Monday, 30 May 2016

Weekly Update: May 22 to 28

Weekly word count: 4600

I got myself a new toy, the program Scrivener.  It basically allows me to create a digital copy of my notebooks and cue cards, as well as a word processing program.  Although I still prefer Word for writing, I think Scrivener will be useful for creating detailed outlines of my previous books and a database for characters and locations.  As a compulsive organizer, I've had to resist the impulse to spend all my time transcribing information into Scrivener.  Instead I'm taking it slow, saving my writing time for actual writing.

The end of the school year is fast approaching, which makes me nervous.  It's always harder to write during the summer.  And unfortunately, Inquisition isn't going as smoothly as I'd hoped.  If I don't have the draft ready for editing by August 1, then I won't be able to make my February deadline for publication.  I'll just have to buckle down and try to punch out some more work before school lets out.

Prose in the Park is next week and I"m looking forward to it.  Both because it was fun last year but also because it's the last in my spring events.  I'm going to be in tent five this year, for anyone who wants to drop by.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Media Manipulation and the Glut of Mediocrity

I've been reading Ryan Holiday's Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator about how he used to use bloggers to get free promotion by falsely "leaking" information, creating controversy and protest movements and starting rumor and whisper campaigns.  Using fake email addresses, he would get the blogs interested, knowing that if he could get the right ones involved, the story would move up the media chain with little to no verification.

One of the most interesting and depressing points that Holiday raises is that the modern Internet model of news is set up to discourage balanced and accurate information.  Since it measures success by clicks, pageviews and shares, the most controversial and distorted information is more likely to be seen as "successful" than more accurate stories.  Deliberately misleading and inflammatory headlines and shortening articles into soundbytes and Tweets make it much harder to have a balanced conversation.  And the pressure to produce "scoops" on a daily or hourly basis discourages research and checking sources, making it more likely for inaccurate information to be circulated.

I want to believe that quality has its place, that there are those who see the circus for what it is and will seek out accurate and balanced accounts.  But I see how that can't compete with the ease of sharing something which generates outrage and shock value.

This has been a long running issue in the publishing world, particularly with self-publishing.  Amazon has traditionally rewarded rapid and frequent releases, promoting authors who can release multiple works within a 90 day period.  There has always been a backlash from those who point out the difficulty of producing quality stories in such a limited time, but the business model was created to reward "new" over "good".

Which led to the same challenge in both news-blogging and books: more and more people tried to cash in on the market, flooding it with more and more poorly written material, making it harder for consumers to find something of quality.  Ultimately, consumers give up in disgust, unwilling to waste their money, which threatens to collapse the entire system.

Amazon is fighting back, saying they will remove books which deliver an unsatisfactory customer experience and offering to promote books with positive customer reviews.  But the system is still weighted towards frequent contributions.

Perhaps history will record me as a fool, a dinosaur unable to adapt to the new conditions of reality, but I'm going to stick with quality, even though it means a lot of my work gets swept under by the currents of constantly churning new material.  But I believe that quality has anchors that other material doesn't, letting it survive the tides.  

Monday, 23 May 2016

Weekly Upate: May 15 to 21

Weekly word count: 4100

It's been a rough week for writing this week, but I managed to chug through.  I've been working my way through a knotty plot point for the main confrontation in the middle of Inquisition.  I know where I want to go, but it's taking me a number of rewrites to figure out the best way to get there.  I think I've figured it out and now hopefully I can start moving forward a little faster again.

I had a great research evening looking into Mexican culture, food and festivals.  I was grateful to discover that my initial research was on track, but I'd missed a few points of emphasis.  Lesley and Rosa were both very gracious and open about their experiences and gave me some great material that I can use for Inquisition.

I've also been working on getting my swag together for Prose in the Park on June 4th.  I've been trying to decide whether to go with Hershey's kisses (could be tricky if the weather is warm enough to soften the chocolate) or chocolate heart-shaped snap cookies, more weather resistant but won't let me offer people "a kiss from a pretty lady".  I suppose I could offer them my heart, but it's not quite the same.

The national Romance Writers of America conference is coming up in July and I want to have something to put in the Goody Room.  I can't afford really cool swag so I was thinking of getting new postcards done up for Revelations with Deborah Cooke's endorsement on them.  I'll have to look into how much it would be to get 150 or so done up through Vistaprint.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Heroine Fix Bonus Round: The Powerful Women of Comiccon

I love strong female characters.  Nothing will turn me off of a series, book or movie faster than a typical "damsel in distress" moment when the character is helpless in the face of something which a typical woman should be able to handle.  (Getting a little shell-shocked in an alien invasion is fair, but it annoys me when otherwise capable women don't at least make an effort to rescue themselves from bad situations.)  There are a huge number of fantastic kick-ass fictional ladies who have inspired a generation of women to believe there is no fate but what we make ourselves.

This is why I get frustrated when I hear people dismissing female characters in comics and science fiction without giving them a chance to show their awesomeness.  The ladies get passed over for their own feature films, find themselves discussed more for their cleavage than their characters, or find their stories pre-empted by male characters.  The justification is that women just don't enjoy the genre and are satisfied with watching male characters, to which I say: Bull<insert expletive>.

Geek girls are here and proud and we'll keep coming back in greater numbers until Hollywood can't ignore us any longer.  So today I am celebrating 20 fabulous and powerful characters and the women who embodied them at this year's Comiccon.

Renee as Agent Peggy Carter
Margaret "Peggy" Carter (from Agent Carter and Captain America: The First Avenger) is one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D.  She served as one of the Bletchley Park codebreakers in World War II, fought HYDRA, saved Howard Stark (and the rest of the world) and did it all in heels and fabulous hats.

Renee chose Agent Carter in part because Carter's forties flair allows her to dress "like a real person."  She also admires how, even though she doesn't have any superpowers, the character uses both her mind and her physical strength, downplaying her physical attractiveness.  As someone who grew up in the military, Renee feels Agent Carter is a good role model for young girls.  She challenges both the male establishment and traditional boundaries.

Breanne as Batgirl
The Batgirl mantle has been worn by Bette Kane, Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown.  The most famous is Barbara Gordon, whose crime-fighting career was not cut short when she was crippled by the Joker.  She continued to work from her wheelchair as Oracle.  Cassandra Cain donned the mantle to redeem her assassin father's crimes.  Stephanie Brown became Batgirl after a stint as Batman's companion, Robin.  In the DC universe, Batgirl is known for her stealth, agility and martial arts skills, regardless of who is under the mask.

A long-time DC fan, Breanne has enjoyed the Batman world since she was small.  She enjoys finding out about the lesser known female counterparts to the traditional male monoliths and finds they often have cooler stories. 

UndeadDu as Black Widow
Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, has been featured as a supporting member in The Avengers films and the Captain America films.  She was trained from childhood as a Russian spy and assassin.  "I have a certain skill set" she explains in the first Avenger's movie, but eventually she ended up working for S.H.I.E.L.D., using that skill set to protect and help her fellow Avengers.  Without superpowers, she holds her own against the Hulk, aliens and gods.

UndeadDu is a professional cosplayer who chose Black Widow out of admiration for the character's ability to accomplish so much without powers.  She found the recent character arc exploring Widow's infertility to be interesting, as it's a challenge many women can identify with.  She loves the combination of feminine beauty and strength, intelligence and physical domination, cold practicality and determination to do the right thing, all of which make Widow a deep, multi-layered character.

Jade as Capable
From Mad Max: Fury Road, Capable is one of Immortan Joe's five wives who escape with Furiosa.  When Mad Max attempts to kill Furiosa, Capable stands up to stop him, despite having spent her life in complete isolation and pampered slavery.  She also turns one of Immortan Joe's lackeys, Nux, telling him that she believes in him and that both of them will be able to escape their apparent fates.

Jade is a Mad Max fan who loves the post-apocalyptic world.  She enjoyed the strong female presence in the latest movie, Fury Road, and how, in the end, the mothers and wives didn't need a man to rescue them.  They took care of themselves, from their initial escape to their triumphant return to rule in their former captor's place.

Nicole as Catwoman
Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, is an expert thief and sometimes love interest and sometimes villain for Batman.  She is never predictable but also fiercely protective.  She is an expert in gymnastics, sleight of hand, martial arts and the bull whip.  She is the shades of grey in Batman's black and white world, blurring the lines of his strict moral code.

It's that refusal to be pinned down into one category which attracted Nicole to Catwoman.  "She's strong and interesting" with a complex history with the other characters in Batman's universe, particularly the Caped Crusader himself.

Patricia as Deadpool
After this year's hit film, most people have discovered Marvel's Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson.  the irreverent, fourth-wall breaking and morally challenged hero.  He is an odd combination of lethality and protectiveness, innocence and crudity.  He can clap at a great entrance and slice off a limb with equal glee.  There is a Lady Deadpool, aka Wanda Wilson, in an alternate reality of the Marvel universe.  She goes toe to toe with General America (an evil Captain America).

Patricia was quite clear that she was embodying the male Deadpool instead of his female counterpart.  She calls herself a highly sarcastic and direct person and finds Deadpool fun to impersonate.  She loves his combination of humor and crudity.  "He's super not perfect."  

Emma as Evil-Lyn
Ladies of my generation will remember Evil-Lyn, Skeletor's faithful companion from the He-Man cartoon series.  The most powerful of Skeletor's minions, this sorceress had her eye on an eventual hostile takeover, often working against her supposed "master's" instructions.  She was particularly fond of shape-shifting to trick He-Man and his companions.

Along with her companion, who cosplayed as Skeletor, Emma enjoyed the humor of the original cartoon series.  She liked how Evil-Lyn was a partner with Skeletor, his equal and perhaps his superior.  She enjoys the idea of being a sorceress and getting to play with magic and illusion.

Kimberley as Leeloo
Leeloominai Lekatariba Lamina-Tchai Ekbat de Sebat from Fifth Element is one of the Universe's Supreme Beings.  Awakening in a scientific facility after a horrific attack, Leeloo smashes through a supposedly unbreakable tube and proceeds to pursue her mission to save the world with single-minded determination, rivaled only by her love of chicken and the Multi-pass.  She is able to fight off hordes single-handedly and contains the supreme power of the universe which can blast evil out of orbit.

Fifth Element is Kimberley's favourite movie and she especially loved Mila Jovovich's strong portrayal of Leeloo.  Despite having to learn about a completely new world, she rarely finds herself at a loss.

Kimmy as Loki
As a shapeshifter and illusionist Norse God, Loki has appeared in both male and female incarnations in Marvel comics.  Adopted by Odin after defeating the Frost Giants, in the Marvel movie version, he grows up alongside Thor and sees himself as the best possible ruler for Asgaard.

Loki is Kimmy's favourite character and she sees him as misunderstood rather than evil.  Certainly one can make a persuasive argument that Thor's "smash first, worry later" approach to rulership might not be the best option for the Asgaardians.  

Leah as Mystique
Mystique, aka Raven Darkholme, is one of my personal favourites from the Marvel universe.  Able to take on anyone's shape, she is the ultimate spy and infiltrator.  Add in physics-are-optional fighting skills, including the ability to strangle someone with her bare feet, and her frank sensuality and mysterious history, she is a character who rivals Wolverine for potential character exploration.  

Leah chose Mystique for her uniqueness.  There is no other character quite like her anywhere else in either DC or Marvel.  She's a strong female lead and a kickass character.

Stephanie as Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is another strong female character from the Batman universe.  Able to manipulate and interact with plants and immune to all toxins, she can dispatch her enemies with a lethal kiss or send them into distracting chemical euphoria.  Originally a botanist, she is transformed when a fellow scientist uses her as a research subject.  She hates humanity for their ecological sins and men for their attempts to use and manipulate her.

Stephanie runs the needles behind Yarn Monster Cosplay, knitting fantastic costumes.  She initially created the Poison Ivy costume when moving but enjoyed being the villainess so much that she's continued to add to and develop the costume over the years.  She likes Ivy for her phenomenal powers and her determination not to be stepped on.

Cailey as Polaris
Polaris, aka Lorna Dane, is Magneto's daughter and has inherited his ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields and metal.  Unwilling to raise her himself, Magneto erased her memories, leaving her to believe her parents died in a car crash.  She served on a number of superhero teams including the X-men and X-factor.  As she grew older, she discovered a secondary mutation, the ability to amplify negative emotions in those around her.

Cailey admits she chose Polaris partly because she loves the colour green but also because she found her abilities fascinating.  Most people aren't familiar with the character, giving her a chance to share something new with Comiccon fans.

Josee as Quorra
Quorra, from Tron: Legacy is the last known ISO (a digital life form) left in the computerized world of Tron.  Protected by Kevin Flynn as a child, she is fascinated by the world outside the CPU, reading books from and about the real world.  She protects Flynn's son, Sam, when he is lured into the digital world and can fight, drive and fly with equal ease.

Josee likes Quorra as a "really cool" character who takes on the usually male-dominated save the day role.  She is the expert who helps to guide Sam and keeps him alive.  Eager and enthusiastic and not ashamed of her desire to learn, Quorra is a fun and cool heroine to personify.

Amanda as Rey
Rey is the heroine of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Abandoned on the planet Jakku as a child, she has survived in a harsh and hostile environment.  When she teams up with the droid BB-8, she saves Finn, flies the Millennium Falcon in an epic Tie-Fighter battle and discovers that she has Jedi powers.  She's able to fix the Falcon with duct tape and a few crossed wires, handle a light saber and go mind to mind with Kylo Ren, despite not being formally trained.

Amanda shares my love of Star Wars and my excitement over such a strong female character in the lead.  What she really appreciates is the depth of story being hinted at for Rey's backstory, suggesting that we will learn even more about her as the Star Wars saga continues.

Karin as Riddler and Gillan as Harley Quinn
The Riddler, aka Edward Ngyma, is one of the Batman villains, who challenges Batman with his obscure puzzles and riddles.  Enigma, a female version of the Riddler, joined the Teen Titans (made up of heroes and villains from the generation after Batman's).  She has claimed to be a daughter of the Riddler but her true identity is still a mystery.  Harley Quinn was originally created for the Batman animated series as a companion and sidekick for the Joker, but quickly became a fan favourite for her quirky psychotic nature.  Originally a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, she fell in love with the Joker, helping him to escape and joining him on a life of crime. 

Karin loved Jim Carrey's portrayal of the Riddler in Batman Forever, where the Canadian funny man delivered a quirky and very physical performance of the question-marked villain.  Gillan likes Harley's badass character and with Suicide Squad coming up, I'm sure lots of people will agree with her.

Heather as Stephanie Brown's Robin
Stephanie Brown was the first female to done the green and red Robin costume.  Initially, Batman refused to train her, but she persisted, becoming a valuable member of team Bat.  She was captured and tortured, but refused to give up.  She escaped and got herself to help, but her wounds were too severe to survive (or were they?  Stephanie might be back for more.)  

Heather chose Stephanie Brown's Robin to draw attention to the character, finding she often gets overlooked as people focus on the men who have stood by the Dark Knight's side.

Vanessa as Rogue
Rogue, aka Marie D'Ancanto, absorbs the memories and abilities of anyone who touches her bare skin, leaving them in a coma if she takes too much.  She is one of the great tragic figures in the X-men universe, unable to control her power and denied the comfort of human touch.  But she is also one of the strongest characters, having permanently absorbed flight and superstrength from Ms. Marvel.  There are hints that all of the memories and personalities which Rogue has absorbed remain buried in her subconscious, creating internal drama and intrigue for this character.

Rogue was Vanessa's favourite X-man (and mine!) and her favourite hero growing up.  She enjoyed the character's teasing relationship with the mysterious Cajun thief, Gambit.

Zoe as Storm
Created as part of a deliberate attempt to increase diversity in Marvel comics, Storm, aka Ororo Munroe, is "a woman, a mutant, a thief, an X-man, a lover, a wife, a queen.  I am Storm, and for me, there are no such things as limits."  Worshipped as a Goddess by her tribe in Africa, raised on the streets as an orphan thief, and able to throw lightning with a thought, Storm is a fascinating character.  She single-handedly beat the leader of the Morlocks in combat for rulership of the subterranean mutants.

Zoe has liked Storm since she was a kid.  As one of the few black female comic books characters, it was a thrill to read her adventures.

Susan as Thor
Based on Norse mythology, Thor is Marvel's God of Thunder.  With his magical hammer, Mjolnir, he can fly, channel lightning and smash through pretty much anything.  In 2015, a female Thor graced the pages of Marvel's comics, her identity secret until she was identified as Jane Foster, who was able to pick up Mjolnir (something that can only happen with the truly worthy) after being diagnosed with breast cancer.  As Thor, she fought and defeated Malekith and the Frost Giants.

Susan admitted she was attracted to Thor's physicality, which allowed her to show off her own impressive physique.  She chose to cosplay as Thor to showcase her own strength.

There are hundreds of similar stories out there: characters who have fought their personal demons (and the more literal kind), who have saved the world more times they can count, who have made personal sacrifices and who have struggled with the duality of ordinary life and being a hero.  And they just happen to be women.

As a girl, joining the boys, I always hated being regulated to the "token" female on the team, doomed to have to sit still and wait to be rescued.  But as I started to read more on my own, I found that their stories were just as compelling as the men and I started to be proud to represent them.  I sought out more stories of strong women and then I began to write my own.

I don't believe in silencing voices, so I have no problem with writers continuing to produce tales about male heroes.  But I want to remind them that the female half of the population is also here, with stories to tell which can delve deeply into different aspects of the human condition.  They can inspire and influence whole new generations.

Don't let those stories go to waste or be forgotten.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Weekly Update: May 8 to 14 (Ottawa Comiccon)

Weekly word count: 3700

So very close to my goal but not quite crossing the finish line.  I'm cutting myself some slack because I had a difficult week in my day job and personal life.  Lots of stuff to work through, which I was luckily able to do but it left me too emotionally drained to be particularly creative.

Luckily, I had something great to look forward to and help pull me out of my funk.  From Friday to Sunday, it was time to geek out and enjoy some science fiction, fantasy and comic culture for all ages.

The family which Fireflies together, stays together.

There were so many wonderful costumes.  My boys aren't quite ready for group cosplay but I couldn't help but love this family and their Star Wars theme.

Sleepy BB-8, worth any number of portions.
And there was the wonderful dance group, the Villainesses, entertaining us with some Beyonce tunes while we waited.

Who runs the world? These ladies.
Which brings me to a topic which I will be exploring further on Thursday's blog entry: strong kick-ass female characters.  I am deeply tired of hearing people talk about how women are not into comics or science-fiction and using that as a justification for not writing, producing or publishing stories about strong women.

Look at the number of women who came to Ottawa Comiccon who play fantastic, take-charge and powerful characters.

Michelle Gomez: The Master from Doctor Who
Caity Lotz: White Canary from DC's Legends of Tomorrow
Karen Gillan: Nebula from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Ming-Na Wen: Agent Melinda May from Marvel's Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D.
Eliza Dushku: Faith from Buffy and Echo from Dollhouse
Each of these ladies was funny and a pleasure to listen to, so I can't imagine they'd be difficult for producers or directors to deal with.  They are all capable and talented actresses who are inspiring the next generation of girls and young women.  There need to be more roles and more opportunities for other talented and wonderful young and mature women to join their ranks.

There are no excuses.  Get out there, Hollywood, and make it happen.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Classy Ladies vs Bawdy Broads

I only had a costume for one of the theme dinners at RTC, the Cowboy one on Friday night.  On Saturday night, my 80's prom dress didn't quite fit and my crimper turned out to not have survived over 20 years in a box, so I went with a nice dress shirt and slacks.

When I went downstairs, my nine year old son asked me what my disguise was for that night and I explained that I was being a classy lady for tonight.  His reply:

"Oh, Mommy, that's not you."

Granted, he's right.  I am awkward at the best of times and social events intimidate me.  I will never be a graceful socialite prowling through a cocktail party with ease and sophistication.  And I got a lot of laughs about that bit of commentary through the evening.

I may not be a classy lady, or even get to play one on TV, but I am a bawdy broad.  As my group discovered during Dirty Talk, I have a dirty mind and very little filtering.  I came up with some great creative euphemisms for naughty bits.  My personal moment of pride, when coming up for alternatives for butt, I suggested "The Internet, because it's deep, dark and full of sh*t."

Women aren't generally encouraged to be sexually confident or aware.  It's still something of a social taboo, especially if a gal is married, has kids, is over 30 and not shaped like Sarah Jessica Parker.  Sometimes I think this is why we can go so wild when we're given the opportunity.  All the sensuality gets crammed down, so when there's a socially sanctioned event, we take advantage of it.

That's one of the things I love about romances.  Women in them are encouraged to embrace that part of themselves.  They're rewarded for it.  And that helps the men and women who read them be a little more accepting of women's sexuality in life.

It's okay that I'm not a classy lady.  I'm a bawdy broad.  And that's just fine by me.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Weekly Update: May 1 to 7: Romancing the Capital

Weekly word count: 4008 words

Not bad for a week where writing opportunities ended on Wednesday, but it was all worth it because Thursday to Saturday was Romancing the Capital.  3 days of romance-themed fun.  I was disappointed not to get one of the author spots, but it's still a lot of fun to attend as a reader.  I was very excited to be recognized by 3 fans who shared that they liked my book.  This is still a relatively new phenomenon for me and I hope it's always this thrilling.

Me and my fan, Catherine.  Thanks for making my day!
 I got to hang out with Laurie and Marissa, the Pub-Craft ladies.  They organized some great games for the participants, including Sexcerpts, giving a reader an erotic scene to read aloud and then having the participants try and crack them up (which I totally won by whispering "Your parents are having sex right now" into the reader's ear); Vampires, Damsels and Pirates, a sort of musical chairs charades where we had to act out different characters; and Dirty Talk, coming up with imaginative euphemisms for naughty body parts and actions. (Personally, I liked Personal Hat Stand for a certain aspect of male anatomy.)

Another great Pub-Craft activity was the gentlemen they brought in to play Hero of the Day.  These good sports participated in the Pub-Craft game and were especially hilarious in reading out the lists of euphemisms, turning it into attitude-rich name-calling.

There was also tons of swag, prizes and book giveaways.  I walked out with four tote bags (themselves part of the swag) full of chocolate, pens, notepads, pocket mirrors, free downloads, signed books, and tons of other swag.  (Cora Seeton's romantic hero paper dolls were the hit of the weekend.)

RTC was also a great opportunity to network.  I met bloggers, reviewers, and of course lots of awesome authors.  Marianne Maguire was gracious enough to spend almost an hour with me, sharing her marketing tips and strategies.  USA Today Bestseller, Deb Cooke, introduced us and continued her gracious support of my writing.

Marianne Maguire

The workshops were great, especially Nathan Bourgoine's candid and insightful talk on respectful ways to handle LGBTQ characters and the value of diversity and inclusion.  And the dinners and dancing were fantastic.  Friday night was a Cowboy theme and Saturday's retro 80's prom had us all reliving the past.

I'd highly recommend Romancing the Capital to anyone in and around the Ottawa area (and from the number of out of town visitors, it's also worth travelling for).  I'll keep you posted for next year's dates.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Heroine Fix: Sara from Labyrinth, No More Miss Nice Girl

For this month's Heroine Fix, I'm going back to a superlative example of the magic of puppetry and David Bowie-ness, Labyrinth.

Sara is a teenager who wishes the goblins would come and take her baby brother away (personal note, my sisters can tell you that "I wish the goblins would come and take you away right now" is less effective than this movie makes it appear).  Struck with sudden remorse, she is given 13 hours to solve the Goblin King's Labyrinth or the child will be lost forever.  Launched on a young adult equivalent of Alice's trip to Wonderland, she solves puzzles and riddles to save her brother.

Sara is an interesting heroine, one of the first openly flawed heroines that I remember.  At the beginning, even a child can see that she is an immature, spoiled brat, more focused on her reflection in the mirror than in her clearly terrified little brother.  As the film progresses, she matures, accepting the challenges as they are rather than giving up with a plaintive whine of "But it's not fair."  (Another personal note, I have used Jareth's reply on my own children: You say that so often.  I wonder what your basis of comparison is.)

I've read any number of articles which say that Labyrinth is supposed to be a metaphor for life, which is not fair and tends to throw arbitrary challenges at us and in which we cannot always judge people by our first impressions.

As a child, I simply loved Sara for her adventures.  I wanted to solve the Labyrinth and make friends with a fox-knight, dwarf and horned orangutan.  I wanted to dance with David Bowie in that gorgeous dress from the masquerade ball and then smash my way free to defy him.

As an adult, what I find interesting is how Sara's character matures throughout her adventures.  At first, she is frustrated by how the Labyrinth defies all the rules she has come to expect, but she slowly learns not to make assumptions and to meet the challenges on their own terms.  What I find particularly interesting is that one of the assumptions that she dismisses is being nice.

Sara doesn't have any success as long as she's being a meek and polite girl.  She gets bitten by a fairy, misled by a worm, abandoned by Hoggle and dumped in an oubliette because she chooses the "convenient" option of down rather than the obviously-better-for-her choice of up when being held by the Helping Hands.

It's only when she steals Hoggle's jewels to coerce him into helping her that she starts to make some real headway.  She throws rocks at the helmets of the Goblin Knights, pinches the nose of the Door Knockers to force him to take his ring back, knocks the heads off the Fireys, smashes the crystal prison of the Masquerade Ball, rejects her possessions as "junk" to escape the Hoaders and takes an active role in the fighting through Goblin City.  None of these are "nice" things to do, but she doesn't compromise herself and her goals.

In the end, the movie is about Sara reclaiming her power.  At the beginning, she is powerless.  She can't keep track of time, allow the dog in the house or control her own schedule.  By the end, she is facing a being who can "reorder time and turn the world upside down" and despite all of his abilities, she can face him and honestly say "You have no power over me."  

There's a beautiful moment during the final song, Within You, where Jareth is watching Sara run after a gravity-exempt baby.  Despite all his efforts to play with reality, she never gives up, always ready to charge up, down or sideways across another staircase.  As he sings the final lyrics, a sad resignation comes over his face.  That is the moment when he realizes he cannot dominate her.  During the final confrontation, he cajoles and begs her to "let me rule you and I will be your slave."

It might be a tempting offer for a less pure-of-heart heroine, but Sara walks away, winning her and her brother's freedom.  And in the end, she doesn't even have to give up her connection to the magic world of the Labyrinth.  Her friends return to join her for a celebration as Jareth is left looking in from his perch on a cold and lonely tree.

Sara doesn't have super strength or a black belt in mixed martial arts or a lifetime of spy and assassin training, like so many strong heroines nowadays.  I think that makes her more impressive.  Without anything but the typical abilities of any girl on the street, she defeats a primal foe who has actual godlike gifts, all by refusing to surrender her power to him.

That's someone who I can admire.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Weekly update: April 24 to 30

Weekly word count: 5600

I took one day off this week to get my new tote ready for this month's promotional tour.  After a day of sewing and glue-gunning, the buttons no longer come off and I have several pockets added to hold things like business cards, car keys, my phone and my large promotional postcards (and a strap to keep my water bottle upright in the bag).  I'm feeling very clever about it.

I am also on the hunt today for the final pieces for my costumes for Romancing The Capital's theme dinners (Cowboys and 80's prom).  

I'm also enjoying setting up my new laptop computer.  I'm going to try something new.  With my old computer, I disabled the transmitter (or rather I had my husband do it) so that I couldn't connect to the Internet.  If I wanted to look something up, I needed to go to a different machine.  

This time, I'm keeping the online connection active.  We'll see if I'm disciplined enough to be able to write with the temptation of the Internet and Facebook at my fingertips.

Inquisition is coming along nicely.  I'm still hoping to have the first draft done before school is out in two months.

It's going to be a hectic month but lots of fun.  I can't wait. :)