Kay: RIP, Leverage

Leverage

Publicity shot of the first Leverage cast.

I seem to spend more time talking about the television I watch than the books I read, but… I guess that’s the way it is right now. And I am here today to lament the reboot of Leverage, one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the original show featured a bunch of crooks who banded together, initially unwillingly, to right a wrong. And then they made a career of it. The hitter, the hacker, the grifter, the thief. And the mastermind.

I loved that show. My favorite character was Parker, the thief, who unabashedly loved money and was so funny and innocent but also amoral: the perfect pickpocket and lockpicker. Together, though, these people could do anything, con anyone.

And I guess the management team at Electric Entertainment, which produced the original program, thought a reboot would be even better, so they brought back most of the original cast and shot a bunch of new episodes, now called Leverage: Redemption.

Friends, I am not happy. If I hadn’t seen the original, maybe I’d say there’s nothing wrong with the reboot. Most of the original cast returns. They’re still lovable. The new cast members are fine. The essential Robin-Hood-esque plot types are intact.

But to me, it’s a little bit off. The actors are a decade older. The handstands and backbends and splits that Parker did ten years ago to avoid laser alarms now look contrived. The giddiness of “Let’s steal an island!” seemed to fit better with younger characters. The new story lines have more explosions and chases. The fights go on longer. The cons don’t seem as intricate, and the storylines that compelled you to care (“They dumped toxins and my child got cancer; now they won’t pay for treatment”) are now bigger and more abstract. The beneficiaries are “thousands” of hungry children. I worry about hungry children in real life, but in a story, it helps to focus on just one.

I’m not into it.

It’s got a 9.1/10 rating on imDB, and every review I’ve read seems to love it. What about you? Have you seen the Leverage reboot? What do you think?

Kay: Good News!

I complain so often and so regularly about the problems I have with writing or publishing or marketing (or even finding topics to blog about) that when I fretted to a friend today about what I could talk about, she said, tell people that your book came out.

And I said, nobody cares about that, and she said, if they care about your complaining, why wouldn’t they care about your successes?

So that’s my news for this week: Ms. Matched came out, seventeen years after I first put pen to paper. It’s been three long revision passes, a 25 percent word reduction, and about six title changes, but finally this story has been taken out from under the bed, dusted off, and sent out into the world. I’m happy for her. She’s a cute little thing. And my critique partner Patricia said that I’d created a new genre, too! One that has no antagonist and no conflict of any kind. And she had to worry about something, so she worried about the gold fish. (Spoiler alert: the gold fish is fine.)

So that’s it for me today. Ms. Matched is flexing her muscle in the marketplace. While I am here, working on the revisions for the next book. And complaining about it, of course. What about you?

Kay: Whitstable Pearl

whistable-pearl

Kerry Godliman as Pearl Nolan in Whitstable Pearl

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a fan of mysteries, both to read and to watch on TV. Now that I subscribe to the Acorn channel, which showcases television primarily from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but also from other EU countries, as well, I’m just about as happy as a pig in mud. There’s always something good on!

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Kay: Writing to a Standstill

from Double Debt Single Woman

I have several manuscripts—all my early ones—sitting on my hard drive. Some time ago, I decided I should revise them into acceptable shape and put them out there.

Well, that’s easier said than done. The first one, which had had two heavy edits over the years, went great. It’s my first book, and in working on it again, I remembered how much fun I’d had with it all those years ago when I’d started it, how my spirits lifted every day when I sat down to it and I thought, I can do this. One light edit later, I finished it, and I’m happy with it. The cover’s done, and with luck, I’ll get it published in the next few weeks.

However, the second book is, as we say, another story altogether. When I wrote it all those years ago, my critique partner said several times that my hero wasn’t heroic enough, so I put it aside until I understood what she meant. Now I do. And I realized in shock that not only is my hero not heroic enough, he’s a jerk of the first water. How did that happen? Continue reading

Kay: Learning Experiences

I wrote here a couple weeks ago about my first three novels and how they’ve been languishing on my hard drive—and my recent efforts to finally bring them into the world. I did a few strong passes on the first one, tightened the language, sharpened the conflict (what little of it there is), and cut about twenty-five percent. Now it’s almost ready to launch.

I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but writing these books was a learning experience. You’d think I’d get the hang of it quicker, but no. Well, you could make the argument that every book presents its own challenges, and I’d be happy to make that argument myself. But I still always feel that I should be finding my characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts a lot sooner, not to mention figure out what they like for breakfast or where they go on vacation. Continue reading

Kay: Finally Getting There!

Phoebe 2 cover smallI’ve been in a flurry of literary activity lately, finishing up my endless trilogy (the Phoebe novels) and contemplating whether my first three books can be resuscitated. (They can! Or at least, one can, for sure.) This effort then requires time spent scheduling editors, formatters, and cover designers. Sometimes I have trouble keeping it all straight—is this the book that’s going to formatting, or going to the editor? What’s due from the cover designer? But the good part is that I think that I’m finally in the home stretch for many of these projects. Not only with my newer work, but also my older work.

I’ve complained so often about the problems I’ve had with the Phoebe trilogy that you all are probably happier than I am that I’m finally finishing them up. (There are way too many links to post back to. Seriously, you don’t want to revisit any of that.) But now that I’m finally getting past my logjam with them, I thought I’d show you the new cover for Phoebe 2. What can I say? I love the cheerleaders. (Editors note: I admit I was a high school cheerleader, but I deny all insinuations that this novel is autobiographical.)

What about you? How are things going on your side?

Kay: What’s in a Name

blondePhoneThe first book I ever wrote has languished on my hard drive for years. I was woefully ignorant when I started this book, but still, it wasn’t bad. A well-known publishing company held onto it for two years, promising acceptance and revision letters as editors revolved and changed and the company reorged. Ultimately, they rejected it.

As time passed, I learned more about writing. I did a couple of strong edit passes on it, and a few months ago, needing a project, I decided to look at it again and see if I could salvage it.

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Kay: Reading Crime Fiction

My favorite literary genre is the mystery. I’m not a big fan of the “cozy”—the storylines of teacups and cats set in bookshops—but I don’t like sensationalist serial-killer stories, either. I don’t want to read loving descriptions of slow torture or the detached planning of sociopath rapists. This is not my idea of entertainment.

My favorites are those books that straddle a middle ground. I like the puzzle a mystery offers. I like a flawed detective. I enjoy good writing, unusual settings, and any time period. If there’s a secondary romance plot, so much the better.

After a year of not really enjoying anything I read, I just polished off in one week the first three books and four novellas in the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn. I’d been thinking about why this series, set in Victorian times, caught my fancy when so many other things did not in the past year. Lady Julia has a great deal of agency, Brisbane takes her seriously, and her large family—eccentrics all—is fun to read about. Also, the dialogue is good and the romance is slow-burning. So that’s all catnip for me.

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Kay: Quiz for Y’All—Romantic Conflict

image via sleepcity.com

I’ve been working through the revision suggestions a development editor gave me for the third book of My Eternal Trilogy, and I’m stumped on one point. She says that there’s no conflict between my two main characters, and I have to write it in there.

She’s right about the first part. My characters have no interpersonal conflict. Trouble, yes. Conflict, no.

I don’t disagree about the importance of conflict, but I’m not convinced that the enormous amount of work I’d need to do to create a conflict between my hero and heroine and then resolve it is necessary or even desirable. Here’s my thinking.

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Kay: Today is International Women’s Day

German poster for International Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. This poster was banned in the German Empire.

How could I (almost) have missed it? Today is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrated on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and, as they say, fight like hell for the future.

Since I’m short on time, I’m cribbing most of this post from Wikipedia, so feel free to go there (and elsewhere around the web) and read more. Here’s the gist: International Women’s Day originated from labor movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century and was officially sanctioned by (mostly) communist and socialist movements and governments until it was popularized by feminists in the 1960s, when it became celebrated as a day of activism for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care, and the prevention of violence against women.

International Women’s Day has been criticized recently as diluted and commercialized, particularly in the West, where corporations use it to promote vague notions of equality, rather than social reforms. But it still has the power to pack a punch: in Tehran in 2007, police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally to commemorate the day. Police arrested dozens of women, who were released only after weeks of solitary confinement, interrogation, and 15 days of hunger strikes.

Which demonstrates, I think, among other things, how much men in government fear the power of women.