.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Gets Artistic (While I Crash Into a Reef)

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Welcome to another Insecure Writer’s Support Group day! To sign up for the Group yourself, join in on the fun and receive all the wonderful support, go here. The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson! Stop by their blogs and offer a thank-you for today.

The optional question for today was: has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it? I can’t say a single work of art has inspired one specific story for me, so today I’m going to REBEL and go OFF TANGENT and float OUT TO SEA.

This month my biggest insecurity is the Query Ship, as it sets sail again. In batches of three, my latest begging letter will be heading out to places unknown, trying to lure me in an agent. In honor of the maiden voyage of my completed manuscript, I have decided to start the journey with a nautical theme. Because why not?

This will be the fifth completed book I query. As of now I’m sitting at a 50-60% rejection rate (I like to think of them as ‘ships sunk while in pursuit of glory’). My voyages so far:

  • 40K word historical romance, my first effort, rejected over and over for being too boring. That one’s back in the bin waiting for me to add *excitement*.
  • 20K taboo romance novella, accepted by small eBook publisher eXtasy Books, published 2018
  • 60K new adult romance with paranormal elements, rejected without even one manuscript request. Also binned until I can get a professional editor look at it and point out what I’m doing wrong.
  • 30K taboo romance novella, accepted by eXtasy Books & published 2018.
here be monsters
Here be monsters (if you define monsters as a vicious cycle of hope and rejection, which I totally do.)

This latest effort sits at about 60K and it’s a bit of an enemies to lovers with a secret cinnamon roll supervillain (Bane) and a quietly heroic sidekick (Michaela). It’s already been through one round of professional edits, which were gently and expertly delivered by the wonderful Jen Graybeal. Seriously, she caught so many issues, saved me from so much embarrassment, and had fantastically useful ideas. Go see her if you’re looking for an editor.

The good ship That Wind is the Sound of Your Ego Deflating will be my home for the voyage.

mark watney gif
Yeah, querying a finished book feels a lot like this

Captain Optimism will be navigating, with First Mate Butareyou’Sure at the helm. Various crew members will come and go, I’m sure, including Self Doubt, Confidence, Fear, Hope, Stubborn, Anguish, and Bob. (Bob is there for the comic relief, and we are going to need him.) If things go according to plan, Self Doubt and Anguish will jump ship in the Bermudas and live on the beach making straw bags for tourists while I sail on to success.

I anticipate smooth sailing for about two months, after which the agents will have had time to actually read my query letter. After that six to eight weeks I will hit Rejections Reef and be stranded for a while. 

We’ll be stuck on the Reef for months but don’t worry, I don’t anticipate any desperate drinking of urine, or cannibalism. I’ve had lots of time to store up the provisions of grit just so that doesn’t happen. The onboard menu will include equal amounts baseless enthusiasm, stubbornness, profanity, revisions, and alcohol.

Although I’m hitting this with a healthy dose of sarcasm, I really am excited (and nervous) to launch. In a way, it’s exhilarating. Getting rejected makes me want to work that much harder so I don’t get rejected next time. I don’t intend to live on Rejections Reef forever.

If you’re in the process of querying, make sure to leave me a comment about how it’s going! We’re on this daunting voyage together.

the mostdeliciousand healthysnacks to eat

 

Stranger Things Season 1-Episode 2 Review

TLDR for those of you with limited patience; I am 100% aboard this train after episode 2. Choo Choo, let’s traumatize SE. I am here for this crazy 80s scifi running over and killing every one of my emotions.

the emotions are coming gif

The Weirdo on Maple Street.

First thought of the episode: Mike is really nice. He tries his best to understand El, treats her kindly, gets her food, and listens to her when she says they’d put the adults in danger by telling them.

Eleven is still a badass, slamming doors and saying NO with a look that’s even more intense because she doesn’t overact it. Her illustration of where Will is, flipping the board over and slamming down the monster, is both creepy and visual and I loved it. All of the child actors are fantastic, I have to hand out kudos to every single one. In the first episode I admired the writers, this time I admire the casting director.

Stranger-Things-Eleven-Gun
LOOK at that ACTING! So good.

Steve continues to be a douche, but it’s kinda not that bad? He’s a generic, everyday kind of oblivious teenage boy who thinks he’s cool and, you know, for high school he’s probably right. Tommy, however? Tommy is REALLY GETTING ON MY NERVES. SHUT UP, TOMMY. Every scene he’s in he manages to be either cruel, crude, dumb, or all of them at once. His girlfriend, who I now think of as ‘Discount Farrah Fawcett’, just eggs him on and makes him worse and I really dislike them both.

If you follow me on Instagram you already know I embarrassed the hell out of myself in front of people from all over the world, so that was fun. I honestly and truly had no idea what shotgunning a beer was. For real. I had heard the term, but only in passing, so when Nancy and Steve started cutting the bottom of their cans to vampire the beer out I thought they were showing off some weird 80s party trend and made sure to highlight that in my Insta Stories watch.

I got no less than seven replies to my stories, gently explaining what shotgunning is. An Instagram friend from NORWAY replied to explain what I was missing here. When I turned to him for a second opinion even my husband said, ‘oh, yeah, that’s shotgunning’. And this is amazing because he was just as much of a nerd as me in high school and neither one of us went to parties. I don’t even know, y’all.

(But seriously it’s a stupid way to drink out of a beer can. The little fuckers have a pull tab, IT’S RIGHT THERE. Peer pressure sucks.)

In the midst of the beer can fuckery, Joyce has a run-in with The Clash haunting Will’s room and the WALLS bulging out like the HEMORRHOIDS FROM HELL and her reaction is exactly right. Run, Joyce, Run! But Mamma Bear Joyce has no time for this silly thing called ‘fear’ and she runs right back in there.

Then poor Barb bleeds into the pool and the creep factor of the show goes up by about 68%. She’s gone at the end of this scary sequence but I have hope she can, like, run away and hide with Will. Didn’t Eleven say Will is hiding? Barb could hide too, don’t @ me. She could. LET ME HAVE MY HOPE, IT’S ALL I HAVE AT THIS POINT. We can’t lose Barb in the goddamn second episode. The second episode!

stranger things 6 gif
That looks really bad, though. Please be okay, Barb!