Hysterical Realms Release, Science Fiction Submissions, and Six Degrees of Jensen Ackles

 

Hystericalrealmscover

Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms cover image designed by Aimee Maroney. Image used with publisher’s permission.

It’s finally here: Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms was officially released yesterday, and, thanks to the awesome people who contributed to the Kickstarter, we raised enough funds for a print edition, so WOO HOO! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in that, and if you’re a reader who enjoys funny fantasy stories, definitely go check out the anthology:

Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms

They also interviewed the authors for this book, so I’ll post a link to mine when it’s up.

In the meantime, Strange Musings Press has just opened up submissions for their newest anthology, Weirder Science. This time around, they want humorous science fiction stories. They are also having a contest to potentially rename the book, since they are not married to Weirder Science. Thus, everyone who submits a story can also suggest an alternate title, and the prize for the winner is pretty cool. So, go check that out, too:

Weirder Science Submission Info

And if you happen to be more of a “serious” science fiction person, there is another anthology currently accepting subs for their My Favorite Apocalypse collection. They are accepting short stories of any length (though they will likely regret that when they see how long my submission is) as well as poetry, but the deadline is coming up fast for that one: April 30th. Yeah, you’ve got just nine days, so better make it short:

My Favorite Apocalypse Submission Info

Don’t worry, you can make it if you really hustle! And, while I really should be getting back to my own apocalypse story, I just had to share a fun fact I discovered while browsing the Strange Musings Press website:

One of their previous books, Vampires Suck, contains a story by none other than Nicholas Knight – an author who is very well known to anyone who’s ever picked up an issue of Supernatural Magazine. He’s got a least one article in every issue, and has also written all of the Supernatural season companions. Before the fire, I never missed a single issue of Supernatural Magazine. I also own several of the season guides, and have always loved Knight’s articles and interviews. You can just tell he is a huge fan, and truly knows the show backwards and forwards.

He has also done probably hundreds of interviews with the cast and crew of the show. Which naturally got my fangirly heart making some pretty wild leaps. Because, after all, Nicholas Knight and I now share a publisher. Which means I am about a degree away from knowing him. And he knows Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki! He’s freaking met them and everything! Like, numerous times. So, by the way my delusional mind works, I am roughly two degrees away from knowing Jensen and Jared.

This is almost as cool as the time I shook hands with William B. Davis at the X-Files Expo back in ’98. The other actor giving autographs that day was Charles Nelson Reilly, who played Jose Chung on the show. Right when Davis was finishing shaking my hand, Reilly said something to him, so Davis looked over, and, in doing so, accidentally made a black dot on my hand with his marker. It was a Sharpie, too, so it didn’t wash off completely for several days. Oh, how I cherished that little dot…**happy sigh**

Wait. Hang on a second. William B. Davis was in Supernatural, too. He acted in a scene with Jensen in the Season One episode “Scarecrow” (one of the all-time scariest eps!). So [insert fangirly drumroll here] I shook hands with someone who, years later, acted onscreen with Jensen Ackles.

One degree, anybody? :)

 

Up next on ATHF: Race Results for February and March (will include my thoughts on the new CW show iZombie), plus my Strange Musings Press author interview

 

Care and Feeding of Your Forever Obsession

**Post inspired by “TERESA LISBON: The Owner’s Maintenance Guide” by Aeidhryn.** (go read it, it’s hilarious)

Care and Feeding of Your Forever Obsession

So, you’ve recently become obsessed with one of TV’s absolute best shows: Forever. Congratulations – you have great taste! With the proper care and feeding, your new Obsession should live a long and healthy life. Emphasis on the LONG. Forever Obsessions can easily live for hundreds of years; in fact, the oldest one on record is over 2,000 years old and still going strong!

Taking care of your new Obsession is, thankfully, an enjoyable task. The main goal is to keep your Forever Obsession active and excited by frequently feeding it show-related material: watching new episodes of Forever, re-watching previously-aired episodes, discussing the show with other fans, reading Forever fanfic and looking at Forever fanart and fanvids. If you’re not sure where to find the proper nutrition, I highly recommend these places as starting points:

-Your TV every Tuesday night at 10pm
TV.com, imdb.com, abc.com, Twitter, Facebook – read and participate in fan discussions on any one of these forums
-ABC.COM – Watch FULL episodes of Forever FREE right on your computer: http://abc.go.com/shows/forever
FanFiction.Net and Archiveofourown.org – browse for awesome fic and art on your own, or start with these AMAZING fics I have already picked out for you:

-“Of Sons” by rockpaperscissor

-“A Magic Trick” by knittersrevolt

-“The Doors of Perception” by idelthoughts

-“30 Day Drabble Challenge – Forever” by idelthoughts

Failing to regularly feed your Obsession can result in weakness, and even the possible death of your Forever Obsession. If your Obsession does happen to expire, DO NOT PANIC. Simply grab a towel and some extra clothes and drive to the nearest body of water. Your Forever Obsession will wash up naked, reborn, and cold. It is also best to bring some cash with you, in case the police find your Obsession first and arrest it for indecent exposure. In that case, you may have to bail your Obsession out of jail.

Needless to say, allowing your Obsession to die frequently is not recommended. It is stressful for your Obsession and costly/time consuming for you. Best to keep your new companion happy and healthy.

Frequently Asked Question From New Owners: Will my Forever Obsession survive if the show itself does not get renewed?

Answer: Yes, it can survive without the show, but it will probably die more frequently and be less healthy overall, as it will have no new episodes to sustain it. The best thing you can do for your Obsession, therefore, is to help keep the show on the air by:

-Telling ABC how much you LOVE Forever: http://abc.go.com/feedback
-Signing a petition to help get the show renewed: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/551/491/327/tell-abc-reschedule-and-renew-forever/
-Voting for Forever to be saved on usatoday.com: http://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/sos-2015/
-Watching beloved episodes on ABC.com to boost the show’s online ratings: http://abc.go.com/shows/forever
-Spreading the word to friends, family and strangers about how great this show is! Tell the world, too: http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/forever/comment-page-22/#comments
-Watching Forever LIVE instead of DVRing it. Don’t let a show you love get cancelled just because your DVR’s record button happens to be convenient. Watching live is important!

Best of luck to you and your new Obsession! May you enjoy a long and happy relationship with the most AWESOME new show on TV! :)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom cover design and layout by Brian Taylor, Pneuma Books, LLC. Image used with permission.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom cover design and layout by Brian Taylor, Pneuma Books, LLC. Image used with permission.

Tomorrow is a special day. Yes, I know it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but March 17, 2015 is special for another reason, too. Tomorrow is the day Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom will officially hit the bookshelves. And my story “Honest Love” will be sitting there on page 302 for all to read!

For years, my mom has worked tirelessly at the tasks of being my editor, my sounding board, the person to whom I gloomily confess all of my rejections, and the person who has to read every single freaking draft of every single freaking story (even the ones that stink like last month’s dirty socks).

And what does she usually get for her efforts? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not a beautiful pitcher of flowers. Sadly, my poor mom has had to absorb the brunt of all my writerly mood swings, including the times I curl up on the couch and stare morosely at the wall. She’s endured me snapping at her and telling her that her ideas are not appreciated, because “it’s my story, and I like the way I originally had it.” She’s had the unfortunate job of breaking the news to me when a story just isn’t good enough for submission (because no one else would have had the guts).

She’s also been with me through the slow, painful realization that my stories, 99.9999% of the time, are not better the way I originally wrote them. That honest feedback isn’t something to be shunned or even just accepted grudgingly, but rather, it is to be horded like precious chips of gold, sifted from the dirt.

If my mom hadn’t given me tough love when I needed it, I wouldn’t be published today. If she hadn’t transformed my skin into leathery elephant hide, I would’ve quit submitting after that first rejection.

If you’re a writer, and you have someone in your life who not only reads all of your stories, but cares enough (and is brave enough) to give you helpful, honest feedback – even though it might earn them nasty looks and a week’s worth of undeserved silent treatment – then please, take a moment to say “thank you.”

I’m so glad I finally did.

-Gretchen

 

 

Hysterical Realms: Kickstarter and Submissions

Hystericalrealmscover

Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms cover image designed by Aimee Maroney. Image used with publisher’s permission.

I posted about this anthology last year, remember? Well, guess what? My story “Seeing is Believing” made the cut! :) The anthology is currently set for a May release…and there may still be time for your story to get in, too! They briefly reopened for submissions, so if you’ve got a short fantasy humor tale lying amongst the dust bunnies under your bed, pull it out, blow it off, and send it in! Even if you don’t have one lying around, maybe you could still whip one off in time. You have until March 10th. Speed-writing, anyone?

More info on submissions here:

http://www.strangemusingspress.com/p/alternate-hilarities.html

In the meantime, the Kickstarter campaign to fund a print edition of the anthology is in full swing right here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/809941908/alternate-hilarities-hysterical-realms

Only 11 days to go on that – I really hope the funding comes through! I only just discovered Kickstarter a year or so ago, and what an amazing discovery it was. Though I’m a writer at heart, and always will be, I have secret hopes of someday being a publisher, too. There’s something so uplifting about the notion of helping other writers get published. When I didn’t have a credit to my name, Every Day Fiction took a chance on me and published my work. They made my dream come true, and wouldn’t it just be the most awesome thing if I could do that for someone else? If I could be the one who says “Yes!” after years of other publishers saying “No!”?

So, yeah, I’ve had some thoughts about becoming a publisher, even some very specific thoughts about publishing a magazine featuring writers from my home state. I even picked a title for this imaginary magazine. But I doubted it would ever happen, because how would I ever finance it?

Enter Kickstarter. When I saw what crowdfunding was all about, I knew that my dream of making other writers’ dreams come true might not be so far-fetched after all. If you’ve never looked at a Kickstarter campaign before, definitely go check it out. Kickstarter is a reward-based crowdfunding system, and the prizes for the Hysterical Realms campaign range from a free eBook and your name in the contributors section to signed hard copies of all three of Strange Musings Press’ anthologies, plus a character in the new anthology NAMED AFTER YOU. How freaking cool is that?

So, yeah, go check it out. And don’t forget to submit your fantasy humor shorts by March 10!

11 Things Mentalist Fans Will Love About Forever

Yes, it’s true – tonight we will be bidding a final farewell to our beloved TV show, The Mentalist. Of course, Jane, Lisbon, Cho, Abbott, Wylie, Rigsby and Van Pelt will all continue to live on in fanfiction, fanart, and in fan-fueled discussions all over the Internet. But there will be no new adventures on our screens each week, no more watching Jane hypnotize a witness or piss off an arrogant suspect. Losing this show will leave a big, hollow pit in our lives, and while no other police procedural could ever completely fill that hole, there is one show that’s helping me cope with the loss. That show is Forever. I have fallen madly in love, and I think many Mentalist fans will feel the same way, if they give Forever a chance. And so, without further ado, I give you:

11 Things Mentalist Fans Will Love About Forever:

1.) That SMILE – You know that smile Jane has? Not the “I’m smiling as I envision your painful death” one, or the “I’m smiling but my heart just got ripped open” one, either. I’m talking about the one he does that’s just pure joy. The one that makes the sun shine brighter and the world spin faster and twittering cartoon birds land on your windowsill because it’s just that magical. You know that one? Well, Dr. Henry Morgan, the main character on Forever, has got one, too. When he smiles, it’s like he’s smiling at me. I can’t help but smile back. Happy chemicals are released in my brain, and my whole body gets the benefit. It’s a scientific fact – smiling improves your health. And on Forever, just like on The Mentalist, you’ll get no shortage of reasons to grin. :)

2.) The Chemistry – Whether as a romantic couple, best friends, or simply partners at work, it’s no secret that Jane and Lisbon crackle on screen. It’s a rare dynamic – to have the woman being the one with the gun, the one tackling suspects, the one kicking down doors. She’s a cop; he’s not. It’s a flip-flop of traditional roles, and it’s refreshingly wonderful to watch. Over on Forever, you have a very similar dynamic between Henry and Detective Jo Martinez – a not-so-tough non-cop tagging along on investigations with his strong female partner. Unlike The Mentalist, where Jane and Lisbon already knew each other in the show’s pilot, Forever gives us a chance to see this special relationship between its lead characters blossom from the very beginning. Henry and Jo lean on each other. They protect each other. They confide in each other and go out for drinks after hours. Their bond deepens with every episode, and the “will they or won’t they?” debates have already begun.

3.) Oops, Wrong Time Period – I don’t know if it’s his carnival background, or that he’s simply an old soul, but Jane has always struck me as a guy born in the wrong decade – or maybe the wrong century. He dresses in three-piece suits, calls airplanes “flying machines” and generally gives off a vibe that he’d be more comfortable using an abacus than a calculator. While Jane may be an old soul, in Henry Morgan’s case, the “old” part is literal. With his age at 200 years (and counting), it’s no wonder that Henry sometimes uses outdated terms like “vector,” dresses in a long coat and scarf, and carries an antique pocket watch. If you loved those little tastes of vintage charm on The Mentalist, you’ll be sure to love them on Forever, too.

4.) It’s All About the Team – From Day One, The Mentalist was never a one-man show. It was never just about Jane, but rather about him and his new-found family: Lisbon, Cho, Rigsby, Van Pelt, and even Minelli. In recent years, that family gained a few members – Abbott, Vega, and Wylie – but one thing didn’t change: the show was about them, too. Over the course of the series, we’ve met all three of Lisbon’s brothers, two of Cho’s girlfriends, Rigsby’s dad and Abbott’s wife. We’ve watched Van Pelt and Rigsby fall in love, get married, and have a child of their own. We’ve watched Wylie get up the courage to ask Vega out. And through it all, we’ve watched these characters stand by each other, protect each other, and comfort each other. Forever isn’t a one-man show, either. It is about Jo’s grief over her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. It is about Lucas’ comic book obsession, Detective Hanson’s desire to shield his partner, and Lt. Reece’s nephew getting screwed over by the music industry. It is about Lucas gently placing a blanket over Henry’s shoulders in a moment of vulnerability and Hanson jokingly buying Henry a Speedo after one of Henry’s skinny dipping arrests. It is about a team of coworkers coming together as a family – and being there for each other, no matter what.

5.) The LOL Factor – One of my favorite aspects of The Mentalist is how much it makes me laugh. Whether it’s Rigsby talking with mustard on his face, Jane off-handedly delivering a MAJOR insult to some highfalutin know-it-all, or Cho simply giving a deadpan look, The Mentalist cracks me up more than most half-hour comedies. I’ve always said that the best dramas can not only make you cry, but can also make you spray 7up out your nostrils (which kinda hurts, because it’s fizzy). Forever is another one of those dramas that has it all. Lucas Wahl is guaranteed to elicit at least one guffaw in every scene, his antics ranging from dutifully sniffing a corpse’s stomach contents to gleefully playing the part of a murder victim in one of Henry’s reenactments, and Detective Hanson’s deadpan could rival Cho’s. If you’re looking for a well-rounded show with laughs, scares, joy and sorrow, look no further than Forever.

6.) Hello, World – In many ways, The Mentalist is a show about an isolated, deeply traumatized character slowly but surely rejoining the world of life. After his family’s murder, Jane had a mental breakdown. He lost everything, including his sanity. The series chronicles his painstaking journey to find something beyond revenge – to find a reason to live again. Jane gradually lets the other team members into his heart – he risks caring about them, even though it could mean huge heartbreak down the road. He learns to lie in the sand and surrender himself to the little joys of life. Although Henry’s family was not murdered, he has also suffered great losses – and is doomed to continue this cycle, as he will outlive everyone he ever loves, including his own son, Abe. The sharp tragedy of this makes it tempting for Henry to remain in his dusty basement laboratory (not unlike Jane’s little attic at the CBI – only with cooler stuff), cutting off humanity. Over the course of the season, however, we see other characters like Jo and Lucas drawing Henry out of his shell, getting him to join them for drinks, getting him to risk his heart again. He still hasn’t shared his whole self with them, and probably won’t for a good long while, but it’s a moment I wouldn’t miss for the world.

7.) It’s Like Talking to a Five-Year-Old – If you’re like me, you get a continual kick out of Jane’s “little boy” antics. His dramatic reactions to things, his hiding behind other team members when he’s about to get walloped, and above all, his playfulness. Who else would hop on a parked motorcycle and make fake revving noises? In all honestly, probably not Henry Morgan. But he does have a touch of that child-like spirit. Sometimes, he’s downright innocent. There’s a vulnerability to both characters that makes you want to protect them, to shield them from further pain. And Henry, much like Jane, has moments when he’s just completely filled with awe or wonder – or can’t resist horsing around on the job. In Henry’s case, his partner in the morgue, Lucas, tends to bring out the child more than anyone, and their romping reenactments of murders are as much a riot to watch as Jane impersonating God on a megaphone.

8.) Wait, That Was Evidence? – Patrick Jane’s crime-solving methods are unusual…to say the least. Dr. Henry Morgan also has his own “quirky” way of doing things. Jane steals an iPod out of its evidence baggie and uses it to jog a witness’s memory. Henry takes a damaged vintage audio tape (which happens to be evidence in a homicide) to his home and BAKES it. In his OVEN. Whatever their methods, these guys get results. The only real difference between them is that Jane has never (and probably will never) care very much whether a District Attorney’s ability to prosecute a case is damaged by his hijinks during the investigation. Henry, OTOH, is quickly learning what “chain of evidence” means and how important it is not to tamper with it.

9.) Foreign Delights – You know how sometimes, when Simon Baker says certain words, his delightful Aussie accent slips out? If you’re like me, you wait for and thrill over those little moments, and the curious way he pronounces certain words, like saying Tereza instead of Teresa. Well, one of the many awesome things about Forever is, you DON’T have to sit around waiting for little flashes of accent to pop out here and there. You can enjoy Ioan Gruffudd’s wonderful Welsh brogue in each and every episode, from start to finish.

10.) Move Over, Sherlock – Jane’s incredible powers of observation stem from his mighty mental fortress. Henry’s come from over two centuries of studying every aspect of humanity. Either way, you get the joy of watching a detective who notices even the most minute details – and can use those details to colorfully flesh out the story of the crime. I love a great mystery, but what I love even more is a great investigator. Especially one who doesn’t shy away from sniffing corpses. :)

11.) The Big Bad Wolf – For years, Jane had a formidable nemesis in Red John – the shadowy figure who loomed over everything, was responsible for murdering Jane’s family (and countless others), outsmarted Jane at every turn, and seemingly could not be caught. Red John episodes always got my heart slamming, my teeth grinding, and my butt perched on the very edge of the couch. These were the episodes where something happened. Where the core storyline of the show moved forward. Much as I enjoyed the filler eps, the Red John eps were what I looked forward to most. If you’re a fan of shows with great mythology and compelling baddies, look no further than Forever, where Dr. Henry Morgan’s chief enemy – and occasional ally – is a creepy, 2,000-year-old fellow immortal named Adam. He hasn’t killed any of Henry’s loved ones – yet. But the threat is always there, and his murderous, psychotic nature is not in question. Nor is his keen intelligence, honed over thousands of years of life. And his downfall may prove even more difficult than Red John’s, since Adam can’t die, and his supernatural existence would make traditional prosecution near impossible. Intrigued? I know I am! :)

 

Flash Fiction Chronicles’ Annual String-of-10 Flash Fiction Contest is BACK!

My absolute FAVORITE writing contest of the year is back again, and it’s only open for one week – starting today. The reason it’s my favorite – it’s the most creatively-challenging contest I’ve ever run across. Also, it’s free. Also, I never do well in this contest, which you would think would make me want to quit, but instead it inspires me to work even harder every time.

The gist of the contest: They give you ten prompt words. Your goal is to incorporate at least FOUR of the ten into a 250-word (or less) work of fiction. They also give you a quote for thematic inspiration, although I believe use of the theme is optional. They have cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as a special prize for best use of the theme. All of the prize winners get published and also interviewed. As a bonus, the winners also get free books!

Possibly helpful advice: Think of ALL the different ways you might use each word, not just the most obvious way (e.g. “grave” can be where someone is buried, but it can also be used to describe a dire situation or a serious facial expression). Don’t necessarily go with your first story idea. And definitely read the past winners so you can get the flavor of what type of writing this contest favors.

This year’s prompt words:

SCRAGGLY – PECAN – ROUTE – SUCCINCT – ACCUMULATE – HANDLE – BIAS – EXIST – COAST – HANDKERCHIEF

Read the official rules and the inspirational quote here: http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/string-of-10-seven-flash-fiction-contest-begins-now/

Can you feel the ideas hatching already? Well, what are you waiting for – get cracking! These things are due on the 15th, people!

Best of luck!

-Gretchen

The Race: Winter Highlights (TV ROCKS!)

There’s no denying it – TV has been rocking lately. Here are just a few of the highlights from my favorite shows (and a couple of dark spots, too):

Monday

Gotham (8/7c, FOX): No secret why this one’s a hit. Despite facing weird, over-the-top comic book villains, Jim Gordon remains down-to-earth, decent, and totally the guy you want to root for. Liking his romance with the nurse from the asylum. LOVING his bromance with Bullock (there was even a KISS!). Most compelling ep to date: the one where Falcone’s people invade the police station on the hunt for Jim (so intense, with the shooting and the blood and little Bruce saying goodbye to Jim… Aw…). Runner up: the one where Liza is revealed as Fish’s spy (the image of Falcone slowly choking Liza to death while Fish is forced to watch…haunt-ing).

Current Score: 7.8

Castle (10/9c, ABC): Although it’s lost the static-crackle, life-or-death intensity of the first few eps, I’m not worried, nor am I complaining. The mystery of Castle’s disappearance is being intentionally back-burnered, so the writers can whip it out unexpectedly and whack us painfully in the face with it like a rubber snake. (This happened to me once, and it really hurt. Seriously, my eyes were watering.) The wedding ep was a memorable one – beautifully shot, with all the right emotions. The lead-up story of Castle being in an alternate universe where he never met Beckett was charming, although the ending was predictable (Castle being unconscious the whole time). And of course, it wasn’t even close to the same league as Supernatural’s epic “What Is And What Should Never Be,” but it didn’t need to be. It was sweet, and it got the point across. The honeymoon was funny, and Javier’s train/hostage situation was nail-biting, but overall Castle seemed to be settling back into a same-old, same-old routine…and then – WHACK. Castle got banned from working with the PD, started his own PI firm, and everything felt fresh, complicated and new again. Right on time. Go writers! :)

Current Score: 8

Tuesday (aka best night of TV EVER)

Supernatural (9/8c, CW): Oh, how I love this show. Let me count the ways: 1.) Crowley’s Mommy Issues 2.) Castiel’s Love Story, 3.) BROTHER MOMENTS (like when Sam says stuff like this to Dean: “Maybe part of that force needs to be YOU.”), 4.) Castiel Trying to be a Dad, 5.) Dean Fighting Off His Inner Evil, 6.) Sam’s Heartbreak Over Dean Going Psycho, 7.) Sam Getting All Bad-@$$ Over Some Guy Having Dean’s Jacket, 8.) Sam Holding Charlie in His Arms, 9.) Charlie, 10.) Dark Charlie, 11.) Dark Charlie VS Dark Dean, 12.) Sheriff Jody Mills (if the writers ever kill her off, they’ll be getting some serious hate mail), 13.) TEEN DEAN!, 14.) 200th episode ***, 15.) I’d keep going, but do I really need to? What would I do without Supernatural?

***Special Mention goes to this spectacular hour of TV, which proved once and for all that even after ten years, this show’s still got it. I was nervous going in, because the previews looked, well, for lack of a better word, stupid. A Supernatural musical? A fan-centered episode? Neither of these sounded very good. Past fan-centered eps have been sketchy, at best. When the writers make fun of writers, like in “Hollywood Babylon,” it’s funny because they’re making fun of themselves. But when they make fun of fans, they’re making fun of us – and sometimes it can be a little insulting. I mean, Becky? Is that who they really think we are?

Thankfully, my fears were for naught. “Fan Fiction” had everything a good ep should have – laughs, scares, brotherly sweetness. It also had that special touch of greatness worthy of a milestone. I don’t know the exact moment when things shifted from pure entertainment to something deeper, but maybe it was when the girl cast as Mary began the first strains of “Carry on, Wayward Son.” Or maybe it was when Sam asked, “Who’s that?” and got the answer: “Oh, that’s Adam. Sam and Dean’s other brother. He’s still trapped in the cage with Lucifer.” But somehow, seeing all those kids on stage, singing the show’s most iconic song, dressed as so many of the characters we lost along the way, I was moved to tears. Kudos to the writers on a phenomenal ep, and one that I’ll be studying for a long time in hopes of making my own writing better.

Current Score: 8.5

Chicago Fire (10/9c, NBC): Current list of things Severide isn’t allowed to have: 1.) Best Friend, 2.) Girlfriend, 3.) Wife. Still hating on the decision to kill Shay. They really sucked the soul out of this show. It’s still a great hour of TV and everything, but it’s not the same Chicago Fire I fell in love with. Doesn’t help that I was a Lindsay/Severide shipper, and that freighter went down very early in the season, killed by the writers in the same merciless fashion they killed Shay. Why put in all that effort – across two different shows, no less – to get them together, if the Powers That Be were just going to axe the whole thing? Erin loses points for dumping a guy when he’s at rock bottom. So what if he was being a jerk-wad? When your soul is bleeding to death, you’re entitled. Then Sev spiraled even further out of control, and got married to some chick he barely knew. I didn’t even know what to make of that storyline. It was over too quickly. My impressions of Sev’s short-term wife went something like this: Pretty-TROUBLE-Sweet-PSYCHO-Decent Human. In that order. I liked her by the end, but then she left, and now my boy’s alone again. Not even sure if they’re divorced, annulled, or what?

‘Course, it’s not ALL bad. I like it when Matt calls Severide “Sev.” Liking all the crossovers (though, would it have killed the writers to have Lindsay notice Severide’s new wedding ring?). Sorry about Gabby and Matt. Liking the new girl, Sylvie, and the Zumba storyline was great. Have decided that if I were trapped under debris, Herrman is the firefighter I’d want there with me (he’s SO good with the rescuees – what a sweetheart). Overall, I think they might’ve gone a bit too dark, and need some more happy storylines to balance things out.

Current Score: 7.4

Forever (10/9c, ABC): Falling in love is a beautiful thing. Your heart bounces like a rubber ball, you sing mushy REO Speedwagon songs in the shower, and even dirty piles of snow on the roadside make you think of romantic ski trips in the mountains. I am so totally in love with Forever. It is my favorite show, my obsession, and my biggest-tv-related fear (CANCELLATION), all rolled into one. I know all the characters by name and by heart. I love the flashbacks, the jokes, the chemistry (Henry and Jo, Henry and Abe, Henry and Lucas), and the mythology. I love the shocking intensity of some of the scenes, e.g. Adam slitting Henry’s throat (Ioan Gruffudd’s eyes during that whole sequence – the terror, OMG that guy can ACT), or Henry leaving a man to die to protect himself. I love the poignancy of some of the flashbacks, from Abe going off to war to Henry taking his dying friend James outside in a wheelchair to see the sunset. Also, the flashbacks often dovetail beautifully with the present-day storylines, making each ep that much deeper. It is that special mix of police procedural, fantasy, and characters I can’t get enough of. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

Fav eps so far: “The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths,” “The New York Kids,” and “Skinny Dipper.”

Current Score: 8.5

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (9/8c, ABC): Sorry to say it, but I’m dropping this one. At least for now. It’s a great show, but it’s on opposite Supernatural, and I haven’t been motivated enough to keep up with the recordings. I guess I don’t want it badly enough. Maybe over the summer, when SPN is on reruns?

Current Score: Withheld

Wednesday

The Mentalist (8/7c, CBS): Final season got off to a bumpy start with the first ep. The writers did a good job, but Jane/Lisbon is a drastic thing for viewers to get used to. Didn’t help that I was sitting next to someone who was visibly cringing at the sight of them together, barely holding back under-the-breath comments like, “Why did the writers do this?” and “They don’t have any chemistry!” Nonetheless, I got through that first slightly awkward ep, and to my surprise, things got much better. Second ep was very intense, with Lisbon undercover and people getting shot and everything all LIFEANDDEATH and somehow I got comfortable with Jisbon very quickly. There’s an added depth to the show, because Jane is that much more invested in Lisbon’s welfare. It does still seem a bit surreal, like fanfic playing out on screen. But that’s okay – I like fanfic. :) Favorite moments: Vega saying to Cho how much she respects him and the way he conducts himself (meaning, between the lines, how much she doesn’t respect the way Jane conducts himself, LOL), Jane hugging Cho until Cho finally breaks into a smile, audience finally meeting Lisbon’s other two brothers, Lisbon doing Jane’s psychic act, the whole team going to bat for Abbott, and any scene with Wylie in it.

Got scared when Jane first said he wanted to go away – mostly because it happened in an ep where he was sick, and that’s something very seriously ill people sometimes say – that they just want to go away from it all. It quickly became clear, though, that his reasons had nothing to do with health – at least not his own. Lisbon’s safety is on the forefront of his mind. They are together now, so he’s got more to lose than ever before. Also, his main reason for being with the police – catching Red John – no longer exists. Therefore, why stay?

Vega’s tragic death was written to further Jane’s desire, to push him harder away from police work. It hurt, because I really liked her. I liked that she was her own person, not a clone of Season One’s Van Pelt. I liked her because she hero-worshipped Cho, and because Wylie loved her. RIP Michelle. Wish the writers could’ve had everybody live happily ever after, but I don’t want to judge their decision too harshly until I see the endgame. Stay tuned.

Current Score: 7.9

Chicago PD (10/9c, NBC): Pretty good so far. The crossovers are my favorite eps to date, especially the three-way with SVU (although I actually liked the SVU portion of that better than the PD portion – PD gets too bloody sometimes). The actor playing Erin’s brother, Lou Taylor Pucci, should seriously get an award. His performances were amazing, and I wish he were a regular. Not crazy about Erin/Jay, but I don’t hate it either. They’re cute, I just miss Erin/Severide. It’s never even mentioned anymore. The whole “Erin joins the FBI” storyline seemed kinda pointless, as the outcome (Erin comes back to Intelligence) was pretty predictable. I am digging Ruzek with Burgess. Wish they had more screen time. Really dug the ep with Atwater, Ruzek and Antonio undercover in prison – that was way cool. The ep with the booby-trap bomber was high-octane, but some of the scenes with the cops entering obviously rigged buildings – without the bomb squad being present – seemed unrealistic. At the end of the day, though, you have a show where a cop can sit in an interrogation room, throwing lit matches at a serial arson suspect, and part of you just has to love it.

Current Score: 7.6

Stalker (10/9c, CBS): Haven’t been able to keep up with every episode, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. This show is SCARY. Like, truly. There are 1-3 genuine, grip-the-edge-of-the-couch moments in every single episode, and I love that. This show is a thriller, as opposed to Criminal Minds, which is much more of a gross-out slasher flick (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not as scary). I enjoy Stalker’s ongoing character arcs, and the fact that most times they are able to save the person being stalked. I just don’t enjoy watching it alone. In the dark.

Current Score: 7.5

Thursday

Elementary (10/9c, CBS): Liked the addition of Kitty – she was a nice blast of fresh air, and I’m sad to see her go (but very happy she didn’t cross the line over to murder). Hope she comes back for a few visits before the season’s up. Other than the storyline of finding her attacker and bringing him to justice, there aren’t any huge moments that stand out to me so far. Still waiting for this show to really grab me again like it did in S1. Which may just happen next week, because OMG Andrew just got murdered out the blue (poison intended for Joan, right?), and OMG I did not see that coming at all.

Current Score: 6.7

Friday

Grimm (9/8c, NBC): Seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Grimm? We were talking in my writing group about the merits of various supernatural-themed shows – The X-Files, Supernatural, etc. – and the only one we all watched and loved was Grimm. This show is the new definition of FUN. The highlights: Nick getting his Grimm mojo back (complete with zombie cold flashes – YAY!), Trubel’s emotional reaction to aforementioned re-Grimming, Wu FINALLY getting to learn the secret (it got to the point where I was yelling at the screen, “Just TELL him already!!”), Juliette as one bad-@$$ Hexenbeist (soooo coooool), Sean’s awesome mom, SEAN LIVES!! (Though what was that whole bleeding thing about – that scared me pretty good. He’s safe, right???), and Monroe getting saved from some weird, racist cult that liked to say “Wesenrein” and “Impuro” WAY too many times in a row.

Trubel will be sorely missed, and hopefully she’ll be back before long, but even without her magnetic presence, this show is on FIRE. (In a good way).

Current Score: 8.5

Saturday

Red Band Society (8/7c, FOX): When they took it off the air for weeks, then carelessly tossed it onto Saturday, I knew we were probably looking at the end. It’s not written in stone, but pretty close. Tonight’s two-hour season finale will likely be the last we see of the kids, docs, and nurses we’ve grown to love. Kara, I must say, is my favorite – what a treat to watch her slowly transform from shallow b!tch to a person who can put her own grief aside to reach out and comfort someone else. I’m heartbroken for Leo, sad for Emma, hopeful for Jordi, worried about Dash, excited for Charlie, and grieving for Hunter. These kids really burrow their way into your heart, don’t they? Here’s hoping that they at least get some kind of happy ending.

Current Score: 8

November Winner: Supernatural

For the 200th episode alone, this one had to take the prize. Long live Supernatural!

December Winner: Forever, Runner-up: The Mentalist

Forever gets the top honors, owing to the epic episode “Skinny Dipper,” which starts out with Henry’s brutal murder in a taxi, and rip-roars all the way through to Adam’s creepy reveal at the end. I still have shivers. The Mentalist gets a nod for delivering good quality eps while doing the best possible job of getting people comfortable with a ship not everyone wants.

January Winner: Grimm

Do I even have to give an explanation?