2017: Stuff To Get Excited About!

It’s the beginning of a new year, friends! And with a new year comes a whole bunch of new media to get excited about! For this post, I’m going to keep the positivity train rolling and run down some of the movies, television and books I’m looking forward to in 2017.

Television

We’re in a golden age of television right now. There’s so much content being released every year, and because so much of it is good, it’s hard to keep up. There are two new series debuting this year that I’m really excited about more than anything else:

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Legion

A TV series about Charles Xavier’s schizophrenic telepath son sounds like it could be pretty wild, right?  

Fox’s treatment of the X-Men properties has been a mixed bag over the years. X-Men 2, Days of Future Past, and Deadpool were all great movies. X-Men 3, Apocalypse, and Wolverine Origins were all rancid turds smeared over film reels. Needless to say I’m a little apprehensive about the prospect of them bring the X-Universe to TV.

That said, FX has been producing some really smart and dynamic TV over the last couple years, including an adaption of Fargo by Noah Hawley, who is also the series creator on Legion. I think bringing the oddball charm and humor of Fargo to one of the stranger corners of the X-Men Universe could produce remarkable television.

I’ll also watch Aubrey Plaza in pretty much anything. As an aside, if you haven’t watched Parks and Recreation yet, stop reading now and go watch it. This blog post will still be here when you get done.

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American Gods

I was late to the party on American Gods. I adore Neil Gaiman’s comics work, but hadn’t read any of his prose fiction until a few years ago. Shauna demanded I read American Gods and OMAG I couldn’t believe I had waited so long.

Now that story is coming to television and I’m thrilled.

There’s always pitfalls involved with adapting a book to film or television, especially one with the scope and style of American Gods. There’s a tone and tenor of this story that would be difficult to capture on film, a huge challenge to bring the vividness of the prose to life outside the reader’s mind.

Luckily, Bryan Fuller, one of TV’s most brilliant visual creators is helming this project. His work on Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies were all inspiring, but his recent run on Hannibal was one of the most visually arresting pieces of television I’ve ever seen. If there’s anyone who can do Gaiman’s vision for these characters and world justice, it’s Fuller.

Movies

Pretty much every year from now until the End of Time we’re guaranteed a handful of superhero movies and a new Star Wars movie. 2016 brought us a really good superhero movie in Captain America: Civil War, a decent one in Doctor Strange and two dreadful ones in the form of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.

2017 will bring us one of the most important superhero movies ever and the next mainline Star Wars film and I am super excited for both.  

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Wonder Woman

This actually happening.

Finally.

If you told me 20 years ago fricking Ant-Man would have a solo movie before Wonder Woman I wouldn’t have believed it, even if you were bound by the Lasso of Truth. Well it’s 2017 and Ant-Man had his movie two years ago, but now it’s Wondy’s turn.

I’m really excited for this movie, just because it’s Wonder Woman, but I do have some major reservations. On the positive side, Gal Gadot looks fierce as hell in the costume, and yeah she doesn’t have a huge acting range, but I think she’ll be fine. Look cool and kick ass. The trailers look great so far (happy to see my boy Chris Pine) and Wonder Woman was the best part of the otherwise abysmal Batman v. Superman.

That said, the trailers for the aforementioned Batman v Superman were also great. So were the ones for Suicide Squad. And Man of Steel. Those movies ranged from middling to absolutely dreadful. I fear this will be the case for Wonder Woman – awesome trailers that show what could be a good movie – by the final product ends up butchered by a bad script and executive meddling.

I’m going to be optimistic. This will finally be the good DCEU movie. One of them has to be.

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Star Wars Episode VIII

The Force Awakens was everything I wanted in a new Star Wars.

Yeah, it was derivative of A New Hope, but it had everything that made me fall in love with Star Wars as a kid – great characters, a compelling villain, breathtaking action sequences, and quiet heartfelt moments. The nostalgia moments and callbacks were handled perfectly in Episode VII, whereas I thought they were a bit hamfisted in Rogue One.

Speaking of Rogue One – I didn’t love it (and you can hear me and Kristin talk about it on the last episode of our podcast). I was wary about the off-year Star Wars side stories between the mainline series, and Rogue One did little to satiate those fears.

I am, however, incredibly excited for Episode VIII. With director Rian Johnson at the helm – probably best know for 2012’s grim time travel flick Looper – I have a feeling this next episode will go the way of Empire Strikes Back. I foresee a darker tone, increasing danger for our heroes, more tragedy – but I’m also the Rey finding her way as a Jedi. Those Luke and Rey training sequences will be a-maz-ing!

I’m trying to keep the Hype Train in the station, but I know as soon as the first trailer drops, nothing’s going to hold it back.

Books

There’s a whole bunch of new books coming out this year that I’m sure are amazing, but I’ve got a ridiculous backlog, so this is the year I’m going to finally tackle my TBR pile! Well, a good portion of it at least. Here’s six of the books I’ve already picked out to start:

Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Updraft by Fran Wilde

The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin

Every Mountain Made Low by Alex White

Counterpart by Haley Stone

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

It’s a pretty eclectic mix of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’d also like to read some nonfiction this year, I used to read books on politics and economics pretty regularly, but stopped a few years ago to focus on fiction.

That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2017, what about all of you?

Genre Conventions, I Defy You

One of my current favorite shows on TV is Jane the Virgin, a clever, satirical romance-drama-telenovela hybrid that is one of the smarter shows I’ve seen in the last few years. It breaks down romance and soap opera conventions while still playing within the rules of the category: even as it pokes fun at the rules of the telenovela, it abides by them. The result, while cheesy at first glance, is magnificently self-aware, snarky, and satisfying, because it trusts an audience aware of the conventions it explores.

Without getting spoilery, the first episode of the new season looks at the expectations of the romance reader/viewer, specifically that magic component, the HEA. (That’s Happily Ever After in romance lingo, for those of you who aren’t in the know.) When readers pick up a novel in the romance section of the bookstore, they expect, by and large, a happily ever after, whatever that may look like: a wedding, a baby, a kiss, a couple together forever. When writers break with that convention, it seems to create two primary results: extreme disappointment or flat-out awe at the creator of such a groundbreaking work.

As writers, most of us aren’t lucky enough to land in the second category. It takes a deft hand to write a tragic romance or a sci-fi with magical components, and it takes a truly visionary editor to find a way to sell those genre-bending pieces.

So what makes one of the successful convention-defying pieces work? Often, it’s the tricks that make all great pieces of media stand out, like great characters, compelling conflicts, and gorgeous writing. But I think there’s a secret ingredient that Jane the Virgin has unwittingly revealed: self-awareness.

While Jane the Virgin works within the rules of the telenovela, and would likely alienate its audience if it tried to tell a true tragedy, its self-awareness turns it from a typical soap opera into a deconstruction of a soap opera. By pointing out and exploring the rules of its genre, it tells a deeper story because it looks at why we have certain expectations of genre fiction. The audience becomes a part of the story.

Any time we engage with a work of fiction, we bring to it our own circumstances, our history, and our particular wants and needs. I might pick up a romance novel because I need to see that happily ever after; you might pick up a fantasy novel because you want an escape. If an author denies us the defining characteristic we are expecting from a work we’ve engaged with, they are often denying to meet our needs. But when they find a way to satisfy those needs while still surprising us, that’s when conventions become secondary to story and art is born.

What are your favorite genre-defying stories? How does genre expectation influence your reading of a particular work?

How a TV Show Called Roar Led to a Book About Guinevere

Roar_(TV_series)Happy New Year’s Eve!

As many of you know, my debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, publishes on January 1. As we count down the final hours until it’s available, I thought it would be fun to share with you how a TV show that pretty much no one watched inadvertently led to me writing the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy.

Back in 1997, a little TV show called Roar aired in the United States. The premise was that a 5th century Irish prince, Connor, (played by Heath Ledger in his American debut) was fighting for the freedom of his people from the oppressive Romans, while nursing a secret crush on Catlyn, a Christian former slave played by future celebrity Vera Farmiga (also in her debut role). Due to low ratings, it only aired eight of 13 filmed episodes (the remainder of which were apparently broadcast in 2000, but I didn’t see them). The whole season is available on DVD now.

Despite the inaccuracies (the most glaring of which is the Romans never invaded Ireland), I fell in love with the show and the Celts. I began researching them, which led to a 15-year obsession that took me to England twice and put me in touch with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon. Somewhere in there, I found out that if King Arthur was real, he (and Guinevere) would have lived around the same period Roar took place. So the research prompted by the show was crucial to making my book historically accurate.

Other ways the show influenced my Guinevere books:

  • The Druid in the show, Galen, was my first mental model for Merlin. The character later evolved into someone quite unlike the one in Roar, but he remained the ArchDruid of Britain.
  • I eventually named another character Galen with the show in mind.
  • I was very interested in the friction between the Druids and early Christians. While it was only overtly part of the plot in one episode in the show, it became an underlying theme of my story.
  • One of the stars of Roar, Sebastian Roche (General Hospital, The Vampire Diaries, The Originials, Supernatural, Fringe), is my ideal actor for the character of Father Marius. His portrayal of Longinus in the show greatly influenced how I saw the nefarious priest Father Marius in my head.
  • The banshee in the episode of the same name had a profound influence on my understanding of just how real magic and magical creatures were to the Celts. She was a strong influence on my desire to portray the Celts’ magic as more elemental-based and subtle than the flashy fireballs from the hands or lightning from the eyes typical in high fantasy stories. (The actress who played the banshee, Brigid Brannagh, fascinated me and I’ve been following her career ever since.)

Years later, I named my cats after the two main characters in the show, Connor and Caitlyn (I misremembered the name, which was really Catlyn [pronounced “cat-lin”], but I’m not calling my cat that.) I also made lots of long-term friends on a listserve for Roar fans after the show’s cancellation, but that’s a story for another day.

daughter-of-destiny-ebook-cover-iEven though The Mists of Avalon was the true impetus for my desire to tell Guinevere’s story, it’s possible that without Roar, I wouldn’t have written Daughter of Destiny. At the very least it would be a very different book. To me, this proves that no matter how poorly received a work of art is, someone out there will like it and it can still have a profound influence on its audience, one that its creator may never be aware of. Speaking of, do you think Shaun Cassidy would want a Guinevere ARC? 😉

Have you ever heard of Roar? Dare I hope at least one of you watched it? Have there been TV shows, movies or books that ended up influencing your writing or your life? What’s your story?

Five Reasons to Watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica

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If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I recently watched and was completely floored by an anime called Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It’s a well-known and highly, highly praised series in anime circles (to which I really don’t belong), but I came across it because Netflix thought I would like it.

Well, Netflix was right.

The plot centers around a young girl named Madoka and her friends—and what happens when a magical creature offers them one miraculous wish in exchange for signing up to become a witch-fighting magical girl. Sounds simple, but naturally it gets oh-so-complicated.

I’m not an anime expert by any means, but I gather that this show is a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. In that way, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, it succeeds because it’s both the culmination and a critique of the typical genre stories. The beauty of Madoka, though, is that it’s an artistic triumph, quite literally beautiful, and it stands on its own merits as an excellent piece of storytelling.

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So here’s why you should watch:

1. The show revolves around the power of female friendship. So many shows center on romantic relationships, whether gay, straight, or something in between, that it’s easy to forget the most important relationships in our lives aren’t all about sex. While some might argue that Madoka contains romantic relationships, on its face, it’s really about female friendship: the depths of our hearts to which friendship can reach and the heights to which it can drive us to achieve.

2. It’s a masterwork of feminism without being about feminism. There are almost no male characters in this show. The magical girls aren’t special because they’re girls who are powerful. Rather, they’re special because of the sacrifices they make to protect the human race. Neither sex nor gender is an issue. To see a show like this beloved by a geeky audience is a huge triumph, particularly when women’s right to enjoy any kind of geekery, whether written works or visual, is constantly under threat. Plus, the juxtaposition of “girly” visuals and genre-elements with true darkness and despair is gloriously true to realities of human nature, let alone womanhood.

3. It’s visually stunning. I have never seen an anime as gorgeously and triumphantly experimental in its animation style. As the characters shift between worlds, the world literally shifts and becomes Other. Each witch has her own style of magic, and it’s hair-raising to see the differences between them. While the human world is beautifully drawn, the supernatural elements are phenomenal. (Sidebar: the music is also incredible.)

4. The plot twists will gut you. Any time a magical bargain is struck, there’s bound to be a price. In this case, the price is so heart-breaking that you’ll feel devastated halfway through the series—and that’s before you even get to the meat of the central story. Despite what may seem like a played-out premise, the story told here is not a simple one. Prepare yourself for heartbreak.

5. Every character is well-drawn, but Madoka and Homura could walk out of the screen. The two main characters have layers of depth that put both onions and parfaits to shame. The timid, girly-girl who initially wants power for its own sake, just so she can feel special, shows herself to have more true compassion than a Catholic saint. And the journey she takes to finally own her power traverses roads through fear and doubt most stories never touch.

And Homura? Well. You’ll just have to see.

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Is Kit Harrington Right?

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In the article Kit Harington Has A Point About Women Objectifying Men, writer Eliana Dockterman describes how the actor is “sick of being called a hunk”, and when members of the media asks him how he feels about being described that way, he generally says, “That’s not what I got into it for.”

The guy’s an actor, and he’d prefer to be asked about, well, his acting.

Ms. Dockterman cites other examples of actors who are constantly being asked how they feel about their “heartthrob” status. Actors like Benedict Cumberbatch whose legion of fans refer to themselves as Cumberbitches.  And John Hamm, for whom there are whole Tumblr blogs dedicated to the bulge in his pants.

I’ll take M. Dockterman’s word for that one. I haven’t looked. No, seriously. Mr. Hamm can get pretty harsh when he’s asked about those blogs, and I can’t really blame him.

While Ms. Dockterman makes it very clear that women are subject to the same kind of “you’re famous because people want to have sex with you” crap, part of me wants to greet Mr. Harington’s complaint with a big ol’ BOOHOO.

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Is touching a standard part of the interview process?

 

In protesting treatment that focuses on his looks, it seems to me Mr. Harrington is complaining all the way to the bank.

Objectification is part of the Hollywood game, and women have been played since the beginning. The news that 37-year-old actress Maggie Guyllenhal was told she’s “too old” to play the love interest for a 55-year-old actor demonstrates how endemic the cult of youth and beauty is. Women are held to a different standard than men, and most of the time it seems that the sum total of their contribution is tied up in their appearance.

BCumberbatch might get asked how he feels to be a sex symbol, but only after reporters ask him  about his work. And pretty much only fashion bloggers care who made his suit.

Name an actress who is accorded the same level of respect. There aren’t many.

“And though it’s tempting to even the scales by caring as little about men’s feelings as misogynists care about women’s feelings, that attitude doesn’t help to stop misogyny or advance feminism.” E. Dockterman

The thing is, this level of objectification isn’t limited to actors and actresses. When I look at my on-line presence objectively – true confession here – most of my social media sights would fall under the category ‘NSFW’. (I blogged about it HERE a couple weeks ago.)  Maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being a romance writer, but my Facebook and Pinterest streams, in particular, are pretty much full of lovely masculine images.

Lovely, mostly naked, masculine images.

And some of them forget the mostly.

Which begs the question: After years of feminist bitching about the way men ogle young women, why is it right or fair to objectify young men?

And that’s where the guilt comes in. (Eldest child of an Irish-Catholic family, right? I can find guilt just about anywhere.) I do like to look, although it does bother me, and I try hard not to forget there’s a person attached to those abs. I don’t see following photographer Michael Stokes as some kind of feminist victory. He makes pretty pictures, and I like to look at them.

What’s wrong with that?

Does the power differential between men and women make a difference? Does the ubiquitous standard of youth and beauty applied to women matter? Is it somehow more wrong to objectify women, because so much of who they are is limited to how they look?

Yeah, I don’t know, either, but I expect M. Dockterman is right when she says we shouldn’t be dragging each other down to the same level, but rather lifting each other up.

So I’ll concede Mr. Harrington his point. He’s a serious actor practicing his craft, and we do him a disservice by focusing primarily on his appearance, regardless of how distractingly handsome he may be.

What do you think? Are beefcake photos as popular as cat pix in your Facebook stream? Can we really separate any performer’s appearance from their craft?

Cheers,
Liv

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Honestly, if I met this guy in RL, basic functions – like speech – would desert me.

 

The Wicked & The Divine: Villainy in Supernatural

THE ROAD SO FAR…

Eariler this year, myself and fellow Scribe, the inimitable Shauna Granger, wagered on who could watch all of Buffy or all of Supernatural in the least amount of time. I made it to Season 5 of Supernatural by the time she finished Buffy. Tried. Really I did.

I loved Supernatural so much that, even though I lost the bet, I continued on and finished the series. And now. almost a year after I started, I’m happy to say I’m finally caught up.

Um wow.

What an absolutely wonderful ride it was.

There’s so much about Supernatural I’ve come to adore over the course of this year – the humor, the drama, the Cas Eating Stuff, the Racist Ghost Trucks, and so much more.

One thing I was consistently impressed with the during the entire run of Supernatural was the quality of the villains. I’ve always said a compelling antagonist is just as important to a story as compelling protagonist. One you can truly hate, but maybe at times also empathize with. I’ve tried to follow my own advice and have tired to write compelling villains in all of my stories.  So, now that I’ve seen all there is to see, I thought it appropriate to look back on the whole Supernatural series and reflect on some of the great villains the show has crafted.

And it seems only fitting that my final Supernatural vs. Buffy post be me first post on Spellbound Scribes.

SPOILERS below, so if you’re caught up with Supernatural – tread lightly.

So without further adieu, my Top Ten Supernatural Villains:

10. Eve

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Eve, to me, was the perfect example of excellent concept, but terrible execution. The idea there was a Mother of All the different monsters the WinBros battled over the years is a really great one, and should have provided formidable foe for the boys in S6. Imagine, if you will, her leading an army of the creatures the Bros had vanquished in previous seasons – Vamps, Werewolves, and Dragons – on the march to extract revenge for there fallen brethren?

Well that’s not really what happened. Instead she killed some truckers, made some people murder each other and then was quickly dispatched by Sam and Dean well before the end of the season. I’m gonna be honest, I thought S6 was the worst on of all (though I did love Homebody Dean). It was a bit of a meandering mess – seemed to me like the new writers weren’t sure what to do after the wrap of the big Lucifer storyline in S5 and were just trying to find their feet.

A full season narravtive focused on Eve and the monsters of Purgatory, instead of muddling it up with Souless Sam and Crowley & Castiel fighting over whatever and the Raphael stuff, would have been much better, in my opinion.

9. Gordon Walker

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Gordon is another Hunter who appears throughout S2, most as a rival to the WinBros, but with methods much more severe than Dean and Sam, even killing humans . He even shows up in S3 as a vampire to further menace the Bros.

Admittedly he’s a fairly minor villain in the grand scheme of the Supernatural mythos. The reason he’s on the list is because I’ve always had a soft spot for the Hero’s Evil Mirror trope. Gordon might not have been the most threatening villain they faced, but he did provide a glimpse of what Sam and Dean might become if they became so obsessed with Hunting and lost sight of their own humanity. The episode in S2 where he challenges Sam to kill him, did well to show they would never cross that line, even so early in the series.

8. Dean Winchester

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Okay, hear me out. I know there was only like three or four episodes in S10 with Demon Dean (though I’m not convinced, based on the last episode, that we’ve seen the last if him), but what we have seen is awesome.

I’ve been firmly #TeamDean since the beginning, but he’s always had this dudebro vibe about hie. Deanmon is that vibe turned up to eleven – he’s the ultimate arrogant douchebro villain. Drinking, carousing, just being an overall jerk to everyone around him. The way he dismantled Cole, taunting him about devoting his entire life killing Dean, only to have all of his dreams of vengeance crushed so definitively was just brutal.

Deanmon just does not give a single eff about anyone but himself. Not even Sam, who he abandoned, sold out to Cole and mocked mercilessly for lamenting their lost brotherly love. Some of it cut really deep too – like blaming Sam for the death of their mother – and even though it was the demon speaking and not Dean himself, you can tell it really hurt Sam in away that much of the physical injuries he suffered over the years did.

And how can you not love that Deanmon x Crowley Bromance?

7. Abaddon

Supernatural Abbadon GifThe would-be King of Hell in S8 and 9 after Crowley is incapacitated by Sam and Dean. Chosen by Lucifer himself to be one of the fabled Knights of Hell – who according to legend slew the other Archangels – she is much more than just another demon for the boys to slay.

What I liked so much about Abaddon was the dichotomy between her and Crowley as rulers of Hell. Crowley abided by the traditional ways of soul collecting – contracts, coercion – still evil and deceitful stuff to be sure – but in a classy old school demonic way. Abaddon was all about gaining devotion through intimidation and violence. She had no repsect for the old ways and sought to take the Throne of Hell by any means possible. Anyone so power hungry they would break even Hell’s code of honor is truly a foe to be reckoned with. As vicious as Crowley is sly, even besting him in combat at the end of S8, Abaddon would have been been higher up on this list, were she not overshadowed by the other Big Bad in S9.

But we’ll get to him later.

6. Meg Masters

Supernatural Meg Shhhh GifSupernatural’s first Big Bad holds a special place in my heart. Even though she was the henchman of Ol’ Yellow Eyes, I thought Meg was a much more effective foil to the Winbros in S1. Mostly because he lingered in the background, while Meg did his dirty work. Plus she acutally had some personality, where I found Yellow Eyes to be a much more one-dimensional baddie. With a combination of cunning and cruelty, Meg provided a plapable and sustained threat to Sam and Dean beyond the Monster of the Week creatures that were so prevalent in the early seasons.

Supernatural Meg2Meg returns in S7 to be more of an ally to the WinBros than a foe – helping them out against Crowley, who she did not take too kindly to as the new King of Hell. I liked Meg Two, more then Meg One. Even though she wasn’t so much of a villain anymore, but more just a demon looking out for her own self interest. She was funny and snarky, and had some great chemistry with Dean. Meg is also one of the few villains in Supernatural that actual had some sort of redemption, sacficing herself so that the WinBros and Cas could escape with Angel Tablet.

She actually got a full character arch over the course of nine seasons, which in and of itself is pretty impressive.

5. Ruby

Supernatural_Ruby_One_gifAnother Mid-Boss type villain like Meg, Ruby was one of the main antagonists in S3 and 4. Also like Meg, we were treated to a Ruby One and a Ruby Two.

Supernatural_Ruby_Two_gifShe was very effective in fomenting distrust between the WinBros, Dean thinking that she was manipulating them for her own ends, and Sam convinced that she was going to help them destroy Lilith and keep Lucifer from being unleashed.

What made Ruby so great is that there was some real doubt as to whether she was on the same side as the WinBros or just pulling their strings for her demonic masters. Her character had depth, because while there was always a lingering doubt over her true intentions, for most of her time on the show she seemed to have a real kinship with Sam.

Of course, she did end up betraying Sam and Dean, but the fact she and Sam had such a close relationship made that betrayal all the more painful.

4. Lucifer

Supernatutal_lucifer_point_headtiltThe first four seasons of Supernatural built up to this, the Biggest of the Big Bads, Morningstar himself – Lucifer!

Played with a simmering, tempered evil by Mark Pelligrino, Lucifer was the Big Bad I had been hoping to see since episode one. Unfortunately, I thought he was a bit underused in Season 5, appearing only for what seemed like a quarter of the episodes. But when he was there, he was commanding and threatening presence.

So why then is he at #4, if his was actually in the show so little? The parts he was in were truly magnificent. When faced with a villain as powerfully as him, there was a real doubt as to how the WinBros could emerge victorious. He was supposed to be the endgame for the series and he carried the presence of a truly unstoppable force. He was also a well rounded character, sympathetic for the fact he was cast out of heaven for not revering mankind, no truly great sin as we were led to believe, but became wicked and embittered after so many years of imprisonment.

Also, each season required Sam and Dean to acquire some sort of McGuffin to beat the Big Bad, and having to defeat each of the Four Horsemen (Death, most notably) was easily the best of these fetch quests in the series.

3. Metatron

Supernatural Metatron Stupid Angels

It was a close call between the Number Two and Three slot.

If you told me Booger from Revenge of the Nerds would be cast perfectly as a vile, conniving and manipulative Angelic Scribe, I would have called you a crazy person. His resume is pretty solid – manipulated Cas and the WinBros the get the angels kicked out of Heaven, killed Kevin (by proxy, but still), convinced the world that he was a messianic figure. Not bad. But what puts Metaron over the top is how he’s played with such perfect, sniveling creepiness by Curtis Armstrong.

He has the self-righteous smugness of a powerless man given finally the power he always desired, but gained through the most deceitful ways. He’s like a Super Angel Internet troll. But here’s the thing – he’s not entirely wrong. Heaven was a mess, abandoned by God, consumed by civil war – all good reason for someone to step up in a void of leadership to take control. His intentions would not be so bad were it not for his methods being so despicable.

Some of my love for him also come from being a writer and of course, one of my favorite episodes of the series was ‘Meta Fiction’. The way Metatron talks about the nature of stories, how he believed he was the hero of this story, not the WinBros and Co, showed a real depth to the character and he was not just another one note villain. And this one quote is just perfect:

What writer doesn’t love a good twist? My job is to set up interesting characters and see where they lead me. The byproduct of having well-drawn characters is they may surprise you. But I know something they don’t know – the ending. How I get there doesn’t matter as long as everybody plays their part.

2. Dick Roman

Supernatural Dick RomanWhen I first started watching, everyone warned me about S7. Everyone said S7 was the worst, that the show went off the rails before getting back on track for S8.

Naaaaaaw.

I thought the Leviathan storyline was a nice breather from all of the Angel/Demon stuff in the previous six seasons before delving back into it for S8. It wasn’t earth-shatteringly great or anything, but I enjoyed it. Much more than I thought I would based on the dire warnings I got about it.

The highlight was, of course, the main villain for the season – Mister Richard Roman. The personification of the evils of capitalism, Dick Roman was a ruthless businessman possessed by an ancient malevolence. Much more subtle in his wickedness than many of the other WinFoes, Roman plotted to take over the world by subjugating the populace through his company’s products and making mankind a renewable food source for the Leviathans.

Smart. Subtle. Sinister.

The meta-commentary associated with his character about the nature of business in America and the slavish devotion to consumer products people been trained to trust was just excellent,too. Roman had the perfect combination of arrogance and intelligence to be the figurehead for this particular brand of evil.

And he killed Bobby, so yeah.

1. Crowley

Supernatural Crowley King gifThe gif says it all.

Snarky. Clever. British.

As much an adversary as he is an ally to the WinBros, Crowley is one of the most complex and well crafted characters in the entire show. Malicious and deceptive when he needs to be, but also flawed and surprisingly human when you least expect it.

He’s everything a good villain should be.

He’s a legitimate threat to the heroes, still an empathetic figure at times.

He’s hateable as he is lovable.

He’s just a great character, and end of the day, hero, villain, whatever, being a great character, one that the reader or viewer actually cares about, it what’s most important.

It’s okay to stop

Last week, Jen talked about saying “no” and that it was okay to do so. The other week I talked about rewarding yourself for your accomplishments. Today I’m gonna expand on that idea. Yes, you can tell people you don’t have time for the many things you’re asked to do, but on the same side, it is okay to let yourself stop.

download (1)As writers we’re always under pressure. Projects need to be started, need to be finished, need to be polished. There’s always some deadline looming, even if just self-imposed. When I’m in the  middle of a project, I try to write every weekday and on each of those days I have a word count I try to reach. On this particular project, I want to be done with it by the beginning of October so I’ve imposed a 3k day goal.

And for the first two and a half weeks, I was doing great. Week one, 15k. Week two, 30k. writingAnd then I hit 40k in the middle of week three and I hit a wall. I have a very detailed outline that is helping me get through this as quickly and painlessly as possible, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. That last day that I hit 40k was like pulling teeth and even then I was behind schedule because life got in the way. And then I woke up Friday morning, knowing I had a book publishing today, and I just couldn’t look at my computer. To catch up I’d have to write 4k (though I hit 40k, I did push to 41k), or write some on Saturday. I didn’t want to do either. I just wanted to sit and relax. So I did.

Friday I managed to get my morning cardio photo 1 (4)in but then I made myself a latte and sat my butt on the couch. I turned on that week’s Project Runway and I just watched the show while I sipped my coffee. It was glorious. And for the rest of the weekend I relaxed. Sure, there were a couple of errands that needed doing, but otherwise I just relaxed. There was a tiny part of me that felt a little guilty, but I knew that I needed that decompression, it would benefit me and the book in the long run. Now, Monday morning, I’m ready to get back to the book and get my words done.

You deserve a break, remember that. And when you’re your own boss, there is no one around who is going to check to see if you’ve taken your mandatory vacation days for you, so make sure you do it. You. Deserve. It.