Do you think Ms. Marvel deserves her own movie?

Then check out this coulumn I just posted over on Speculative Chic! Now is clearly the perfect time for Ms. Marvel to enter the MCU.

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never looked brighter. With the incredibly cool-looking Black Panther and the much hyped Avengers: Infinity War set to hit the screen before the summer, the short term is sure to be filled with excitement. And the long term looks just as good, thanks to Marvel’s acquisition of…

via 5 Reasons Why Ms. Marvel Needs Her Own Movie — Speculative Chic


Where I’ve been

Hello, world! It’s certainly been a while since I posted anything here (so much shame!). It’s just that 2017 was such a big year for me. I bought my first house! I quit my job of seven years and started a new one! I completed another successful NaNoWriMo and wrote A LOT of words throughout the year. But being caught up in all of that meant that my blogging ended up falling off a bit. But now I find myself wanting to come back to it. Why? Because I have OTHER big plans for 2018, and I hope to document it all here.

So until I get started on those plans, I’d thought I’d keep you up to date on some of the things I have been writing. Because I’ve been doing plenty of blogging, but just not here. Below you can find a list for all of my posts on the fanzine Speculative Chic. That includes my regular monthly column (where I talk about books, comics, fiction serials, and even video games and music), as well as my contributions to group columns. There are the Sound Offs, which are (mostly) reviews of current movies, Roundtables, where we share our thoughts on a particular topic, and My Favorite Things where we talk about our speculative favs. Interestingly enough, I also used to edit My Favorite Things, but dropped it when 2017 got too overwhelming. The column still exists, but as a solo column (I even did one this November!).

So until I start getting new material up here, check out the following links:

Monthly Columns
January- Psychic Romances and Passive Protagonists: A Review of Connie Willis’s Crosstalk
February- Wonder Woman Comics: Five Suggestions for New Readers
March- Shaking up the Genre: A Review of Mishell Baker’s Borderline
April- “The Flow of Time is Always Cruel”: On Finally Finishing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
May- Doomed Love: Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Failure of Relationships in Superhero Comics
June- Television in Book Form: A Review of the Serial Bookburners
July- Reading the Hugos: Best Graphic Story
August- Magic at the Vatican: Bookburners Levels Up in Season Two
September- Women of DC Rebirth
October- Give Brains a Chance: Five Reasons Why You Should Check Out the White Trash Zombie Series
November- A Team Divided: The Serial Bookburners Goes Big and Small in Season Three and My Favorite Things with Nancy O’Toole Meservier
December- One Nerd + One Violin = Endless Possibilities: An Introduction to the Music Videos of Taylor Davis

Sound Offs
Hidden Figures
Zootopia (Throwback Sound Off)
Deadpool (Throwback Sound Off)
Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 2
When the Moon Was Ours (Triptee Winning Book)
Wonder Woman
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: Ragnarock
Justice League
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Resolution Project 2017 (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
My First Fandom (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Favorite Love Stories (The Glamourist Histories)
Leave it Alone! (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Finales that Fell Flat (Fables)
Cancellations that Killed Us (The Legend of Wonder Woman)
How’d We Do? Resolution Project Wrap up-2017 (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Biggest Disappointments of 2017 (The Treatment of Iris West)
Future Favorites: Our Most Anticipated Releases of 2018 (The Lady Astronaut Series)
Resolution Project 2018 (Oathbringer)

My Favorite Things
My Favorite Things: Fantastic Beasts, Nerdy Handbags, Wonder Woman, and Custom-Made Comic Book Covers (Greg Rucka’s First Run on Wonder Woman)
My Favorite Things: Graphic Novel Adaptations and Complex Characters (The Obelisk Gate)
My Favorite Things: Mad Scientists, Life Model Decoys, Horror Biographies, Episodic Board Games, and The Legend of Zelda (Agents of SHIELD: LMD Story arc)
Non-Speculative Edition (Capsule Wardrobes)
My Favorite Things: The CW, Comedic Sci-Fi, Cartoon Cats, and Penny Dreadful Continued (Arrow’s Prometheus)
My Favorite Things: Fantasy Video Games, Obscure Fairy Tales, and Ghost Stories (Erstwhile)
My Favorite Things: New Gods, Monstrous Comics, and “Lost Girls” (The music video for Lindsey Stirling’s “Lost Girls”)

How I Learned to Write (Pretty Much) Every Day- On Creating Regular Writing Habits- Part One

One of the biggest tips that you hear from people when it comes to writing is the advice to “write every day.” This makes a lot of sense. I find that the quality of my writing goes up when I’m writing on a regular basis. Also, it just makes it a lot easier to accomplish something when you’re committing time to it every day.

I’ve gotten pretty good at creating a steady writing habit over the past few years, even if I fall short of writing every day. Since I know it’s something that a lot of people struggle with, I thought I’d share what works for me. The key words there being “what works for me.” Everyone approaches their writing differently. I don’t claim this to be a full proof method. All I can claim as that’s it’s made me a hell of a lot more efficient as a writer. And it mostly breaks down to being prepared, being specific, and being realistic.

Tip #1- Decide that You’re Going to Make Writing A Priority- This one may sound unnecessary. If you’ve decided that you want to write every day (or at least on a regular schedule), haven’t you already done that? To me, there’s a very big difference between saying “I’m going to write more” and “I’m going to make writing a priority” and the key word there is “a priority.” By mentally preparing myself in advance by setting up this specific goal, it ends up being a great way of dealing with distractions. Say I feel the urge to spend time clicking around on the internet during writing time. The second I pull up my browser, I hear a little voice saying “but Nancy, writing is supposed to be a priority.” Maybe there’s a book I really want to read, or TV show I want to watch? “No, writing is a priority.” But I want more sleep! “Nope. Priority.”

Of course, there are things in your life that are going to take priority even over writing (or at least should). You probably shouldn’t neglect your kids for example. And while it’s one thing to fight the urge to sleep in, neglecting your need for sleep for an extended period of time just doesn’t work. But creating this goal has really helped me stay focused in times when I would otherwise be distracted. We’ll get more into dealing with distractions in Part Two!

Tip #2- Pick a Project That You’re Excited About, and Prepared to Dive Into- This was something a concept introduced to me in Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k (a great book about writing), and one that’s worked well for me. Each year, I do NaNoWriMo. The years that I enter NaNoWriMo with a project that I’m really excited about, and well prepared for, are years that I’m a lot more productive. And by “prepared,” I don’t necessarily mean having a detailed outline written out in advance (although that may work for you!). Instead, I make sure that I when I sit down at my computer, I know what I want to write that day. Beyond that, I have a really solid idea of what I want to do for the next few chapters, and a vague idea of what I want to do for the rest of the book. This allows me to stay true to my discovery writer roots, without having to worry about my flow getting derailed by simply not knowing what to do next.

As far as excitement goes, I think it’s natural to become frustrated with a project during certain points of the writing project. But for me, the better prepared I am, I’m less likely to find myself dissatisfied on a regular basis. So that’s another example where a certain level of preparation can help.

This process works a little differently while editing (which is what I’m working on now), but I find that it still helps to go into the day excited about your project, and with a really solid idea of what you’re going to do next.

Tip #3- Pick and Time to Write, And Stick to It- One of the biggest tips I see when talking about setting up New Year’s Resolutions, or any kind of goals, is to make sure that they are specific and within your control. So, instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight this year!” you say “I am going to work out for at least a half hour, five times a week.” The second goal is focused around daily tasks that you can do, rather than some general goal you want to do sometime during the next year. Another benefit that comes when setting goals like this is it helps to break down something large, into smaller, more manageable parts. It’s why during NaNoWriMo, you’re more likely to succeed if you think “I need to write 1667 words today” not “holy hell, I only have a month to write a whole book!”

When it comes to writing on a regular basis, I find it’s best to set aside a specific time that you can write every day. Ideally, this will be the same time every day. For me, that’s an hour before I go to work every day. As my work schedule fluctuates from day to day (but is pretty stagnant week to week), this means I have to be a little flexible. Still, for the most part, my mornings go like this- wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for the day, write.

Of course, my path isn’t going to work for everyone. Maybe you’re a baker, and have to be at work at some ungodly hour in the morning. Maybe your work schedule fluctuates from week to week. It’s why, before actually sitting down to write, I recommend taking a good look at the limitations of your actual schedule. This may mean that you don’t find time to write every day. Maybe your weekends are just too full. Maybe your weekdays are too full, but you can find a nice chunk of time on Saturday and Sunday. The point with these tips isn’t to find an ideal situation, but to find something sustainable.

Cause that’s the point, isn’t it? To create a pattern. To make your way steadily toward a goal, step by step, through creating daily habits that you can stick with.

And speaking of step by step, this is turning out a lot longer then I suspected it to be. So as a result, I’m breaking this post into two parts. This is the end of Part One. Please check back for next week’s post for Part Two!


Fallen to Earth: The Trials and Tribulations of The New 52’s Supergirl — Speculative Chic

Hey there! I have a new entry up on Speculative Chic! This one’s all about Supergirl, and adventures during The New 52. I break down both the good and bad (and trust me, there are both!)

Back when Greg Berlanti first announced that he was making a Supergirl TV show, I realized something very important. I knew embarrassingly little about Supergirl herself. Sure, I knew that she was a Kryptonian, and Clark Kent’s cousin, but beyond that? Yeah… not so much. To rectify this, I found myself hitting up my library,…

via Fallen to Earth: The Trials and Tribulations of The New 52’s Supergirl — Speculative Chic


Meet Squirrel Girl: Your New Favorite Superhero, Role Model, and Best Friend — Speculative Chic

I used to think that Squirrel Girl was just a joke. In my defense, that was usually how she was brought up, in a laughable, dismissive way. I distinctly remember some form of the phrase “Even Squirrel Girl will have her own Marvel movie before DC figures out how put popular character X on film”…

via Meet Squirrel Girl: Your New Favorite Superhero, Role Model, and Best Friend — Speculative Chic

Hey! My first post on Speculative Chic just went live! Are you a Squirrel Girl fan? Then you’ll love this post. Not a Squirrel Girl fan? Then maybe you will be after reading this post 🙂


Make Your Own Avengers Team!

I was going to write this big post about dealing with self doubt, and how difficult it is to tell the difference between genuine needs of improvement in one’s writing vs. the falsehoods based on personal insecurities. Buuuuut then I found myself in the middle of a pretty busy week, and that just sounded way too serious/depressing. So I’d thought I’d reference a conversation I had with my husband a few days back about the Avengers.

Here we go! Thanos assembles the infinity gauntlet in Avengers: Infinity War (now presented without parts!). He snaps his fingers and all of the Avengers (BOTH teams, the one from the original Avengers movie, and Cap’s team at the end of Age of Ultron), vanish without a trace. It’s up to you to form a new Avengers team of SIX people. You can choose from anyone who has appeared in an MCU movie, an MCU television show, or is contracted to appear in either. So Captain Marvel is fine, as she has her own movie coming out. And Iron Fist and Ghost Rider are fair game since they will be showing up in the shows. Basically, you just can’t pick anyone that hasn’t already been an official avenger. Any other MCU character is on the table.

Here’s what I chose for my roster:

Avenger #1- Loki
This is the choice that gave my husband the most pause. Technically, he’s not a hero, but a villain. Also, to my knowledge he has never been an Avenger in the comics. BUT! look at the previous films, and his role actually makes a lot of sense. After failing with the Chitauri at the end of the first Avengers movie, Loki is already on Thanos’s shit list. So with the Mad Titan on his heels, Loki might be forced to make some… interesting alliances. The values of having Loki on the team are pretty high. Although he’s not the fighter that Thor is, as an Asgardian, he’s certainly no slouch. Also, he has previous experience with an Infinity Stone (the aether, from Thor: The Dark World). Loki is also a trickster, which might allow him to turn the tables on Thanos. Thematically, Loki’s tricky nature and moral flexibility would bring in a an element that we haven’t really seen with an Avenger (Tony may have made Ultron, but that came from a place of good). This would result in interesting interactions with our more lawful good team members (more on them later).

Avenger #2- Black Panther
The loss of Captain America is a heavy one. The former solider is one of the team’s strongest fighters, an impressive tactician, and a leader that people can stand behind. Would could possibly come close to replacing that? Enter Black Panther. Civil War has proven to us that he’s a beast when it comes to combat abilities. Not only that, but his decisions at the end of Civil War show a real emotional maturity that I believe is necessary when it comes to being a leader. That and the whole being a monarch of a country thing. Also, without Tony, you’ve lost your cash cow, a role that the wealthy Wakandan could fill quite nicely.

Avenger #3- Gamora
No offense to Star Lord but as the “daughter” of Thanos, I couldn’t think of a Guardian who’d be better suited for a fight against Thanos. This works both logistically (she’ll be the only Avenger that KNOWS that guy after all) and thematically. Going up against the man who killed your family then forced you to work as his personal assassin for years? That’s powerful stuff. Also, I would love to see see her interact with other Avengers, who are unlikely to know what to do with a truly alien presence. And as someone who prides herself as living with honor, I could see a real strong friendship forming with Black Panther. On top of that, she ALSO has previous experience with an infinity stone (the power stone). That and we need someone green on the team.

Avenger #4- Captain Marvel
This one is a little tricky. Unlike the other members of the team, who we have seen on screen to some effect, how Captain Marvel will be portrayed is a bit of a mystery. Will they emphasize her military roots? Those are skills that could be useful to the team after the loss of both Cap and Rhody. Or will they chose to make her a cosmic hero, emphasizing her connection to the Kree? Having another Avenger with knowledge of the alien side of the MCU is not a bad choice. Regardless of her backstory, if there’s one thing that’s consistent about Carol Danvers, it’s the fact that she’s a powerhouse. And without Thor or Hulk running around, we are going to need someone who will play the role of “big gun.” I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to that then Captain Marvel.

Avenger #5- Doctor Strange
He’s another tricky choice, as we’ve only seen Stephen Strange exchange a few lines in a couple of trailers. But one line in particular has stood out to me. When Strange comments to the ancient one that “this (magic) doesn’t make sense,” she replies, “not everything has to.” What better way to take out an all powerful being then someone who doesn’t have to play by the rules? Someone who has inter-dimensional powers. Also, if the rumors are true about an infinity stone appearing in Doctor Strange, he will ALSO have experience with a Stone. That and with Tony gone, we’ll need a new beardo on the team.

Avenger #6- Spiderman
This one is tricky, because I knew I wanted to put a more street level person on the team. While my heart may be with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, I know that, tone wise, what we really need is a wise cracker to break the tension created by the super-serious team members already assembled. Also, it would be really interesting to see the perspective of a shiny new hero. Peter Parker is a teenager, not a thousand year old Asgardian, or an alien assassin. He doesn’t have military training, nor has he studied the mystic arts. He’s just a kid trying to keep his neighborhood safe. And that, more human perspective, when combined with his tendency to crack jokes to break tension, is surely one that viewers will find themselves drawn to the most.

So there you go, Kevin Feige! I made your next Avengers team. I’ll be waiting patiently for my paycheck.

What does your roster look like? And yes, I am aware that this is a VERY BIG question, so it might take you a minute to think it through 🙂


Let’s Collaborate! On Writing Groups and Fanzines

As a lifelong introvert, I’ve never been big on group activities. I didn’t do much partying in college, and I’ve always been the type of person that does better with a small group of close friend then a large gathering of many acquaintances. But in this world of networking and social media, being the loner nerd who likes to stay home and read doesn’t always fly. So I do my best to tackle the world of socializing like any slightly awkward woman in her 30s. In doing so, I’ve learned a very important lesson.

Collaboration can be a powerful thing.

And while I’ll always be that loner nerd-and there are certain projects I can never see myself collaborating on-in the past few months I’ve found a few methods that suit me just fine.

First off, I’ve joined a writing group! There’s four of us total, and we’re all working on speculative works. Mine- Red and Black- is a superhero novel. Another member has a sci-fi story taking place on a generation ship. A third has this unique gothic tale taking place in a small town in Maine. The final member is working on a choose your own adventure style traditional fantasy story. So lots of fun stuff to be had there! Although I’ve always had first readers, it’s been a great help to have this extra level of involvement with my novel. It’s made me realize the vital importance of having as many people read your novel as possible before you try to shop it around. I mean, no one likes having their flaws pointed out to them, but it’s much better to have all of the rough edges smoothed off before you try to publish. Because eventually, someone is going to see those flaws. And as much as we writers might like to think we really know a story, sometimes you’re just too close to a project to see them all.

My writing group will be meeting on Sunday. One of the things we will be discussing is the second third of Red and Black. I am quite eager to hear what people think!

Another example of collaboration is a fanzine that I’ve been invited to be a part of. And lo and behold, it just launched today! This group blog is called Speculative Chic, and you can read the intro post here. Starting next week, the blog will feature regular posts all about geek culture and speculative fiction. And there are A LOT of contributors who are going to talk about everything from the latest big movie release, to a big discussion of the nominees for the Hugo awards. I have two tasks. One is assembling a weekly column called “My Favorite Things.” I like this column because it’s all about geeking out about your current favorite media, which I love to do anyway. There are already several posts up for discussion for anyone curious. And later on, I will be posting my own column, which will be all about comics. I decided to start things out by talking about one of my favorite superheroes, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! Please keep an eye on the blog, as that will be posting in the second half of August.

So collaboration may seem like a scary thing, especially to us writers who envision their dream job as sitting alone with their laptop in a dark room. But even if you are an introvert, there are so many benefits to working with others towards a common goal. It can result in you becoming a better writer, for one thing. Also, sometimes when you try new things, you can inadvertently end up finding something that you love. So when these opportunities for collaboration come by, don’t reject them outright. Take a serious look at things. For all you know, it could result in something awesome.