Divergent Movie Review.

DivergentI went to see Theo James…I mean, Divergent, this weekend, and oh, what a man movie. I imediately told my friends to go see it.

There were action scenes done so well, I felt an adrenaline rush just by sitting in the theater. There’s something for everyone: slow-building romance, good fight sequences, intelligible plot, good acting, eye candy.

I watch a LOT of movies, and I truly believe this is the best one I’ve seen so far this year. That’s saying something, considering this was PG-13. By that, I mean there weren’t any of the usuals I tend to enjoy most about movies. No graphic violence or excessive blood spillage. No hardcore language, particularly those I like to hear in high-octane situations. And no explicit sex scenes…in fact, there were no sex scenes. That’s kind of a shame, since Theo (Four) looked so tasty, but I digress. My point is, despite the tame nature of the film, and given my natural inclination to the less than tame, Divergent held its own. Without a doubt.

The setting is a dystopian version of Chicago where young adults must choose a faction of society to function within for the remainder of their lives. If I had to sum up the theme of the movie in one word, I’d say it’s about choices. Choices, choices, choices. Having the right to choose. The right to just be. And if someone finds him or herself divergent, how far should they go to fit in? Is it better for him or her to be themselves or to be what others want them to be? To be or not to be, that is the question.

What does one do if he or she fits in nowhere? Do they hide it? Embrace it? Fight it? Deny it? Being divergent is not always a bad thing. As seen in the movie, it can serve outcasts well, in the sense that they can also fit in everywhere. The main character, Tris (Shailene Woodley), showed that being divergent could be a strength. An individual strength, that is. For the community overall, it may be a nuisance. Divergents may be seen as threats, because it’s difficult to control them.

It’s really not just about divergents then, is it? What do people who have to live with these outcasts do? Is extermination the lesser of evils? Is it the more logical and merciful option, especially when tasked with looking out for the majority rather than saving a few that don’t fit in? But who gets to make that choice?

So divergents are forced to choose. Just like in real life, people tend to force those who are not easily categorized into a box. Divergents are deterred from independent thinking and mannerisms. Assimilation, conformity, mainstreaming–these are all ideas that are forced on others in communities and collective societies. Whether it be out of safety precautions, fear, hate, ignorance, or love, attempting to control divergents still seems to be the default instinct upon discovering them. Exterminating whoever the majority don’t understand or refuse to relate to and can’t control, seems to always be the next step, particularly when one’s justification feels sound. In real life, “extermination” may take different forms.

Unlike The Hunger Games, a movie this one is constantly compared to, I felt personally connected to the theme in Divergent. I, too, fit in nowhere and everywhere at once. Both movies may be about survival, but only Divergent made me think outside the visuals of the movie. Anything that makes me think about how I relate to the world, especially in a “What would I have done?” scenario, is always a winner to me. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What choice would I have made?”

For the record, I feel Divergent is far superior to Hunger Games. I didn’t even bother watching the HG sequel, but I can’t wait for the sequel to Divergent.

I came away from the movie feeling that it’s up to each individual to decide which path they will choose. Individuals can even decide whether they must be limited to choosing only one path. It does not have to be one way or else. And they shouldn’t let someone else make them believe the choice is not ultimately theirs.

In closing, I’d like to say that I have not read the book this movie is based on. I surely hope book readers will love the movie as much as I did, so that they do not delay production of the sequel, as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones fans did. I liked that movie, by the way, though not as much as Divergent.

I get really irritated when book readers complain about a movie being different. Of course, it is. Movies will always be different from their book counterparts because they are two different mediums. It’s your love for the book that made it into a movie. Don’t ruin it by deciding you’re going to be discontent if the film script strays from the source material. Watch and enjoy the movie, please. Thank you.

FRIENDS & FANTASIES, Chapter 1. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m not Irish (duh), and I’ve never been to Ireland (bummer). But my muse is currently leading me to write an Irish character as the male lead in my latest novel.

Say what?

Yeah. It surprised me too. But I’m always down for a challenge. Plus, my muse is hot like fire and will not leave me alone.

So Happy St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not, and enjoy chapter one of my upcoming contemporary romance novel, FRIENDS & FANTASIES. Look for it May 6th! **Updated on 5-8-14** The release date has been pushed back to “coming soon”. Sorry, that couldn’t be helped. The title has been improved to BEST FRIENDS, FANTASY LOVERS.

**Oh yeah…WARNING for profanity. I promise there’s no violence or sex in it though…yet.**

Chapter 1

Capri closed her eyes—just for a second—when next thing she knew, chairs began scraping across the tile floor, waking her as students filed out of the auditorium-size classroom. With the midterm coming up next week, there couldn’t have been a more inopportune time to nap. But dammit, she was tired. All those sleepless nights spent studying for the midterm she took last period were finally catching up to her.

Wiping drool from the side of her mouth, Capri looked next to her where Sasha’s head lay on a desk, her eyeballs swimming left to right under her eyelids as she dreamt of things Capri dared not even imagine. Asleep. As expected. After another long night of partying. Sasha wouldn’t even have shown up if it weren’t for the professor’s attendance policy, and that Sasha had already missed too many days. One more absence and she’d start dropping a letter grade. That did not bode well since Sasha’s parents had conditions on whether she continued to reside on campus. Grade conditions.

A new set of students were already marching in like a herd of cattle for the next class starting in ten minutes.

Capri kicked her sneaker into Sasha’s black boot, jerking her awake.

“What? What!” Sasha’s head spun around, her eyes struggling to focus on the chaotic swarm of students vacating and entering the classroom.

“We’re being invaded by aliens.” Capri zipped her books in her backpack, adjusted the waist of her low-riding jeans, and stood to leave. She paused for a moment while Sasha oriented herself with her Martian surroundings.

Sasha’s face went from shock to panic, confusion to skepticism, and finally— “Ah. You’re joking.” She swept hair from her eyes and started gathering her things. “You really have to learn to smile when you’re joking. Your poker face is hella creepy.”

Capri handed Sasha an ink pen that had fallen on the floor then hoisted her backpack to one shoulder. “And you really have to learn to pay attention in class.” Never mind that Capri had slept as well. At least she’d caught most of the review, which would come in handy. Capri would need the leverage for—

“You and I both know that’s not going to happen, so name your price.”


Capri was all about bartering. She didn’t have a lot of money and resources, but she had other valuables that Sasha did not. Like a serious attitude when it came to studying…and notes to study with.

“Let’s see…” Capri started towards the exit, pretending to think it over as she walked. “You can have my notes from today’s review if you give me a ride to work in the morning.” Capri could always walk or catch the university bus, but why be inconvenienced when her roommate had a car with heated seats and the early morning temperature would be somewhere around too-cold degrees? Helping Sasha ace another test would be worth it for the comfort of roundtrip curbside transportation. “I have to open the computer lab at nine. I’ll need you to pick me up too. Around six. That cool?”

“Cool.” Sasha, showing no signs of fatigue now that class had ended, caught up with Capri as they walked out into the brisk, cool morning. “Why do they insist on torturing us with shit we’ll never use in the real world anyway?”

Capri tucked both hands in her denim jacket pockets. “I think they just want us to prove we’re teachable. We’ll go before an employer, show our credentials and grades, and they’ll immediately know: I can teach this one how to do the job and they’ll do it well. This one, not so much.”

“No wonder I’m not interested. I don’t want a job.” Sasha swept her long stringy blond hair off her neck. She had a habit of doing that. “Hey, let’s go out tonight. Don’t you have the night off?”

Capri shook her head. “No way. I’m tired.” Being off of both jobs tonight was an early Christmas present. She intended to make the most of that time doing something she didn’t get to do much of—sleeping.

“Of course you are, Ben Stein.  All you do is work and study. That’s why we have to go out. It’s Friday night. Let’s make the best of it. You have the rest of the weekend to study.”

“Stop calling me that. And some of us have responsibilities. I have to work in the morning, remember?”

“So what? Down a Red Bull and you’ll be fine.”

Ha! Easy for Sasha to say. She’d be happy with a B in Psych 101. That’s all her parents expected of her. Capri didn’t come from a wealthy family like Sasha. Not working was not an option. She needed to have the best grades to get the best job.

Capri’s golden opportunity to have uninterrupted time to herself had come. “Or…you can go out, have a blast, and tell me all about it tomorrow.” Capri could actually get to bed early and wake up refreshed then study for next week’s exam while at work tomorrow. Working in the campus computer lab really was a great gig for a student. Her second job at the library wasn’t too bad either. Both were perfect places to study. Since she had to work all weekend, she’d get a lot of studying done and get paid for it.

Sasha was right. All Capri did was work and study. That’s all she could do if she wanted to be successful in life. And she did. Nothing would stand in the way of her dreams. She had it all planned out.

“Girl, you better live now while you’re young. Pretty soon you’ll have kids and saggy tits. You’ll wish you had taken advantage of natural vaginal lubrication now.”

Capri laughed. “I don’t have time to lubricate my vagina. I’m going to be a professional therapist, not a prostitute.”

“Honey, we’re all prostitutes. Don’t kid yourself. The better your vagina is, the better your clientele. And by better, I mean wetter.”

Capri laughed as Sasha got on her usual soapbox about the birds and the bees and the flower and the trees, and all of her twisted ideals about gender roles and feminism, sexual liberation, and pussy empowerment. Capri had heard Life According to Sasha before. To be honest, she found it all contradictory. With a wet cooter, she could get a wealthy man…and be more independent? What the hell?

Sasha realized her monologue was going nowhere fast. “Okay. How ’bout for an hour? You haven’t gone out with me since our second day of orientation.”

Oh, there was a reason for that. Capri couldn’t hang with the elite party girl. Not when they had different aspirations.

Nevertheless, Capri cocked her head. Maybe Sasha had a point somewhere in there about only living once. Going out for an hour wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it? She really could stand to break the monotony of her schedule. Just this once.

“Okay,” Capri said, thinking of how literal she would be. She would even set her watch to notify her when the hour was up. “I can go for an hour.”

Sasha froze with her mouth gaped. “Really? You’re giving in that easily? And here I was all prepared to bribe you with chocolate.” Sasha pulled out her cell and started punching the pad. “I’ll RSVP us. Frat party starts at eight. We can get there at nine-thirty.” She tucked her phone back in her jeans pocket and nudged Capri’s side with an elbow. “Getting laid tonight isn’t a bad idea either.” Sasha laughed as Capri pulled away. Sasha had to jog a little to catch up with her. “You’re going to have to give it up to somebody sometime. Best to go ahead and get the bad lay out of the way now so you’ll be ready for—”

“Don’t push it. We’re just going out to do some underage drinking, stand around so all the upper class girls can point fingers at us and call us whores, dance once or twice with some guys who probably don’t even go to school here but front like they do so they can get some college pussy,” Capri took a deep breath and continued. “And then I’m going back to the dorm to sleep while you actually fuck one or two said guys and later stumble in our room and pass out on your bed.”

Sasha’s eyes widened in mock horror. “Thank you very much for showing me my shortcomings.” They walked inside their dorm building and started up the first flight of stairs to their tiny room. “I’ll go for a record of three guys tonight to shake it up a bit. Can’t be all predictable and shit.”

They laughed.

“You’re laughing now,” Sasha flipped her hair, “but it’s true. You need to get laid, and this frat party we’re going to tonight—plenty of hotties. You’re hot. You’re eighteen. A freshman. It’s time to give it up.”

Capri shook her head. “You sound like a guy. Should I be worried? You trying to fuck me?”

“Only thing you need to be worried about is me pushing you down the stairs to your death so I can get an automatic four point oh for the semester.”

“That’s just a myth, you know. And why do you care about a four point oh anyway?” Capri faced their room door and started digging around in her backpack for her keys.

“It’ll make the parents happy. They may even let me trade in my car.”

“Right. Because last year’s model is so outdated.”

“Exactly.” Sarcasm was lost on her. Sasha’s attention had already drifted elsewhere. “Helloooo, stranger.”

“Hello, yourself. Do you ladies have a moment?”

“Damn straight.” Sasha’s voice had dropped an octave in an attempt to sound seductive.

Capri, too busy trying to figure out which of her keys matched their door, didn’t bother turning around to see who Sasha was hitting on now. It wouldn’t surprise her if Sasha brought the guy inside and did him on their puppy paw welcome mat as soon as Capri unlocked it. That kind of easy access to fucking was the reason Sasha had wanted a coed dorm. Capri had wanted the dorm because it was the only one with a laundry room on the same floor and no curfew. They were both practical girls, though one of them was more of a free spirit than the other.

Capri continued trying keys in the door while trying not to listen to Sasha get her mack on.

“See, my band’s playing tonight, if you two can make it. Here.” Papers rustled as it sounded like he was handing a sheet to Sasha. “We need all the support—oh, hell—who am I kidding? We need all the beautiful girls in the audience we can get to cheer us on and stroke our egos while we perform. I’ve been passing these flyers out all day, and I have yet to invite one lad.” Then he laughed. Sort of. It was a breathless, light sound that gave out as if he didn’t have the energy to put into it fully. He sounded genuinely happy, and his foreign accent came through thick with a strong lilt. Irish, maybe? “So what do you say, ladies?”

“What kind of music is it?” Sasha asked.

“Doesn’t matter. Do it for a good cause. That way, even if our music is shite, you would have done your civic duty of helping to build self-esteem in today’s youth.”

“I can see you’ve worked on your pitch.”

Capri could hear the excitement in his voice and the interest in Sasha’s, so she hated to be the one to burst their bubbles. She didn’t want Sasha to unilaterally change their plans for the evening and answer affirmatively for them just because Sasha wanted to fuck the guy. “Actually, I have to work in the morning. We’re going out for a hot minute then I’m—” Capri inserted the correct key then turned around expecting to gently let down a chubby redhead with itty bitty green eyes, a full body of freckles, the palest of skin, and thin lips…maybe one that was four feet tall, dressed in all green, and carrying a pot of gold and a four-leaf clover.

She was not prepared.

And she couldn’t remember the last time she’d stared…at anybody.

“Then you’re…?” He waved his hand exuberantly, letting Capri know to get on with it. She didn’t speak, so he finished for her. “Then you’re going to bed like a seventy-five-year-old woman in a nursing home?” He smiled, and it was brilliant, bright as the sun. Nothing else mattered but his ethereal joy. “Wait.” He put long fingers up to his lips, which drew her eyes there. “My mamó’s eighty, and I do believe she’s Skyping in to support my band tonight. You know what that means? That means you’re lamer,” he put his fingers in the shape of an L in front of her face, “than an old lady in a nursing home. Is that really how you want to be known around here? Is that really the legacy you want to leave?” He put his hands on his hips and waited. His eyes twinkled with amusement as his perfect pink lips widened into a smile.

Jesus. That smile.

Those eyes.

That hair. The mass of unruly dark curls on top of his head…and the thick eyebrows he used expertly to make countless facial expressions. Even his skin, the same natural tan as hers…and those delicate cheekbones that cradled his straight nose were awe-inspiring. Capri stared up his tall, thin frame to his androgynous features because there was so much unexpected beauty to take in.

“Uh…” Capri couldn’t utter a coherent word if she tried. She tried again anyway. “Um…” Oh, he had green eyes, all right—olive green—but that’s where her preconceived image of him, based on a handful of foreign films, ended. A couture high fashion show in London was missing a model.

Maybe it was time to give up her virginity.

Where the hell did that come from?

“You’re staring,” Sasha whispered to Capri.

“My photograph’s on the flyer, love,” he taunted as he extended a sheet to Capri. “So you don’t have to memorize my face.”

Capri swallowed the saliva that had accumulated in her mouth and took it from him. Was she really salivating? Her face heated with embarrassment.

To get his attention, Sasha shook the flyer she’d gotten from him in front of his face. “Eh, what’s your name, pretty boy?”

He didn’t take his eyes from Capri. Mirth was written all over his face as he studied hers. He even popped the collar of his gaudy orange leather jacket before answering. “Thomas. My friends call me Tommy. Seventy-five-year-old women call me Tom because they forget the other half. ”

That accent. Capri shivered.

Sasha laughed. “We just love supporting youth in the community, Tommy.” Sasha grabbed Capri’s arm, turned the key dangling from the door and opened it. After Sasha shoved Capri inside their room, Sasha turned to him, leaned against the open door and grinned. “I’m Sashana, by the way. That’s Capri. And we’ll both be there.”

“Good,” he smirked. “Then you’ll find out what groupies get to call me when they’re screaming my name.”

Review of 300: Rise of an Empire.

300_Rise_of_an_EmpireSince 300 is one of my favorite movies, I wasted no time going to see 300: Rise of an Empire 3D. I highly recommend it for those who loved the first one and Starz’s Spartacus, though I don’t think this movie was better than either of those. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it serves more as a good filler for the void our other favorites left us. It’s more of all the blood splatter, slo-mo violence, ripped shirtless men, and fiesty no-nonsense women we’ve come to enjoy. Yes, there is also nudity and a sex scene to raise your eyebrows. In case you’re unfamiliar with its predecessor, be forewarned: This is NOT for the squeamish.

The timeline runs alongside the occurences in 300 and continues beyond. We also get Xerxes’s backstory, battles that take place at sea as well as land, and a history lesson of how the death of 300 Spartans helped to unify all of Greece against the Persians. Although it’s easier to root for Greece in this one, I don’t think there are any real villains and heroes here. These are barbaric times when everyone is loyal to their home or seeking revenge. Everyone is brave and willing to risk everything for what they believe in, which is mainly freedom and power. And in the end, the side with the most people left alive after so many sword-weilded deaths are winners.

My only problem–I didn’t connect to the leader, Themistocles, as well as I did Leonidas. And for that matter, I didn’t feel as strongly about his army as I did the fearless 300 who went to their glorious deaths mocking Xerxes. 300 pulled on my emotions. Rise of an Empire did not. Of course, that may be a good thing for other viewers.

It was good to see Jack O’Connell (Cook on 2nd gen of UK Skins) in the cast. Also good to see Eva Green (The Dreamers, Casino Royale, Camelot) in her deliciously dark and wicked role, opposite Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, The Mortal Instruments, Gossip).

I WILL be adding this movie to my collection.

Overqualified Dummy. An Author’s Rant.

I post daily confessions on my FB page. This one turned into a rant and required more space.

Confession: I have a Bachelors of Science in Sociology, a Masters in Public Administration, and a Juris Doctor degree. I took the Texas 3-day bar exam in 2005 and passed. Throughout this educational attainment, I worked more jobs than I could possibly list (3-4 at a time) in order to pay for all that education and maintain a living. I still had to earn grants–no, I did not qualify for income-based assistance because of my parents’ income, and that STILL pisses me off to this day, since I did not receive consistent help from them until my last year of law school. Why did their income need to be a factor!–and I had to accept student loans. While I’m on it–another thing that pisses me off is that I never qualified for in-state tuition from my law school even though I worked in the state of Texas and met all the other criteria for being an in-state student post my 1L year. In case you didn’t know, college is expensive. Being an out-of-state student is even more expensive. [insert angry face]

Okay. Whatever. Back to…oh, yes. I also volunteered more time than I can even conceive, when I look back on it, and actively participated in many organizations. I mean, I held offices in some of these organizations, and still managed to party whenever I could. Hell, partying was a must to unwind from the stress of my busy life.

So, my resume is full of credentials and awards and impressive busy work, along with some awesome references from bosses and associates who can attest to my hard work ethic and reliable character. Unfortunately, there are many who can also attest to my low tolerance for alcohol. Gotta take the bad with the good, I suppose, and I have nothing to hide.

That wasn’t the confession. Those were just facts.

The dirty little secret I want to share with you all today is that after ALL that, the devil must have jumped in me, and made me decide to spend more time writing and being a published author than continuing to pursue the professional career I prepared for. Disgusting, isn’t it? Truth of the matter is that I always wanted to pursue liberal arts. I wanted to be in the entertainment industry, something to do with my passion for movies, TV and books. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you.

But I didn’t want to be a broke artist. In addition to all the jokes about unethical lawyers (stop all that, will ya???), we’ve all heard the ones about artists being impoverished. It goes with the territory…unless you’re part of the small percentage that gets a big break.

So guess what this genius did? Well, I already told you. I spent way too much time and way too much money and way too much effort going the educational route. To do what? Be a broke artist. And a supportive wife. And an exhausted mother. I certainly didn’t need to go through all that just to end up being THIS. Ah-mazing.

I may not be as smart as I thought.

You know what’s more amazing? I thought, well, maybe I would have a little respect in the industry. I earned it, didn’t I? WRONG. Maybe if I wrote nonfiction. But now that I know what I do about the perception of folks with lots of qualifications (and potential, I’ve been told) deciding to do something as “meaningless” as write books instead of becoming a notable attorney at a notable law firm–I’m doubting that too. The only way you can be a respected writer is if you become Stephen King, J.K. Rowlings, Nicholas Sparks, or the like. Maybe not quite that large, but I’m exaggerating it a bit by listing names I know you know to make the point that only a handful care…until you’ve already made a name for yourself. Not many will help you get there in the meantime. They’ll just sit back and wonder what’s wrong with you for choosing this path when you could be doing something else.

My own mother, bless her soul, was so proud of me when I got sworn in as an attorney. I’m the only one in the family. Well, I was, until I married my husband, who became an intellectual property attorney. Then there was my sister-in-law, who became one as well. Should we count them? Okay. Fine. Let’s do…but they weren’t attorneys then, dammit. It was just moi.

My dad was proud too, I suppose, though you never can tell with that one. He didn’t even come to my graduation. I mean, how often does one graduate from LAW SCHOOL? Whatever. Let’s stick with my mom, because I’m positive she has always been supportive of my endeavors…until it comes to throwing away a legal career on writing filthy books she can’t even make it through. Ah, the shame. My point is–my mom doesn’t understand that I die a little inside every time she asks me about my legal case load, but not about my recent author event.

I’ve been reducing the number of legal cases I work ever since I released my first book in 2011. Guess what–I have SEVEN books now, four of which are full-length novels. That’s something I tolled over for months or years. Something where I created an imaginary world with characters I made come alive. Something that a handful of people actually enjoy. Isn’t that impressive? Guess not. My mother never asks me about my next book release or current book sales. Instead, she tells me, “Oh, you can still become a judge one day.” A JUDGE??? Darling, I was just letting you know that my friends are running for judicial seats, or So-and-So just won an election. I’m proud of them. I didn’t bring that up to say my ambition is to BE them. My mother’s comments let me know she’s hoping writing is a hobby. She was okay when it was a book or two. Hey, good job…but it’s time to get back to serious work, isn’t it? I’ve told her it isn’t a hobby. It’s my passion. She said I should keep my bar card active. Oh, I am, Mom. I am. I still pay my bar dues, occupational tax, and licensing fees, and I keep current with my CLEs, if I do nothing else. I wouldn’t want this author thing to collapse and I have nothing to fall back on, right? Heaven forbid.

She’s not the only one. Happens all the time. I can see the judgment on other professionals’ faces when I mention being an author before I say anything about being an attorney. “What kind of law do you practice?” But, but…I want to talk about my books. Ha! They don’t care about that. An older female attorney that I respect a great deal, told me she needed to get me back in the practice. She said I needed to stop that fiction nonsense and make a difference in the world. She meant no harm. Honestly. Her heart was in the right place. She’s used to mentoring young black female attorneys. There aren’t that many of us as it is. And she may be right. Believe me, I have my moments of self-doubt. Every other hour, in fact. How would I feel if my children went the exact route I did? Wouldn’t I think–what a waste. Maybe. So, I’m doing my best to listen to them now and foster their natural talents and abilities. Hopefully, they’ll get it right the first time, without mortgage-size student loan debt by the time they settle into their dreams.

Which brings me to those moments when I need to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this. I’m good at this. Writing books, I mean. Being a parent? Not so much, but I get by. Being a wife is sketchy every now and then too, but I work at it. I also want to continue working at being a better writer. Everyone who became a successful author had to start somewhere. And I’m getting better at this.

Am I a dummy for going all around my thumb to get to my pinky? Yes. But I can’t undo the past. What’s done is done. I can only hope I’ve accumulated some good material and transferable skills along the way that will help me develop interesting stories. If I’m lucky–I can also shape my future by doing what I love now. It’s best for me to follow my passion, right? Better late than never, right? I should keep at it until Dicey Grenor is a household name, right?

Ha! Yeah, we’ll see.

By the way, those times when friends and family ask me about my books or what it’s like being an author–GOLDEN.