Distract me, please - What I read, watched and listened to this week

Last week was all about publicity/marketing and researching a potential writing project. It's astounding how much time the non-writing part of writing takes up on a weekly basis. But, it all needs to be done, by me, until I can make enough money to pay someone to do it. So, buy my books or leave a review. Those are the top two ways to support an author. Any author you love.

But, I still found time to fill my entertainment bucket.

 

TV & Movies

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

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I'm over two years late to this party, but am enjoying the hell out of a series about a complex female heroine. Jessica Jones could be considered an anti-heroine, not that she's inherently bad (she's not) or that she's a female stand-in for a bunch of male characteristics. But, she does subvert the female heroine cliche in that she doesn't try to make people like her. Her driving motivation for the first season is to help people who have been harmed by Kilgrave because of her. Guilt more than an inherent sense of goodness drives her, and that, to my mind, is revolutionary for a female character. There is one person she loves above all others, who she would do absolutely anything to protect - her best friend and adoptive sister, Trish Walker. That was another thing I loved about this show, the wonderfully complex and satisfying friendship between these two.

The new season starts on March 8, and I'm here for it.

Inch'Alla (Amazon video)

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Another Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black) movie. It might be a little too opaque about the main character's motivations, but for viewers who only see the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the lens of Western news, it's an essential glimpse into the lives of the everyday people.

 

 

 

 

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (in theaters & streaming)

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I am mentoring a high school student in writing and I have been talking to him a lot about story logic. How the story has to make real-world sense, how characters' actions and motivations have to square with their personalities and pass the real-world sniff test. That characters drive the plot. It's understandable that an 18-year-old who is new to writing would need this lesson. That Martin McDonagh would is unbelievable.

Spoilers below

Sam Rockwell's character, a dirty cop with a temper (as well as a freaking moron), loses his job about halfway through the movie. He gets a call from the sergeant, saying that the dead Chief of police left the dirty cop a letter. The sergeant suggests the dirty copy come by after hours, uses the PD keys he hasn't turned in to get into the station, get the letter, and leave his keys on the way out.

Does any of that make sense? Just on its face it's ridiculous that someone would suggest a guy that was fired to enter with his keys and leave them on the desk. When you know that Ebbing has been presented as if it's a small town, it makes even less sense that the sarge wouldn't take five minutes out of his day to drop the letter off, and pick up the keys. Then, when you also remember that the wife of the dead chief took the time THE DAY AFTER HER HUSBAND SHOT HIMSELF to personally deliver a similar letter to Frances McDormand...well. You realize the story logic here is nonexistent.

So, why did the writer make that choice? Because he needed Sam Rockwell to be in the station when it gets firebombed so the black inmate torturing moron can complete his redemption arc.

There are other, pretty freaking blatant, weaknesses to this script, but I'll end on the most egregious weakness - McDonagh uses black pain as a footnote for Sam Rockwell's redemption arc. He uses unjustified black incarceration as a character point for Frances McDormand's character (where she doesn't come out very well; her black friend is arrested in retaliation for the billboards and McDormand's character does nothing to help her).

Don't even get me started on the content of the letter from the Chief to the dirty cop. 

This screenplay was nominated for an Oscar and if it wins it will be a travesty. This movie is overrated as brilliant because Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwall are independent film darlings, and they do give stellar performances. Too bad they are overselling a terrible script.


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I went to this concert last night at The Bomb Factory in Dallas. The show was great, despite the fact that St. Vincent was alone on the stage, just her and her guitar, for the entire show. I guess her backing band was behind the curtain? I don't like all of St. Vincent's music, but I love seeing an enormously talented women freaking rocking it on an electric guitar. 

This was our first time at The Bomb Factory and we give it a thumbs up. We went to Adair's, a Dallas institution, after and listened to a local band, Mitchell Ferguson. They said they were country, rock and tinged with a little gospel. No. They're a dang rock band, and they were good.

Also, Deep Ellum was insane. I thought it was struggling due to some robberies and assaults (these seem to come in waves for Deep Ellum, and businesses come and go as a result), but it looked like Bourbon Street, or Sixth Street in Austin. It was awesome.


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Gee, I wonder why I'm boning up on my mysteries...

THE FISHER KING: Jack McBride #2 Cover Reveal!

Last week at writers' workshop, I passed out bookmarks for my upcoming historical fiction novel, SAWBONES, and announced that STILLWATER would be on sale for $1.99 this week. Later, a friend asked me what I'm working on. I told her, and she looked puzzled. "Which book are you working on right now? The mystery or the historical fiction."

Yes.

When I signed the deals for the mystery novels and the historical fiction series, I never considered how confusing it would be to talk about five books being published within fifteen months of each other. Hey, I'm not complaining; it's a great "problem" to have! I considered sitting on THE FISHER KING (Jack McBride #2) cover news until after SAWBONES comes out (March 29!) to reduce the possibility of confusion, but I can't wait. It's too exciting and I love the cover too much. 

How awesome is that? I love, love, love the colors! And the trees and sky reflecting in the water. And how the trees look a little bit like a gash, which represents...well. You'll have to read the book to find that out, as well as the importance of the fire. 

MWAHAHA!

But, I will tell you this: the evil little cliffhanger I left you on at the end of STILLWATER? That will be resolved one way or another in this book.

THE FISHER KING is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & IndieBound. It will be released in November.

If you want to be one of the first to see the cover for the second historical fiction novel, BLOOD OATH, you need to sign up for my newsletter! I've seen the cover draft and it's amazing. I'm so lucky with the artists, editors and publishers I have working on my novels.

Jack McBride & Ellie Martin live to see another book...

It isn't much of a spoiler to tell you my two main characters survive STILLWATER, the first book in my mystery series. It wouldn't be much of a series if they didn't, would it? Whether or not my readers would get to see their future adventures? Well, that wasn't a sure thing.

Until today.

My publisher, Skyhorse, has picked up THE FISHER KING, the sequel to STILLWATER. I am so stoked to share this story with you. In THE FISHER KING, I get the chance to dive deeper into the town, the people, and all the messy stuff that's going on beneath the placid surface, as well as ask the question, Are you willing to turn a blind eye to corruption if it makes your life easier and safer?

The release date for THE FISHER KING is fall 2016. Stay tuned. More details to come.

-Mel