Once Upon a Time season 3–spoilers ahoy


tumblr_static_season-3-poster-once-upon-a-time-34970321-500-660I’m sitting at home, waiting for the dizziness to stop (stupid sinuses, stupid vertigo) and thinking about last week’s and night’s episodes of Once Upon a Time. Ever since Mulan showed up at the beginning of season 2, I’ve been pondering on how diversity is handled in the fairy tale world. After all, this is a fairy tale world that includes (real) tales from China, not to mention the genie from Aladdin, so we’re not limited to the tales of white western Europe (and medieval western Europe was a whole lot more diverse than many people give it credit for). One of the seven dwarves appears Asian, the guy who plays Sidney Glass/the Mirror/Genie is black. There are a (few) others, but few who are named and whose backstory we see anything of. Though the actress who plays the Evil Queen/Regina is Latina, she’s not portrayed as Latina, so it’s hard to count that as one in the win column.

While the show has its problematic side, I am enjoying the direction the main storyline is heading in this season—going to Neverland, reuniting a complicated family across generations and adoptions, digging into the nuances of heroes and villains. The idea that Henry can have two moms who both love him, and that he doesn’t have to choose between them, is a good direction for the story to be going. And I like that they’re finally going to be confronting Emma’s emotional distance between herself and her parents, her orphan-ness, this season, because that was kind of hinted at but never really taken head-on in previous seasons. I like that there seems to be some chemistry between Emma and Hook, which will be complicated when Neil/Baelfire finally reaches them.

But I’m highly disappointed with how the show handles its characters of color. Have you noticed how many of them die or get locked away to be forgotten compared to other characters? Sidney (who disappeared to star on Revolution, never to be mentioned again), the fiance who was trying to sabotage magic and kidnapped Henry (who could as easily have joined up with their team, but no, just got killed off; granted, so did her white partner in crime). Lancelot, who is dead before we ever meet him.

We’ve got a spinoff coming up later this week (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) and it would have been a perfect opportunity for exploring a story for one of the surviving characters of color, like Mulan, who seems to exist only as a helper character for the white characters so far, not a hero in her own right—she’s even in a love triangle with Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip, rather than with her own love interest from her Disney story, Li Shang. We never see very deeply into her backstory—season 2 really dropped the ball on her potential. Though perhaps we’ll see some chemistry between her and Neil while Emma’s feeling a little drawn to Hook? I don’t know. Not really feeling that direction. I’d rather see her be a hero in her own right, rather than a love interest who’s only important because she helps the main characters.


I think it’s a missed opportunity in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. And it’s also just plain confusing: instead of spinning the story of Alice in Wonderland off from the Mad Hatter we met in Wonderland (who also disappeared, never to be spoken of again—so many dropped threads in this show)—who was supposedly Alice’s father, somehow the 10-year-old daughter of the Mad Hatter in Once Upon a Time’s world morphs into a teenaged girl from Victorian England. There’s never been time travel in this world before—Baelfire spent quite a bit of time in Neverland before Emma was born before all the curse stuff happened, and we know about this passage of time because he landed in Victorian England before getting taken to Neverland.

But in this new spinoff, Alice’s father is a normal Englishman who has had Alice institutionalized for delusional thoughts and mental illness (i.e., she imagined Wonderland as a girl, but it wasn’t real, they claim). Whatever happened to the Mad Hatter from Wonderland who we met in OUAT who had been so crucial to the plot at one point?

1384131_552128391509326_1605211370_nAnd Alice is older than she was in Storybrooke. Yet the Knave of Hearts leaves during the storm when magic comes at the end of season 1 in Storybrooke, so we know it’s the same world—that is, Alice was in that town as a 10-year-old at the same time—so what’s going on?

And the genie from Aladdin was Sidney Glass, who ran The Daily Mirror, the Genie who became the Mirror because he loved Regina so much. So who is this genie? And related, why is Jafar coming into the story at all?

ETA: Also, wasn’t Cora the Queen of Hearts? Where does this new Queen of Hearts come from? I’m utterly confused about the entire premise of this as a spinoff of Once Upon a Time.

551244_551440014911497_777492047_n(1)I could be wrong about the guys who play the love-interest genie Cyrus and the Knave of Hearts (perhaps they are multiracial or of Latino or Middle Eastern origin, but it doesn’t appear so), but what it seems so far is that the only person of color in the spinoff is Naveen Andrews, who plays Jafar. Given Once Upon a Time’s track record of trying to redeem bad guys, perhaps this isn’t the case of “guy of color is the bad guy,” and I hope that’s the case… and I hope that Jafar doesn’t end up dead by the end of the mini-series.

What does this mean for POC in the Once Upon a Time world? So far, not much good. I’d love to be proved wrong by this season of OUAT or OUATiW, but I have little hope that I will based upon their track record.

DragonCon and WorldCon

If you’re going to be at DragonCon, be sure to say hi! I’m going to be around all weekend, mostly haunting the YA track, though I will be wandering around the exhibit hall and other tracks as well. Such a lot to fit in one weekend, even if it is a long weekend. If you really want to catch me, let me know that you’re going to be there and let’s try to set up a time to catch up. It’ll be my first DragonCon, so I welcome advice, friendly hanging out, introductions, and so forth.

Summer of the MariposasIf, instead, you’re going to be at WorldCon/LonestarCon 3 in San Antonio, be sure to say hi to Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of Summer of the Mariposas, who will be on several panels (check your program, though, to make sure these times haven’t changed). Her books will also be available in the Larry Smith, Bookseller booth. I’m sure she’d love to sign a book for you!

  • Mexican Folklore Saturday 10:00 – 11:00
  • Magic Realism Saturday 11:00 – 12:00
    Magic Realism, Science Fiction, Fantasy. How can you use these terms to describe the varied work of Angélica Gorodischer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Laura Esquivel?
  • Poetry Inside Out: Bridging Cultures through Language Saturday 12:00 – 13:00
    Can you translate extraordinary poems from their original language and still reach a new audience in a different language with the same impact and images?
  • Mexican Female Writers of the Fantastic Saturday 15:00 – 16:00
  • Using YA SF to Boost Interest in Science Sunday 11:00 – 12:00


It’s organization time

With new titles come new responsibilities, which means more to keep track of. I’m about to overhaul my desk and my task-management system, so before I really dig in beyond cleaning my desk, I thought I’d throw the questions out there:

  1. What’s your favorite task-management program? Preferably one that allows you to set deadlines for tasks and organize complicated subjects while being able to prioritize.
  2. What are your favorite resources for customizing your desk? I’m looking for ideas for using vertical space in a cubicle, in particular. I have some bookshelves I could repurpose, too, if necessary, but I’d prefer to be able to hang something from my cube wall. I’m looking particularly at things like this, but I’m wondering if I might be missing some possibility, particularly something that could hang above the computer and hold more than just paper. And for something that could hold large stacks of 11 x 17 paper (galleys) and such—piles of paper that I generally need in plain sight but not always right on the surface of my desk.
  3. Speaking of piles of paper, slush pile management practices (digital and paper) welcome.
  4. How do you keep e-mail and other digital resources organized? Any particular systems you prefer? (I’m doing much better on the computer than on my desk, but while I’m in this organizing kick, I’m also planning on integrating these ideas into e-organization as well.)
  5. Any resources you go to for office organization, particularly desks and file systems? Links, please!



Once Upon a Time–Season 2 opener (BEWARE OF SPOILERS)

I just finished watching the first episode of this season of Once Upon a Time. I enjoyed the first season of the show, but did wonder why “all” the fairy tales seemed to include only tales from Europe. (However, I actually don’t wonder why it was at least tokenly diverse, as I’ve seem some wonder; actually, Europe in the Middle Ages was probably more diverse than we usually imagine it. Shakespeare wrote of “blackamoors” and the Romans were a diverse lot who ranged all over the continent and made soldiers of all their conquered foes, not to mention the Huns in Eastern Europe (I’m not well-versed on how far west the Huns got, though), and Middle Eastern cultural exchange/influences, including the Jewish diaspora. There’s another post there about how often what we’ve been taught/shown in common media contributes to these assumptions about the whiteness of history, but I digress. My point is that though diverse populations perhaps weren’t nearly as large in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as they are today, people of color were also not unheard of in places usually thought of as ethnically white.)

My point here is that it was refreshing, then, to have Mulan show up in the first episode of the season. Yay for strong Asian female characters!

Well, character. Singular. It’s only the first episode of the season, so it remains to be seen whether we’ll see more people from Mulan’s world. But this episode brought up a lot of questions that I wanted to just make a list of, in hopes that there will  be answers eventually; I’ll try to remember to revisit this later in the season to see if they’ve been addressed. The show has done a pretty good job, after all, of answering the questions it raises, if excruciatingly slowly.

Reminder: here be SPOILERS. You’ve been warned. Read more

Tech decisions

I had an 80gb Ipod Classic, which lasted me at least 5 years, maybe six. I think I bought it in 06 or 07. It died earlier this year and I’ve been trying to make do with my phone. I have a great phone. I love it. I’m not going to buy the Iphone 5 because I have everything I need on the phone… except Itunes. Pretty much everything is covered on my Android (Galaxy Nexus) but a good music management + podcast app in one, and I want to be able to watch the videos I have bought on Itunes, too. (I have unlimited data, so most of what I watch on my phone—at lunch, for example, or while out walking to/from the train—is streamed on Hulu or Netflix, but you can’t stream underground on the subway, and you can’t read on the subway ALL the time; not to mention Doctor Who doesn’t stream current episodes here in the States, at least.) I can’t figure out how to make any of the Android podcasting apps work right for my podcast playlists (I make playlists of Talk to Me in Korean lessons, for example, that I want to listen to in order); Google Music can’t seem to figure out that no, the order is NOT Lesson 1, Lesson 10, Lesson 11, Lesson 12, … Lesson 2, Lesson 20… No app that promises to import well from Itunes has done it right, and I’ve tried several. It’s all a big headache.

So my plan is to go back to what was working: my phone for everything but music and the occasional offline video or game.

Which leads us to the choices:

  • 160 gb classic—will hold everything, but tiny video screen for porting around the few offline videos I want (Doctor Who and a few old anime series), being able to watch video on the subway. This is pretty much what I used my old dead Ipod for, except it was 80gb. Nice room to grow for new music, and more. I liked the clickwheel for a few old-fashioned games, too.
  • Ipod Touch. Don’t ever plan to get an iphone, but I wouldn’t mind a Touch as a secondary device. Biggest possible size is only 64 gb, though, which is part of the problem with my phone (it’s like a more expensive version of a shuffle, which is silly), but at least I could move all the music there, and everything else would stay on my phone. More expensive for less storage space, but a nice big screen for an ipod (but as a phone/streaming device/most apps I use, my Galaxy still has Iphone beat). I wouldn’t mind trying out the camera, too–from what I can tell, it does seem to have better optics than my cell phone camera (though either would just be for snapshots; I use my SLR for important pictures, but I don’t carry my SLR around with me—the dang thing is too heavy for everyday use).
  • Buy an older Ipod off e-bay or whatever for cheap. Who cares about screen size if you can get the same thing you’ve been wanting your poor dead ipod to do for months, and not finding a good alternative in what you’ve got on hand? (Though I note that someone thinks they can get $268 out of me for a Classic that only costs $249 brand new on Apple’s site).

If you were me—and by that, I mean relatively poor, have no need to changes phones (just upgraded to my current phone in April), had my usage patterns, etc.; I truly mean if you were me, not if you with your own set of circumstances were in a position to have these choices, if that makes sense—which would you choose?

I’m leaning toward the Touch, but that feels super extravagant when I already have a phone that does most of what the Touch does. The only real advantage to it is the screen size, and how often would I use it?

There is ONE more option, I suppose, which might work, as far as having portable Itunes, but it’s an option I wouldn’t be able to afford for a while: an Ipad. It’s certainly an idea I’ve toyed with, but it’s also the least portable of the options (I can’t clip it to my waist and go for a bike ride, which I always did with my ipod), and the most expensive.

So… you’re now in my shoes. What would be your vote?


New book list: Recent YA high fantasy

Mostly because I was curious how much of it was out there in the last couple years with paranormal and dystopian being so popular, I made a list of high fantasy for young adults published in the last couple of years. I went as far back as 2010, and it’s still not that large a list. Feel free to suggest in the comments books I might have missed, but remember–only books from 2010 to the present. If you’re looking at a paperback, be sure the original version of the book was that recent. (ETA: For those who missed it, the picture is a *link* to the list, not the list itself. The full list is over on Pinterest.)

Get yer k-dramas here!

I’ve been meaning to post Korean TV (K-drama) recommendations for a while, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it. Recently, my new-ish Korean friends here in New York moved upstate and made some new friends who were looking for k-drama recommendations. My friends don’t watch much TV themselves, so I had the chance to finally make a list of some of my favorites, which of course makes a great seed for a blog post!

But I’m going to do something different. Instead of making yet another list with links, I’m going to make a Pinterest board, so I can keep adding to it when I find a new show to recommend. I’ve also started collecting some of my booklists tag into Pinterest lists, in case it’s easier for you to follow those there. Here’s my main Pinterest profile, and from there you can follow what interests you.

I watch K-dramas at both hulu.com and dramafever.com. I prefer to give you links to DramaFever, because it’s free there (some can only be seen on Hulu if you pay for Hulu Plus; I do because then I can watch them on my phone and Xbox). But Hulu is easier to pin—there is no easy image to grab on the show’s main page on DramaFever, for some reason. So, the dilemma is: pin DramaFever without an easy-t0-grab image, pin Hulu with the image but a link that not everyone can watch at, or both? I think both, for now.

The premium membership at DramaFever can be a good deal, by the way, because they are commercial-free—which Hulu isn’t, which makes no sense; if you’re paying for it, you ought to be able to watch commercial-free. Though DramaFever did just raise their rates, which means that it’s not quite such a good deal. (Last year it was only something like $49 a year, which breaks down to less than $5 per month. I think it doubled this year, but still, if you watch a lot of K-dramas, it’s worth it to be able to watch commercial free.)

At any rate, follow the links over on Pinterest for more K-dramas! And if Pinterest is not your thing, don’t worry–you don’t have to be a member to use the lists as a resource.

My LTUE schedule 2012

I’ll be in Utah this February again this year for the excellent science fiction/fantasy convention Life, the Universe, and Everything. It’s the convention’s 30th anniversary this year. Normally it’s hosted at Brigham Young University, but due to scheduling difficulties it’ll be held this year at neighboring Utah Valley University only a few miles away—and a few miles closer to my greatest restaurant love, a restaurant I have yet to find matched in New York City (seriously), Sakura. Seriously, best deep-fried sushi (sometimes called tempura—not just for shrimp!) that I’ve found anywhere. Particularly the Geisha, Spider, Firecracker, Ninja, and Hawaiian rolls. If you’re in Utah and you haven’t discovered this place yet (and you’re not Jessica Day George) GO. It’s SO GOOD.

But I digress. (Good sushi can do that to me.)

Anyway, my point is that you need to attend LTUE, especially if you live in the Intermountain West. Sure, they’ve started charging a nominal fee (it used to be free), but that fee makes sure this great convention can continue to happen every year, giving them a modest budget for facilities, guests of honor, and so forth. The committee that runs the con are all volunteers.

Speaking of guests of honor, I’m looking forward to meeting a longtime internet but not (yet) real-life friend, James A. Owen. He’ll be talking about both writing and illustration, including a whole seminar on how to draw dragons, so if you’re an illustrator, you want to come to this LTUE.

Also attending will be the Writing Excuses team—not just locals Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler, but also SFWA vice president, puppeteer, and author Mary Robinette Kowal, not to mention a number of locally-based pros, writers and editors like Mette Ivie Harrison, Larry Correia, James Dashner, Bree Despain, J. Scott Savage, Tyler Whitesides, Chris Schoebinger, Robert J. Defendi, Lisa Mangum, and many more.

Check out the full schedule here (where there may be some tweaks to the schedule, so you might want to check back before the con), but here’s my schedule:


Thursday, February 8, 2012

10:00 AM—What Exactly Does an Editor Do, Anyway? (Rick Walton (M), Stacy Whitman, Suzanne Vincent, Lisa Mangum, Kirk Shaw)

11:00 AM—Middle-grade books for boys (Tyler Whitesides, E. J. Patten, Michael Young, Stacy Whitman(M))

2:00 PM—Feeling Fake: What to do about that pervasive feeling that everyone belongs in the publishing world except you. (Sandra Tayler, Jason Alexander, Ami Chopine (M), Stacy Whitman)

7:00 PM—A Vampire is NOT your Boyfriend!: Real Vampires (Mette Ivie Harrison, Michael R. Collings, Dan Lind, Stacy Whitman(M))


Friday, Febrary 10, 2011

No panels for me, though I will be around the convention, so I’m open to individual meet-ups for lunch (particularly at Sakura…). I’m also looking forward to James Owen’s main address this day, and the Writing Excuses live podcast. .

EDIT: I have been added to the below panel to give the editorial side:

6:00 PM—Book Bombs: How to make an Amazon.com bestseller (Randy Tayler (M), Robison Wells, Larry Correia, Stacy L. Whitman, Michaelbrent Collings)


Saturday, February 11, 2012

1:00 PM—Writing Cross-Culturally: Mistakes to Avoid, or, How to Avoid Cultural Misappropriation (Stacy Whitman)

This will be a workshop in which we talk about all the mistakes that even well-meaning authors can make in diversifying our writing, and how to use strong worldbuilding and characterization to prevent that. Also: how making mistakes doesn’t mean we’re racist—it just means we’re willing to learn.

2:00 PM—Plots, Subplots, and Foreshadowing (Bree Despain (M), J. Scott Savage, Brandon Sanderson, James A. Owen, Stacy Whitman)


I’m not on the following workshop, but want to highlight it because both Sandra and Mary are people to learn from, and given that the workshop will be two hours long, you’ll get an opportunity to really go in depth.

3:00-5:00 PM

– The Published (and aspiring) Author’s Toolbox: Learning skills for networking, blogging, social media, and self-promotion.  This workshop will teach principles and give you a chance to practice skills to integrate networking, blogging, social media, and self-promotion into your professional life without being the person who annoys and without pulling you out of balance with yourself.

(Sandra Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal)


Hugo nomination time

Since it’s award nomination time for the Hugos in particular, and because other awards are either gearing up for nominations or are getting toward the voting side of things, I thought I’d follow the example of John Scalzi, Lou Anders, and the Writing Excuses crew and let you know that Tu’s first books are eligible to be nominated. Lou had a good idea in also letting readers know who’s responsible for art, as there’s a whole category for that. Note that I am NOT eligible in the editor category this year, as I only edited three books that came out in 2011 and the requirement is at least four (at least, unless my work on Jeff Sampson’s Vesper before it was canceled by Mirrorstone and published by HarperTeen counts, which I don’t think it does since I wasn’t the final editor at the house that published the book), but I’ll be eligible next year, and what matters more is that you know about the authors and artists. I’ll follow Lou’s format:

 Galaxy Games: The Challengers
by Greg Fishbone
art by Ethen Beavers
art direction & design by Neil Swaab

by Karen Sandler
art/design by Einav Aviram

Wolf Mark
by Joseph Bruchac
art/design by Kelly Eismann




If you attended last year’s WorldCon or become a member of this year’s Worldcon by Jan. 31, you are eligible to nominate for the Hugos. See here for more on eligibility and membership.