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F*ck Ya, That’s My Dream

Ever since I was a little girl watching Laverne & Shirley and Punky Brewster, I have wanted to be a sitcom writer. I knew I could never be an actor, for various anxiety-related reasons. But the actors don’t choose (in most cases) what comes out of their mouths anyway. That is controlled by the writers. So, that is what I wanted to be.

I never really believed that that dream could come true. Recently, I have thought, “What the hell. I am going to believe that it could be a possibility. And things like when The Mindy Project began following me on Twitter for no apparent reason get my hopes up. What if they realize my genius?

I was losing faith that there would still be shows like that for me to write these days. In recent years, everything became a “reality” show (although I believe that they actually have writers too. Really real, right?) Now everything is a serialized horror anthology. Not my style at all.

Photo: Netflix

Photo: Netflix

But then there is The Ranch on Netflix. It restores my faith in the half hour comedy with a little-drama-thrown-in-to-grow-the-characters format. Plus there are LOTS of swear words, which the 12-year-old boy that lives inside of me loves.

The premise is that professional football player Colt (Ashton Kutcher) returns home to the ranch to live and work with his goofy brother Rooster (Danny Masterson) and their grumpy father Beau (Sam Elliott). They spend lots of time with their hands up cows’ asses, and the rest of the time drinking. All the dialogue is very easy going and it just feels like Ashton and Danny showed up to hang out for the day. Ashton even looks like he might just wear his clothes from home. Then maybe Sam Elliott is just grumpy because he came in expecting to actually make a real TV show, although he seems in on it as well. It just seems like something I would love to be a part of.

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat. Photo: Netflix

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat.
Photo: Netflix

In the episode I watched today, the sexy weather girl Tanya Showers was giving the lottery results on the Bennetts’ television. All the men were hypnotized by her. “First reading the weather, now the numbers. Is there anything she can’t do?” My brain jumped ahead to the punchline before they got there. Maybe everyone’s would, but I like to think I have a talent for it. I relish the predictability.

But then the cliffhanger at the end of part (season?) two totally surprised me. I was actually mad at myself for not predicting it, because they did foreshadow it in the preceding episodes. But it was still good.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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My First WiNo RhiNo

Every year my asbestos friend participates in National Novel Writing Month, which is known as NaNoWriMo to people who like to receive strange looks from their friends. My husband began calling it WiNo RhiNo, because he is goofy like that.

But my friend and I have very different writing styles. Even she will tell you that. She writes a big grand story with all the details, then cuts it down to its perfect, beautiful package. I write my first draft lean and mean. Then later I fill it out with descriptions of people and places.

The best advice.

The best advice

It just happened that I had three stories (Yes, THREE!) vying for my writing time this November. I had never participated before, and this was to be my first year. I really should have been spending time editing Be Careful What You Wish For, but that is what December is for, am I right??? I loved all my in-process stories, but the environment in my home during this competition just drained my motivation. I also saw other people’s word counts (posted on both Facebook and the NaNo website) and I got very discouraged that everyone writes faster and most likely better than me.

Now the goal of NaNoWriMo is to start a brand new story on November 1st, and reach 50,000 words by November 30th. All three of my stories were already started, so I sorta already blew that. And my first drafts never reach 50,000–that comes later.

So I proceeded to work on the last half of what has the working title of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom. When that was completed, I worked on the last 3/4 of what right now I am calling Emma.

When I wrote the first two books in The Riley Sisters series, it felt like I wrote them each in about two weeks time. (Remember, they were lean, not fattened up for publishing yet.) But since that sounds far-fetched even to me, it was probably about a month a piece for them. So, I was not daunted by NaNo’s tight schedule. I would be just as dedicated with my current story(-ies), right?

Wrong. The Wind Could Blow a Bug and When You Least Expect It I started, and then just wrote them every spare minute of the day until I reached the conclusion.

NaNo had a different effect on me. Their suggestion was that I write 1,667 words per day to reach my goal. So, a lot of times, that is all I wrote, or a smidge more. But then there were about three days (Thanksgiving being one of them, another was when I had a book-signing at Barnes & Noble) where I wrote nothing. That set my project finish date occasionally behind. And time I should have been writing, I blew off because “I have all my words for today!” Then I did things like getting hooked on Netflix’s Jessica Jones. (She calls to me even now. I only have one more episode to watch. Who really needs a blog post anyway???)

Jeri: You need to pull yourself together. You are coming across distinctly paranoid.
Jessica: Everyone keeps saying that. It’s like a conspiracy.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Netflix

I felt ostracized because I prefer to hand-write a first draft. I know, it is allowed and NaNo even tells you how to use a random number generator to validate your work, but I still felt like a second class writer. I came up with an average word count for full pages, mixed with partial dialogue, and all dialogue. And I was careful to always underestimate my number because, you know, in an honor-system-based website I would hate to get accused of cheating. Despite that, my anxiety-ridden frosting-filled body just felt like I was defrauding the system somehow.

At the start of November, I had no idea what terms such as “word sprint” and “virtual write-in” meant. And I still don’t. I didn’t participate in either. NaNo has a spot for “writing buddies,” but I never really saw the point. If I was supposed to get some sort of sense of support from others while doing this, I guess I was cheated on that experience. My asbestos friend and I give each other lots of support while we write. And we are actually able to provide it better if we aren’t both writing for our lives in the exact same month of the year.

I tend to enjoy the struggle to create my own processes to accomplish tasks that others have already found a better way to complete and have been using it for years (ex. quilting, genealogy). Then again, I also desperately wish to belong. I want to do what everyone else is doing. It is the two sick and twisted parts of my brain that fight each other daily. So, I wanted to do NaNoWriMo because all the cool kids were doing it. But, I also wanted to resist because rebelling and writing in every other month EXCEPT November sounds good too.

I reached my 50,000 words, and two days early, I might add. I am torn about whether I would do this event next year or not. On one hand, I like to write my first drafts as clean as possible, and I feel like these were very rushed and not my best work. On the other hand, without this competition, I probably would have put off working on them for a few more months, and then who knows if I would have ever data-dumped them from my brain onto paper or not.

NANO-2015

My recommendation is that if you are a person who isn’t good at organizing yourself, participate in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t like time restraints put on your creativity and handle your own time management pretty well, you can skip it.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

 

What I Learned This Week – 3/22/15

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This week I have learned that I am watching Netflix original programing faster than I can review it for you.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I devoured in a week. It was offbeat and fast-paced, but I could follow-it, unlike 30 Rock, the previous show by creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

I can’t get this joke out of my head: “That man could sell snow to an Eskimo. Or a Pontiac Aztek to…someone.” See more about Pontiac Azteks here.

I love the theme song for the show, which appears as a autotuned mash up of news coverage from Kimmy and the cult’s discovery. I especially love how it is used in a long story arc to illustrate the dangers of today’s instant celebrity.

I just started watching the new Netflix drama Bloodline. I am watching it because I LOVE Kyle Chandler. (Homefront fans, head over here.) I also like Linda Cardellini.

But after two episodes, I am not a fan of this show. It has that shaky camera-work that directors think is cool, but it just annoys me. You have a budget; go buy a tripod. And the storytelling is very slow-moving. And so far, I don’t really like ANYONE in this family. How am I supposed to root for anyone or care about them? They could all go get blown up on a boat for all I care. And Kyle has experience with that on Grey’s Anatomy. It feels like a series that should be on HBO or Showtime. I am not really into those.

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

Photo: facebook.com/BloodlineTV

I will continue to watch at least a few more episodes to see if it improves.

There, you have been updated.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

What I Learned This Week – 6/22/14

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This week I was searching online for a picture of a thin male actor with shaggy blond hair in his 20’s I could use for some inspiration for a character in one of my novels. I tried Shaggy Rogers, but he is too animated. I tried to look up Disney actors, but they were all too buff or Zach Efron. I ran across a picture of Devon Sawa. I thought he might be perfect, if only I could find a picture of him a little older.

This week I learned that Devon Sawa grew up and got buff.

Devon Sawa before

Devon Sawa before

Devon Sawa Now

Devon Sawa now

Of all pictures of him on the Internet, he is skinny and young, or older, with muscles and tattoos. Not that that is a bad thing! It just isn’t what I was interested in for my character.

I also found out that Devon Sawa still acts! I just assumed, as happens to many teen heartthrobs, that after Night of the Twisters and Final Destination, he went off to college or something and never came back.

Apparently one of his more notable recent acting jobs was on The CW’s Nikita. I noticed that while he still keeps some of his young Devon sweetness, mostly he is all muscles and action now. He even got his gap-toothed smile fixed, which totally changes how he looks and talks. (It makes me a little sad.)

This leads us into the second thing I learned this week: The CW’s Nikita is a really good show.

I looked for it on Netflix, and IT WAS THERE! That NEVER happens!

I just started watching it this week. It actually aired from 2010-2013. Dang. It appears I found it about 6 months too late.

There have been a lot of previous versions of stories about Nikita. Just the ones I am aware of are:

La Femme Nikita (movie 1990) French

Single White Female (movie 1992) English remake starring Bridget Fonda

La Femme Nikita (USA Network TV Series 1997-2001) starring Peta Wilson

My asbestos friend totally loves the USA TV series La Femme Nikita. She doesn’t write about entertainment on her blog, as I do. But if she did, she totally would have written about that show by now. I have never watched it.

Devon Sawa doesn’t show up until the fifth episode on CW’s Nikita. By the time I got through the first four episodes, I was hooked.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow the black ops type plots, or that I wouldn’t like the characters. I was worried there would be nothing for me to like about it.

I was wrong.

The plots seem to be simplified, for people like me. I hate that they feel “dumbed-down”, but I like that I can watch it at 3:00AM and still follow the action with a cloudy brain and bleary eyes .

I don’t really like or hate Maggie Q, the actress who plays Nikita. But I love Shane West. I love Devon Sawa. And I was sooo pleasantly surprised to discover that Melinda Clarke (Julie Cooper-Nichol-Cooper-Atwood, herself!) is a regular in the cast. (Thank you, McG!) Clarke is sooo under-appreciated. She is under-used in the episodes I have watched so far, but I have a feeling that may change.

There is an actress named Lyndsy Fonseca who has a very big part as Alex. She is kind of a double agent. She has hair so amazing I start watching her hair and forget to listen to the dialogue. She looked familiar, but I didn’t know from where. When I looked it up, to my surprise, she played the “daughter” on How I Met Your Mother! The poor daughter who was stuck on the couch for eight years listening to Ted’s rambling story.

Lyndsy Fonseca as Alex on Nikita

Lyndsy Fonseca as Alex on Nikita Photo: IMDb.com

 

Fonseca is really good on Nikita. She can do more than just stare into a camera and look bored.

The show is a lot about missions and training and revenge. But as it is the CW, there are lots of hot guys with their shirts off who care more about the women around them than they let on.

I LOVE THAT!

Shane West performance as Michael, Nikita’s mentor, enemy, ally, love interest mesmerizes me. Admitted, so far his part mostly involves a lot of brooding. But there is a great scene where he finds out Nikita is alive after believing that she is dead. The emotions that cross his face are great. In real life, his boss would pick up on that in a moment and kill him for having feelings for her (but we will ignore such realism;).

I got to Season 1, Episode 9, One Way. It is the first time we see Michael and Nikita working together, side by side. I was so enthralled that I literally had to tear myself away from the TV and go to work. It was brutal, having to wait 8 hours to watch the final 10 minutes of the episode. I forgot my cell phone at home, so I could not even cheat and watch it on my lunch [half] hour! Then I came home and could not tear myself away from watching Nikita to go to bed. I blame the Netflix feature that automatically starts the next episode when the one you are watching has not yet reached the end of the credits.

So, ya. Now I have to watch all four seasons. I love the act of binge watching, but it really f’s up my life.

And, oh ya, I also found the body type I wanted for my story character:

Shane West

Shane West

Oh, and I am spending time dodging Facebook messages from my former high school classmates who want my address to send me an invite to our 20 year class reunion. We haven’t had any reunions before, why start now?

And, they totally must not read my blog. >:) [Insert evil laugh here.]

What I Learned This Week – 12/30/2012

The Valastro Family

The Valastro Family


I learned this week that I am addicted to watching the TLC show Cake Boss. I started watching it when I was my making my son’s Thomas birthday cake to get cake-making tips. But I continue to watch Cake Boss for the people.

It is a family business and their family is huge! Being an only child, I am fascinated by watching how they negotiate their roles as family and employees (one sister doesn’t do so well at this. She is herself, and it doesn’t matter who she is interacting with). Buddy (the Cake Boss) has a very big ego, but I love it when something surprises him and his eyes bug out and he gets all worked up.

I am also addicted because I watch it on streaming Netflix and Cake Boss has closed captioning. Other shows, like say Hot in Cleveland, do not. I need closed captioning so I can watch while my toddler naps or sleeps at night & I will not wake him.

But today, today is a sad day. I have watched all the seasons of Cake Boss on Netflix (all four seasons:( Now, what will I do?

“Not” stalk the cast members on Facebook, perhaps?

Ralphie Boy on Cake Boss

Ralphie Boy on Cake Boss

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