Musings

Thoughts on Netflix’s Messiah #messiahnetflix #review

messiah3In another round of Procrastination 101, I decided to go to bed early last night and watch Messiah on my rarely utilized Fire tablet. At first, I figured I’d simply watch it for an hour and see how much battery would get used up since the Fire, or at least, my Fire tablet, doesn’t really hold that long a charge.

Next thing I know, it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m on episode 7 wondering WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SERIES ABOUT?

Sure, I could have stopped watching but I also couldn’t. And maybe that’s the way these things work (I did have to switch watching episode 7 on my iPad at 2:30 AM).

Unlike my last binge of The Witcher where you basically knew what you were getting into the moment you saw the first five minutes, in this case, Henry Cavill walking in front of the camera in tight trousers (and man, are his thighs, like, perfect!), I can’t say the same for Messiah, a ten-episode series that premiered on Netflix in January 2020.

If you haven’t heard or seen Messiah on Netflix, its logline on IMDB goes like this:

When a CIA officer investigates a man attracting international attention and followers through acts of public disruption, she embarks on a global, high-stakes mission to uncover whether he is a divine entity or a deceptive con artist.

Messiah got under my skin in the first ten minutes or so. It’s a story about religion, faith, and politics and how all three make a grand mess when told to play nicely. The soundtrack is ominous, the scenes at first jarring, placing you in the Palestinian desert one moment and some Texas border town the next. Mehdi Dehbi who plays the lead character, Al-Masih, has this mesmerizing gaze and surreal calm that holds you where you are. Before I knew it, I was enthralled, caught under his spell while my writer’s mind was trying to figure out what was going on. What’s the plot? Where are the beats? Where are the plot points?

I might as well have thrown all those questions out the window because you won’t find any answers until the last two episodes when everything ties together but also not—only because the season leaves you with more questions than you started, although this time, they’re different questions.

Is he really the Messiah? Or the Anti-Christ? And why are we as a people so desperate to believe in something that we’re willing to leave everything behind to follow someone we know nothing about all while the powers-that-be (governments, institutions, and all that) do whatever it takes to tear all that down?

But I digress.

The beauty in Messiah is in its parts (or rather, the characters each with their own stories), from the broken and hollowed out CIA officer Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan) to the even more broken and hollowed out former Mossad agent Aviran Dahan (Tomer Sisley) who wears his sins like armor. And then there are Syrian orphan Jibril Hassan (Sayyid El Alami) whose heartbreaking introduction begins episode 1, He That Hath an Ear, and his friend Samer (Farès Landoulsi) who character arc was both heart-wrenching and inevitable. Him reading The Little Prince to his friend sealed the deal for me. This kid also has the most gorgeous eyes. 

There are other characters, too, from the epileptic Rebecca (Stefania LaVie Owen), daughter of a Felix Iguero (John Ortiz) rudderless preacher and his alcoholic wife Anna (played by Melinda Page Hamilton whose beauty reminded me so much of my friend April), herself the daughter of a televangelist preacher, and Will Mathers (Wil Traval), an Army veteran-turned-FBI JTTF agent. Oh, and then there’s Dermot Mulroney as the President who at 54, would make an excellent hero for one of my romances!

Overall, I liked Messiah and hope it gets renewed for Season 2. Sure, it started out slow but every scene was worth it. To me, it showed how one’s faith, whether too much or too little, can either lead you to inner peace or not. And what about that soundtrack, eh? It permeates every single scene and adds that feeling of anticipation and dread.

What about you? Have you seen Messiah on Netflix? What did you think?

Things I’m Doing Instead of Writing the Next Book (A Procrastination Post)

  1. Unpublishing a few books that need a few tweaks (i.e. put back the sex I removed while on a drunken spree).
  2. Removing most of the passages about family in Falling for Jordan that detracted from the romance big time
  3. Unpublishing that book while I’m removing said passages and fixing plot
  4. Getting the last of this flu bug out of my system
  5. Laundry

It’s Monday and the LilDude’s off from school because it’s Presidents’ Day. While he’s staying in bed for most of the morning, I’m working… or kinda working although it’s probably procrastinating from the actual work of starting the next book.

I really should just leave Falling for Jordan the mess that it is but it’s difficult to do that when you know what’s wrong with it and it’s the second book in the series. It’s where the drop-off happens in my read-through to the rest of the books in the series and that’s critical. So I need to fix it.

When I wrote Falling for Jordan, I was in love with the cover of a man and a baby and I wanted to hit the surprise baby trope while unaware that my brand as an older woman/younger man author was getting established due to Everything She Ever Wanted. I had also wanted to incorporate Filipino family quirks that I grew up with which unfortunately included prejudices toward blue-collar work, like the belief that ending up with a doctor was definitely better than falling in love with a contractor… that kind of thing. It’s what I was familiar with but on the page, it was terrible.

And then there was the mental health issue of the ex-girlfriend. It was shoddily done and didn’t need to be there at all, and definitely not in the way I’d written it in my panic to hit my deadline. Didn’t I have it edited? Yes, but I changed so many things after I got it back so the fault’s all on me and now I need to fix those issues.

Considering it’s been three years since I wrote it, it’s amazing how far I’ve come in my writing journey. I’ve definitely gotten better at my craft and am able to distance myself enough to objectively see the problems in early stories.

It’s energy I could better devote to writing that new book but with the new book being book 6 in the series, it means I need to fix book 2 first. I could easily remove book 2 and pretend it never existed but the rest of the series references that book and books 4 and 4.5 are offshoots from it. I also found glaring editing remnants from its previous versions.

So for now, book 2 is unpublished and has to be rewritten. It should really be a completely new book and who knows? Maybe that’s what will have to happen which means it will also need a new cover when the time comes.

Interestingly, while going through the post-publication edits for Falling for Jordan, the next book is coming to life inside my head. Or rather, the heroine, which is how I used to always start my books, from deep inside their heads and their hearts.

Maybe it’s just part of the process. Fix what’s broken while allowing it to help me write the next book and avoid the same pitfalls I encountered in book 2, one of which was sticking to a word count no matter what which led to wordy and repetitive sentences.

I haven’t put a deadline for the next book yet although I’ve given myself the next three days to fix Falling for Jordan. While it will definitely take more than three days, it’s a start. Until then, I’ll keep working at my craft. I’ll keep writing.

What about you? How’s your week going?

A 2020 First! A New Book!

Well, I did it! I released my first book for 2020 and that is HUGE for me. It’s a novella at 25k words but it’s still a HUGE deal for me and so I’m celebrating.

How?

I’m spending it home because after two weeks of dodging whatever the boys were taking home with them from work or school, I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and I don’t feel too good. So I’m spending the day at home and celebrating my release with a cuppa! I did start with a cup of ginger tea and honey but I need my coffee so…

I just realized it’s also been a while since I blogged so here’s my recap of January so far. I didn’t do much other than write this book which was originally supposed to be about one couple’s Valentine celebration. A slice-of-life, basically. Easy 7k words, I figured.

Then I decided to make it about FIVE couples because I told myself, “Nah, that’s easy. Just five stories. How hard can it be?”

How hard?

Oy vey.

Well, if all I had to do was write erotica pieces, it would have been easy peasy. Just do 1,000 words of setup and then go straight to the sexy times. But because I was writing about couples who had their own books already, there’s back story—lots of back story—and now we’re basically just catching up with them since we last saw them in their respective books.

Tying together five stories spanning 24 hours while they’re all in the same location wasn’t as easy as I thought but since this year, I told myself I would face challenges with a positive mindset, I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties and told myself, “well, no one twisted your arm to write about FIVE couples…”

When it was all over, it felt like I’d just spent the best time with ten of my favorite people in the world. It was tough, yes, but it also helped me get over a few losses from the past year. Loss of my creativity, loss of trust, loss of faith in humanity. In my stories, I started to find them, little glimpses here and there that have helped me process those and many other losses. Also fear.

So while Nothing but Love isn’t a full novel, it’s five short stories with a lot of heart and soul… and sexy times to boot! They go from 2/5 jalapeño hot to 4/5 jalapeño heat levels. I couldn’t go all the way to 5/5 jalapeños because, well, I just couldn’t go there with this book. I’ll reserve that for Naughty Pen!

Before I end this post so I can hit Publish (you have no idea how many posts I write and forget to hit Publish and so they sit in Draft forever!), here’s the inspiration for the title of the book. I’d always wanted the title to go to one of the side characters Gabe but it always escaped me when the time came. Until the idea for this book came to me…

Have an awesome week!

Internal Narrative and a Teaser

There’s been talk lately about how some people apparently have no internal narrative going on at all. That’s something I totally cannot relate with because it’s just too busy inside my head.

As an example, this is my internal narrative, courtesy of the characters I write about.

Ashe: When are you going to get to our wedding?

Gareth: No, it’s my turn.

Gabe: Take a number, guys. I’m next.

Daniel: Nope, I am.

Jordan: Weren’t you planning on redoing my arc or something? You bitch enough about it not being compelling enough.

Sawyer: Not until I get to punch Kevin in my storyline. She forgot to write that part.

Dax: Hey guys, quiet down. She’s writing my part right now.

Benny: Not anymore.

In the meantime, because it’s #teasertuesday, here’s one for my upcoming book NOTHING BUT LOVE. This internal narrative belongs to Campbell.

How’s your Tuesday so far? As for me, it’s deadline time so I’m going to be in the writing cave all day!

Twelve New Chapters Ahead

Can you believe it? This decade ends today and tomorrow is the beginning of a new one! Even LilDude said his first decade is over and I’m like, when did you grow up all of a sudden?

Twelve new chapters. 365 new pages.

Whew.

In my case, I’m splitting those twelve chapters into quarters which makes it more manageable for me. Short term goals for now as I start over in many ways. No resolutions. Just intentions.

Write. Prioritize. Be Present. 

Write. I want to get back to writing again, for the pure love of storytelling, not to create a masterpiece but just to tell the story to anyone who wants to hear it. And while I’m at it, enjoy the process again.

Prioritize. This has to do with what I value in my life at the moment. My sons. LilDude’s growth into the young man he’s going to be. My brothers. My mother’s health. My time. My health.

Be Present. Enjoy the moment and stop worrying. Right now, LilDude is enjoying the $2 whoopie cushion I got him from the feed store and I have to remind myself to be present in the pure joy he gets from that small and farty thing. Being present also means knowing my limitations. What I can do with the time I really have and not over-commit myself because I’m too busy trying to do what everyone is doing instead of honoring myself and doing what I can do. Being present also means standing up for myself and not set myself aside for others’ comfort like I did with a friend this year.

Write. Prioritize. Be Present. 

Yes. Yes. And yes.

12 new chapters. 365 new pages to fill with experiences and lessons and stories.

Here’s to a good year ahead for us all.

 

 

Not So Wordless Wednesday

With renovations going on at the house, I needed to stay out for a while and so after I dropped off LilDude at school, I took the dog for a walk where I usually go with my walking buddy. Usually, there’s someone waterskiing but today there was no one.

Just this view with the sun behind clouds.

I could have kept going but of course, I had to stop and take pictures. I even filmed a few minutes because the water was just so serene it reminded me of those pictures in the 80s or 90s where the water would kinda move but it was because of some light at the back of the frame. But in this case it was all real.

This was 9 in the morning so it was way brighter than how the image looks but I love the way the pictures came out. Almost surreal and a reminder for me to slow down and just take it easy.

I actually haven’t been writing. Kinda hard to write when one wall in your kitchen is being torn down and there’s plaster everywhere. So I’ve been planning my year instead. Weighing the stories that need to be written versus the ones I want to write. It’s a tough decision and although I did my kanban board yesterday and was very proud of it, this morning, it hit me that the one story I needed to write above all else was not on the board simply because I didn’t think they needed a second book.

But it turns out they do and so I’ll have to redo my Kanban board for the first quarter and go from there.

What about you? How’s your Wednesday been?