Saturday, December 06, 2014

Doctor Who vs. Agents of SHIELD--Creating Strong Female Characters

Doctor Who vs. Agents of SHIELD—Creating Strong Female Characters
By Cynthianna

As a follow up to my critique of the Doctor Who 2014 season finale (The Death of Doctor Who), I thought I’d give you some insight into how I formed my opinion. I read manuscripts for a living; I edit manuscripts for a living; I write manuscripts for a living. In other words, I help create characters on a daily basis. Top that with an education in film studies and psychology, and you can understand why I don’t watch TV in quite the same way as others watch TV. Many viewers simply turn on the telly in order to lull themselves to sleep at night. When I switch it on, I analyze characters, de-construct plots, and ask difficult questions of those in editorial control. Sometimes it lulls me to sleep, too.

This introduction leads to the point of this piece: Creating strong female characters and how it applies to two current science fiction television series, Doctor Who (new version) and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. How are strong characters created on screen? In visual mediums we see characters acting out their personality traits through dialogue and actions. We don’t read captions proclaiming “shy girl” or “bad guy” or “nerd” under the face of the actor to tell us the character’s disposition or his/her role in the story. We infer their personalities by watching the actors bring the characters to life through their interpretation of the dialogue and physical direction given in the script. Therefore, we see a little girl hiding in a corner, a sneering mobster wielding a gun, or a computer jockey entranced in front of her keyboard. 

The actors don’t create the characters per se—they are simply the means by which the characters written in the script are shown to the viewers. The final responsibility for creating strong characters rests with the TV show's writers and producersnot its actors. Sometimes fans confuse these two groups and blame the actors for a show's failures when nothing could be further from the truth.

My biggest disappointment with the current season of Doctor Who, besides the producer’s apparent lack of respect for sci-fi fans’ sensibilities and intelligence, is its failure to create strong female characters. It’s not enough for a producer to state, “This is a strong female character because I say so.” Viewers need to see female characters acting strong and competent in a consistent manner; otherwise, why should we believe this claim? Just as an out-of-tune guitar string after a few strums becomes annoying and irritating, so does an inconsistent character. We long to experience a character in tune. Many fans will give up on a TV series when the characters seem out of tune. Once an exodus of viewers begins, it can be difficult to halt.

All is not lost in TV-land in 2014, however. Excellent examples of consistently strong female characters in a science fiction setting can be found on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. While Doctor Who has only one regular female lead this season, Agents of SHIELD presents Agents Melinda May, Jemma Simmons, and Skye. These characters are all portrayed as capable career women who concentrate on the task at hand. Simmons is a biochemist with two Ph.D.s, and Skye is a computer hacker second to none. Ace pilot May runs intricate operations as the second-in-command and kicks butt with her martial arts skills. She isn’t a twenty-something, either. It’s really nice to see a television series that demonstrates women do get better with age!

In every episode this season so far May, Simmons, and Skye have worked hard to keep the world safe and to clear SHIELD’s tarnished name. None of these characters waste much screen time putting theirs or their male companions’ romantic needs before the mission objective. Men and women in Agents of SHIELD are portrayed as equals, fellow agents working together in a just cause. Sure, there is a minor storyline of one minor character, Agent Bobbi Morse, and her ex-husband working together (and possibly reconciling), but the screen time devoted to this subplot is minimal compared to the overall story and doesn’t detract from the integrity of the characters. The female agents of SHIELD have a job to do, and they do it well. 

By contrast, the Doctor’s lone companion in the TARDIS this season is Clara Oswald, a young woman in her mid-twenties. Clara, a middle school English teacher, has a romantic companion in the character of Danny Pink, a former soldier turned math teacher. Unfortunately, Danny doesn’t become a regular companion in the TARDIS as many viewers had hoped after seeing previews. Danny’s character is written as a stereotypical “baby-killer”, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A more sensitive portrayal of a young soldier would have been appreciated, since many sci-fi fans currently serve or have served in the military.

Viewers quickly learn that servicemen who served in an unpopular war are still worth fretting over by female characters, however. Clara worries how her boyfriend Danny will cope with her obsession with the Doctor and her desire for exotic exploits. In fact, much screen time in the season’s premiere is spent on Clara dealing with her conflicting emotions over the Doctor’s newly regenerated form. How can Clara have romantic feelings for a thousand year old Time Lord who now appears to no longer be a twenty-something but a silver fox of fifty-ish? Science fiction fans could be excused for thinking they were watching a Downton Abbey repeat, or some other soap opera, instead of a sci-fi/fantasy adventure. What has the Doctor’s sex appeal for Clara got to do with his ability to save mankind or travel through time and space?

The character of Clara Oswald in episodes written by producer Steven Moffat demonstrates to viewers—particularly impressionable young girls—that a woman’s primary function in life is to please her man. For Clara, this could be construed as either Danny or the Doctor depending on the episode. The inconsistent rendering of her character becomes irritating, but the missed opportunity of turning Clara into a strong female role model is more than annoying—it’s tragic. Apparently Moffat did not create the character of Clara to be an equal to either the Doctor or Danny. She could have easily been written as a compassionate teacher with reserves of patience and courage (such as classic series companion Barbara Wright), but instead we witness her rudely slapping the recently-regenerated Doctor. (Is corporeal punishment still allowed in British schools, and is it ever acceptable for adults to slug their friends? Ouch.)

Clara’s poorly crafted character isn’t unique in Moffat’s Doctor Who. Most of the female characters in the Moffat-written episodes fail the Bechdel Test. (The Bechdel Test was developed for films. To pass, a movie must have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. Read more: Sexism and Doctor Who)  The Doctor’s female companions generally don’t work side-by-side on projects as the female agents do on Agents of SHIELD. Instead, they focus their dialogue and actions on the male characters’ needs and directives. (One exception: Donna Noble and Martha Jones did work together in a few 2009 episodes. They have much higher Bechdel Test scores than more recent companions.) But it could be argued that the new series Doctor Who female characters have been created simply to serve as window dressing. Male characters get to make the important decisions.

A troubling question could be asked of show runner Steven Moffat: Were the female characters in this latest season of Doctor Who created solely to please male fans without a thought to how women fans may view these same characters? It’s possible. At least, it appears that some reoccurring female characters have been created to entertain males. The Silurian sleuth Madame Vastra and her human sidekick Jenny, lesbian lovers in Victorian England, seem to be added as titillation for teenage boys. After all, porn movies with lesbian action are aimed primarily at heterosexual males, are they not? (Notably absent in Moffat’s era, the reoccurring character of Captain Jack Harkness, a bisexual. Is Moffat afraid Jack's bisexuality wouldn’t appeal to heterosexual men?)

If Vastra and Jenny are to be seen as equals to the show’s male characters, why aren’t they shown doing more science and making less references to their mutual attraction? Work is work. What you do in your bedroom stays there during work hours. How do repeated references to any of the characters’ sexual orientations help the Doctor save the day? Sexual expression is a topic for late-night adult programs. Better for an earlier-in-the-evening series to present characters working together as equals and allow them to get on with fighting monsters and saving the world without unnecessary interruptions.

Romantic subplots and sexual innuendos were few and far between in the classic series of Doctor Who and for good reason—they detracted from the storylines aimed at a family audience. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD seems to have taken the place of Doctor Who as a family-friendly television show for sci-fi/fantasy fans with a minimum of adult soap opera theatrics.

Child-friendly show or not, creating strong female characters should be at the top of every television producer’s list. Women watch a lot of television, simply put, and mothers exercise control over what they allow their children to watch. It’s foolhardy to disappoint such a large portion of the viewing audience.

We sometimes forget that it’s been less than one hundred years since women gained the right to vote in the United States and in many other countries. We sometimes forget that women are still victimized and kept “in their place” through violence and rape. We sometimes forget the horrors of human trafficking and sexual slavery still exist. It’s time that we stop forgetting and take positive action in all our forms of entertainment to teach children—and adults—that women and men are equals. Female characters deserve to be created and portrayed on the screen with respect and dignity. Female characters should act as positive role models and not reinforce negative stereotypes.

To sum up, women aren’t just eye candy to gain television ratings. We have brains and abilities. To denigrate one of us is to denigrate us all. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book Reviews For Your Holiday Shopping Consideration...

Bread and ButterBread and Butter by Michelle Wildgen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three brothers plus two upscale restaurants—does it equal a recipe for disaster?

In Bread and Butter we’re introduced to three brothers who love everything about food. Leo and Britt, only a year apart, have operated Winesap for over a decade in their aging, industrial hometown just outside of Philadelphia. It’s been hard work educating the local palate through trial and error, but at last they feel they’ve reached a nice balance with their established clientele and are financially successful. Britt, formerly in public relations, takes care of the front and keeps things running smoothly and tastefully, but he puts on his best face for a beautiful and sophisticated regular gourmand, Camille. Leo, a divorcee married to his job, takes care of the paperwork and makes sure his hardworking staff is happy, especially their capable chef Thea, a single mom. Unfortunately their flighty pastry chef Hector has become rather tired of their patrons’ favorite chocolate cake and has flown the coop.

Enter baby brother Harry. He returns home after years of graduate school, failed love affairs, and working in a restaurant on an island in Lake Michigan. Harry wants to start his own place to show off his epicurean tastes. Leasing a run-down building in an area on the cusp of being re-gentrified, Harry envisions a hip new eatery that will help his hometown make a comeback. Once Hector defects to work at Harry’s place and Britt is convinced his little brother’s idea isn’t as crazy as it seems and becomes a partner, the three brothers find themselves at odds—financially, creatively, and romantically. Can sibling rivalry ruin a fine dining experience?

Bread and Butter is jam-packed with the minutiae of the restaurant business, but it doesn’t come across as a Food Network documentary. Wildgen creates fragile but loveable characters who will inspire foodies to keep turning pages even while their hungry stomachs are rumbling.

  Secret of a Thousand BeautiesSecret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Scarlett O’Hara has nothing on Spring Swallow! This young heroine in 1930s China has to endure many tragedies, lost husbands, poverty, and hard work in order to survive. At the age of seventeen, she is forced into a ghost marriage—a marriage to a dead man she was promised to before both of them were born. She bravely runs away, but the choice she makes to leave her village is more than daring—it is dangerous. How will she fend for herself?

Spring Swallow meets another lost soul who takes her to a house on the side of a haunted mountain. There she becomes an apprentice to Aunty Peony, a cold and calculating master embroiderer with a dark past. She learns the “secrets of a thousand beauties” in the Su tradition of embroidery and experiences conflicts of jealousy and betrayal with the other “sisters” as they work on an embroidered painting to enter a competition. Spring Swallow’s walks on the mountain bring her to the notice of a young revolutionary, Shen Feng, and at last she feels she has found true love. But nothing is easy for Spring Swallow. She faces more challenges and disappointments as her lover goes off to follow his dream of a better China.

Rich in detail, the story feels like it takes place one hundred years or more earlier than the 1930s, as the characters are steeped in ancient superstitions and fear of ghost hauntings. The characterization of Spring Swallow as a capable young woman who follows her heart is its biggest draw and should please readers of women’s fiction.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Death of Doctor Who (As Engineered by Steven Moffat)

An excellent Doctor in need of a decent producer.
The Death of Doctor Who

(As Engineered by Steven Moffat)

After viewing Doctor Who’s final episode of the season, Death in Heaven, my husband said he could write a review of it in two words: Train wreck. I told him I could use only one:


Okay, okay I’ll explain myself: After eight months of anticipation brewing, we, the venerable sci-fi/fantasy show’s fans, eagerly looked forward to spectacularly talented actor Peter Capaldi gracing our television screens in the title role. Alas, many of us found ourselves rather disappointed in the twelfth Doctor’s rather weak presentation to the world in his debut episode (read my I Got the Doctor Who Let Down Blues). We didn’t lay the blame for its failure to inspire on the great actor or our beloved series’ basic premise, however. It was all too obvious the weak script poor Peter and company had been given to work with was to blame. I felt that the actors and craftspersons involved honestly did the best they could do with the material, but you could sense they were struggling at times. 

One of the better episodes not written by Moffat.
Holding our breath (some might say our noses), we, the long-suffering fans, continued watching the remaining episodes of the season hoping the quality of scripts would improve. After a few rare glorious moments, many fans felt we had caught glimpses of the magic from the earlier Doctor Who era—particularly in strongly-written episodes such as Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline, and In the Forest of the Night. Huzzah! So, you could well imagine the crushing feeling fans like my husband and I experienced when we turned on the series’ two part finale… ugh. Not only had the beauty and strengths of the original source material and cherished characters been denigrated, but our hopes for a long run of the revived Doctor Who series have flagged.

Once again, my husband is right in saying our disappointment can be summed up in only two words: Steven Moffat.

Mr. Moffat is the show’s producer, to put it in American terms, or “show runner” to use the Beeb’s vernacular, and that makes him the person responsible for making editorial decisions. As a published author and editor myself, I know that responsibility for the success or failure of a creative venture rests with the person in charge of its editorial content. It’s up to the editor/producer to put his or her foot down sometimes and say, “We’re not going there.” Intelligently choosing scripts and hiring good scriptwriters to produce story lines is a big part of the job, in other words. It’s not a task to take lightly, especially when producing the fifty-plus year television milestone which is Doctor Who.

Alternate title: Mary Poppins Flies Again!
I’m not really the type of fan who has either the time or inclination to go around the Internet griping about the producers of Doctor Who (I’ve encountered fans who do), but I have to agree with quite a few of my fellow Whovians this year. We’ve been let down by Mr. Moffat. There’s not much positive one can say about the situation. There aren’t words enough to express how sad one feels watching what was promised to be a revival of the series’ special something, that je ne sais quoi, being flushed down the drain. And yes, it’s emboldened me to speak out before it’s too late.

For there is one other word that springs to mind apart from ugh to describe my reaction to Moffat’s Death in Heaven:


There’s a niggling sense of fan disrespectfulness in many Moffat-written or co-written episodes of Doctor Who, but perhaps they’re not all fully realized until this season’s finale. The fans’ sensibilities are once again taken for granted as the Cybermen’s genesis and motivations are co-opted in order to do a remake of Marvel’s Iron Man. Throw some very poor science into the science fiction—the part human/part cyborgs can now “grow” out of “pollen” that is “planted” into dead bodies—and one gets the feeling that Mr. Moffat doesn’t take the genre seriously at all. Zombies are all the rage now? Throw them into the mish-mash along with Iron Man!
“Look they can fly like Tony Stark can!”

You can almost hear Mr. Moffat laughing in the background… “Research? Bah humbug! Those silly Doctor Who fans don’t care about well-crafted sci-fi/fantasy. I mean, if they’ll believe a newborn space dragon can lay an egg the size of the moon a few minutes after it hatches (the premise of Kill the Moon) then they’ll believe anything. They’re all thick! They’re adults watching a kid’s show! We can do whatever we want and they’ll buy it.”

It’s a disrespectful attitude and insulting. Yes, another one word review: Insulting.

Whatever the failings of classic era producers and scriptwriters at least fans didn’t feel as if they were being talked down to, belittled or openly scorned for loving a family-friendly, sci-fi/fantasy television show. Yet Death in Heaven goes on to new heights of insulting fan sensibilities by turning the Doctor’s archenemy the Master into childhood icon Mary Poppins complete with the big hat and flying umbrella—because somehow ripping off recent zombie hits and Iron Man wasn’t enough. For the record, I’m not against the Master changing genders at all, but I am against a non-original and sexist interpretation of the beloved villain from the classic series. Which leads me to another one word charge that many, many female fans have leveled at Mr. Moffat:


"Love me--please?" (Or co-dependency is cool.)

There’s a great scholarly article on Sexism in Doctor Who ( that I won’t reiterate here, but the author makes a very strong argument that many of the Moffat-written scripts fail the Bechdel Test—and fail it miserably. For the most part women in the classic series (1963 – 1989) were presented as strong, intelligent, reasoning individuals with distinct personalities, equal in ego-integrity to the Doctor. In other words, worthy companions. Sure, some female companions screamed at a monster now and then, but so did quite a few of the Doctor’s male companions. Nasty things jumping out from the shadows or dark alleyways can do that to a person of either gender.

Rest assured, the Moffat era of Doctor Who has put women in sci-fi firmly in their place—right where they belong beneath the men! Young, good-looking females are depicted as simply “girlfriends” who suffer from hormonal fluctuations of emotions which make them constantly fret about whether the Doctor is still their boyfriend or not (if he ever was) and occasionally even slap him. Careers? For women? Get real! It’s not deemed important to show the current crop of female companions as successful career women. The female companion’s career takes a backseat to all the worrying and fretting about the Doctor and her human lovers she is forced to do because of her inferior biology, just like it does for most twenty-first century women, right?

Angst-riddled dialogue and silly arguments abound among the romantic couples in Moffat’s Doctor Who, bringing back memories of the good ol’ days of seventh grade crushes and break-ups in the junior high cafeteria. Female companions need never mature to an emotional age of beyond twelve or thirteen it seems in Moffat’s fictional world. Ditto for their male lovers. The new era of Doctor Who has become an adolescent packed space opera—or is it simply a soap opera? Original Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert had it all wrong! (She was only a woman, you know.) Who needs intelligent characters working on solving problems intelligently using the scientific method?

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...and down...

This is particularly true if you’re a brilliant male scientist and you find yourself regenerated into the body of a woman. The Master, formerly depicted on screen as a capable, dedicated and determined evil genius, once converted over to the female gender gives himself a girlie nickname like “Missy” and dresses up like every little girl’s favorite Edwardian nanny, Mary Poppins. He/she still wants to take over the world, but now she does it while wearing bright red lipstick and trying to stick her tongue down the back of the Doctor’s throat. How grown up!

Moffat seems to be giving a wink and a nudge to all the sexist male fans, intimating that once a mad scientist has lost his masculinity he certainly wouldn’t want to impress people that he was still an evil genius by acting like…well, like an actual genius. A person with a brain and intelligence and a plan...but hey! Once you’re wearing a dress and lipstick you can’t act any smarter than a seventh grader, right? Must be those girlie hormones!

Sarah Jane's bravery and intelligence--awesome to watch.

No wonder fans of the classic series of Doctor Who despair. Where are ace scientist Liz Shaw, investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, and master teacher Barbara Wright when you need them? Thank heavens for those of us who can receive the Retro-TV channel in the U.S. Episodes of the classic series are broadcast five nights a week, and you can see these strong feminist role models there, a breath of fresh air compared to the twelve year old antics of Moffat’s female companions.

Thank heaven indeed—which leads me to another word that describes Death in Heaven: Tacky.

Perhaps tasteless would work as well as tacky. At one point in the story, the Doctor tells the U.N.I.T. team that they don’t want Americans involved with dealing with the Cybermen crisis because all Americans do is “drop bombs and pray.” Asking for Divine Guidance is a big no-no apparently since only stupid people (women?) would ever think it was a good idea. And perhaps attracting and maintaining American viewers isn’t at the top of the BBC America’s list of profitable things to do, either? 

Tacky jokes cracked about the vast majority of TV viewers’ faith in a Supreme Being shows rather poor judgement on Moffat’s part. Sure, he can be atheist and anti-American, but he doesn’t have to be mean-spirited about it, does he? Didn’t political rhetoric, which insulted the conservative-minded BBC chairman, get the original series cancelled back in the 1980s? 

R.I.P. Brigadier

My husband found the idea of “resurrecting” the late Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in the graveyard to be in extremely poor taste. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife or heaven, why would you condemn a righteous and moral character such as the Brigadier to become a mindless cyborgs puppet for all eternity? There’s that ugh factor creeping in… Tasteless and tacky shouldn’t be words associated with a family-friendly show, but in this day and age of nasty trolling and snarky musings, I guess it was bound to happen to Doctor Who, too. So sad that Mr. Moffat couldn’t rise above it for the good of the series.

Because, in the end, it appears that Mr. Moffat wants out of Doctor Who. Why else would he risk insulting folks with tacky and tasteless quips, repeatedly show female characters in a stereotypically sexist light, and show outright contempt of the classic series and disrespect for the intelligence of the sci-fi fan base as a whole? Why would he do any of these rash and insipid things unless deep-down he wants the program to be canceled? Moffat’s production of Sherlock has done well in the ratings, and perhaps that’s where his heart lies. Certainly writing for a character such as his version of Sherlock Holmes, an autistic, emotionally-stunted savant, seems to fit better with Moffat’s outlook on life. He can express himself creatively there.

Disrespectful, insulting, sexist, tacky… ugh. I won’t even bother to point out plot holes, heavily-telegraphed plot points, and others inconsistencies in Death in Heaven. Nick Frost as Santa Claus—or should I say Father Christmas?--will probably fill them all in in the holiday special and tie things up with a nice big bow in a neat little package, right? For an atheist like Mr. Moffat to put so much faith in a saint (St. Nicholas) to perform such a miracle of scriptwriting during the one the holiest seasons of the Christian calendar is too bizarre to contemplate.

Time to move along, Steven.

Steven Moffat should depart Doctor Who and move on to pastures green, and he should do so now before the show loses any more support from the fans. Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the Doctor deserves a chance to shine away from the dross of the Moffat era. Doctor Who deserves fresh air, fresh ideas, and maybe even some female writers and producers this next time out?

Are you listening, BBC?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Remember, remember...

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot!

November 5 is Guy Fawkes' Day in the U.K., and my English husband loves a good reason for a bonfire (since that's the traditional time to burn poor Guy in effigy). And what better reason to build a fire on that day than to burn off your garden wastes to create some carbon for your compost pile, right?

Getting the fire going with scrap paper and twigs.

Of course, Guy Fawkes was just the poor sap who got stuck swinging for the gunpowder plot. The real brains behind it got away more than likely. I find it a bit telling how popular Guy Fawkes' Day has become in the U.S. after the release of the movie V for Vendetta. The idea of putting on a mask and anonymously taking revenge against those in power who want to cheat you of your rights is irresistible, isn't it? Interesting how close the day comes to Election Day in the U.S. as well... You'd hope more people would connect the two and get out and vote, making a less violent change in our society for the better. But many folks stayed home. They couldn't be bothered to take part of the political process. I guess they had more fun things to do on their iPhones or had movies that couldn't wait on Netflix. You know, important things.

It burned for some time. We had loads of tomato vines.

While we didn't attempt to burn down Parliament like Guy Fawkes this year, we did get rid of diseased tomato vines and tons of small frozen fruit that didn't quite make it. Silly how the tomato vines kept putting out flowers all through October... Didn't they realize how close the frost date was? It was a lost cause trying to produce fruit so close to winter. You'd think they'd spend their energy playing games on their iPads or Tablets, huh?

The parsnips are really going strong!

The parsnips, cabbages and Brussel sprouts all love the colder weather, so they'll hang in there until the snow buries them. Alas, everything else dies in the first hard frost of the season. We're turning over the beds and planting a cover crop of winter rye (which we grew and harvested ourselves last year) to work as "green manure" in the spring. But as of November 6, for the most part it's time for our garden to go to sleep. The rain barrels are emptied and turned over to prevent them from cracking in the freeze and the potted plants are brought inside.

Now is the time to spend energy online researching ways to improve next years' garden and finish those book manuscripts, right? Maybe even a story about a guy with a gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament?

What do you plan on growing in your garden in the spring? What things are you going spend your energy doing during the coming cold months?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Sexy Saturday -- Happy Halloween!

This week's My Sexy Saturday blog hop postings are supposed to revolve around Halloween. Excerpts are supposed to come from spooky, scary, frightening, or chilling adventures where your hero/heroine meet and get into a lot of hot water or they're being chased by brain-eating zombies, etc. For those of us who tend to write more romantic-comedy than horror fiction, this can be somewhat of a challenge!

Here are seven paragraphs from my romantic-comedy Leaving Who... A scene where things get a bit on the scary side for Cici Connors when she sees her friends John Smith, Captain Mac and Babbling Brook as they really are and not as she normally perceives them.

Leaving Who
from Mojocastle Press

After touring the universe with the sometimes inept time traveler John Smith, Cici Connors wants one more thing—to go home. Will the imminent destruction of Earth throw a kink into her plans? 

“She looks different than when she first came through the door, you mean,” I repeated. “Please tell me she is one of your lot.” Before the words had left my lips the figure in front of me blurred and reformed into the image of tattered dress-wearing Idris, better known as the Doctor’s wife. “She’s… she’s done it again!”
Captain Mac sat beside me and put an arm around my shoulders. “Don’t fight it, Cici. Your mind is trying to find the best way to represent what she is. She’s a tough one to get a handle on—even for us.”
“You mean you see her as a multitude of personas, too?”
“I mean I see her like I’ve always seen her—like how I see John and myself. We’re not human so we don’t have to visualize each other as humans would.”
“You’re saying you don’t even remotely resemble the way I’ve imagined you?”
I looked at Mac’s hand resting on my arm. Suddenly the hand lost its five fingers as they melted together and began to curl upwards, rapidly changing from a human flesh tone into a bright mauve color. The arm became a tentacle and flowed into a solid blob instead of a torso. I willed myself to look into his face and then at the faces of John and our female guest…morphing and blurring into a pinkish, purplish, grayish mass of endless eyes and tentacle-like appendages and fangs dripping saliva and…
I passed out for the second time in as many days.

Leaving Who and Loving Who are available in e-formats and print from Mojocastle Press, Amazon and wherever fine ebooks are sold online. (Coming soon: Losing Who--is it the end for Cici and John Smith, or has Cici just lost her mind once too often?)

Enjoy the rest of the My Sexy Saturday excerpts!