The Race 2015-2016: First Looks (Plus: 2 Comic Cons This Weekend!)


Okay, so most of our shows are back and trying their darnedest to keep us tuned in. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and the competition has never been higher. Let’s see which shows are delivering, and which ones are floundering like salmon on the beach:


Gotham (Fox, 8/7c): Wasn’t sure how this one would be without Fish, but I’m actually really digging it this year. I HATED the massacre at the police station (seriously, how many break-ins, shoot-outs, abductions, attacks, etc do they have to have before they get some decent security ???). I hated that the female police boss got killed off (I REALLY liked her – and TRUSTED her, too). But the rise of the MANIAX was cool. Barbara as a total psycho is cool. Galavan’s insidious rise to power has been awesome to watch, as is Nygma’s inevitable descent into madness. The new police boss is admirably bad-@$$. I’d follow him into battle. I love his idea for the task force. He really seems legit, too – which means he’ll likely a.) get killed off in the next two eps or b.) turn out to be in Galavan’s pocket or something. I sincerely hope not. The good guys need a break. Big time. Actually, some of the bad guys need a break, too. Never thought I’d say this, but poor Penguin. Geez, his mother was the only thing that kept him sort of tethered to humanity. And what about the Joker getting offed? Did not see that coming, and that’s what’s so great about it! One of the down sides to doing a prequel-type show is that everyone basically knows that certain characters, e.g. Bruce Wayne, are safe from death because you know they have a future in the comics. Well, Gotham went and gave the rug a good, hard pull, toppling viewers onto their butts by killing off someone we assumed would go on to become a legendary Batman villain. Smart move, and very cool. Overall, Season Two is even more compelling than Season One. The multiple Penguins in the last episode was a stroke of brilliance. And, on a more superficial note, melikes Jim’s hair this season. Melikes it a LOT. My main complaint about Gotham this year would be too many massacres, etc. How many have we had so far this season? Three? Four? Maybe five? Crikey! Tone it down, or you’re going to turn off viewers. At least try to limit it to one shootout per episode. That’s more than enough.

Score: 7.5/10

Supergirl (CBS, 8/7c): I watched this show for two reasons: 1.) Because I freaking ADORE superheroes and 2.) Because I read that this show would be about positivity, light, optimism and GIRL power. It definitely lived up to its description. Very bright, very hopeful, very female-centric. The viewing experience was pleasant. I smiled a lot. The special effects were on the upper end of today’s TV standards. The main character, Kara, was cool, although I was surprised by how little she used her powers before deciding to be a hero. You can FLY, and you just…DON’T?? For years? Because….? Also, why hasn’t she been helping people prior to this? Just because Superman’s on the job doesn’t mean the whole hero thing is covered. If my state has one firefighter, does that mean we’re all set? We don’t need any more, because that guy’s got it covered? Of course not! There can never be too many heroes, and thankfully Kara has realized this. I just wonder why it took so long. (Maybe too much discouragement from her sister?) On the non-critical side of things, this show has a good cast of characters, the special highlights being Jimmy Olson and Cat Grant. Cat is just too funny – the ultimate horrible boss. Jimmy is by far the most intriguing character on the show – mysterious and charming. I am drawn to him like an Iron Man magnet to a stainless steel fridge. As far as bad guys go, Owain Yeoman (AKA Rigsby from The Mentalist) made an interesting one! How weird to see him as an evil alien with a spiky scalp! Bet he had fun in that role. :) I haven’t seen the second ep yet (it’s on tape), but I was happy with this show overall. I like the cheerful, happy-go-lucky vibe that’s so rare on TV these days (just look at Gotham). Also, not sure if it’s a stylistic choice or a rights issue, but they never call Superman by his name – they always just say “he” or “him.” Whatever the reason, it’s cool. I like how they never show his face, either. My main nitpick would be that the writing was a little too straightforward, a little too on-the-nose without leaving much up to interpretation. I like a bit of subtlety and subtext. I like to be challenged intellectually. But pilots are tricky, and I’m definitely willing to give this one more time to win me over. Here’s hoping the next ep has a little more complexity. And if it happens to feature a lot of Jimmy Olsen…well, I would not be complaining about that, either.

Score: 6.9/10

Castle (ABC, 10/9c): Ah, Castle. AKA the final ABC show I’m watching. After Forever’s cancellation, I wouldn’t touch any of ABC’s new pilots with a ten-foot-long PVC pipe (it helped that none of them looked appealing anyway), but I’m still loyal to Castle and will continue to watch until it finishes its run. So, how’s it doing this season? I tuned in to the premiere a few minutes late, and didn’t have a freaking CLUE what was happening. Which was actually okay, because it made me empathize with Castle as he tried to piece things together. It was exciting and a bit dark (baby tarantulas dumped on Castle’s face, followed by a suffocation bag put over his head, is a bit outside the normal tone for this show – then again, I heard there’s a new showrunner in town). Overall, it opened strong, and my only nitpick was that Beckett didn’t have quite enough motivation to leave Castle. Or rather, to pursue the case which caused her to leave Castle. I was watching with my mom and she was like, “This is out of character for Beckett.” I agreed. I get where they’re going with the whole “she obsessed over her mom’s case for years, it finally got solved, but that need to obsess doesn’t go away and now she has to focus that energy on some new conspiracy.” I get that, and it’s valid, but she LOVES Rick. She’s been happy with Rick. Plus Castle’s stepmom (can we say awesome bad@$$ chick???) had the case under control. There was no reason not to let her handle it. If Beckett had agreed to lay off the case, been on her way home to Castle, and then his stepmom’s car exploded with her inside it, THEN Beckett has a reason to say, “Now I’m the only one left. I HAVE to do this, or there won’t be justice.” They didn’t take it to the level necessary for her to leave Castle – they fell one step short, making it hard to buy. However, looking past that, I do like the situation as it stands. The separation, the pheromones, the LONGING. Great stuff, and just the little jolt Caskett needed to keep from getting too snooze-fest. So, good idea, imperfect execution, still enough to keep me watching. P.S. That episode with “The Nose” was hilarious and proof enough that the new showrunner can do a lighter ep, which is the staple for this show.

Score: 7.9/10


iZombie (CW, 9/8c): Aaaaaand the wonderful parade of Liv’s shifting personalities continues! Big kudos to actress Rose McIver for delivering believable and highly entertaining performances week after week. It can’t be easy to play a character who’s absorbed a basketball coach’s go-get-em attitude one day, a fashion diva’s high drama and style sense the next, and an amateur musician’s hankering to compose and perform country songs the day after that. And she still has to keep the core personality the same. It may be hard as heck to play the role, but it’s fun as heck to watch. Also enjoying: Blaine as a un-zombified baddie, Peyton’s return, Clive’s budding relationship with that FBI (???) lady, and Ravi’s continual support of Liv during her 1,002 weekly attitude shifts. Oh, and Liv and Major are back together! Is it wrong that this makes me sooooo happy, even though dark times must surely be a-comin’? I mean, I know it can’t last. I know she’s got to find out about Major’s extra-curricular activities as a zombie-hunter – and this devastating news will come well before they get to celebrate their golden anniversary. But can’t I just enjoy it while it lasts? For however short a time that is? Please? They’re just so cute together. Especially now that he knows why she acts weird and different all the time. Speaking of Major knowing things, he also knows what he’s doing is HORRIFICALLY wrong. He’s a murderer. If he thought zombies were just soulless, man-eating monsters, it would almost be forgivable. But he’s dating a zombie. He loves a zombie. He knows it’s at least possible for these beings to have moral, non-violent existences. It’s at least possible that some of these zombies are obtaining their brains in ways that don’t hurt anyone. Some of them may be monsters, but some may very well be decent people. He also knows there will potentially be a cure in the near future. The scenes of Major killing these people are so graphic and awful…How will he ever be able to live with himself? How will Liv, when she finds out? It’s true that she makes him a better person, and for now he’s actually being smart and lying about not finding any new zombies, but the damage is already done. Even if he never kills another one, he’s still a murderer. And to what end? To protect Liv? They know she’s a zombie. They plan to eradicate ALL the zombies. They’re going to get to her eventually, anyway. **Sigh** Anywhoo, the show’s pretty great this year. The cases are interesting, Liv’s personalities are interesting, and the romance is oh-so-good while it lasts. Also, what are they going to do with Liv’s blood? I have no clue, but it’ll probably be awesome, because almost everything on this show is!

Score: 8.6/10

Limitless (CBS, 10/9c): Ah, my new love. I saw only one commercial for this before it aired, but somehow I knew it would be “the one.” I could just tell it had certain elements that would appeal to me, e.g. a prodigy-type leading male with a tough, gun-toting female partner. Not only didn’t Limitless disappoint me, it totally soared above all expectations. By the end of the pilot, I knew I’d found my new “thing.” The main character, Brian Finch, is essentially a loveable loser. A guy in his late twenties with no real job, and a band in which he is the only remaining member. He is the black sheep of the family, the only one who hasn’t yet found his way in life, and is just kind of floundering while everyone else has achieved the expected level of success and happiness. Despite his lack of ambition, Brian is good-natured, gentle, and genuinely cares about his family. I love him already. Then his dad gets sick, and Brian gets a special “pick-me-up” pill from one of his old bandmates. Suddenly, Brian has access to every single brain cell, making him a temporary super-genuis. He uses the power to solve the mystery of his Dad’s condition, and later solves the murder of the friend who gave him the pill. I.e. Brian uses his power to help people he cares about. How rare is that? Throw in the FBI, a mysterious senator, blackmail, more murder, secret injections, and a truly AWESOME partner, and you’ve got one heck of a show. Brian has great chemistry with his partner, Rebecca. She’s one of those people who’s effortlessly cool, and probably the only person at the FBI who actually gives a crap about Brian. Not as someone who’s being studied, or someone who’s a potential liability, but as a person. He, in turn, trusts her, and has shown he’s willing to lay down his life rather than betray her. Their partnership is already at the point where they’re randomly letting themselves into each other’s apartments. They can only get closer from here. (Until she finds out about the shots, that is…) Other characters of note include Brian’s dad (with whom he has a special bond), an FBI boss with questionable motives, Rebecca’s FBI partner Boyle (hoping he’ll land on the side of the good guys, but too soon to tell), the senator’s ultra-creepy henchman, Sands, and two bodyguard/warden-type dudes that Brian calls “Mike” and “Ike” because even with perfect recall he can’t remember their names! But the one who really carries the show is Brian himself. He’s extremely relatable, extremely entertaining to listen to (he narrates every episode), and hilarious to watch. The actor, Jake McDorman, is just so frenetic – you can see all the wheels turning – doubly so when he’s on NZT. I could watch this guy dusting shelves for a week and not get bored once. One time I was really tired when the ep came on, and I thought it’d be a miracle if I stayed awake (don’t worry, I was recording it), but then NZT-Brian made this Claymation-type video that was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and I was wide awake in minutes. The same thing happened again this week–I was getting drowsy as the show opened (hey, days are long and 10pm shows are hard for me!), but within seconds I was totally engaged. I was like, “OMG, he’s doing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!” and sleep never crossed my mind again. It’s that good. Also, they do really cool stuff with the lighting, showing the juxtaposition between times when he’s on NZT and when he’s off of it, and they have really creative, funny ways of demonstrating how Brian’s mind works and how he gets his information. Fans of Forever, Castle and The Mentalist will LOVE this show! Check it out! </gushing>

Score: 9/10

Chicago Fire (NBC, 10/9c): Decent so far. Not shout-from-the-rooftops great or anything, just decent. The reason for Severide’s demotion seemed stupid and insufficient to strip somebody’s rank. You’d think a really heinous offense would have to occur for that to happen, but no. Just some random, bad luck events that had nothing to do with Severide personally. Whatever. His new girlfriend turned out to be a loser, too, so this is a great season for Sev, so far. If only he had a BEST FRIEND to turn to…Anyway, glad the strip club storyline’s wrapped up – did anyone else totally KNOW Voight had Casey’s back? I so did. I was like, “The police cars are going to pull in right….NOW!” and they did. Predictable, but not in a bad way. Cruz on Squad is cool. New captain? Seems a little weird. I don’t know what to make of him, but he bothers me at times with his attitude. The people harassing Molly’s need to GO AWAY. Immediately. They suck. If a bar’s noise is going to bother your baby, then here’s an idea: don’t move in near a bar!!! Geez…Also, re: the arson thing: haven’t we kinda been there, done that? Like multiple times? Hope they put a new twist on it. Speaking of new things, I was SO excited about Matt and Gabi’s baby…but then that went very wrong this week. Utterly heartbreaking on many fronts, but probably the best ep so far – Herrmann did indeed know the perfect thing to say to Gabi, and I’m sure many eyes were not dry at the end of the ep on Tuesday night. Overall, things on CF have been okay. I’m still watching, but, except for the most recent ep, I’m not being “wowed.” We need more powerful, emotional storylines like the ones that got us hooked in the first place.

Score: 6.8/10


Supernatural (CW, 9/8c): Isn’t it nice when one of your favorite shows demonstrates why it still deserves to be one of your favorite shows? No relying solely on viewers’ loyalty to keep them tuned in – not this year. Supernatural is bringing their best stuff to the table and pulling up a chair. The Darkness is cool in all of her forms. I like how she eats souls – hey, maybe she’s related to the Dementors! Instead of looking for info on her in the archives, Sam and Dean should probably just pick up some of J.K. Rowling’s works. :) Seriously, though, Amara is scary because no one really has an idea what exactly she is, what she wants, what she’s capable of once she reaches adulthood. The angels don’t know. The demons don’t know. Sam and Dean definitely don’t know. Having a scream come from the cage containing Michael and Lucifer was a great way to show just how dangerous and terrifying this thing is. And now this seriously evil being is on the loose, feeding, growing, and developing a weird, creepy bond with Dean that just can’t end well. Great storyline that can easily carry us through the whole season. Other notes: Loved the eerie, Walking Dead-type vibe of the infected town and hospital in the opener. I liked the young police officer they met and bonded with – she got killed off way too soon. I was planning to complain about the way she acted once her soul was removed – how she just instantly went psycho and killed her gammy. I thought this contradicted with how soulless Sam acted in Season Six. Sure, he might’ve killed you, but not for nothing – he was logical and had reasons for everything he did. He was a sociopath, but not an instant, murderous lunatic. So, yeah, I was going to complain about that inconsistency, but I actually thought they covered the topic pretty well in the last ep. They pointed out that different people react differently to having their souls ripped out (understandable – it’s a HUGE trauma, after all), and now there is also the implication that Amara may not just be taking out the souls – she may be planting a little seed of herself inside the empty vessel. The Borden-obsessed guy, Len, said he felt something hatching out inside him – something “dark, with wings” (massively cool description, by the way). I think this was a piece of The Darkness left inside him, starting to taking hold. Interesting also that the crazy soulless babysitter still had compassion for the little boy – she shouldn’t have been capable of that…should she? Hmmmm. Nice shake-up having The Darkness be involved in what started out as an apparent ghost story. Cool twist, writers! My favorite ep so far this year, though, was the “were-pire” ep from a few weeks ago. Unexpected and tender brother moments in the car. A quiet, real conversation between the boys. An absolutely gorgeous dream sequence between young John and grownup Sam – the way that was shot just took my breath away. The black clouds streaming past the windows of the Impala. The way young John has so exquisitely captured Jeffery Dean Morgan’s accent and speech patterns. The close-ups of their eyes – wow. Just wow. And that was only at the beginning of the ep. After that we got an interesting case with a monster we’d never seen before, mythology advancement even though it was a standalone ep, some riotously funny action/fight sequences between Dean and various foes, a head in a cooler (because life just isn’t complete without one), and Impala love up to the moon. I mean, yeah, it definitely hurt to see Baby get smashed up like that, but to have Sam call her “home” at the end, it was worth it. Sam’s general attitude this year also deserves mention: “‘Saving people’ means saving ALL the people.” Right on, Sammy! I loved his speech to Dean in the opener, and I don’t always love the speeches. Sometimes they run around in circles and don’t really end up saying anything, and you figure the writers just needed to kill some screen time. But this speech mattered. It meant something, and I like that it has been referenced since then. My only issue with Sam’s new philosophy is that he didn’t have a good plan for carrying it out – at least not in the premiere. It’s fine to want to save the infected people. Noble, even. But hiding in a closet and then, when the rabid berserkers break in to kill you, just standing there saying, “Please, let me help you” isn’t a strategy. It’s suicide. I blame the writers for not having him act smarter. The Sam I know would’ve worked out how to knock them unconscious or something. He had a whole hospital full of drugs and medical equipment at his disposal, for pity’s sake…Anyway, just a minor nitpick for what has otherwise been a wonderful season so far. Keep proving yourself, Supernatural, and we’ll have a Season Twelve in no time.

Score: 8.9/10

Chicago PD (NBC, 10/9c): Is PD rocking it this year, or what? This show just keeps unchaining the awesome and letting it gush out all over the screen. All eps have been strong so far. Intriguing cases, compelling interpersonal drama. I’m already warmed up to Lindsay and Jay. They’re gorgeous together, and my hopes for Severide/Lindsay (or Severide/anyone, for that matter) went down the tubes ages ago, so why not get on board with Jay and Erin? The love is clearly there between them (you could see it when she came to rescue him in the first ep), and the chemistry sizzles like pancake batter hitting the frying pan. Consider my ship converted. And as for my other ship: Dang, Ruzek, why’d you have to fail the push test? Grrrr. Just show the girl how much you freaking love her and tell her you want to marry her TODAY. And just when things seemed to be getting back on track, the uninvitied houseguests arrive, lol. Al’s new daughter is a character, isn’t she? “I love fettuccini alfredo!” I’ve always enjoyed that actress (she’s been on both The Mentalist and Supernatural). Would love more scenes between her and Al and the rest of the gang. I’m kind of glad he didn’t look at the paternity results – they already had a real relationship, so what was he going to do if she wasn’t his? Just ditch her? I don’t think so. What an awful thing for his wife and other daughter to go through, though. I do think the wife could handle it a wee bit better, but I’ve never been in that situation (thankfully) so who am I to judge? She probably just needs time. Her heart is broken, as is mine after Roman’s little friend died unexpectedly. I think that is probably the worst, when you are thisclose to being able to save someone, and then you can’t. The special day they gave him as the police chief was truly touching. I know folks pull off these special experiences for terminal kids every day, and I just want to say thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever contributed to making a sick child’s dream come true – it means the world to them, even if it only lasts a day.

Score: 8.5/10


Heroes Reborn (8/7c): I shouldn’t really be one to judge this show, seeing as I was never a big fan the first time around. Of the original series, I watched the end of Season One and all of Season Two. I didn’t return for Season Three. I believe I stopped watching because the only character I actually liked (the flying man, played by Adrian Pasdar) got killed off. However, the commercials for Heroes Reborn were just so darned cool, I had to at least give it a shot. The verdict: It’s entertaining. The stories are interesting. However, it has the same issues that put me off the original series: this is a big-cast, plot-driven show. I like me a smaller-cast, character-driven show. My feeling is that people who liked the original series will enjoy this reboot, but since no one particular character stole my heart this time around, Heroes Reborn is not for me.

Score: None

The Player (10/9c): The commercials looked cool, so I decided to sample. The concept is intriguing and different. I like the lead actor. Some of the stories are neat. However, for whatever reason, I just didn’t feel that connection to the main character. We didn’t synch up, and I had no emotional investment in the episodes. My rule about TV is that if I don’t love the show, or at the very least one of the characters, then my time is better spent elsewhere. I hope others do connect with The Player – it’s a creative concept that’s fairly well executed.

Score: None

Elementary (10/9c): I have to say, I caught a few eps of Sherlock over the summer, and it was FANTASTIC. Like, off the charts. Elementary will really have to be that much better this season in order to impress me, now that I’ve seen its competition in the Holmes department. So, how was the premiere last night, you ask? So far, so good. A strong, character-centered episode with an interesting case on the side. I like how kind everyone was to Sherlock after what he’d been through – you know it can’t last, though. Soon enough he’ll be annoying the crap out of everybody again :).  I feel bad that they’re fired, but I thought they weren’t even getting paid anyway, so how much will this really hurt them? Do they even need to consult for an official law enforcement agency? Can’t they just take private cases like Castle does? That’s typically what Sherlock does in the original stories, anyhow. Private citizens come to him and hire him to solve things. Occasionally those cases intersect with police investigations, but not always. I think Sherlock and Joan will be fine on their own, and kudos to her for staying loyal to him when he needs it most. She also gets the best line of the week: “What’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit?” And she said it so calmly, too! Utterly perfect. The guy totally deserved it after what he said. And it apparently worked, because Sherlock’s dad actually showed up! Can’t wait for next week! :)

Score: 7/10


Grimm (9/8c): Only one ep in, so it’s too early to be overly judgmental, but frankly it was kind of a downer – just like the end of last season. I didn’t really even feel like I was watching Grimm. It wasn’t fun or especially exciting. I just felt bummed out. Nick was chasing after this FBI chick alone, while everyone else stood around doubting his story and his sanity. His mother’s head, his lover’s body and one of his best friends were all missing (and still are). Nick was drugged, attacked, and lost one of his only sources of info on how to find Trubel. Adalind almost lost his baby during labor, and he couldn’t even be there. Really the only highlight for me was that the baby lived, and the sweet moment where they named him Kelly, after Nick’s mom. I think this show needs to be careful right now – there is such a thing as “too dark.” You really need a balance of bad events and good events to keep viewers tuned in. Too much misery, and fans will walk away. There was a time when ER had like five negative stories going all at once, including the terminal illness of one of their most beloved characters. They lost viewers. As did Lois and Clark when they kept the main couple unhappy and separated for months on end. People will wait for happy endings and storyline payoffs, but they won’t wait forever.

Score: 6.5/10


And the winner is……..Limitless! Woo hoo! You had me at “resorbed twin.” :)

Runner up: Supernatural! Keep it up, guys! Let’s shoot for Season Twelve!


More goodies and news for my fellow fans:

Remember: You heard it here first! (Actually, you probably didn’t, but I was nice enough to remind you!)


The X-Files returns to Fox this January for a six-episode event. One of the perks of watching Gotham live is getting to see X-Files commercials. So far, I’ve seen three different versions. There’s a really short live-action ad which just has Mulder, Scully and Skinner (<-YES!) with some dialogue to the effect of “I can’t do this alone” “I need you” “I’m here.” Then there’s an animated commercial that basically recaps previous events on the show in an artsy, highly stylistic fashion – it has the black oil alien virus and the Cigarette Smoking Man, etc. It’s really cool. And then there’s another live-action one with WAY more clips; there’s all kinds of crap going on in that one and it just looks as exciting as all get-out. Look for it online if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s must-see.

Billed as the third show in the “Chicago Trilogy,” Chicago Med comes to NBC on Tuesday, November 17th at 9/8c. The show will feature characters like Jay’s brother, Severide’s high school friend, and that psychiatrist dude they’ve been aggressively inserting into storylines on Fire and PD for the past few weeks. Did I call it or did I call it? Just wish Amanda Righetti was on the cast , too…

Forever comes out on DVD soon – probably pre-Christmas in the US – and will feature lots of deleted scenes and (presumably) other extras. Can’t wait to add this one to my collection. I am going to watch the crap out of those DVDs! My love for Forever will never die, and my hope for its return will never waver. As fans, we have to just keep asking for what we want. Eventually, they’ll get fed up and give it to us. Futurama came back years after cancellation – with the original cast. With The X-Files, heck, it’s returning after what, decades? Heroes was just reborn, and Unforgettable has more lives than ten cats put together. Forever WILL return. We just have to keep asking, that’s all.


If you happen to be in Michigan, and happen to be a huge comic book/superhero fan like me, there are at least two events guaranteed to entertain you this weekend:

Comiquecon is all about GIRL POWER. The event takes place this Saturday from 10am to 7pm at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. According to the Detroit Free Press, this event will “focus on the role of female creative artists and fans in the world of comic books and graphic novels.” Sounds awesome, right? More info here:

Fantasticon is all about girl power, guy power, and every other power there is. Takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Gibraltar Trade Center North. Hours are 10am-6pm on Saturday, 10am-5pm on Sunday. There will be costume contests. More info at:

Have fun! :)





Battling Back the Beast: How to Tame Your Overlength Novel



If you’re like me, you feel a naïve rush of hope every time you spot a new article about overlength novels. Then, by the end of the article, you feel crushing despair. Because the answer’s always the same: if you’re a first-time novelist, and your novel’s overlength, your chances of landing an agent or publisher are slim-to-none.

Sadly, it makes sense – extra-long books cost more to publish (extra paper, extra ink). They take up more horizontal space, meaning fewer copies can occupy the bookstore shelf, and they can also be intimidating to consumers because giant tomes are both more expensive and more daunting to read. For a publisher to take that kind of risk on an unproven author (J.K. Rowling and Stephen King can go ahead and relax) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The arguments against overlength novels are all very logical. The problem is, if you’re like me, and your novel falls into this category, then you’re pretty much screwed, right? You’ve got a product that is most likely unmarketable to agents and publishers. Sure, you could self-publish, but that doesn’t solve every issue. The length will still be off-putting to readers, and you may have to spend (and therefore charge) more if you’re doing a print edition. Another solution might be to split the novel into two or more parts. This will only work if you’ve genuinely got two or more complete stories contained within your bulky mammoth of a book – which unfortunately isn’t the case for the majority of overlength novels (it wasn’t for mine).

The best option for most writers, even those who want to self-publish, is simply to cut your manuscript down to size. An “acceptable” length for a first-time novel is about 90,000 to 120,000 words, according to Writer’s Market. I’ve heard from other sources that even going above 100,000 words is a risk. For fantasy or science fiction novels, you have a little more breathing room, with the maximum acceptable length being around 150,000 words. (This is to allow for the world-building necessary in these types of books.)

So, if your book is over 200,000 words, and you’re not even at the climax yet, you’re probably feeling pretty darn hopeless right now, because that’s a LOT of material destined for the cutting room floor. I know that feeling of despair all too well, because I’ve been there. My novel’s first draft weighed in at almost 300,000 words. Shocking, I know. Hopefully, most people reading this will get to say, “Well, at least mine’s shorter than hers.” That may be small comfort, however, when reality sinks back in and you’re still looking at 50,000-100,000 words of cuts.

Thankfully, the saga of my overlength novel has a somewhat happy ending: the current draft is in the 150,000-word range, and it’s getting closer to “acceptable” length every day. To me, it’s nothing short of a miracle. A time-consuming, frustrating, and frequently heartbreaking miracle, but a miracle nonetheless.

So, to all of my fellow overlength novelists out there, I came here today to give you back your hope. I came here to tell you it CAN be done: your novel CAN be whittled down into something that would not make an agent physically cringe at the mere sight of your word count. And I came here, most importantly, to tell you HOW this can be accomplished.

The following are some strategies I used to cut more than 140,000 words from my first novel, shaping it into a sleeker, stronger and hopefully more marketable book:


Go chapter by chapter. Do a breakdown of the vital information each chapter contains (e.g. maybe Chapter Two introduces an important character, or advances the plot in some way). Identify chapters that don’t accomplish very much. Cut those chapters entirely, and find other places to fit in the few stray passages that were relevant to the overall story.

Go plotline by plotline. If your book’s upwards of 200,000 words, chances are you’ve got not just a main plot, but quite a few subplots and other threads woven in there (e.g. the SPEW storyline in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Choose which are the most important to the larger arc of the book. Cut out the rest. And remember to eliminate all traces and future mentions of scenes you’ve decided to delete. If you’re not careful, you’ll wind up having the main character referring back to some incident that’s no longer in the book. Cue reader confusion!

Learn to make hard choices. You will have to cut chapters you adore. You will have to eliminate characters you have grown to love, characters who feel like real people. You will have to bring the axe down on some of your most breathtaking descriptions, your funniest jokes, and the scene it took you two months to get perfect. Take a deep breath, wipe a tear from your eye, and DO IT. As Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings.”


Go paragraph by paragraph. Weed out anything that wanders, meanders or breaks the flow. Cut out any bits that go off on boring tangents that take the reader away from what the scene is trying to accomplish (e.g. backstory is cool, but if you suddenly zip back to a main character’s childhood for three paragraphs right when he’s in the middle of a conversation, the readers are going to lose their place in the conversation). Also be on the lookout for redundant sentences (e.g. “Greg had hoped to find Mandy somewhere in the building, but he was out of luck. He looked upstairs and downstairs and couldn’t find her anywhere.” I mean, do you really need both of those? They kinda say the same thing. Plus, the first sentence gives away exactly what’s going to be revealed in the second. One of these babies needs to go!)

Change passive to active. Zero in on any instances of passive voice and rearrange those parts into active voice (e.g. change “The tests were handed out by Julia” to “Julia handed out the tests”). This usually cuts a word or two, not to mention the fact that most publishers hate passive voice, so it’s like a “two birds, one stone” kind of deal. :)

Go line by line. Check for unnecessary words in each sentence. Like, maybe you have Billy tilting his head back to look up at the sky. Well, if Billy’s looking at the sky, do you really need to say that he’s tilting back his head or do you even really need the word “up?” The mere act of looking at the sky implies his head is tilted back and he’s looking in an upward direction. (Unless Billy’s in an alternate universe where up is down and down is up. Then some clarification would be warranted.)

Learn when to tell instead of show. I know, I know, one of the Golden Rules of Writing is “Show, DON’T Tell,” but you have to know how to apply that rule. A story that tells absolutely everything isn’t going to be very good. But neither is a story that shows absolutely everything. When I was writing my first draft, I took the “Show, Don’t Tell” Rule a bit too seriously, and wound up with long paragraphs describing my character unzipping his backpack, searching around inside it, pulling out his notebook, unzipping a different compartment on his backpack, searching around inside it, pulling out a pen, and then, FINALLY beginning to write in his notebook (after he’d rezipped all the compartments, of course). See what I mean? There are things you must show because they’re vital to plot, character development, etc. Backpack zipping and other mundane tasks like walking and normal breathing are not things that need to be shown in depth. Just do a quick “tell” for those types of things, and you’ll be better off.


Don’t do it alone. Get as much help as you can from friends, relatives, writing group members, English teachers and anyone else you can convince to read your book. Emphasize to these helpers that you need to cut words, and you need their honest opinions about what’s boring, what’s unnecessary, and what just plain doesn’t work.

Set small, reachable goals. Baby steps will get you to the finish line. My initial goal was to cut 100,000 words from my manuscript. However, that was too overwhelming to face all at once, so I broke it down into smaller chunks. I wrote the number “100” on a piece of blank white paper. When I’d successfully cut 1,000 words, I crossed out the “100” and wrote “99.” I chugged steadily along, cutting 1,000 words at a time, and then rewarding myself by getting to cross out the current number and write a lower one. Finally, one amazingly joyful day, I got to write “0.”

Once I’d completed the massive 100,000-word cut, I set a new goal: 10,000 more. This time around, instead of measuring by the thousands, I decided to cut 100 words from every chapter. Since my novel has just shy of 100 chapters, 100 words from each would result in a 10,000 word cut. It worked!

Cut anything that’s not awesome. You want your whole book to rock, right? Well if there’s a paragraph that doesn’t “wow” you, why not just get rid of it? Do the same for chapters, dialogue, plotlines, etc. Make the entire novel sparkle by slicing away any parts that don’t shine quite brightly enough.

And finally:

Remember what you’re fighting for. Sure, you want to get published, and to have a marketable product that people will want to read. But honestly, deep down, that’s not the main reason you’re doing this. Try to remember, through all of the cuts and the long hours and the heartbreak, that what you’re really fighting for is a better book. The very best book you are capable of writing. A book you would be proud to send to an agent, hand to an editor, or simply put out into the world with your name on the cover in nice, bold print.

And however much of your novel you need to cut in order to achieve this, you will get there.

One word at a time.

HarryP Little Spider



The Race 2014-2015: The Results (Dun-Dun-Dun…)

RaceImageWell, it happened. Not sure I wanted it to happen, but it did. This year, a new show raced past old favorites to clinch the top spot. Not that this will shock the pants off of anybody, but that new show was Forever. I fell noggin-over-feet in love with the pilot, and my adoration only grew bigger and brighter over the course of the season. ‘Course, then it got CANCELLED, and I still don’t know what to do with that horrible decision on ABC’s part. The fans have been fighting for the show like pissed off cats all summer long, but a few days ago Forever‘s creator, Matt Miller, basically told us it’s all but over.

Forever wasn’t the only loss, either. Far from it. Other victims of the “axe” included Stalker (CBS), Red Band Society (FOX), Battle Creek (CBS), and – one of my all-time favorites – The Mentalist (CBS). In other words, it was a bloodbath out there!

But this review isn’t about what happened after the season ended. It’s about the awesomeness we got to watch while our shows were still on the air.

So, in that spirit of celebration, I give you the final results of this year’s 2014-2015 TV season, ranked from highest to lowest.

Forever: 9/10

This one just grabbed me. Right from the get-go. And it held on tight all season long. The commercials really didn’t do Forever justice (probably a big part of the ratings issue). While the ads (which became rarer as the season progressed, and non-existent at the end) focused on mundane case-of-the-week details, the true beauty of this show is in the small moments between characters, the richly-textured flashbacks, and the clever way in which past, present and future weave together for a character who has all the time in the world.

There are too many phenomenal individual scenes to list them all, but some end-of-season highlights include the final showdown in the tunnel with Adam, the touching moment when Henry learned that the slaves had not died because of him, Henry and Lucas’ final scene together in the lab, Jo and Henry saying what they mean to each other in the car, and Abe’s poignant search for his missing mother.

But the biggest, most epic scene for me was when Henry actually physically found Abigail’s remains at long last. It was just pure, straight-up heartbreak as he ran down that slope, flashing back to all of their moments together over the span of their relationship. Such a beautiful and well-developed love story, resolved in a powerful and satisfying (if utterly devastating) way. If Forever doesn’t come back to life on some network, sometime, in some form, it will be a crime.

The Mentalist: 8/10

As evidenced by the copious amounts of fanfic I’ve written for it, this show has been one of my absolute faves for years. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but we knew it was coming (unlike Forever, grrrrr) and we at least got some decent closure. Both the writers and the actors did a fantabulous job of making viewers fall in love with a whole new team at the FBI. Wylie was an instant favorite, Abbott morphed from dangerous adversary to amazingly loyal friend, and Michelle quickly won over our hearts by being her own woman – a real woman who made mistakes, learned things from them, and improved as an agent. Her Cho-worship was pretty endearing, too. If I were on that team, I’d be fangirling Cho, big-time. He owns cool.

Of course, we did lose Michelle. I have mixed feelings about that creative decision, because it didn’t serve the purpose I expected (driving Jane away from law enforcement for good). I guess her death was just something to remind us of the darkness in life, and how you can eventually step out blinking into the sunshine and feel warm again.

The end of The Mentalist‘s 7.5-year run was warm. It made me feel good. I loved the revival of the fake psychic stuff in the final eps. Not sure about the wedding, though – it seemed too soon for Jane and Lisbon to tie the knot, seeing as he had, seemingly just days before the wedding, decided to leave town (and wouldn’t even return her calls!). Also, they hadn’t resolved a major, deal-breaker issue in their relationship: Jane wanted Lisbon to quit the FBI due to the danger of her profession.

Nonetheless, as RedFi over on the Paint It Red Forum aptly pointed out, it was like the show came full circle – when we met Jane, he’d lost both his wife and his child, and when we left him, he had a new wife and child. A whole new beginning. Also, Simon Baker acted the freakin’ crap out of that scene where he found out Lisbon was carrying their child. Wowza. He looked unearthly beautiful in his wedding attire, too. That vest really brought out his eyes in wonderful ways. Lisbon looked gorgeous, too (loved the dress!!!), but Cho was clearly in the bathroom when she picked out that veil/headpiece thingy. Not sure what it was supposed to look like, but it missed the mark by about fifty yards.

In the end, The Mentalist left us with a fresh new start, all options wide open. It left me with a smile on my lips, a feeling of hope in my heart, and a strong hankering to write lots more fanfic.

It also left me asking, “Why?” Because, as my mom kept loudly repeating over the course of the season, “This is still a great show! Why are they taking it off?” Why, indeed?

Realizing The Mentalist had been on for seven-and-a-half seasons made me also realize that this is the first time in all those years that I fell in love with a new show (Forever). Great TV, for me, is that rare. There are so few shows I would write fanfic for…

…And two of them just went off the air. Wonder how long it’ll be before another great rises up. And how quickly it, too, will get cancelled in favor of mindless, cheap-to-produce reality junk.


Supernatural: 7.9/10

At least this old battle-horse is still in the race! I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when Supernatural is gone. No need to think about that now, though – my final remaining “fanfic show” will happily be back next year for its eleventh season.

As for Season Ten: strong overall. The beginning was a bit on the rocky side, but after that I was a pretty satisfied customer. The theme for the year was obviously “family” and the writers found interesting and creative ways to carry this over to all of the different characters. Cass went on a quest to locate and help his vessel’s troubled daughter, Claire. Crowley, meanwhile, had to deal with his hilariously horrible, literal witch of a mother, Rowena. And of course, Sammy spent the whole season trying to save Dean, which just fills up our glasses with delicious brotherly love.

One thing that tainted the whole family vibe – Charlie’s death. I didn’t see the necessity of killing her off, and I sure as heck didn’t like it. Also, it happened in a stupid way. Stupid deaths are just the worst. AlsoX2, I didn’t fully believe that it happened (still don’t) because of the way they didn’t show it onscreen. I would not be surprised (just really, really elated) if she showed up next year, our bad@$$ hacker with the D&D tattoo, returned from having faked her own death.

As it was, I couldn’t even cry at her funeral. I felt like an emotional pancake – totally flat. Something about the way it was filmed, maybe? Or just the fact that I didn’t completely “buy” the death? I don’t know. FYI, I actually didn’t cry at Bobby’s death, either (hey, stop throwing stuff at me!). It’s not that I didn’t love him. It’s just due to issues of how the episode was written/filmed. Bobby’s coma was compared to two different situations: Dean’s coma (from which death was the only escape) and Rufus’ coma (from which death seemed like the only escape, yet Rufus found a way to wake up and survive). When Bobby flat-lined, I didn’t think there was anything necessarily final about it, because the ep didn’t do a good job of making that point clear.

Anyhow, back to Season Ten – some stuff I LOVED from the last few episodes: Sam trying to kill Crowls, and Crowls busting out with the red eyes and saying how he loved every minute of being evil. **happy sigh** Great stuff. Also, everything with Cass and Claire – that was really touching. The Stein storyline was also clever and very cool.

One nitpick: Dean should not have been able to whup Cass’ butt so thoroughly in their fight! Especially without the blade. So, what the crap was that? Maybe Cass was letting Dean win to see how far he’d go? Not sure.

And of course I hated Dean being horrible to Sam (“It should be you on that pyre”…Damn!), Dean letting another hunter die, Dean almost killing Cass, etc, etc. I know the mark was poisoning Dean, but it still hurts. Guess that’s how Sam fans felt in Season Four, when Sam was all meany-pants. I feel your pain now, Samgirls!

The finale itself was good. My only complaint here would be that this was the first season finale that didn’t seem EPIC, you know? It mostly just felt like a regular episode. The whole “darkness” thing was cool, but it should maybe have been touched on earlier in the season so it didn’t feel like the writers were just pulling it out of their…well, you-know-where. I did love Dean saving Sam and killing Death (major repercussions, anyone?). Oh, and Cass – you better not kill Crowley, okay? We need the King in Season Eleven!

iZombie: 7.9/10

Though I don’t think iZombie could ever take Forever‘s place in my heart, this new CW offering is definitely a balm on my cancellation wounds. I was already looking forward to this show before it aired, thanks to a synopsis in TV Guide‘s special Comic-Con issue last year. I am happy to report that iZombie did not disappoint. In fact, it rose above my expectations in surprising and wonderful ways.

Two moments in the pilot episode when I knew this show was something special:

1.) When Peyton (Liv’s roomie) said something like, “I know I should have just written you off by now, but…you’re my freaking heart, so, if you could step up?”

2.) When Liv looked surprised upon hearing that Ravi was trying for a zombie cure. And Ravi said, “What, did you think you were going to stay this way forever?” Awwww.

Sometimes this show – which typically oscillates between comical, creepy, and outright disgusting – has these moments of such pure heart that it makes my breath catch and brings actual tears to my eyes.

More cases-in-point:

-Liv holding the hand of her dead college friend while Ravi begins the girl’s autopsy.

-Lowell’s sweet mouthing of “I love you” before getting his head blown off on a suicide mission.

I hated that they killed him, btw. He was one of the real highlights of the show. Lowell and Liv were SO great together – zombie love!!! Also, he shouldn’t have had to die. Liv just totally choked in front of the sniper rifle – first time I ever felt truly disappointed in her.

Overall, though, a very strong first season. The finale wasn’t quite as epic as I wanted (not sure why – they really pulled out all the brains – er, stops). There were major revelations, people turned into zombies, zombies turned back into people…I don’t know, I guess I just thought it would end with Liv locked up in a Max Rager lab or something.

Still, some really good cliffies for next season. (And yes, thankfully, there will be a next season).

Only thing I hate about this show: it looks really real when they’re eating the brains. Like, it makes me almost puke. I feel a little nauseous right now, just writing about it – no joke. Fewer brains next year, please! My stomach can’t take it!

Castle: 7.8/10

Looking back on the epic season opener (and all the hopes and expectations that sprang from it), I have to say this season ended up in the “good” category, rather than the “phenomenal” one. I confess to feeling a little let down by the partial explanation/resolution of Castle’s disappearance. Not sure if they’ll ever pick it up again, but there’s definitely more story to tell on that front (we still don’t know how he got shot). At least we got to see the case that made Castle become a mystery writer – been waiting for that all season long, and it didn’t let me down like the other storyline did.

End of the finale was a bit anticlimactic, though. Maybe because they didn’t know whether they were coming back. Those either/or season/series finale thingies are always tricky.

Unless you’re Supernatural, and it’s the end of Season Two, and you manage to pull out a masterpiece of an episode that gives impressive amounts of closure while launching some great new storylines at the same time. Still my all-time favorite ep…**happy sigh**

Back to Castle, though – my wish list for next season: more storylines that shake up the status quo (e.g. this season’s arc about Castle becoming a private detective), more scifi-themed eps (e.g. the invisibility suit, the parallel dimension artifact, the simulated mars mission, etc), and please, please don’t kill off any major characters! Thank you!

Red Band Society: 7.8/10

Another one bites the dust. It did go out with style, though: Jordi found the courage to go through with his surgery, Dash fell for his “unicorn” (and realized he could never harm her), the whole society rallied around Leo (especially Emma, who completely let go of the whole Kara/sex thing and showed herself to be a hero of a friend), Kara and Hunter’s love story spanned the gap between life and death, and Charlie TALKED!

Favorite exchange:

Hunter: “One day, you can take your kids to Paris, and it’ll be for a good reason. You can tell them what I did for you, and what you did for me.”

Kara: “What did I do for you?”

Hunter: “You lived.”


And of course, the ending was perfection: A new patient entering the pediatric ward, scared and alone, about to join the Red Band Society.

Wish this one could’ve gone on. Shows with real heart and soul are becoming an endangered species these days…

Grimm: 7.6/10

Man, this show had a much higher rank for most of the season. The last few eps got very dark, though, with Juliette sailing past the point of no return. She actually let Nick’s mom get decapitated. Not just killed, decapitated. Holy $#!T. And then Trubel killed Juliette with a crossbow (still hoping she’s not really dead). I don’t think Juliette was actually going to kill Nick, and the presence of those agents makes me suspicious that something else was afoot. Maybe the actress (Bitsie Tulloch) wanted off the show, though…


Up until Kelly’s murder, I was loving dark!Juliette and her awesome new powers. But now I’m just sad.

Only bright spots in the closer:

-The little girl escaped the Royals

-Sean lives, and he’s no longer harboring a murderous spirit in his body – yay!

Still, overall, a total bummer of an ending. Nick holding his love’s lifeless body…Waaaaayyyy too dark for me. Hope next season’s a touch brighter. Note to writers: this is supposed to be my fun show. If I want to be depressed, I’ll watch Supernatural‘s Season Five ep, “Abandon All Hope.”

Chicago PD: 7.5/10

Prepare to witness history. For the first time ever, CPD‘s final season score is higher than big sister CF‘s. PD was just plain stronger this year. The crossovers are special highlights, but even the regular eps are more focused than CF‘s and when CPD kills a character, they do it for the right reasons. I HATE that Nadia’s dead, but I don’t hate the show for doing it, because the resulting storylines were good – Erin’s downward spiral, Trudy’s fight to get Nadia recognized, etc. Plus the fact that Nadia was a beloved supporting character, not a beloved lead.

I do have an itty-bitty confession to make though. I haven’t actually seen those two eps (SVU and CPD) where Nadia meets her horrible end. I have them on tape, it’s just…every time I go to watch them, I think it’ll make me too sad…

(Miss you so much, Nadia!)

So, maybe it isn’t even fair for me to rank this show. In fact, it almost certainly isn’t. Nonetheless, a trusted fellow fan has told me the eps are heartbreakingly excellent and I don’t doubt her.

PD was all strength and no weakness this year, plus they added a little touch of joy at the end to lighten things up and make my shippy heart all aflutter: Burgess and Ruzek got ENGAGED!!! WOO HOO!!

They even got their own ep, earlier in the season – well technically it was a Burgess and Roman ep, but Ruzek was worried about her, and that’s how she and Roman got saved! Romance. Yum. Good stuffs.

P.S. In that same ep, did anyone else want to see where Jay got tazed? :/

This show really has it all – heartbreak, love, violence, and the funnies. Congrats, CPD, on outshining your big sis!

Gotham: 7.4/10

Gotham probably deserves a higher rank, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy this show that much. It’s gloomy and super-violent and easily more disgusting than the brain-eating on iZombie. Barbara butchering her own parents (Btw, is she dead now, or just knocked out? Methinks dead.), that crazy girl snapping bird bones, Selena shoving that guy out the window, Penguin making that old married couple fight each other to the death (or pretty much anything else Penguin does)? All of it equals a big, fat EW.

And yet, despite its grotesque nature, I am compelled to continue watching. Gotham makes you need it, even when you don’t want it. But…will it still be the same gripping drama next year, without the vital presence of Fish?

I’m not sure, but I’ll definitely tune in to find out.

Elementary: 7.3/10

Still a good, entertaining show. I enjoyed many of the eps this season, but the “personal” ones are the ones that make me sit up and pay attention, and once again, there were too few of those. I’d love some more continuity and ongoing storylines that span between eps, so it’s not just a long line of stand-alones.

The high points:

-Kitty and her storyline
-Andrew’s murder and the subsequent fallout, eventually resulting in Joan moving back in with Sherlock (they’re better together)
-Artificial Intelligence ep, Settlement $ ep, Zebra ep (yeah, I know they weren’t zebras, but I don’t know how to spell what they were)
-Sherlock’s budding friendship with his sponsor Alfredo
-Ep where Sherlock had to revisit a case he handled at the height of his drug abuse days

The finale was strong, and very personal – definitely suited to my tastes (and hopefully a glimpse of things to come next season!). The end was super-dark, though, and I wasn’t sure if Alfredo was still alive after transport to the hospital (I couldn’t read the text on Sherlock’s phone) and I really needed to KNOW if Alfredo was alive (I think he was?). Also, the end was a bit ambiguous for me. I’m guessing that Sherlock succumbed to his addiction after holding out for the whole episode. They never showed him take the heroin – just the aftermath. The whole thing was horrible (yet very compelling and well-written), taking Sherlock to all of those places, making him find the girl dead like that, when her brother already knew (great twist, btw).

So, after some interesting (and not-quite-as-interesting) standalone eps, we’re now back firmly in character-driven territory. Despite a mediocre score for Season Three, next year looks HIGHLY promising.

Meeting Sherlock’s dad at long last? I vote “YES.” Hope it happens for real. Other wish list items: Moriarty’s return, Watson gets to do more medical stuff, Mycroft’s return, more personal stories for Gregson and Bell. Oh, and Alistair comes back from the dead. I know that last one can’t happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Chicago Fire: 7.2/10

Yeah, I’m being mean to this one right now, putting it in dead last. I’m just still not over Shay. And now Peter’s gone, too! It’s like, first the writers pulled out the show’s heart, and now they’re slowly dissecting it!

Yes, Severide is still may favorite character on either of the Chicago shows, but it’s hard when you can’t get attached to anyone involved in his storylines – they all just leave, in one way or another. The man is a freaking island. (And I want to build a bridge there, dang it!)

At least I don’t feel so bad about Lindsay dumping him anymore. Apparently she just likes dumping guys (ask Jay, he’ll tell you all about it).

Aside from major, BELOVED characters leaving, another thing this show suffers from is misleading advertising. I noticed it several times over the course of the season: ads showcasing one minor scene and making like the whole episode would revolve around that scene (two notable examples: the Severide Gets Trapped on a Train Episode and the Severide Gets Crushed Inside a Van Episode). If you’re wondering which eps those are, I don’t blame you – both situations were brief, quickly resolved, and NOT the focus of the whole episode.

I’d love to blame the people who make the ads, but in this case I can’t. The issue, unfortunately, was that many of the episodes didn’t really focus on any one particular rescue, event, or storyline – there were just a bunch of minor ongoing storylines and random rescues scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that this show has so much continuity, and that storylines carry over from ep to ep, but each episode should also be a complete story in its own right. This is where PD has a big advantage – being a procedural, they follow one case from start to finish every episode. Fire can’t do it quite so neatly without having a MAJOR disaster every episode (unrealistic), but they could probably do it better than they have been.

Good examples of eps this season include the explosion in the ER (although having Jay’s brother black tag Severide was a little stupid – there were few serious injuries and TONS of docs around – no need for black tagging in that situation). Nonetheless, it was an emotional, complete storyline. Another good one was Herrmann’s ep where he bonded with a little boy’s father, then found out the father was BAD NEWS. I love Herrmann.

So, more eps like that. Oh, and the one that started the most recent crossover event (that I haven’t watched the last 2/3 of)! That one was really good, with the guy who thought he started the fire having a breakdown and almost killing himself – and Gabby saving the day! Great stuff, and for once CF wasn’t the weak link in the crossover chain.

Wish list for next year: More “complete” episodes (but still keep up with the great continuity), bring back Peter, bring back basically anyone in Severide’s life, and don’t you dare kill off Matt (The undercover story is ridiculous, btw. Why? Because firefighters don’t go undercover! He’s not a cop! He has no training! Grrrr.)

So…there you have it. Hopefully I didn’t forget any important episodes or details, but knowing me I probably did. If so, feel free to point it out in the comments section. In the meantime, I’ll be busy basking in my summer shows, Beauty and the Beast (Thursday, 8pm, CW) and Aquarius (David Duchovny! Thursday, 9pm, NBC).

Don’t forget to tune in next fall for all of our returning faves. And if your fave got cancelled, at least know you’re not alone. Lots of other fans are bumming with you. And really, that’s the great thing about being part of a fandom – you always have someone to talk to about your latest obsession, and you never truly have to say goodbye. After all, the best shows will always live on in message board discussions, fanfiction and art, and, most importantly, our hearts.



New Interview, Plus Two GREAT Writing Resources


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:

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:

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



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,,, 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:
FanFiction.Net and – 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:
-Signing a petition to help get the show renewed:
-Voting for Forever to be saved on
-Watching beloved episodes on to boost the show’s online ratings:
-Spreading the word to friends, family and strangers about how great this show is! Tell the world, too:
-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.