Friday, June 27, 2014

Just Finished Wathcing... Orphan Black Season 2


So the ten episode season of Orphan Black has just wrapped up, and while it was good, I have to admit I didn't love it as much as the first season. Don't get me wrong, the storylines were really great, but I was a bit disappointed that there was pretty much no Sarah and Paul action, compounded by the fact that Sarah reconnected with her ex, Cal, who is also the father of Sarah's daughter, Kira.
 I was going to launch into a big long post about what I did and didn't like, but to expedite things, let's go with point form:

What I thought was great:
1) Alison's character journey for the entirety of the season. This woman did everything; had sex with her BFF's husband in the back of a minivan (because she mistakenly thought her BFF was her monitor, the person reporting her activities back to the Dyad Institute, the organization responsible for creating the clones), indirectly killed said BFF... or at least stood by and watched her die when she could have helped, went on binges, went into rehab, made Felix her new BFF, and finally patched things up with her husband after finding out he'd accidentally killed someone... punctuated by sex on the freezer they'd been storing the dead body in. Twisted, but also somehow logical. Anyway, despite her originally being dubbed the soccer-mom (because what could be more cliche and generic than that?) it turned out Allison was totally kooky.

2) Sarah taking Kira to her father, Cal. When things went bad, Sarah left Kira with her dad, which at first seemed a little sad. But Cal and Kira quickly come to care deeply about one another, and though Cal got the dad bombshell dropped on him out of nowhere and then got saddled with the kid five minutes later, he fell into the roll of daddy very easily, to the point that when Sarah did eventually come for Kira, it was easy to see the pair were sad to be parting. Cal made Kira memorize his number, and told her to call him if she needed anything. Of course, when things went really bad and sociopathic clone Rachel got her hands on Kira, the resourceful kid five-fingered a cell phone and called her daddy to tell him where she was. Cal turned up to pretty much save the day, and it will be interesting to see where Cal's storyline takes us next year, as I think he might be more involved and know a lot more about what's going on with Sarah than anyone realizes. Dare I say it wasn't a coincidence that he and Sarah connected in the past?

3) Helena. Okay, she was kind of scary in the first season when she was all brainwashed and trying to kill the other clones. But then she realized Sarah was her sister and came to learn killing the other clones wasn't the right thing to do. You can see she's really just this sadly messed up, but very innocent person, and its unfortunate that her bad experiences with people have continued. Now she's possibly pregnant, and been kidnapped by the government/military. I can't wait to see what that leads to next year. 

3) Paul working on the inside and the revelation that he was really some kind of undercover black ops military guy. The military thing isn't very surprising when taking into account the whole thing about him single-handedly killing four Marines. Although now I'm wondering if that story might have been a fabrication, as part of his infiltration of Dyad and project Leda. It turned out he was working for the other half of the experiment, project Castor, creating male clones. Its going to be very interesting to see how that plot develops next season, and whether or not he will cross paths with Sarah any time soon. I like that Paul's motives were never really clear, but I was always hoping he'd keep Sarah's welfare as a top priority, no matter what he was forced to do. Paul had some interesting moments over the season, though I think he's definitely a character being underutilized at the moment.

4) Rachel. Pencil. In the eye. The b***h had it coming. 

 What I was a little unimpressed with:
1) The total lack of Paul. He wasn't even in half the episodes. For the first few, he was off overseas somewhere (Taiwan, maybe? I can't remember. And although everyone kept mentioning it, there was never any explanation about exactly what was so important over there. Loose end, anyone?) And the episodes he was in... Well, one, Sarah cold-clocked him in the face when she was trying to get out of the Dyad Institute, but then he let her go, so that was kind of sweet. I think that was the last time they saw each other. And then he roughed up Felix on Rachel's orders. And then he had that weird sex-scene thing with Rachel. Okay, I understand needing go above and beyond for the sake of duty, but there was something so wrong about it. And of course, Sarah had to see, so one more nail in the coffin for the Sarah/Paul shippers. After that, he disappeared (who would blame the guy?) and wasn't mentioned again until a transgender clone turned up with a message from his dead monitor about keeping the faith in Paul, because he was a ghost... or something. I assume now that has something to do with the whole military thing. Anyway, in the last episode, Paul had gotten Mrs S to help him kidnap Helena, so no doubt Sarah is going to be pissed off about that when she finds out. But for the time being, Sarah is too busy being distracted by Cal. Yeah, they're a sweet couple, and they have Kira, so I'm sure she'd like to have her mom and dad back together. But Sarah and Paul have an intensity, the kind of chemistry that keeps the shippers hoping long after the ship is seemingly sunk.

2) Cosima and her illness. The only way to be cured? Kira's stem cells. I hope the writers aren't going to kill Cosima off, she is such an awesome character, I think she deserves better than that. In fact, I think she deserves the exact opposite. Something like genetic super-powers. That would be much more awesome. Also, a better girlfriend than Delphine. Apparently there's a lot of Cosima/Delphine shippers out there (what do they call that? Cosphine? Delima? ) but Delphine just doesn't work for me. She's too... I don't know. I don't want to say like a wet blanket, but that's exactly what I'm thinking. Cosima needs more of a spark in her relationship. And maybe, if the writers don't kill her, now that Rachel has had Delphine shipped off elsewhere (the only good thing Rachel actually did do) then perhaps there's hope that Cosima will get a new, more intersting girlfriend. And maybe a super-power.

3) Mrs S. Is she a good-guy, or a bad guy??? Just freaking tell us already!! Seriously, Mrs S walks the line a little too well, and at the moment I believe she'll do anything she has to in order to keep Kira safe. This would seemingly be out of love, but I have a feeling Mrs S knows something special about Kira that nobody else does.

So that's about the sum of it. Of course now I have to wait another year for season 3 to come around, so I can get some answers to my questions, and no doubt find myself facing some new clone mysteries.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Another New TV Addiction - The Fosters

Okay, I'm a sucker for a good drama; I've loved Grey's Anatomy since the first episode, Chicago Fire hooked me on the premise alone, and Pretty Little Liars is my not-so-secret guilty watch. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to check out The Fosters. I'd heard the hype when this show first premiered, and it was on my to-watch list, but I guess I always had plenty of other shows to keep me entertained. Since everything is off-season now, and all my favorite shows are on hiatus, I needed something to fill in the gaps between the few shows I watch at this time of year like Rookie Blue, The Night Shift, (an awesome new show) Pretty Little Liars, Teen Wolf, True Blood, etc.
So I decided to give the Fosters a go, and from pretty much the first episode, I totally become a Brallie shipper.
For those of you who don't know anything about this show, its based on a new-normal type of family. Stef Foster and Lena Adams are a long-term gay couple with teenage children. The oldest is Brandon, Stef's natural son from a marriage before she came out. Stef and Lena later became foster parents to twins Mariana and Jesus, eventually adopting them. At the beginning of the first episode, Lena is asked to foster another teenager, Callie, who has just been released from Juvenile Detention. Lena is hesitant about it, not wanting to bring a high-risk teenager into their stable home, but as its only meant to be over night, decides to go with it, especially considering Callie's appearance after getting beaten up in juvie before being released.
From the first scene where Callie was sitting in the kitchen, and Brandon walked in to sit next to her at the large table, the chemistry between them sparked to life.
The family did their best to welcome Callie, though she was quiet and withdrawn, and obviously finding it hard to trust anyone. However, with Brandon, she seemed to make a connection and gravitate naturally toward him. On the first day of school, Callie is obviously uncertain and uncomfortable, so Brandon takes her up to the music room to hang out with him while he practices piano. That music room ends up being the location of a few significant moments between them over the season.
Later in the day, Brandon sees Callie leaving the school grounds and follows her, obviously feeling somewhat responsible for her, but also not wanting her to go off by herself, even though she won't tell him what she's up to. They take a bus across town, and Callie belatedly realizes that by going with her, Brandon has missed an important audition. He tells her it doesn't matter, and this is the first of many sweet scenes between the two.
The ending of this episode had an awesome action climax rarely scene in pilot episodes of any show. Callie finally tells Brandon they're going to see if her younger brother is safe, however since her ex-foster father was the one who had her sent her to juvie, knew that she wouldn't just be able to walk up and knock on the door.
They devise a plan for Brandon to distract the man at the front door, while Callie sneaks in the back to find her brother. The plan quickly goes bad when the man spots Callie and gets angry, pulling a gun out of a nearby draw. Luckily by this stage, Stef (who is also a police officer) and Lena had worked out Brandon was missing, and track his cell phone, turning up in time to defuse the situation.
Stef and Lena make the decision to take Callie's brother Jude home with them, and after hearing the pair's story, decide to keep them until a more stable home can be found. 
After this, as the episodes of the season unfold, it quickly becomes apparent that Brandon was developing feelings for Callie, despite the fact he had a girlfriend. But when the gf starts acting jealous, Brandon soon breaks up with her, and doesn't seem too broken up about it.
Meanwhile, on Callie's side of the equation, she seems more steadfast against her attraction to Brandon. She's well aware of the rules when it comes to foster siblings, and explains to Brandon the consequences for her if they become too close. Little does Brandon know, Callie has already had a bad experience with a foster brother in the past.
During this time, Callie has also become close to another boy at school, Wyatt, though interestingly enough, Brandon is the one she goes to, and the one she really opens up to again and again.
After facing some of her own issues, with Brandon there for her every step of the way, Callie finally relaxes a little toward Brandon, resulting in a first kiss that will definitely be going on the revised edition of my top TV kisses if I ever get around to doing it.
However, everything isn't all roses and sunshine. Stef and Lena have decided they're going to adopt Callie and Jude, which means Callie and Brandon will be brother and sister. Despite the fact they didn't grow up together and don't share any DNA, it still obviously means they can't be together.
Jude sees Callie and Brandon kissing, and then accuses Callie of ruining everything, so Callie makes the extremely bad decision to run away. From there, things just go down hill for Callie.
When she inevitably gets brought home, she and Brandon refuse to give up on each other. She gets put in a group home (for the worst offenders in the foster system, most of whom are ex-juvie inmates), and then considers applying for the independent living program. However, as Callie works through her emotions and problems, she comes to realize she needs a family more than a boyfriend.
By this point, Brandon has come to the same realization, and the scene where they 'break up' (though technically, I wouldn't call it that) was done brilliantly by the writers and actors.
For the remainder of the season, the two struggle with finding a place in the new family dynamic, and wrestle with the feelings they have for one another. Brandon wants to find a way for him and Callie to be together, but Callie is set on being adopted, and keeps up her walls against him.
Unfortunately, the adoption process doesn't go smoothly for Callie, with the revelation that her father isn't really her father, and another man will have to be tracked down in order to hand over parental rights to Stef and Lena.
Meanwhile, Brandon is making his own not-so-good choices, getting involved with one of the school bad-guys in a money making scheme that goes wrong when Brandon realizes he can't go through with it. This turns his once business partner into an enemy. Aside from this, Brandon also gets drunk one night and ends up in bed with his dad's girlfriend... okay, that sounds totally skeevy, but Dani is portrayed as a fair bit younger than Brandon's father, Mike.
So the season ends with Jude getting adopted, but not Callie. Brandon tells Callie he still loves her, but she says they can't go there again, and tells him an outright lie about sleeping with Wyatt to get Brandon to back off. Brandon's enemy had decided to hurt Callie to get at him, and when it looks like she could go back to juvie,
Brandon swoops in to take the fall for her. After seeing Brandon do this, Callie comes clean about her lie, leaving the shippers with some hope that the pair will find their way back together. But the writers weren't done with us yet. The season closes on Brandon getting bashed by his enemy and a couple of other guys, completing the viscous act by slamming Brandon's hand in a car door, no doubt breaking more than a few bones in the talented pianist's hand.
Phew! So much drama packed into 20-odd episodes.
Season two has just started back, and has begun by showing us what happened to Brandon after the attack, but brought up more angst and issues we'll be dealing with in the coming episode.
And I've been doing some thinking and plotting (which I quite enjoy when I get uber-obsessed with a TV show) so here's what I'd like to see happen this season:

1) I already know that they've tracked down Callie's real father and he's interested in finding out about her. I hope (for the sake of us Brallie shippers, because Brandon and Callie CANNOT become brother and sister) that Callie's biological father decides he wants to get to know her before making a decision, and when he finally does have to make the choice about whether or not to sign away his parental rights, he'll choose not to, giving Callie a real father and second family, leaving the way open for Brandon and Callie to eventually get together. Callie will continue to live with Stef and Lena, though, because that's where Jude is.

2) Callie is back with Wyatt, which Brandon is obviously not impressed about, however I think Brandon will probably get his own girl to distract him. However, its not going to fix what he feels for Callie, and by the end of the season (even if its not until the very last episode) he and Callie will find their way back to each other, or at least be taking steps in that direction.

3) Though Mike had broken up with Dani, she was back in the first episode. She called up Brandon to let him know she was moving in with his dad, and that Mike could never find out about what happened between them. Brandon wanted to tell his dad the truth, and even went over to have the conversation, but lost his nerve at the last minute. Now, I have a really bad feeling about Dani. She's going to cause some serious problems. I'm thinking something along the lines of finding out she's pregnant and naming Brandon as the father. And then telling Brandon she's going to pass the baby off as Mike's. And at some point Mike and Dani will probably get engaged. But of course because we don't want want Brandon to be a teenage father, Dani will lose the baby, but the damage will be done.

4) Whatever goes down with Dani (and something will, there's no doubt about that) Callie will be the one who is there for Brandon, and they will continue turning to each other in the darker times, when needing to sort through various issues. 

5) I'd like something really angsty and dramatic to happen, that will remind Brandon and Callie of their feelings for one another, even though they're staying apart. Some kind of situation where one of them is in serious danger, or at risk of being killed. Perhaps something like a school shooting. While I know this subject isn't something to be taken lightly, it is a relevant and realistic issue at American high schools. Glee did an episode touching on this, though the whole thing turned out to be kind of a non-dangerous misunderstanding. I would be interested to see The Fosters go there, simply because all of the dynamics would be amazing, with Lena being the substitute principal (because the last one apparently got fired) and Stef being a police officer, and all of their kids at the school.

6) One kiss. At least ONE! Brandon and Callie are definitely apart at the moment, and look to be getting further apart as the season progresses onwards, but would it be too much to ask for one measly, spur of the moment, doesn't-mean-anything-has-changed kiss between the two of them? I hope not, because I'll be totally tormented by the lack of Brallie action by the end of the season if not.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Official Announcement -- New Contract with Entangled Publishing

Following my last post, I'm now very happy to make the official announcement that I have signed my science fiction romance to Entangled Publishing.
I've had my eye on this publisher for a few years, so this has been very exciting for me. I'm ecstatic to say I'm now an Entangled author. They publish some truly talented authors, and I'm humbled to know my name will be joining their list.
Atrophy will be published under their Edge imprint, and as for the novellas, I'm not sure which imprint they will come under yet. Since its still early days, I haven't been given release dates or anything, but I will definitely be posting news as it happens.
Like I said in my last blog post, I'm just so excited that Rian and the crew of the Imojenna have found a home. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this year, and getting some new titles out there.
And lastly, I just have to say that my awesome agent, Paula, has been so great these past few weeks, working through this and other projects with me. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without her!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Work Status Update - The Dark Depths of Revisions

Whoops, and there goes two weeks without a blog post!
I'm deep into revisions on a romantic suspense manuscript at the moment, and have been for weeks now. This manuscript has been shopped by my agent to some publishers, and recently we discussed the possibility of making changes after some editor feedback. The undertaking was a little daunting, I'll admit that, because some of the changes I decided on were major structural elements, which meant ripping apart scenes and chapters at the seams and putting them back together with a different baseline, and in some cases it meant deleting entire scenes and chapters, to replace them with brand new ones.
I'm now into a second round of revisions where I'm looking at improving my heroine's character, as a final tightening of the story. The end result is actually going to look like an almost entirely new book.
This has been an interesting experience and learning curve for me, as this is the first time I've ever put so much work into fixing something already completed. Because I'm a fast writer, my default setting when things need major changes is to entirely re-write the book. This might seem mind-boggling to other writers, but to me, its the easier option because I really hate editing and revision that much. So yes, to stick something out, to go over it I-don't-know-how many times, to change, and tweak, and poke, and prod, and reshape this book into something else has been quite an eye-opening experience, and maybe made me a better author... at least I hope it has!
In other news, I've found myself a new home! I won't announce the details until everything is signed, sealed and delivered, but I have been contracted to a new publishing house -- they're taking my military sci-fi novellas, Escape Velocity and Damage Control to begin with. If all goes well, they'll also take the next 2 in the series Cover Fire and Battle Scars. If there will be any more beyond that is anyone's guess, though I do have a whole bunch of awesome titles and possible story lines in mind for the crew of the Valiant Knox.
And the biggest news? This publishing house had also offered to take my baby. That's right, Atrophy had FINALLY found a home. That's not quite as official, the contract for Atrophy will be coming later, once we've started getting my novellas out. But nonetheless, barring any unforeseen problems, Rian and the crew of the Imojenna will hopefully be out in the world sometime in the next 18 months, followed by the second book, Quantum sometime after that.
I'm so happy that all of my sci-fi, especially Atrophy, has found its place, and I'm even more glad its with this particular publisher. I'd had my eye on them since not long after signing with Noble, and know many authors who publish quite happily with them. I'm feeling humbled that my name and books will soon be joining this publisher's list.
As for now, I should get back to those revisions... this romantic suspense isn't going to fix itself!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Orphan Black - New Obsession

So I have a new favorite TV show. I'd heard this show mentioned here and there, but hadn't been overly interested in watching it. In actual fact, I thought I'd watched the pilot already, and hadn't been all that impressed. However, I think there may have been a show somewhat similar to this a few years back, and that was the pilot I watched -- obviously that other show didn't go anywhere, I can't even remember what it was called... it might have had Sarah Michelle Geller in it.
Anyway, someone on my Facebook feed put up a picture of two of the main characters of Orphan Black, Sarah and Paul, with a short post about how they'd watched the pilot episode and it had been really good. The picture reminded me of John and Aeryn from Farscape, and if you read this blog regularly, then you'll know I just did a Farscape re-watch to relive the awesomeness that was John and Aeryn's relationship. So this one particular picture made me decide that I would go and check out the pilot, and if it happened to be that show I already tried to watch once before, then I'd give it a second chance.
Not far into the pilot it became plainly apparent that I hadn't seen any of this show before, and I was quickly hooked by the plot of these women who look the same, and Sarah stepping into the shoes of her body-double Beth, partly to find out why they looked the same, and partly just to steal some stuff because she wanted to run away and make a new life with her daughter.
However, this quickly becomes more complicated than Sarah expected, as when she makes herself up to look like Beth so she can clean out the woman's bank account, before she can get home again, she gets picked up by the cops and quickly learns that Beth was actually a detective. From there things spiral, ending with Sarah getting caught by Beth's boyfriend when he comes home from a work trip early.
Okay, so you're currently impersonating someone else, and their boyfriend walks in on you unexpectedly. What do you do? Maybe pretend to be sick, or suddenly have to rush out somewhere? No, apparently the best course of action is to have sexy-hot-sex on the kitchen counter.
Yeah, I was pretty blown away by that, and all in the first episode, too! So I rushed through the next few eps, and it was all going all fabulously. I was loving all these different characters coming out of the woodwork (the actress who plays all these clones is amazing, by the way; each personality is done so well, you would swear they were being played by different people.) and was hooked by the mystery of where and how the clones came about, and who was trying to kill them.
I was also intrigued by the quick development of something between Sarah and Paul. While Paul still thought he was dealing with Beth, he was very intrigued and attracted to the new facets of her personality, which was proving a problem for Sarah trying to keep up the charade.
The scene where it came out in front of the other clones that Sarah had slept with Paul while pretending to be Beth was priceless. One of them said "you slept with Beth's boyfriend?" And when Sarah confirmed, you could kind of see them all thinking well, if I got the chance to sleep with Paul, I probably would too. 
Paul's reaction to finding out the truth was also very interesting. For a woman, if she found out someone she'd been sleeping with wasn't who she thought, it would likely be very emotionally traumatic. In my opinion, Paul felt a bit betrayed, but kind of just went with it. I think it also helped that seemingly by that point, Paul was already half in love with Sarah, which was good enough for my romance writer's brain, and then this scene happened:



I couldn't find the actual clip from the show on youtube, though plenty of people had used it in fandom music videos, so this .gif clip will have to do. Paul had been captured by the bad guys, and given one phone call to bring Sarah in, he told her to run instead. But she didn't run, did she? Oh no, she went in to get him out, despite the risk to herself. I really wish I could have put the whole scene in, because it was just one of those brilliant character moments that makes my heart stop. The look on Paul's face when he realized she had come for him was so full of angst. The moment above follows that, and I really loved that they had this second where Paul just let himself be comforted by her. Tough guy who is man enough to have those soft moments? Yeah, I'm sold. I think this exchange also really cemented their relationship.
But for me, the final crack in my heart came in the season finale. Paul opened up to Sarah about what the bad guys had on him, which I got the feeling he never even shared with Beth. He told Sarah how he'd been a private operator in Afghanistan and accidentally took out four Marines in friendly fire... My reaction? I'm sorry, did you just say you took out four Marines by yourself? Some of the toughest men in the various United States militarily? Oh Paul, if I wasn't already in character-love with you before, I sure as hell am now! ...Not because killing Marines, or any of your own soldiers is a good thing, but for him to take out four specially trained soldiers on his own, he's got to be one seriously hard operator.
Unfortunately for this Sarah and Paul ship I'm rocking, I get the feeling its going to come to a swift end. I'm about to start watching season 2, and in a short amount of time I'll be caught up to the current episodes. From snippets I've seen on the internet (because who can avoid that kind of stuff?) it seems there's a new love interest for Sarah, and Paul is off doing other things. But no matter what happens between these two, that one brief scene between them will go down as one of my favorite TV moments of all time.
And of course we will finish this post with a gratuitous shirtless picture for absolutely no reason.