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Writing with Spirituality

A guest blog by Phyllis Irene Radford

Writing with Spirituality

Alternative Theologies, parables for a modern world

Phyllis Irene Radford

Reading a book imbued with spirituality and later trying to write those qualities
into my own work has fascinated me for a long time. Spirituality is more than religion. To me it is a spiritual character, someone who lives their faith and has a personal
relationship with their beliefs. Their faith guides every decision they make even when
they question the advisability of the decision.  For them there is no division between the divine and reality.I played with these ideas in Guardian of the Vision, Merlin’s Descendants #3.

 

Griffin Kirkwood is a Roman Catholic priest who must wrestle with the strict
teaching of his religion, weighing those truths against the truth of Magical talents in
himself and his family. “A spell is nothing more than a prayer.”

 
I started to see that faith is more than emotion, but it needs to invoke and
emotional response from the reader. That is hard to do but begins on a character level.
The writer, and the reader needs to bond closely to the character and understand what
they believe and why.

 
Then came the Confederated of Star System series by C.F. Bentley.  Sissy dove head first into my life and would not go away until I told her story. An undereducated factory worker, our heroine found herself dragged into the Temple Caste and made High Priestess because the powers that be thought she’d be malleable and do as she was told. They learned otherwise. But finally given the right and the means to read the history of Harmony, both goddess and planet, she has questions that she cannot reconcile with her very direct and magical connection to her home and her faith.  No one messes with the avatar of a goddess, even when she is forced into exile on a space station.

 
That series exhausted me, and I went back to more mundane topics. Until…
My best friend and co-writer, Bob Brown, came up with a new anthology idea.
We’d already co-edited and written for Alternative Truths, which hit several Amazon
bestseller lists, and More Alternative Truths. He published a couple of other books
without me while I wrote a couple books on my own. But then I got a phone call. “Want
to edit Alternative Theologies?”  How could I say no?

 
We racked up almost 150 submissions. In every open call anthologies there a
few inappropriate pieces. Some in the “What were you thinking?” category that make
me head for the hand sanitizers. There are a few that are beautifully written pieces that
don’t quite fit theme. We bought two of those for the next anthology Alternative
Apocalypses.  And then there is the good stuff. The really good stuff that made us cry when we had to choose one from among four with similar themes.

 

In reading the stories I had to sit up and take notice, then I had to think. Think
about my own beliefs, think about how the authors presented themes, think about the
readers who would also think, even if they ended up throwing the entire collection
against the wall. I thought about the stories when they made me laugh, or made me cry,
or made my heart swell with new faith and affirmation.

 
This collection does not bash or denounce religion. It does rail against those who
pervert the teaching of their faith. It examines why we believe, crave believing in
something bigger and grander than ourselves. And it gives me new foundations for my
own beliefs.

 
Believe what you will, in the deity who speaks to you. And I hope you can read
these stories and think.

 


I am not in this volume myself.  I came up with two or three ideas, but none that I was able to transmogrify from story ideas to actual stories.  SMM

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Where Will We Be After The Orange?

I’m not in this book, but several of my friends and acquaintances are. You might find it worth reading.

A guest-post by Karen G. Anderson

Writer Way

Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 8.12.06 PMThe writers and editors who put together the Alternative Truths and More Alternative Truths anthologies have taken a collective leap into our uncertain future with a new book, After the Orange: Ruin and Recovery.

Edited by my talented friend Manny Frishberg, the newest B Cubed Press anthology has stories by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Paula Hammond, Mike Adamson, J.G. Follansbee, me and 24 others. Our stories in After the Orange provide a glimpse of the world in 2032 and beyond.

Manny says: “Some stories are about imagined Resistance fighters while others, like ‘Garbage Patch Kids,’ envision people cheerfully making the best of their situation. Generally, the farther in the future a story looks, the more likely it is to be optimistic.”

“Maybe the Monarchs,” by Endeaver Award-winner Brenda Cooper, and J.G. Follansbee’s “The Orange St. Parking Garage Is FULL/OPEN” are all-to-plausible, and disturbingly so. I heard Brenda read “Maybe the…

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DOUBLE FEATURE: A Movie Review of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Incredibles 2”

incred 2

Saturday night we went to the drive-in.  We saw a double feature of Ant-Man and the Wasp and Incredibles 2Other than the rain during Ant-Man and the Wasp, we enjoyed the movies.

The two movies have some things in common.

  1. Both are superhero movies, with a good blend of action and humor.
  2. Both pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.
  3. Both have competent female protagonists, antagonists, and supporting characters.
  4. Both examine the role of superheroes in society.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the 20th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), takes place two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War and contemporaneously with Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1).  Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is on house-arrest.  He has parted company with Hope Van Dyne, aka Wasp (Jr.), and her father Hank Pym; they are on the run, and have been for the past two years.  Scott provides a clue that Janet Van Dyne, aka Wasp (Sr.) may still be alive in the Quantum Dimension.  Dr. Pym and his daughter are determined to rescue her, with or without Scott’s help.

The physics are less than believable, but the movie is so fun that you’ll turn off your brain and ignore that.  Luis, Scott’s long-winded, silver-tongued friend from prison (and now his business partner), steals the show.  Like Black Panther, it’s a female friendly movie.  Hope Van Dyne, Janet Van Dyne, Ghost (Ava Starr), Maggie (Scott’s ex-wife), and Cassie (Scott’s beloved daughter) are all well developed characters with plausible motivations for their actions.  As with Killmonger in Black Panther, Ghost as a valid reason for what she’s doing.

Incredibles 2 begins literally seconds after the first movie ended.  Unfortunately, the Parr clan’s attempt to defeat the Underminer is less than successful, resulting in some collateral damage.  The superhero relocation program is being shut down due to budget cuts.  With their house destroyed in the last movie and Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, having been fired from his insurance job a few months ago, they’ve got two weeks in a motel before they’re homeless.

Luckily, Frozone is approached by business executive Winston Deavor, a gushing fanboy when it comes to superheroes.  Winston and his genius sister Evelyn want to bring superheroes back into the public eye so their heroics can become legal again.  They hire Elastigirl, aka Helen Parr, to be the first super to make a comeback.  (Her collateral damage record was far less than her husband’s.)  The Deavors provide them with a home which must have belonged to a superhero at one point; it’s a cross between stately Wayne Manor and Tracy Island, and Tony Stark would love it.  She meets other metahumans, some of whom regard her with awe.  As Elastigirl goes after Screenslaver, Mr. Incredible is busy playing Mr. Mom : helping (or attempting to help) Dash with his homework, dealing with Violet’s broken heart, and trying to keep up with baby Jack-Jack who is a polymorph.  None of the female characters — Elastigirl, Violet, Evelyn, the Ambassador, Voyd, Edna Mode — are two-dimensional ciphers.

“Unhappy the land that needs heroes.” Unglücklich das Land, das Helden nötig hat.  Bertolt Brecht, 1898 – 1956

Screenslaver, the antagonist of Incredibles 2, believes superheroes make the rest of the population weak, because they then rely on superheroes instead of themselves.  Ant-Man used the power of his suit to help Captain America, but in doing so broke the Sokovian Accords.  What are the duties and obligations of a superhero?  Who decides when they should intervene?  Who is responsible for the damage after a fight between superheroes and supervillains?

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  Stan Lee

I recommend both movies.  Both were small-scale superhero movies, threatening only one city and a small group of people rather than the entire world, yet both had consequences beyond their own setting.

Images of movie posters “borrowed” from IMDB, both copyright Disney Entertainment.  Videos from YouTube.

 

 

 

RELEASE THE VIRGINS Open for Submissions

I could see something like Heinlein’s “If This Goes On” where the temple virgins go after the prophet, or a story about a radical Mideastern terrorist arriving at the gates of Paradise only to find the Almighty is displeased with how the Koran is being twisted. The 72 virgins the suicide bomber is expecting are closer to Greek Furies or Viking Valkryies.

Michael A. Ventrella

The anthology Release the Virgins! is now open for submissions.

Through a kickstarter campaign, we were able to raise enough to go ahead with this project, and we have confirmations from authors David Gerrold, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gail Z. Martin, Cecilia Tan, Patrick Thomas, Shariann Lewitt, Alex Shvartsman, Hildy Silverman, and Daniel M. Kimmel.

We should have room for a few extra stories as well. But only a few.

Submissions are open for short stories that include, somewhere in the story, the phrase “Release the Virgins.”

The story should be no more than 5,000 words. This should be sufficient for what should most likely be a somewhat humorous tale. The payment is 5 cents a word. Do not take this as an invitation to pad your story in order to earn a few more bucks. If your story is complete…

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Kickstarters

One, two, three, kick!

Boosting the signal:  Three people I know are doing kickstarters and GoFundMe.

Mighty Aphrodite

mighty aphrodite

One of my favorite editors, Gene Turnbow of Krypton Radio, is creating a webcomic called Mighty Aphrodite!  Check out this link.  Help the goddess Aphrodite save the world, one heart at a time!

Endless Realms RPG

endless realms

Endless Realms is a new roleplaying experience with two corebooks and myriad realities with one constant: balance is fragile.

Welcome to the Endless Realms – a crossroads of infinite civilizations, animals, peoples, and abominations that gather in the world of Lumis. Those that live there readily manipulate the cosmic energies that the gods themselves used to forge the world, creating tools and resources that mighty spirits seek to claim for themselves. Riddled with tears in the fabric of time and space, Lumis has become a vibrant and turbulent melting pot.

Lumis is the crossroads where an endless number of realms overlap. The species that have made it their home – by fate, chance, or nefarious purpose – each have their own lore, history, and culture, providing rich soil from which to weave intricate and interesting narratives. Their complex views of morality present a scheme far greater than the simple axis of good and evil.

Click here for more information.  It looks like it should be fun.

Time Boys

Susan, Johnny McPhail, Edward

Time Boys is an indie-film, written and directed by Randall Terry, and starring four of his sons as the time-travelling sons of a mad scientist (played by Randall Terry).  The budget being low, writer/director/actor/executive producer Randall Terry is requesting patrons of the arts patronize his film, which is currently in post-production.

For more information, click here.  (Disclaimer:  I was an extra in this film and have a vested interested in seeing it completed and distributed.)

Submission Guidelines: Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods

This might be an interesting anthology. The question is, can I come up with a good story for it? What would day to day life be like after the Apocalypse? Would our eldritch lords and masters micromanage our lives or would things be surprisingly close to how things are now?

The Universes of Jason Andrew

Here are the guidelines for Simian Publishing’s next anthology Apotheosis 2: More Stories of Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods.  (This anthology doesn’t open to submissions until April 2018, but I like to give my writers plenty of time to ponder the sort of story they might write for me.)

Apothesis2cover

Apotheosis 2 – More Stories of human survival and defiance in a world subjugated by the return of the Elder Gods. Humanity struggled to grow and evolve as a species for thousands of years forever caught in the shadow of a dread threat known only to a devoted few. When the stars are right, the Old Ones will return to claim utter dominion of the world. Lovecraft Mythos stories often climax at the moment of the fateful return of the Elder Gods and the audience is left to ponder what might happen next. This anthology features stories about humanity…

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2018 Darrell Awards Winners Announced

This year my King Arthur story was nominated, but was not a finalist. Next year, or maybe the year after, one of my stories will make it to the finals. And someday, I will win.

In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s winners!

Darrell Awards

The 2018 Darrell Awards Jury is very pleased to announce the following results of our deliberations.

Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Robin Burks for her extraordinary contributions to Midsouth literacy, more specifically her trilogy (Zeus, Inc; The Curse of Hekate; and The Return of the Titans)

Robin Burks plaque for Hall of Fame 2018 Coger Hall of Fame plaque

Best Midsouth Novel
Winner – Land of Wolves by T. J. Turner
First Runner-Up – Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan
Finalist – Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz

Best Midsouth Novella
Winner – A Night at the Quay by William A. Webb (as seen in Sharp Steel and High Adventure: Volume 3)
First Runner-Up – Luminaria by John Horner Jacob (as seen in Apex Magazine # 94)

Best Midsouth Young Adult Work
Winner – Coney Island Book of the Dead by Sheila Martin

Best Midsouth Short Story
Winner – From Hair to Eternity by…

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MidSouthCon Is Only A Few Days Away

MidSouthCon is only a few days away, and I will be a panelist this year.

This had been my original schedule:

 

 

Schedule for – Susan Murrie MidSouthCon 36

(Why they dropped my married name, I don’t know.)

Day Time  *Location  *Event

March 9-11 2018

Friday 7:00 PM * Promenade 2 * Fantasy Fiction: Past, Present, and Future
The best authors in the field discuss modern Fantasy Fiction! Enter the worlds each of these authors creates and hear about what works influenced their creations. Listen as they discuss where Fantasy has been, where it is today, and where they and others will take it in the future.

Melinda LaFevers, Jamie Marchant, Susan Murrie Macdonald, John Hornor Jacobs

Saturday 3:00 PM  * Pro Row * Pro Row
Meet your favorite MidSouthCon professional, maybe get their autograph or buy their works. Pro Row is located in the hallway outside of the Tennessee Ballrooms.

Shauna Roberts, Dave Schroeder, Susan Murrie Macdonald, John Jackson Miller

Saturday 8:00 PM * Grand Ballroom C * Epic Women In Epic Literature

Epic Science Fiction and Fantasy have seen some dynamic powerhouses of women-kind, such as: Kahlan, in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series; Cordelia, from the Vorkosigan sage; and Miri Robertson, from the Liaden Universe. Come discuss the epic women of SF&F with our panelists.

Herika R Raymer, Susan Murrie Macdonald, J L Mulvihill, Sharon Lee

However, Larry Hoy from my writing group posted on Facebook yesterday that the MidSouthCon official schedule was up.  I went to look to see what the other panels were, and to make sure I could see some of the people I wanted to hear.

“Getting Started in Self-Publishing” sounded very interesting, and I told my husband I wanted to be sure to attend that one, as I thought I could learn a lot from it.  I confess I was shocked to see I was on the panel, as my meager attempts at self-publishing have been dismal failures.  I suppose I’m there as an example of what not to do?
Our panelists discuss the ins and outs of self publishing your work.
Dave Schroeder, Frank Tuttle, Michael Hinton, Susan Murrie Macdonald
I was disappointed, but not shocked to see I’d been removed from “Epic Women in Epic Literature.”  These things are never carved in stone.  The author GOH is the moderator for that panel, so it makes sense they’d only want experienced authors on the panel.  However, I suppose I should be flattered that it took two people to replace me:  Steve Miller and Toni Weisskopf.  I’ll still be there, just in the audience instead of on the panel.
I was dismayed to learn my time on Pro Row was the same time as the Library Bards‘ concert, as they were one of the main reasons I wanted to come to this year’s convention.  I hope they perform more than once.  I’d really like to hear them in person.
Panels that look interesting:
From Pulp to Genre Fiction
Pulp Fiction- Learn the history of one of the most influential mediums in pop culture and how magazines of the 1930s and 40s have led to an exciting new style of writing that is all over the place today. From the origins of science fiction to brand new heroes today in all sorts of books, comics, anime, movies, television series, and more, find out how Pulp has gone from being magazines on a newsstand to what we see as Genre Fiction today.
Badges and Flatfeet – Law Enforcement and PIs in Fiction
From mysteries to science fiction, from horror to love stories, readers and writers are fascinated with cops in genre fiction! Join authors as they discuss how Law Enforcement of all types is represented in various Genres throughout Fiction.
“Keep On Keepin’ On” – How to Get to the Finish Line with Your Project
Having trouble finishing what you started? Tips on How to Stay Focused and Keep Creating. Join these creators as they discuss how they are able to fight to the finish on their projects and never give up.
The Art of Attraction: Social Media and Marketing for the Independent Artist
Find out what it takes to make a name for yourself and build a solid client base as our guests discuss strategy, tips, and tricks for promoting your work and yourself in the vast world of social media.
It’s Written … Now What?
Many writers feel driven to finish a short story or their first magnum opus. But, once done with their work, what do they do next? Listen and learn from authors about the steps to take to submit your work, the various options available to writers in today’s market, and what to do or not do!
WRITING – Tips, Tricks, and the Cold, Hard Truth
So you want to be a writer? Then hear from established authors, editors, and publishers about do’s and don’ts, cant’s and wont’s of writing. Listen as they discuss time management, how to start and finish a work, and watch as they pull back the curtain on the truth about writing. Ready to write your best seller and retire? In it for the act of writing or the money you think you’ll make off of it? Hear the good, the bad, and the downright weird about a career as a writer in this panel!
The Baen Traveling Road Show
Come join Toni Weisskopf and other Baen authors and editors as they tell us what’s new at Baen Book. There will be fun and prizes!
The Role of the Villain:  A Good Bad Guy
The villain of a story is the bad guy, right? Does that mean we are supposed to dislike him. Perhaps the characters are, but what about the players? This is particularly true of well-intended villains and the sympathetic ones. Remember, no one spends tons of energy on what they know is wrong. They truly believe in what they do. Sometimes dealing with the villain is what makes the story so much fun or at least memorable… It’s all about the villains.
Characterization and the Art of Social World Building
Our panelists discuss creating richly believable societies in fantasy and science fiction settings.
Why Do We Create Horror Stories?
What drives us to embrace the things that scare us?
What Does an Editor Do?  The Basics
Our panel of highly experienced editors detail the basic elements of an editors job.
Fact – Fiction Friction:  When Reality and Fiction Collide
Current events, both the typical and the tragic, have always been reflected in fiction. But what happens when the events are all too current and suddenly a story once told to entertain now has the impact of being horribly real for readers? Listen as today’s best authors discuss the best ways to deal with issues concerning Fact meeting Fiction as well as the question of just how much should fact ever influence Genre Fiction.
Born to be Bad – Creating a Good Villain
What makes a good villain? Why are the bad guys so much more interesting? Are they truly evil, or just misunderstood? A discussion of how to create a great villain for your stories.
How Hard Can Building a World Be Anyways?
There’s a lot of details that go into designing a world for characters to exist within. More elements than most realize. World builders have to consider all sorts of factors, history, and stuff to do it. Panels discuss the myriad of components, some more obvious than others, that are needed to build a believable, fictional world.
Building a Fantasy Novel from Start to Finish
One of the most popular genres in Fiction, Fantasy literally allows both readers and creators to travel to another world. Learn how to put together the fantasy novel you’ve always wanted from three perspectives- Writer, Artist, and Publisher. The Dos and Don’t’s of publishing Fantasy in Today’s market from Small Press Publisher Tommy Hancock, Artist Mitch Foust, and Writer Chris Jowers. Featuring the release of Jower’s LOSTBORN.
Geeks Who Brunch
Geek Girl Brunch is an international organization whose mission is to promote safe, comfortable environments where females can be as geeky as they want to be, and promote networking between female geeks-often with mimosas involved. Join two officers from the Memphis chapter for a discussion on who we are, what we do, and why having geek unity and communities are important.
Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy – It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore
Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy has reached new heights of popularity, and YA books are being devoured by readers of all ages. Our panelists discuss this trend and what is driving it.
Finding Your Muse – Story Inspirations
Where do writers find the inspiration for their stories? Panelists discuss how the muse struck them, and how they turned those ideas into stories.
Women in STEM
Why is there a need for a panel on Women in STEM? Are there still barriers and obstacles? How do we encourage the next generation? Come for a open discussion – audience participation and Q&A encouraged.
Short Story vs Novel
Genre Fiction is about delivering action, adventure, and familiar themes to readers But which type of story works better for delivering all the drama, chills, and thrills? The concise, to the point short story or the longer, more detailed novel? It’s the Battle of the Formats!
Going to the Opera …SPACE OPERA!
Authors of Science Fiction discuss the sub genre of Space Opera; what it is, where it started, and how it exists today. From Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers to Firefly and The Orville, find out everything you never knew about one of the most popular but little know categories of Science Fiction!
Plotting and Pantsing – Do’s and Don’t’s of Both for Writers
A panel focused on how to plot (outline, make a plan) or to Pants (just write whatever comes to you as you go) effectively and the advantages and pitfalls for each!
To Punk or Not to Punk
Steampunk. Dieselpunk. Cyberpunk. In the last 30-40 years, a great number of genres have popped up, calling themselves ‘punk’. But now every genre has some sort of ‘punk’ in it. Fancy marketing tactic? Real distinction from other stories? Or something in between Join authors as they discuss what Punk literature is or isn’t and its place, if it has one, in Genre Fiction.
Walk into the Darkness
Join our panelists as the discuss the ins and outs of dark fiction and Fantasy.
Comic Book Scripting:  From Plot to Page
Join veteran comics writer and novelist John Jackson Miller as he shares his way of writing for comics. The force will be strong with this panel!
And more, of course:  kaffeklatsches with the authors, panels on Star Wars, My Little Pony, Black Panther, and Harry Potter, as well as costuming, SCA, movies, paranormal investigation, etc.  And alas, some of these are at the same time, and some will be missed for meal breaks.  [Dr. Bob’s Rule of 2 and 5:  at an SF con, eat at least two meals a day and get at least five hours of sleep a night.]  But it’s the first time I’ve been a panelist in more than two decades, and it should be interesting.

Hypothetical Action Heroine Movie

Every now and again, the meme below shows up on Facebook.  (I think it’s originally from Tumblr.)

Jeremy Renner Bourne Ultimatum I reposted it on my FB page, and some friends and I got into a fantasy casting game.

Do action movies know they can have more than one female character?

Someone should make an action movie with all girls except for one guy and have no explanation or mention of it in the movie and then pay all of the actors to act surprised like they’d never noticed when they get the inevitable storm of questions.

This one male must have a shower scene, be saved by the protagonist at least once, and fall in love with a lead female.

Also these women all need to be capable of both kicking ass and killing people with guns as well as cleaning up nicely and doing recon at a charity event while the one male character seduces a rich person.

I petition this male character is played by Jeremy Renner.


AD:  I petition for the female lead to be played by Claudia Christian.

Claudia Christian
SM:  How about Gina Torres as her sidekick?
Gina Torres
LM:  And Michelle Forbes is the leader of whatever group these women belong to.
Michelle Forbes
SM: My son suggests Dame Maggie Smith, as a field agent, not as the agency’s director.
Maggie Smith
SM: My husband suggests Renée Felice Smith as one of the agents.
renee-felice-smith

SM: I concur with his suggestion and would add Katharine McPhee (who must, at some point in the movie, sing as part of her cover).

 Katharine McPhee
SM: The bad guys should be a mother/daughter team: France Nuyen as the leader of KAOS or Smersh or Thrush or whatever;
France Nuyen St. Elsewhere
Jadyn Wong as her top field agent (who we don’t learn is her daughter until halfway through the film).
is-actress-jadyn-wong-dating-someone-know-about-her-affairs-relationship-and-affairs
AD: And Grace Park, somehow. With a nice, meaty role, to show CBS what they let get away.
170706140124-grace-park-hawaii-five-0-medium-plus-169

SM: She should be a good guy. It would look bad if all the villains were Asian or Eurasian.

 Grace-Park w rifle
 LM:  Michelle Gomez would make a great baddie too.
Michelle Gomez
 JL:  Angela Bassett and Nicole Beharie MUST be in this movie!
Angela Bassett
nicole-beharie-sleepy-hollow-season-3
CK: Jeremy Renner? I can’t say “meh” hard enough.

Jeremy Renner Wind River

Also, where is Olivia Spencer in this cast?

SM:  You’re male. Renner is beefcake for the ladies, not for the menfolk.
Olivia (Potluck) Spencer or Olivia (Flushed) Spencer? There appear to be two.
Olivia Spencer (Flushed)
 (Although I could only find a picture of the one in Flushed).
CK: I meant Octavia Spencer, in fact. I would enjoy seeing her pistol-whipping bozos who tread on her very last nerve.
Octavia Spencer TBBT
 SM: After seeing Thor: Ragnarok, I want to add Tessa Thompson to the list of secret agents.Tessa Thompson Thor Ragnarok
JB:  Renner would totally do it.
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
SM: Okay, we have the casting. Now we need a plot.

JL suggested this was similar to the Ghostbusters reboot.  JB said it reminded him of the Charlie’s Angels movies (not the ’70s TV show).

So Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is leader of an alphabet soup agency headquartered in Washington or New York City. or Los Angeles.  Her agency has several response teams, with male and female agents.  This particular team has more women than men; other teams are more equally divided.
Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5 is team leader, with Gina Torres (Zoe Washburn from Firefly) as her number two.  Other team members include Dame Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies) as an experienced agent who refuses to retire, Renée Felice Smith (Nell Jones from NCIS: LA), Katharine McPhee (Paige Dineen from Scorpion),  Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan from Hidden Figures) and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton from The Avengers). A seven-person team fits into the basic storyteller six-pack with very little trouble.
Renner’s character needs vital information from a multi-millionaire industrialist, so he must seduce Angela Bassett (Queen Ramonda in Black Panther) and/or her daughter Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills in Sleepy Hollow) to get it.  He is uncomfortable doing so, because of his crush on Claudia Christian’s character.
Michelle Gomez (Missy in Doctor Who) is the leader of another alphabet soup agency, more a rival than an antagonist.  Her top agents are Grace Park (Kono Kalakaua in Hawaii 5-0) and Tessa Thompson (Charlotte Hale in Westworld).  Perhaps her token male agent is Tom Hiddleston (Loki in The Avengers).  Perhaps she’s the head of a British or international organization and Forbes’ character is the head of an American agency.  But she and her people are after the same thing that Claudia Christian’s team  is after.
Loki in Thor Ragnarok
France Nuyen (Elaan of Troyius from Star Trek) is the leader of a mercenary operation,  She’s not out to rule the world (too much paperwork) or to put her nation at the top of the global food chain.  (She is completely devoid of patriotism.)  She just wants to make a profit and has very few scruples how she does so.  Her best field agent (and daughter) is Jadyn Wong (Happy Quinn from Scorpion).  They are no relation to Grace Park’s character.  There are millions of Asians in the world and not all  of them are related, or even from the same country.
I would love to use Ellie Botterill (Princess Theodora from A Crown for Christmas) in this hypothetical movie, either as a kidnapped child genius, or a runaway princess,  or Gomez’s daughter or Dame Maggie’s granddaughter.
ellie botterill
What is the MacGuffin?  What are all these spies and mercenaries trying to find?  Who are the characters?  Yes, fantasy casting gives you faces and voices, but what are their personalities and skill sets?  Just because Renée Felice Smith plays a computer expert on her current show doesn’t mean she might not be the linguist or the medic on this team.  Renner might be the hacker  instead of the marksman. Is Dame Maggie Smith’s character an Englishwoman on an American spy squad, or is she a Texan who fakes a really good British accent?  Was she, perhaps, an English spy who married an American spy, and was she once Gomez’ mentor before coming to the US with her husband?
This is a better outline than most of my writing projects have.  All we have to do is flesh out a few measly details, write a script, and find a generous patron willing to provide the money to produce.  Easy-peasy.
collage-2017-12-27 (1)
Disclaimer:  the photographic images were borrowed from IMDB.com or Google Images.  There is no intent to defraud the photographers.  This blog is an amateur writing exercise, and no profit has been made from it (nor is likely to be made from it.)  I made the collage above, using http://www.photocollage.com

Sci-fi, Speculative Fiction and the Problem When Imagination Erases Race

As a WASP science fiction and fantasy writer who wants to do better, I found this article by Stephen Farnsworth both interesting and useful. Maybe you’ll find it useful, too.

A guest blog by Stephen Farnsworth, from Stand Up Magazine.

Stand Up Magazine - Empowering Millennials

When authors are more likely to show aliens than people of colour, and creators of colour rarely get platforms, speculative fiction is failing its audience – and its potential.


Speculative fiction is a genre of wonder and possibilities. Within it, fantasy, supernatural stories, and sci-fi flourish. It has brought infinite joy (and almost as much cash). Whether it’s Twilight, Harry Potter, Mass Effect, Overwatch, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Walking DeadLost – the list of popular titles that have dominated pop-culture are endless. Yet, a genre that is determined by its creativity must be considered failing when only some creators are given opportunities, and only the same people are represented.

At least in film, the universe of speculative fiction appears to be changing. Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are finally offering some diversity in a genre that…

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