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Review: MCU Up to Infinity War (Part 3)

Here we go, the last one! Last time, we touched on Phase 2 and the first of Phase 3, and the last of the sequels that aren’t part of the Avengers. Now to finish what’s left of Phase 3. Starting with the same base I started with last time: This is not the place for an in-depth, full out review of every movie. This is, however, where it seems to be the best place for me to pause and give some of my thoughts and feelings towards the series as the whole. Admittedly as part of a series, I have a lot of movies to get through! It will be somewhat character-focused, because as someone who wants to be entertained, I am highly dependent on the characters, it’s just a fact. And I hate the Guardians, so this is NOT the place for GG talk, you 80’s babies, I’m sorry. But I will try to otherwise be fair!

Civil War tore our team into pieces. Following any one of the pieces would lead to problems, as it wouldn’t be fair to the other and give unnecessary biases. So the next movie went completely separate from them, picking up a new hero: Dr. Strange. Now, Stephen Strange can go one of two ways. He can be too much like Tony, so cue lots of repetitive nonsense, and now we’ve got a new style of magic involved, one that is–by nature of the comic source–Asian in influence, and with him being white, this can cause problems. The studio…actually made it worse by casting most of the major “good” characters as white. This hung like a shadow over the film, tainting what is otherwise a fairly enjoyable movie. Strange is a jerk like Tony, but he’s less of an idiot than him, so it’s more watch this self-absorbed man being forced to care about someone outside of himself rather than taking responsibility for his lax behavior.

That being said, I love how they made his magic so different from Thor’s and Loki’s, or even Wanda’s powers, and it really adds layers to the powers of this world. At times, the environments seemed very much like Inception, which got kinda dizzy for me, but at the same time, it was cool. At least until the end when they turned into bad kindergarten drawings, but you know, only so much they could do. I felt the same way about Ant-Man when he just kept shrinking and shrinking, that sort of thing is just really hard to conceptualize.

…Ya’ll, I still haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming. My usual streaming sources don’t have it because of how hard-core they are being about only certain services having it, my Contour doesn’t have it available to rent but only as a digital copy, and I’ll just be honest, I am waaay too Spidey-ed out to want to invest 25-30 bucks buying a movie I may not even like. This is sort of the pitfall they are going to run into with this character. I love watching him in the ensemble films, but I just don’t have the emotional energy to watch his solo films in theaters, and then if I don’t catch the super narrow window where I can rent it… I just don’t see it. But that being said, I’ve heard it was great, and whatever happened in it seems fairly contained. (There was apparently some Tony/Pepper drama that I missed, but it seems somewhat resolved by Infinity War, sooo relevance doesn’t seem high. Yet.)

So now we come to my least favorite of all the Avengers. I just have so many problems with Black Panther. He’s hardly ever written well, which is a problem shared with Thor, and probably how he got on to my dislike list. But then they just do things with his character that just…squick me out, like the betrothal aspect of the Dora (it’s a harem, ya’ll), and the way his relationship with Storm went down (which felt very….”these are two black characters from Africa, of course they should get married!” rather than anything I could invest in), and then his token goddess is BAST who is a predominantly FEMALE worship goddess… You can see why he started leaving a bad taste in my mouth. As did the fact that Wakonda had to be this huge-ass secret from the rest of the world, leaving the rest of Africa to carry on with a pretty huge economical burden, which I am not touching on in this review because that is a mess I don’t know all the details about.

Civil War gave us our first look at this character, and he was…surprisingly tolerable to me. I was very much on the fence, but because he was actually written well, and that fixed half of his problems, I gave the film a chance. And I’m honestly really glad I did. All the parts of his character that I hated got either removed or twisted to make so much more sense, and that includes the side characters and Wakonda as a whole (in fact, it was part of the major plot of the film). The women characters were built up, and allowed to do so much that I really wish it would carry over to the rest of the franchise. My only critique is I think it was released at the wrong time. I think we should have gotten Black Panther right after Civil War, or at least closer to it (like flipping it and Dr. Strange?) because Dr. Strange didn’t do a very serious death-fake-out, and while Black Panther did it, it was when trailers for Infinity War were already out with T’Challa yelling, “Get that man a shield!” Sorta…takes the wind out of their sails.

Whelp, last one. The first part of Infinity War. (Call the next Avengers movie untitled all you want, it is effectively Infinity War Part 2, I can see the elements that they pushed into this movie and Ant-Man and the Wasp to get around doing a two-parter.) I’m not sure what’s left to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. I mean, I’ll be honest, I was cringing my way through 80% of the Guardians and Thor, with the remaining 20% being the big fight scenes, Gamora and Thanos, and Thor at the forge. But I don’t like those Marvel movies, so those sections weren’t for me. The rest of the movie was meant for the people like me, who came for the snarky, action movies.

I loved the dynamic between Wanda and the Vision, as well as with Rhodey and trying to bridge the gap between Steve’s team and the U.S. government. Steve coming in and taking charge filled us with relief, and Tony, Dr. Strange, and Peter Parker working together was a barrel of fun (especially the Aliens joke). The ending conflicts filled me with terror and heartbreak, and it was such a brave choice, I applaud them for it. I think Peter Quill was an idiot…but Peter is always an emotional idiot, so I’m not sure why people are shocked by it. I found the lack of Hawkeye until the end credit scene as a name drop to be a cop-out, though, and… I have strong feelings about Black Widow in this movie, but that’s going to have to be another blog post where I dissect some of the female agents of SHIELD. They barely nodded at this reunion between Natasha and Bruce, which was mildly infuriating. I also feel like this movie made Thor: Ragnorak completely pointless, and that just seems like a waste of everyone’s time.

Now as the last of Phase 3 wraps up, the MCU is at it’s big turning point. Most of the original Avengers cast wants out, due to either wanting to work on other projects or wanting away from iconic characters that are now typecasting what type of movies they can get work for or just an age thing, in addition to some of these characters’ just wrapping up what limited plot was available for them in the initial set-up. The plan (or so I’ve been told) is for Captain Marvel to be the new “center” of the MCU, and that’s…daring. Not because of a female anchor, I am all for that, but because of Carol Danvers. I love Carol, but she has two modes depending on who writes her–she’s either just as awesome as Steve, or she’s a self-righteous bitch. There is no in-between. So either everything is going to keep going on, full-steam ahead, or it’s going to fall apart.

For now, all we can do is wait and see.

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Writing: My Thoughts on Twitter Pitch Events

I am not a huge social media person. If I tweet more than once or twice a day, it’s a weird day, and my Facebook is even worse, both personal and for the blog. I am slowly getting into it, but you know, I also am crazy busy with a crazy level of commitments. Including query, which hasn’t been going well. Lots of, “Not right for my list,” not a lot of feedback, though some have said that my writing is good.

Thankfully, Ginny is much more active than I am trying to engage as she promotes her own books.. She clued me into two different pitch events–#pitmad, which is open to all genres of fiction, and #sffpit, which is specifically for science fiction and fantasy.

What are these? Basically, you including the hashtag in your tweet along with specific tags for your genres and give a short description of your current book that you are trying to get representation for. The book has to be finished and fit in the specified genres. If an agent likes your tweet, they usually previously tweeted special instructions to help jump your query to the front of the slush pile. There are a ton more types, though, but I stuck with what was relevant to Sun’s Guard: Ten.

Now, both are pretty upfront. Mostly this is getting your book out there, and the odds of getting a like by an agent aren’t very high. It’s more of a community exposure sort of thing, and a roll of the dice. But I figured it couldn’t hurt, right? The answer is no, it didn’t hurt, but it did show me how these events tend to run.

Pitch events are very dependent on what agents are showing up, how interested are they, and what events have recently happened in the publishing world. Example, right now the big thing in publishing is “own voices.” They want minority writers, of race or sexuality, telling stories about similar people. This is…awkward for me. Yes, I’m a girl and plus-sized and one form demisexual…but even with Caley being also white and demisexual (all the way down to asexual at the moment), it wouldn’t count as own voices. They are very specific about what they want, and I am not it. Until that rush of wants fades a little in the pitch events, I’m fighting up river.

The other side of it is it’s possible for some people to get forty or thirty likes…and almost everyone else gets nothing. That irks the part of me that considers fairness important. Like, I’d understand being in the teens or twenties, because sometimes, you think you’ll like a book and then you don’t. But it is very hard and discouraging for other people to receive nothing and someone else is just swamped in requests to be queried, especially with how competitive this industry is and how hundreds of writers are shouting to be heard at all.

Which really got me to examine how I felt about these events. I thought about all of the queries I’ve sent out, and how some of them took months for me to get a response on, and I wondered how many times my query had been skipped over because a pitch event query had just come in, and those get priorities. And it just felt weird. On one hand, you want to take every advantage you can in this industry to try and get an agent. But on the other, that feels crappy and doesn’t seem fair to me.

Will I do any more pitch events? I don’t know. I didn’t get much feedback (though hey, my follower count on Twitter doubled and I got a few small publishers reach out to me), and no likes from any agents because I am not currently in the fad. It also rankles against what I consider fair, and I know that there are plenty of agents who don’t even participate in such events. I’m also nearing the end of the agent list on Query Tracker, soooo… I don’t know. I’ll probably play it by ear, decide what I want to do as I go.

Would I recommend it? Again, I don’t know. I haven’t had an intensely positive experience. I haven’t had an intensely awful experience either. I just had very little experience at all, which is the chance you run, and like flipping a coin, it resets with every event, there is no increase of chances of being noticed each time. So I say if you are going to do it, be prepared, have everything set up, and try it. But I also wouldn’t pin your hopes on being one of the few success stories either.


NaNo 17, Day 19: Route 5 and Camphrier Town

Evangeline hadn’t made it too far down Route 5–also called Versant Road–when she got interrupted. She blinked and stopped as a blue and black Pokemon she recognized as a Lucario came running up to her. Were those native to this route? But she wasn’t even in the tall grass! Ignoring her confusion, it ran around her in a circle, getting her scent or something.

“Wait! Lucario!” a female voice called out in annoyance.

“Over here!” Evangeline shouted back, relieved a little. Oh good, it was a Trainer’s. She didn’t know what she would have done if the powerful Pokemon was native to the area.

A pretty blonde skated over, decked out in white and red gear. She skid to a stop, another Lucario right on her heels. “Sorry about that, are you okay?” she asked in concern. The original Lucario hadn’t left Evangeline, still obviously intrigued by something “I was just doing some special training with my Lucario when all of a sudden he dashed off.”

“I’m fine,” Evangeline assured her, though, the Lucario hadn’t looked back to his trainer once. She tilted her head. Was he just willful, or something else?

“Hey, Lucario!” his trainer barked, putting her hands on her hips. “What’s going on with you? Did you get drawn in by this girl’s aura or something?”

He growled back at his trainer, and then looked at Evangeline with bright eyes. “Or something,” he admitted reluctantly. “Though her aura is…interesting.”

“Huh, well, it seems Lucario likes you!” Obviously, Korrina wasn’t one that could understand what Pokemon said, but she still seemed to get the gist of it. Besides she knew surely knew her own Pokemon better than that.

“You think so?” Still, Evangeline could help but feel a little skeptical. Why would a Pokemon seek her out because he liked her aura or whatever?

The Lucario snorted and crossed his arms, even as Korrina nodded eagerly. “Sure do! See, Lucario can read people’s auras. I guess something in your aura has made this one take a liking to a stranger!”

She looked at him curiously. Was the Lucario blushing? He glared down at the dirt, scuffing his toes. “You smell nice,” he was all he was admitting.

Evangeline covered her mouth to keep from giggling. It was just so cute!

Korrina grinned and pointed back behind her with her thumb. “This Lucario is always getting worked up in battle with my other one. Maybe it’s just been waiting for a Trainer to appear who’s strong enough to challenge it…”

“Maybe,” Evangeline said, not wanting to ruin the cool image that Lucario had obviously worked hard to give to his Trainer. She couldn’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for the poor thing, being the second Lucario of his Trainer. It had to be hard, to prove yourself different and unique without being weaker.

Speaking of, the other Lucario gave a cough, which prompted their Trainer. “Oops, sorry, I was on such a roll, I forgot to introduce myself!” She knocked her knuckles to her temple and stuck out her tongue, obviously making fun of how absentminded she had been “I’m Korrina, the Shalour City Gym Leader.”

“Oh, well, I’m Evangeline,” she introduced herself, reaching around the Lucario to shake her hand.

With a glance at her bag, Korrina gave her a challenging smile. “If you’re collecting Gym badges, I’m sure we’ll be battling sooner or later. I’m looking forward to it, with how Lucario likes you. I hope you know how to roll with the punches!”

Evangeline gave her a smile. “I’ll be sure to figure it out,” she agreed. “I’ll let you get back to your training.”

“Right! Come on, Lucario!” she called out, taking off on her blades again. The one who had been following her loyally was right behind her, but the one who seemed to like Evangeline hesitated, giving her a tentative wave of his own before he hurried after the other two.

Shaking her head, she continued down the path with a soft laugh. “An interesting aura, huh?” She wondered what he saw.

The route wasn’t too big of a challenge. She passed a skate park, which in her opinion probably explained why Korrina had chosen to train around here rather than back in her own Gym. There were a pair of young twins who were eager for a challenge, but since they both used Electric Types, Evangeline was able to wrangle around them pretty easily, even in a double battle, with Hiromi and Ella, who worked surprisingly well together.

Her first step into the tall grass stirred up a Pokemon, a dog-like one with wild silver fur and a dark face. “Furfrou, the Poodle Pokemon,” her Pokedex identified it. Historically, in the Kalos region, these Pokémon were the designated guardians of the king.”

Ella was able to dance a circle around him, and Evangeline used a Pokeball rather than risk him getting away. Unfortunately, with a full party, she couldn’t meet him. Her Pokedex had a scanner though, that let her send the extra Pokeball to the same box as her other spare Pokemon. She’d have to meet him, once she reached a Center.

At the top of the stone steps, she grinned at two familiar figures in the middle of a friendly argument.

“My goodness. Pokemon hordes are certainly intense…” Trevor muttered, appearing to be picking grass blades off of his clothes and hair.

Tierno grinned and gave a little pose. “Yeah, they’re just like a dance team made up of Pokemon, aren’t they?”

Trevor gave him a dirty look. “Oh Teirno, don’t you ever think about anything besides dancing?”

With a laugh, the big boy moved into a little break dance. Evangeline covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. “Nope! Even during Pokemon battles, I’m always checkin’ out their moves. And then my feet just start moving, too!” Coming to a finishing pose, he paused and held his hands up. “I can’t even help it, you know? Like with Swords Dance! I love it. I guess that’s why I can never win…”

“Aww, don’t say that,'” she interrupted, moving to stand with them.

“Oh hey, it’s Evangeline!” Tierno said with a wave in greeting. “Glad to see you got my message. Hey, do your Pokemon know any sweet moves? Show me in a battle!” He leaned forward, fists clenched eagerly.

Blinking in surprise, she gave a nod. “Alright, sure,” she agreed, picking out one of her Pokeballs. “One round alright?” she asked, not wanting to risk wearing out her whole team in the middle of the road.

“That’s fine,” he agreed with a smile of his own. At the same time, they threw out their Pokeballs.

Tierno sent out a Corphish, a lobster-type Pokemon that’s grip was legendary. Meanwhile, Evangeline had sent out Cho. The butterfly danced through the air, refusing to get close enough for her opponent to pinch her between those claws. It was a longer battle perhaps as a result, but the end result was Cho’s success.

With an excited squeal, the Pokemon perched on Evangeline’s shoulders. With a laugh, Evangeline patted her on the head in congratulations.

“That was some nice footwork,” Tierno said with a reluctant smile, deflating a little. “Or wing work, I guess? I should have known better, huh?”

“Don’t say that,” Evangeline repeated herself. “You did fine! Honestly, Tierno, it’s about picking your battles better. I’m training for gyms, but that isn’t what you want, is it?”

Trevor chose then to butt in. “Good to see you, Evangeline… Excuse me, I meant Ladybird. And you have a very valid point, which I am afraid I belittled with my teasing. It really does seem as though Tierno can only think about dancing and moves. When a horde of Pokemon popped out, he just stood there watching them.”

“Well, yeah, Trevs!” Tierno said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. He reached over to ruffle the redhead’s hair. “Coming up with the world’s best Pokemon dance is my dream after all. I was born to dance! I won’t ever stop, not with moves like this!”

With a scowl, Trevor worked on righting his hair again. “That’s indeed a perfect dream for you, Tierno.”

“So stop challenging people who are going on Gym-centric journeys,” Evangeline suggested, nudging his shoulder with hers encouragingly. “We’re focused on making our Pokemon as strong as possible in whatever that means, which is just different. Instead, focus on those who raise Pokemon for fun or wild Pokemon for your inspiration.”

“That’s a good idea,” Tierno admitted. “Thanks, Ladybird.”

“I guess I should show just as much dedication to my dream of completing the Pokedex, then,” Trevor said with a hum, looking to the sky. “It’s good to be serious about some things.”

“Just not everything,” Evangeline cautioned him, tilting her head. The two friends were really opposites, weren’t they? One too serious, the other not so much. She hoped that eventually they would help each other find some balance.

When they reached fields of lavender, the duo took off on their own to see about finding more Pokemon, and Evangeline waved as she pressed on towards the next town, which a sign showed was Camphrier Town, just like she hoped. Along the way, she ran into more trainers requesting battles, and more wild Pokemon that got stirred up.

The first surprise came from Henri as he helped Cho chase a wild Dodou away. Both flying types shared a high-five. But then Henri was covered in white light, and Evangeline and Cho both gave him space as he grew within his change, and with a flap of his wings, revealed his new form of Fletchinder.

Henri (Fletchinder)

Any congratulations that Evangeline was going to offer was immediately curtailed by Henri challenging Cho to a race. With a laugh, she skated to keep up with them as they set out to prove who was the fastest flier.

The second surprise was from an unexpected source. A self-proclaimed Rising Star, Hamish, had scoffed when Evangeline called out Felix. “A Charmander against my Kadabra? You’re nuts,” he scolded. The tan Psychic-Type joined its trainer in a mocking laugh.

For his part, Felix looked to Evangeline, claws twisting anxiously. “You can do it,” she assured him. “I believe in you.” With a firm nod, he turned back to look at his opponent, baring his little fangs.

“Yeah, and with what? A little Ember?” Hamish mockingly cooed.

“No,” Evangeline said, pointing her finger. “Felix, use Dragon Rage!”

“What?!” Hamish yelped, but it was too late. Felix’s eyes glowed violet, and he sucked in a deep breath. Rather than the yellow and orange flames he typically breathed, the cone of flames that left his mouth were purple and blue, forceful and refusing to leave.

The fight from there was short. As Hamish called back his Pokemon, Felix gave a triumphant flame of his normal fire and Evangeline cheered him on, so happy he was gaining confidence.

Only to freeze as the flames turned white and wrapped around her Pokemon. “Oh no…” she whispered, for the first time dreading an evolution.

But it was too late. The white faded with a sweep of Felix’s now much longer tail, his scales a dark shade of orange that was almost red. He looked up at her, but not by nearly as much as Kakashi had after his evolution, eyes narrowing a little.

Felix (Charmeleon)

“Looks like you’re a Charmeleon now,” Evangeline said, and held out her hands with a grin. “Congratulations, Felix!”

He eyed her hands, his attitude reminding her of a grumpy teenager now, no longer the sweet little baby she had taken in from Sycamore. But he put his paws in hers with a grumble, letting her squeeze them. She gave his shoulders a hug before she called him back in, breathing out only after he was safely out of sight and hearing. Charmeleon was well-known for being difficult to change. She could only hope that Felix was an easy teenager…

She’d barely entered town when she heard the little tune that indicated she had an administrative type message on her Holo Caster. With reluctance, she raised it up to her eyes to see what was happening now.

The character of the admins popped up, generated with a cheerful smile on its face. “Thank you for using the Holo Caster. Lysandre Labs developed the Holo Caster to make the lives of Pokemon Trainers richer, fuller, and more convenient. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy the fine services this device provides.”

A standard message. Why did it fill Evangeline with such dread? Hopefully it wasn’t Lysandre trying to feel out where her and the others were… She immediately deleted it so she wouldn’t have it lingering in her inbox, just in case it was a tracking program of some sort.

Camphrier Town was smaller, more like Vaniville than Lumiose City, thank God. She walked around the city streets for a moment, finding that there was no Gym here. While briefly disappointed, she brushed off those feelings as she walked into the Pokemon Center. She had a new Pokemon to meet!

The Furfrou was nice enough, if a little on the shy side. He accepted the nickname of Antoine. The biggest surprise was when she started introducing him to the other members of the team. Despite being one of the bigger Pokemon and being new to her, he quickly hid behind her, eyes half-closed.

Antoine (Normal)

“Antoine, it’s alright,” she assured him, reaching over to scratch him on the head through his dense fur. “These are all your new friends!”

“Are you sure they will like me?” he asked, looking at her with unease.

“I’m very sure,” she said with a smile. How about I introduce you one at a time? Will that be a little bit easier?” He tilted his head and gave a nod. It made the meet-and-greet take longer, but if that’s what it took to help keep Antoine comfortable, that’s what she needed to do.

Once he’d met everyone, Antoine was more comfortable with the team. He and Hiromi were engaged in some play fighting while everyone took a chance to eat something. Evangeline had accepted a sandwich from the on-duty Nurse Joy, and was having an early dinner  herself.

“You handled that very well,” an unexpected male voice said.

Startled, she looked up to see a punk-dressed boy in a leather jacket, most of his hair sheared short except for an outcrop in the front dyed sea green. “I’m sorry?” she asked, confused by his comment.

“Introducing your Furfrou to the rest,” he said looking back down at her. “You took the time to put him before yourself. It’s impressive.” He looked back at her Pokemon and tucked his hands in his pocket. “I’m glad you’re finding the storage system useful.”

“Oh!” she blinked, sitting up. “You’re the one who developed the Kalos system?”

He laughed. “Nah, Bill is still the original creator, him and all the others just put their heads together to make the best system possible and are trying it out here in Kalos before they roll it out everywhere else. I’m good with computers, so he sent me here to maintain it.”

Most people wouldn’t have taken the boy as serious, not with his punk look. But Evangeline had seen enough to not believe him to be a liar. At least he hadn’t claimed to be the developer of it himself, that was a point in his favor. “Do you think you could walk me through some of it?” she asked. “I’m not used to this system, and there’s things like trays and this Battle Box thing that I don’t know how it works.”

With a blink of his own, he offered her a slow grin. “Sure, I can do that. My name is Cassius, by the way.”

“Evangeline,” she introduced herself, and let him show her how the storage system varied from what she was used to. It was the perfect entertainment for this brief break while she decided if she wanted to push on or not.


NaNo 17, Day 1: Vaniville Town

There were worse ways to wake up in the morning than her great-aunt’s Venomoth tackling her.

Admittedly, Evangeline couldn’t think of them right now, but she was sure there were. Moaning, she pulled the covers back over her head, still reeling from the time change. They’d taken boats to get to the Kalos region, meaning the differences shouldn’t be hitting her this hard…except she was not a morning person. “I’m up, I’m up,” she managed to croak out before she got tackled again.

Venomoth trilled before taking its leave for downstairs. Yawning, Evangeline untangled her blankets and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, digging around with her toes until she found her slippers from where they had slid around after she kicked them off last night. The pink terry cloth helped her toes stay warm so her wake-up wouldn’t get even ruder.

She tugged her shorts down while walking over to the PC that her dad had bought her before she left. Tapping the screen, she saw the PDF he had sent her listing a bunch of trainer tips. Not that he’d ever gone on a journey, too responsible by half, but he’d listened to others and gathered these for her. It was a thoughtful gift. She closed down the PC, this time properly, and walked towards the shelves in the corner of this new move.

And in the process, walked past a mirror. She made a face at her reflection. Her hair was trying to escape the braid due to her restless sleep, and as she pushed up the strap of her tank, she sighed. As comfy as her pajamas were, worn-thin cotton and fleece did not present quite the image she thought a new trainer should, especially her first day in a new town. She strove for feminine but practical, and pajamas were not it.

Grabbing her shower things, she scuttled off to get ready and change her clothes and get her hair to behave, ideally before the morning passed her by.

Roughly forty-five minutes later, she took another look in the mirror, much happier with her appearance. Aqua shorts, her favorite white sleeveless turtleneck, and thigh high white socks with wide pink stripes across the top made up her favorite outfit. Her hair was neat now, even if it still didn’t know the meaning of the word cooperation—the violet ends flipped out rebelliously at her hips. Sighing, she blew out her last puff of air, but her bangs resolutely hovered over her left eye, the ends tickling her chin. She blamed both of her parents, who had their own hair issues.

She padded her way downstairs of the new rental house, yawning. The shower hadn’t woken her up as much as she had hoped. Her feet had barely touched the floor boards, though, and her great-aunt was on her.

“Morning, Evangeline!” Aunt Aya said, tossing a strand of graying hair out of her face. The forest green of its youth was barely visible in all the rest, and she’d adopted a bun rather than her old ponytail. It was still odd to see her in more normal clothes than the traditional Kanto garb that she’d preferred for as long as Evangeline had known her. “Or well, I think it’s still morning…”

Rolling her eyes, Evangline walked around her towards the breakfast counter. A plate of food was already fixed, including a cup of coffee. Rather than try and cut into the fried egg, she used the fork to drag it on to the toast to start munching while standing up. In between bites, she stole sips of the black brew with a happy sigh.

Snickering, Aunt Aya joined her, leaning her hip against the cabinets. She was far too used to her great-niece’s quiet after the trip here, especially while she was still waking up. “You sure slept well. All rested up from the move?” Aunt Aya asked.

Evangeline managed a quick nod, feeling bashful under her aunt’s gaze.

“It’s about time you got going,” Aya noted, glancing at the clock. Evangeline did the same and winced. It was later than she necessarily wanted to be just getting around. As if sensing what she was thinking, Aya reached into the cabinet for a to-go coffee cup. “Why don’t you step out and say hello to the neighbors?” she suggested. “Oh, and don’t wake Nidoqueen up, okay?” The heaviest of the household Pokemon had helped with moving all the heavy boxes last night, and was bound to be asleep still somewhere.

“Okay,” Evangeline agreed. Aunt Aya grinned, and reached over to tug at Evangeline’s bangs before handing her mug and turning towards the sink full of dirty dishes. Wrinkling her nose once Aya’s back was turned, Evangeline worked on eating her toast while she got ready to go out. Her hat, bag, and shoes were waiting for her at the front door, and she managed to slip them all into place without losing the egg on her toast or spilling her coffee. “I’ll be back later!” she called out, stuffing the breakfast back in her mouth to open the door.

Only to blink at the two people waiting for her outside. A boy and a girl, both about her age. Flushing in embarrassment, she finished stepping out and shut the door behind her. Taking her breakfast out of her mouth, she mumbled out a quick, “Hello.”

The boy smiled at her, relaxed and effortlessly charming. “Hey! Welcome to Vaniville Town. My name is Xavier. I’m your new neighbor.” His blonde hair was slightly curly, tucked into his cap, and he looked dressed for a journey of his own.

“And I’m Shauna! Great to meet you,” the girl quickly butted in, her bangs and pigtails even more rebellious than the swath of hair flipping out down Evangline’s back. “Guess what,” Shauna continued. “We’ve come to get you!”

Startled, Evangeline looked between them.

“The esteemed Professor Sycamore lives here in the Kalos region,” Xavier took over explaining. “I was told he has a request for five kids, including us.” He crossed his arms, looking Evangeline up and down. “But I’m a little surprised he knows who you are. You did just move to Vaniville after all. I wouldn’t have known you were here at all if my parents hadn’t mentioned to me that there was a new kid next door, not just your mom.”

Evangeline bit her lower lip, not wanting to admit that it was her aunt that she was living with here, not her parents. Even if these new potential friends might understand, it would defeat the purpose of her moving to a different region. “My name is Evangeline,” she introduced herself with a quick bow. It might not be the custom of the Kalos region, but old habits died hard. Straightening up, she tilted her head to the side. “Did the professor mention what he wanted?”

Both of them shook their heads. “Nah, but he’ll probably tell us as soon as we meet back up with him,” Xavier said. “It’s probably the same speech the professors give to all trainers who start out. Do you have your license and everything?”

She nodded, reaching into her bag and pulling out the card she had just gotten yesterday while Aunt Aya and her Pokemon had been unloading the car and unpacking the house. It listed her basic information, and included a profile picture. While it wouldn’t let her drive a car, it did show that she was a licensed trainer and allowed to attempt Gym battles and travel on her own without parental guidance after the necessary safety courses.

“Huh, wonder why yours is purple…” Xavier mumbled, flipping it in his hands before handing it back to her.

Shauna rolled her eyes. “Anyway,” she said pointedly. “We’ll wait for you in the next town over. And you know what?!” She almost bounced in her excitement. “We’re going to get…” she paused dramatically. “A Pokemon!” She threw her hands up in the air, jumping and kicking her heels up behind her.

Evangline felt like Shauna’s excitement was contagious. She smiled at the notion, even though this wouldn’t be her first Pokemon. That would be the Pidgey she had raised under her father’s guidance, but had left behind out of a sense of fair play.

Shauna, apparently, was done with talking. She skipped towards the gate, laughing and coaxing, “C’mon! Hurry, let’s go!”

“Alright, alright, hold your Ponyta!” Xavier said, laughing as well as he chased her out the gate and into the main road.

Startled, Evangeline followed them to the gate of her house, watching as they ran around the corner and out the main gates of the town. She shook her head, looking out on the main thoroughfare that she had barely gotten a chance to see the night before.

“Leaving already, Evangeline?” a groggy voice asked from nearby.

Whipping around, she saw that Nidoqueen had been sunbathing in the small front garden in an area that Aunt Aya must have set up just for her, with a sand bed and the ball that she knew Nidoqueen liked to bounce around. “Hey, you’re supposed to be sleeping,” Evangeline scolded, walking over to her. It wasn’t strange to her to understand the Pokemon–she was one of the one in five people who could understand what a Pokemon was saying, an anomaly that was still being studied by various professors.

Nidoqueen shook her head, sitting up with a yawn. “I didn’t want to miss you leaving,” she said, blinking her wide eyes open at her. “Besides, the small one was very loud.”

Evangeline ducked her head to hide her smile. “I’m not going on my big-journey just yet,” she reassured the Pokemon, reaching up to stroke her horn–careful of the poison that lingered in the tip. “Just to go see what’s going on with this professor. I’ll be back to say good-bye for real.”

“Good, you’d better,” the Pokemon grumbled, moving to lie back down again. “I haven’t been watching out for you this long only to have you scamper off like a Nidoran fresh out of the nest.”

Laughing, Evangeline kissed her on the cheek. “Go back to sleep, cranky pants. See you later!” She waved over her shoulder as she walked down the path in the same direction as the other two had gone. Her first Pokemon as a real trainer! She wondered what kind of Pokemon the Kalos region offered as starters…


News: Queries, Kitty Weight Problems, and a Wedding

…prefacing this, the wedding was not mine.

So, Ten has gone out to a bunch of agencies now. I had one nibble for more, but I haven’t heard back so I think it might be a bust. They only wanted three chapters, and its been a couple months now, even factoring in August dead month. Between blog posts and dance seminars this weekend, I may try to get some fresh ones sent out. The agents left on my list require a synopsis, and converting my Excel books into a coherent document was a hassle I was trying to avoid.

…Yes, books. Sun’s Guard and the rest of its intended universe requires extensive notes, plus one to keep the big picture sorted out.

Tsuki rather dramatically lost a lot of weight. Not gonna lie, she has been my biggest concern lately (she’s my baby, damn it). Her blood work came back excellent at the vet, and a month and a half later, I think I finally have her diet adjusted. The next few weeks will tell. She’s such a picky eater and has a sensitive stomach and grain allergy, it has been a nightmare.

And the wedding! It was my brother’s, I officially have a sister, a niece, and a nephew. I was technically a bridesmaid, but I mostly kept out of trouble and helped when I could. Now I am prepping for fair season, and you know, being a hermit for a little while.

Part of prep will show up here! I am doing a Nuzlocke run of Pokemon X, and intend to write it for NaNoWriMo. The writing will go up in a weekly post through November, with cute little insert charts of the Pokemon I catch. I should have at least four badges before I start, which I hope will be enough headway. You’ll meet the player analogue and rival before hand, in a Character Study, so look out for it and more posts starting soon!

Update: I WAS WRONG, TECHNOLOGY BIT ME, AGENT WANTED THE FULL MANUSCRIPT!!! Hoping for good news in six weeks.


Review: Underworld Blood Wars

Coming back to my werewolf/vampire staple with the latest entry into the franchise. This one felt like it finally bridged the gap between the first two and the fourth movie, giving me what I always look for as far as twists to the plot that I don’t see coming, while at the same time feeding into my expectations.

Underworld Blood Wars takes place an unspecified time after the end of Awakening. Selene is still on the run from Lycans and the vampire covens alike, as the Lycans continue to want possession of her daughter Eve, and the vampires want vengeance for the death of the previous Elders. For safety, Selene is not even aware of where her daughter is, to her own personal pain, and she even separates from David until forced to rely on his help. However, a new leader among the Lycans, Marius, is threatening even the limited safety of the remaining covens. A tentative alliance is struck…and then broken as truths come to light that may be the key to the future for the vampires.

Starting with the story, I felt like this was a good balance between the run-and-fight-when-cornered feelings and the direct battle confrontations that we’ve seen in all of the previous films. I also found that the backstabbing and flip-flop alliances returned, which always makes me happy since it gives a lot of potential for surprises depending on character (which I’ll get to). But we didn’t loose the depth of feelings that are always so subtle in these movies, which is more my cup of tea than anything. Selene still feels lost as a mother and especially without Michael, we have some closure at least with Michael to my eternal relief, David’s conflict between his duty to his bloodline and his feelings about Selene are told more in the silence and between the lines than straight out which is great. Even the reveal at the end with Eve, that she was stubborn and ignored her mother’s orders, makes me sooo happy.

I do feel like the world building is getting bloated at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the delving into Amelia’s backstory in this film, because I feel like Amelia has always gotten short-changed. Even the Nordic coven itself didn’t necessarily upset me, because it just makes sense that there was one group of pacifists in a war like this on one side. It was the way they decided to give Selene a power boost in this film, this idea of “going beyond” and hibernating under the ice… It was just weird and not explained well, vague mostly to keep from having to explain how it worked. There are better ways to give the character a bit of a boost to be able to work around a stronger enemy. Similarly, it felt like the nerfed Selene when convenient for the plot, and then made her this demi-goddess when needed. Consistency is important! They are also raising the gore factor in the films higher than I am necessarily comfortable with. The series has always been high on gore and gross, but this one nearly made me gag in the theater.

Character-wise, you have two groups: the veterans from previous films, and the new ones. I’ll start with the veterans. We didn’t see much of Eve or Michael, but in the case of the latter, he also got nerfed for the sake of plot. I’m happy about the plot being resolved, but honesty demands I point it out. Selene finally seems to be finding her groove again after being frozen and finding out that she has a kid. We saw some of the in control, Death Dealer and natural leader, that we have always known her as, but when she let that mask down a little, we also saw the hurt woman that she was. David grew a little bit from angry, whiny Luke-Skywalker-type into a leader in his own right for the majority of the film. What bit of angsting there was…was completely understandable. It reflected the growth that was going on with two other characters, his father Thomas and the deceased Amelia, who had a chance to actual show bits and pieces of who they are under the cranky people they usually come across as.

New characters…oye, there were a lot, like there always are. I like that we had two types of female characters–both schemers, one is the politician and one is the spy-soldier, and then the wise warrior. Most of the female characters had massive agency in this film, and were either using male minions or working in a partnership. I like it. Meanwhile, the males sort of suffered a little from a lack of depth being shown. They were either good soldier-boys for the coven, or they were the biker-reject soldiers for the Lycans. The main two of these camps, Varga and Marius…eh. They were pretty much one note the entire way through. And Varga, I had slight issues with…if only because I’ve seen Bradley James as two characters so firmly in my head, I had a very hard time breaking him out of them (King Arthur, and he’s our fan-cast for Scorpius Malfoy).

As a note of wicked story/character glee of mine–The new Elders are a flip from the previous ones. While the first set were Marcus, Viktor, and Amelia, the new group is Selene, David, and the new character introduced, Lena. David is the youngest, and is almost the blood-tie nod, which is usually a role reserved for a female character. Lena and Selene have centuries of experience on him, and we know from the way David has acted that when push comes to shove, he’ll defer to Selene. It still feels more like a balance of equals than the last three had, but I just love that two of the three are now female badasses.

Underworld is probably always going to be a movie that tugs at my geek strings. It has all the things I love in films (okay, and some things that I don’t necessarily like, but can tolerate in the name of getting everything else). They are, supposedly, already working on more for the series, and if it follows in the vein of Blood Wars, I am going to be just as eagerly waiting for it. Just…lay off the super vague world building.


News: Life Updates!

Hey, ya’ll. So, what’s been going on in the radio silence?

Well, I took over the Dance Guild for my medieval group. We had our first seminar in July, which was a learning experience in planning with others for me. It was a success, though, so hopefully I’ll be working more of those alternating summers. Meanwhile, the house hunt continues! I had the perfect place, but before I had my financing in order, it pended an offer, so sadness.

Meanwhile, my RP site died, so I had to build us a new site to use. The transfer over was one of panic and dismay. Some of the group had been using the old site for a long time. However, another was experiencing a problem with a hateful other player (which has prompted a blog post, look for that sometime next week), so it might end up being for the best. (I’m about as behind over there as I am here, all the busy.)

Psyche’s DnD campaign finally came to an end, the DM wrapping it up quickly as all of us started dragging and our power levels got ridiculous. Belle is staying retired, because I need the right campaign for her (sort of like ever using Anna again). So while my new kitsune oracle character, Ran, is in one campaign, I’m working on a Vishkanya Deadly Courtesan build, Danika. She’s going to be…different, a lot like Anna, so I’ll be stretching my RP ability. (I can’t flirt, what AM I thinking?!)

The big thing is that Ginny and I sent an idea for a spin-off game, well over a year ago, and we finished that up! We sent it off to the company that the parent game is being done by, no word yet (this was several weeks ago). In the meantime, we’re playing with other ideas together, and she has been getting her book self-published. I had to edit that for her, and will be doing the same for the second book once she’s ready for it. I’ll have longer for it and won’t be silent on here though.

Where does this leave my books? Well, I finally found my stinkin’ notes for the second half of Act II of Ten. I did a re-read of what I have, and I have a surprising little I feel the need to cut of it. So if I can make the second half and the ending just as solid, editing should be pretty simple before it’s my turn to face the agents-querying process. I’m going to try and cut out thirty minutes to write, every day. No TV, no video games, barely talking to Ginny time. Then I can expand on it once I at least get in the habit of thirty minutes. Otherwise, this is never going to get done.

Next week will be the RP post, then a somewhat ranty review of one of my favorite shows followed by a study of Psyche now that her campaign is finished.


2016 Goals

I refuse to call them resolutions. I’m not changing, I’m just setting goals for myself.

  1. Finish the video game pitch. We’re so close, I can feel it, I just have to buckle down.
  2. Get Ten ready for querying. Again, so close, so very close…
  3. Finish two of my fanfics–White Heather, which is the last in a stand-alone trilogy I started years ago and it would be nice to put the final cap on it, and then the first series in my Sly Cooper insanity, Sly Cooper: Lost in Time and Space.
  4. Socialize more. I got into the habit of staying home like a sloth while I lived up in OKC, and now that I’m back here in Norman, I’d really like to get out with my friends a little bit more. (…A wee little.)
  5. Save for my trip to Disney World! That’s right, I’m fully intending on spending my 27th birthday Bounding around Disney World with at least one, if not two, of my closest friends for a full week. (Okay, we might make a side trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for one day.) I won’t be able to blog the entire trip, but I do plan to post pictures from it here on the site. 🙂

Review: Three Days to Dead

And we dive into the Ginny box! This time with Three Days to Dead by Kelly Medling.

Evangeline “Evy” Stone has been dead for a few days. Not that you would know it, since she’s still walking around. Just…not in her own body. She doesn’t remember what happened, not even how she died, for the last couple of days. All she knows is the other members of her team are dead, her organization has a kill order on her, and someone brought her back from the dead for a reason. She doesn’t know who to trust, but what she does know is she has a deadline before she goes back to being dead to figure it all out.

…Sorta… I’ll get there.

Let me start off by saying, this book started off so strong. I mean, amazingly strong, I had high hopes. The female lead was strong and powerful, completely capable of taking care of herself but also with working as part of a team. The male lead had an actual fault that came around to bite him in the ass. Hugely. Multiple times even. There was a healthy bit of mystery, an obvious plot going on that I could track. The setting was described just well enough that I knew how things appeared without it getting in the way, and I really liked the world building that was done with the gargoyles and the vampires.

Okay, the only nitpick I had was there were a lot of terminology being thrown around for the various fantasy creature. Bloods, Halfies fae and Fair Folk, blah blah blah. Pick a word and stick with it, please.

The problem started roughly in the third act. To begin with, we had the restoration of part of Evy’s memory, which included a violent rape which is part of how she died. We all know that I hate rape as a backstory or even in plots at this point, it’s just never handled well and I think it just helps spread its power over women, which is screwed up. I will give Medling credit, since Evy does have issues from the rape that remain, so she isn’t instantly better. But I still don’t like it, especially since it felt rather unnecessary at that point. We had known it had been a violent death, and torture had been part of it. Did we really have to go down the rabbit hole of fantasy rape? I don’t think so. It was done to add more layers of drama.

And then things got weird. It had started out really well as this gritty, urban fantasy mystery story, with the fae sort of being mentioned but not being the focus. And then suddenly, we’re thrown into not only fairies and gnomes and earth spirits, but summoning of some Big Bad, Bad Guys who have had various names throughout history. I was tracking a bigger-purpose behind what all had happened besides it being a bit personal against Evy, but this took it too far. I was left wondering what happened to the book I had started with, since this wasn’t it.

Final nail in the coffin: the ending for the romance. Through most of the book, it had been established that one was going to die or the other. The whole thing felt very shoe-horned in to begin with, since Evy wasn’t set up to love the character the same way, but he kept pushing his affections on to her until she agreed to them. But because the writer had written herself into a corner, she actually broke her own rules of magic in order to save her (rather weak) romance. I was annoyed.

Signs that a book is very good but has a bad ending is I will unconsciously try and fix it. About two days after reading this book, just that happened. I probably would have cut (most) of the fae aspects out, focusing on our main villain. He could be up to many of the things we saw earlier in the book with strange creatures appearing, but I’d give him a different goal, since there is a lot that he could have been doing. Then, I honestly would have left the love interest dead, kicked Evy over to the Handler who just would not die, which makes him all sorts of awesome, and is old enough that feelings won’t make things unnecessarily complicated on either side, and then bam, room for new love interest in a second book. An easy fix, but someone just didn’t see it.


Good News, Bad News

So, I finally got a new job! But it’s a forty-minute commute (and that’s being generous about traffic). What does this mean? Well, I need to move. Which means this week, I’m getting my place picked up to show to people and seeing new complexes to decide where I’m going to live. And between that and adjusting to the new job, I just don’t think I can make it through the next Dresden book.

So, here’s what I’m offering. There will be no post this week for sure and maybe next week, depending on if I finally adjust to the schedule/get moving my stuff over to the new place/etc. BUT to make up for it, I’m going to do weeks of double reviews in August. So one week for each week i miss, you’ll get both the Dresden book AND my writing/RPing/whathaveyou rant. So for a max of four weeks, you will be guaranteed a book review. And if I can keep up that pace, it might become a permanent thing.

With that, I wish you all well and if I don’t see you next week, you will by the first Friday of August.