Prospects & Presumptions: The Ebook

Ladies & Gents,

My 2014 novella Prospects & Presumptions is now available as an ebook. You can buy it through Amazon here.

As a special treat I’ve decided to publish an excerpt on this blog. Enjoy!

Part I: Northing Cottage

It is generally considered rude to wake people with bad news. However, like most unpleasant things, bad news usually has unpleasant timing. That is why Mr Porter came to Northing Cottage that night. He dismounted, wiped the rain from his brow and knocked on the door. Northing was a small house that could, with a great deal of cramming and good manners, lodge five people at most, and so it often did. This particular evening, however, it housed only three.

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Smurrie

With apologies to my English friends and readers, I’d like to share a short story of mine written in Dutch. It was published in Babel Magazine this month, a publication affiliated with the Humanities Department of the University of Amsterdam.

The illustration is by the talented Winona van den Bosch

Attached to this story comes an interesting tale of its production: I originally wrote it last year, when I was reading Neil Gaiman’s excellent bundle of short stories, Trigger Warning, and wanted to try my hand at something similar. This year, I sent the story in to be judged for the Harland Awards, where it was ranked at the very bottom. The judges did not like it one bit. Naturally, I was discouraged, so it was with some apprehension that I ended up sending Smurrie in to Babel. WhatI’m trying to say is that this story taught me something about being a writer, or an aspiring writer. Never give up.

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Text available under the cut.

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Sense8…… CANCELLED!?

For almost a year, I’ve had a blogpost in my drafts folder titled 80 Reasons To Love Sense8. It was originally going to be titled 8 Reasons, and the setup was that I’d link each of the main characters to one of my favorite aspects of the show. The reason it didn’t work was because I had TOO MANY THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SENSE8and so, after the New Year’s special and the equally stellar second season, I started working on the 80 Reasons. It’s a moot point now: the show has been cancelled.

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The first stage of grief, as you know, is denial. Is this a hoax? Is Netflix on some sick power-trip? Are they going to up their monthly rates and is this an attempt to show us how reliant we’ve become on them? Because if so, it’s working. I’m biting my nails to the quick and tearing my hair out and one wrong comment away from crying. No kidding. They don’t call me Frenzied Fangirl for nothing.

And the reason I’m sad isn’t even primarily that I won’t get to see any more of my favorite cluster, although, after last seasons cliffhanger that breaks my heart. I’m dying to see how Nomi and Neets organize their wedding. I’m dying to see what Kala’s shady husband is up to. I’m dying to know how we’re going to rescue Wolfgang, and what we’re going to do with Whispers now we’ve got his sneaky ass caught. I want justice of Sun Bak. I want Capheus to be elected president and I want to see Lito achieve commercial success as an openly gay man. Is that too much to ask?!

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But that’s not the main reason I’m sad. I’m sad because this television show was a game-changer for the entertainment industry and I’m afraid its cancellation has brought us back to square one. I’m sad because of what Sense8 means to me, and to countless other people who have felt like they were other for most of their lives. I’m sad because Nomi was shoved under boiling hot water for being trans, and I’m sad because Lito’s career has somehow become threatened by his sexual orientation, and I’m sad because Nigerian politics are corrupt and because the world is full of sexism and racism and homophobia. I’m sad because sometimes, sometimes, just for a little while, Sense8 made me believe that a strong sense of community, empathy and mutual understanding could overcome these hateful phenomena. Tonight I mourn a show that gave me a sense of empowerment and agency and belonging.

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Nomi: Your life is either defined by the system or the way you defy the system.

Sense8 was cancelled tonight, but in a thousand ways it’s only just beginning. For me, this show was the opening salvo in a long-lasting war against bigotry and hatred, which will be battled in terms of television and books and songs and comics and any type of media we deem useful. I will miss Sense8 because it reminded me of the political power of stories, and that power is not something Netflix can cancel.

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Trigger Warning: Broccoli

(The first anniversary of this blog reminded me I’ve been neglecting it a little. Forgive me. The end of the school year is approaching and the weather is much too nice to stay inside and write. Okay, okay. I’ll write outside more. Be patient with me.)

Trigger warning for discussion of suicide and anxiety attacks

Recently, I was triggered by something I saw in a seminar. This occurrence made me aware of the misunderstandings surrounding the words ‘trigger’ and ‘trigger warning.’ I’ll endeavor to shed some light on them for you today.  What happened was this:

For a module on affect studies we examined some examples of shame in popular culture. An obvious example was the 2011 film Shame directed by Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. There was a scene towards the end of the movie that triggered an anxiety attack in me.

From here on out, this blog post contains spoilers for the film Shame Continue reading

Slash

You sigh. You roll your eyes. “Hasn’t Frenzied frickin’ Fangirl written enough about slash by now?” you ask. Maybe I have. But this time Slash is the title of a film I’ve just seen, and I’m here to tell all y’all that it rocks. As always, I have a few critical notes, but they’re not many.

So here’s the gist: Neil, the protagonist of Slash, writes slash for the fictional fandom of Vanguard. When his composition notebook is stolen (this is why we never take our attempts at writing erotica with us to school, children!) he accidentally befriends Julia, also a slash writer. Sidenote to people that know me IRL: There is a Julia in this film who writes gay fanfic, wears lots of t-shirts with cats on them and is an avid feminist. Sound familiar? I thought so. Julia encourages Neil to put his fic online, and when he does it soon becomes so successful that Neil is asked to do a reading at Comic Con. Then some other stuff happens that I won’t tell you for the sake of spoilers.

What I loved about this film: it’s about fandom, and more specifically: fanfic. It beautifully portrays the tensions within fandom that arise when old school fans are confronted with newcomers. Its full of in-jokes from RPF to curtain fic. It’s super open and honest about non-hetero sexual orientations.

What I didn’t love so much: Why is the protagonist a white guy? (SPOILER ALERT: Continue reading

The Elephant In The Room

Once again I want to thank anyone who voted on the Fantastic Story Competition. Even though I didn’t win, I had a wonderful weekend at Dutch Comic Con at Utrecht and it was a great honor to read my short story, The Elephant In The Room, to so many enthusiastic members of the audience. You can now also read my story below. Congratulations to Marjolijn Ahsara and her beautiful story Death’s Diner for their victory.

Fantastic Story Competition

The Elephant In The Room

by Julia Neugarten

It was a Tuesday afternoon like any other when Ian Jones-McWorthington-Smith came home to discover an elephant in his living room. He didn’t see the elephant right away, as he was busy putting his groceries in the fridge. Then, quite suddenly, the elephant sneezed. It happened just as Ian was putting the eggs in their rightful place, and one of them slipped out of his hand at the unexpected noise. The egg’s name was Patricia. Faster than you’ve ever fallen before, unless you have previous experience with falling to your death, Patricia made her way towards the linoleum of the kitchen floor. She screamed, but no sound came out because eggs don’t have mouths. As she saw the floor approach she thought, first, that it was a damned shame because she had been the tastiest egg in the carton, then, that it was a good thing not to end up boiled or fried or, heaven forbid, scrambled, and then, in her final moments on this planet, Patricia thought of her mother. Finally, with a dull splat, her shell shattered on the kitchen floor. Continue reading

Reasons To Love Jens Lekman

Last month, everyones favorite Swedish singer songwriter, Jens Lekman, released a new album: Life Will See You Know. Frenzied Fangirl will be attending his show in Utrecht next month, and let me tell you why you should be there or be square.

I’ve strenuously avoided writing about music since the birth of this blog; I find it nearly impossible. After all, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Impossible. I’d love to be able to do it though; to tell you why some music appeals to me, why some music makes me cry, and some music makes me want to live a radically different life. I figured the easiest way to start is by writing about an ar527348_508109985868886_1803095852_ntist I feel strongly about, and since I absolute LOVE Jens, this is as good a time as any to get started.

For starters, I should mention that Lekman’s first album, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, is still my favorite of his, and it’s also in my top 10 albums of all time. My favorite of his songs is You Are The Light. Understandably, I was disappointed when Jens didn’t play one at the gig I attended a few years ago. Afterwards, he was at the merchandise booth to sign CD’s, and asked me whether I’d enjoyed the show. I said I’d loved it, but I was sorry he’d not performed my favorite song. So Jens sang it in my ear for me, right there, right then, acoustic. Yeah, he’s that kind of guy. Continue reading

The Elephant In The Room Or: The End Of Writer’s Block

Just over a week ago I blogged a complaint to my Muse: she had deserted me. Writer’s block had set in and I WAS NOT WRITING. It was a nightmare. Almost as soon as I published the post, a solution presented itself. A short story of mine got shortlisted for the Fantastic Story Competition organized by Dutch Comic Con. Voting ends March 12th. VOTE NOW!

I was surprised by the effect this seemingly insignificant event had on my creativity. I felt validated, I felt wanted, I felt cool. Simultaneously, I felt like a bit of an idiot. It’s a little  childish to only write when you get positive feedback on your work, and then, when you feel as though you’re not getting enough positive feedback, to just…quit.

I want to be a writer. I mean to say: I want to make writing into a career. I want to be a person who makes a living by writing stuff. That doesn’t just mean blogging on topics I feel passionate about on moments I feel passionate about them. Sometimes it means just sitting down to do the work, which is why I’m pledging to do at least one blogpost a week from now on. Wish me luck.

There are, however, two sides to every problem, and sometimes there’s an infinite number of sides. Continue reading

Writer’s Block

Ironically, I’ve had a post on writer’s block in my drafts folder for ages. It went something like this: “How lucky I am, never to have experienced writer’s block. I wonder how the phenomenon works. Can you even call yourself a writer if you’re not writing? I don’t understand how people’s personal lives can get in the way of their writing. For me, writing is the only way to deal with my personal life, blah blah blah.”

It’s been over a month since my last blogpost, so I think it’s about time I redact that statement. During this month, I’ve written a number of university assignments with extreme difficulty. No fiction. No non-fiction. No fanfiction. Barely any Facebook posts. Something is fucky in the state of Denmark.

First, I made y’all a promise. I was going to blog about TJLC. I though the craziness would be over within a couple of weeks and I’d be able to blog about it comprehensively. Contrary to my expectations, the conspiracy just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I can no longer oversee or understand all of it, and I don’t feel confident blogging about it, partly because I’m not sure what my opinion is on the whole thing.

Second, I don’t want to blog about TJLC. What if it’s the last time I get to blog about Sherlock with any sort of news value? Over the course of my hesitation, the news value has, of course, evaporated, but still. Ten years from now, I’ll just be a silly lady in a quiet corner of the internet, still blogging about Johnlock. I don’t want to become outdated quite yet.

Then I went to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in London. My notes on the play and the experience are lengthier than the average blog post. I really need to do some editing and organizing on that post, but I don’t feel like doing that… So, I’m stuck.

Third, I don’t want to return to the rigid scheme of blogging I’ve observed in the last months of 2016. Posting something every three days leeches my creativity and makes me dread writing, when writing is actually supposed to be an enjoyable activity.

By writing about my difficulties with writing, I’ve broken the silence. I sincerely hope I’ll have something a bit more substantial to post soon. In the mean time, please root for my muse to return.

Love,

Frenzied Fangirl

PS: To the people who have been enquiring after my radio silence because reading my blog pleases them: I LOVE YOU.

The Final Problem Review

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THIS BLOG CONTAINS SPOILERS OF SHERLOCK S4E3, THE FINAL PROBLEM.

Guys, because my review of The Lying Detective became ridiculously long the other day, I am reviewing The Final Problem in three installments. Three, you say? Yes, I really do mean three. The first one was about Molly Hooper. The second is this one, a review of the plot and character development of the episode, and the third will focus on TJLC. Don’t know the acronym? Stay tuned.

Much like my reviews of the earlier episodes, this will be a rambling list of things I loved about The Final Problem followed by a list of things I wasn’t wild about. Continue reading