New Interview, Plus Two GREAT Writing Resources

SaveForeverKitty

Many apologies for my recent absence, but I promise it was for a good cause. As my fellow Foreverists know, our beloved show was canceled following the wonderful Season 1 Finale. So, I have been busy trying to #SaveForever and help it get picked up by another venue. If you want to learn more about that effort and what you can do to help, this site usually has up-to-date info:

http://argylepiratewd.tumblr.com/saveforever

Be sure to check out the Facebook pages listed on that site for even more current info. Twitter is also a very happenin’ place when it comes to saving Forever, so look for trending events and other info on there, too.

And now, putting my fangirly stuff aside for a moment (yeah, like I ever really do that), here is my recent interview with Strange Musings Press:

http://giovannivalentino.blogspot.com/2015/04/author-interview-gretchen-bassier.html

We talked about the writing process, rejection, favorite authors, The Muppets, and in the end I went all fangirly (surprise, surprise) on Forever.

Since one of the questions in the interview pertained to writing resources, that sort of smacked me in the head and reminded me that I still haven’t mentioned two of my favorite sites for writers. An oversight that will be rectified right now!

For those just starting out or mired somewhere in the editing process, I cannot give strong enough recommendation for the site Superhero Nation. Don’t let the name fool you. Although Superhero Nation is geared toward helping authors write superhero novels, I have found that the bulk of their advice and articles apply to writing in general. And it’s darn good advice, too. So good that after reading one of their tips, I immediately rewrote a portion of my novel’s first chapter to incorporate their suggestion. As a bonus, this site is for fans, too, and features many reviews of superhero movies and other goodies. Go check out their numerous useful articles (including the awesome 10-part series “Common Mistakes of First-Time Novelists”)!

For those done with editing (does that ever really happen?) and ready to place their work, I highly recommend The Submission Grinder as one of many useful tools in finding the right market for your story/novel. Basically, The Submission Grinder is a free version of Duotrope. It has the same layout and everything. Right now they are only a database for fiction markets, but will soon be adding non-fiction and poetry. And the best part: The Submission Grinder has vowed to remain FREE for all users. I’ve had a lot of luck finding good markets on this site, so definitely worth a look.

Best of luck with your editing and market-hunting!

Up next on ATHF: Stay tuned for some major TV reviews, fic recs, and other fun stuff!

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