Feedback Frenzy

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Okay, it’s a little late to say what I’m thankful for, but I’m doing it anyway! As a fangirl, I’m thankful that at least ONE out of the four new shows I fell in love with made it to Season Two. (Long Live Lucifer!) As a writer, I’m grateful to slush readers and editors who take the time to give feedback to those who don’t make the cut.

Being rejected is hard, but being rejected and not having a clue WHY is the worst. So, here’s a little list of magazines that will NEVER leave you wondering what you did wrong or why your story wasn’t chosen. Each of these mags helps aspiring writers by providing those all-important “rejections with a reason.”

 

Every Day Fiction

Publishes: Flash Fiction (all genres)

I talk about this mag a lot because I love it! They tend to give quite a bit of feedback. Usually a short paragraph from each person who read your story. I was so impressed with their rejection of one of my stories, I actually posted the rejection letter here:

https://astheheroflies.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/rejection-letter-revisited/ 

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine

Publishes: Fantasy and Science Fiction (focuses on lighthearted fare)

I’ve also been rejected by this one. My story had made it past the first reader, but was rejected by the second. My feedback was pretty short–just a sentence, I think, but it did give me valuable info on how to improve the story. A writer friend of mine got some longer feedback on his–also very useful.

Untied Shoelaces of the Mind

Publishes: All Genres

It says in their guidelines they will give you the reason why you were rejected, but not a full critique. It has an opt-out option, but I’m not sure why anyone would use it. If you’re too fragile to hear why your story wasn’t picked, then this probably isn’t the right business for you!

Spark

Publishes: Multiple Genres and Genre-Blurring Fiction

This one also has the opt-out option, but don’t use it. Be brave, listen to the truth, and then make your story better based on the comments.

Happy submitting!

~Gretchen

Shower Them With Books

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Once you’ve been to a few baby showers, you get to know the drill–pick out a gift from the registry, buy a cute (and unnecessarily expensive) card to go with it, then show up at the appointed time ready to watch the mom-to-be open oodles of packages containing bottle sterilizers, diapers and impossibly small socks.

So, when the invitation for my cousin Sarah’s baby shower arrived in the mail, I for the most part ignored the adorable jungle animals smiling up at me and focused solely on gleaning the pertinent info: time, date, location, and stores where the parents had registered. I was almost finished skimming when something near the bottom of the invite caught my eye:

“In lieu of a card, the parents ask that you bring a book inscribed to the new baby.”

A little thrill of excitement shot up my spine.

Being a writer, this idea naturally held way more appeal for me than simply picking out a bib from a list of three pre-chosen patterns. This was a book. Any book we wanted. This was freedom.

As the shower date approached, my mom and I eagerly tossed titles back and forth–books we’d loved as young children, stories that had captured our attention and held it hostage in the best possible way.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

There were so many wonderful choices: funny books, sweet books, educational books. Books with bold colors. Books with flaps to lift and fabrics for chubby little fingers to touch. Even books where the pictures pop up right at you!

Though it seemed impossible to narrow the field, I eventually selected Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Mom chose Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Then we got to work planning the perfect wording for our inscribed messages to the baby. As is typical of authors, we both wrote several drafts before finally etching our words in permanent ink inside the book covers.

The whole ride to the shower, I was half excitement, half nerves. I couldn’t wait to see what books the other guests had chosen, but at the same time, I was a little worried, too. What if the baby got not one but five copies of Guess How Much I Love You? After all, an inscribed book is a nonreturnable one. Mom pointed out that with young children, having extra copies of a favorite story is a good thing–pages get ripped, flaps get torn off, corners get chewed on. I knew she was right…but still, I fretted. Giving a duplicate book seemed like showing up to prom and noticing someone else wearing the same exact black spaghetti strap dress as mine.

As soon as the gift portion of the shower got underway, however, I quickly saw that my concern was for naught. With every new gift my cousin opened, there came a different book title. There was indeed a hungry caterpillar, and a bunny in need of patting. But there were also books about tractors, bears, princesses, giraffes, elephants and every other thing you could imagine.

I actually got a little teary, realizing that we’d all chosen different books based on the different things that had touched us and shaped us throughout our lives. We’d all been moved by reading–not in the same way, but in a hundred different ways, and that just made it all the more beautiful.

In my case, I grew up surrounded by books. With two teachers for parents, it couldn’t have been any other way. As a child, I sat curled in the silence of our basement for hours, aching at the bittersweet ending of Princess by Carolyn Lane, a tale about two cats–one tame, one feral. My bathwater went from toasty to frigid without me even noticing as I lost myself in the adventures of Alec Ramsay and his magnificent Black Stallion. My breath steamed the windows of our Jeep as I devoured Dick King-Smith’s Babe: The Gallant Pig start-to-finish on a rainy afternoon. During a late-night power outage, I sat huddled in the bathroom, candlelight and a book called The Great Green Apple War by Barbara Klimowicz the only two things keeping my gnawing fear of the dark at bay. For months when I was a young teen, I actually slept with a dog-eared copy of Geary Gravel’s novelization of Hook under my pillow, so in love with the story of a grown up Peter Pan that I felt certain I’d never go a day of my life without rereading at least a few of its pages.

And that’s just a small sampling of my childhood. My journey as a budding young reader.

Gazing down at all of the baby’s new acquisitions, I knew I was looking at the start of a brand new adventure. A new life to be molded and inspired, a new imagination to be kindled–maybe by one of the books given this very day.

Didn’t matter if it was my book, or one about a kitten, or one about a train. Something would start that fire, ignite that passion for reading. And, once lit, this little girl’s life would never be the same.

Good luck getting all that from an overpriced greeting card.

 

How to Write a Book Signing Proposal

So, it’s finally happened. You’ve been published in print. You have an actual book you can hold and touch and show to people and say, “I wrote this!”

First off, congratulations! Please take a moment–or several–to enjoy your accomplishment! I know I did.🙂 Once you’re through basking, though, you might wonder, “What’s next?” Obviously, you want to promote your new book, and one of many ways to do that is to hold a book signing.

A book signing can take place at a bookstore, library, church, school, or any other location that has ties to your subject matter, such as a seminar on saving for retirement (if your book happens to include savvy financial advice) or a fundraiser for cancer research (if your book is focused on stories of cancer survivors). A book signing can be a nonprofit event, a for-profit event, or something in between. The choice is yours.

Once you’ve decided what type of book signing you want to do and where you’d like to do it, the next step is to write a proposal outlining your plans, and submit it to the venue you hope will host the event. That’s where this blog post comes in.

A few years ago, when The Dog Did What? and The Cat Did What? first came out, I traveled around from pet store to pet store, hoping to set up a nonprofit book signing to benefit an animal charity. One of the first responses I got: “Sounds great. Come back with a proposal.”

So I went home, hopped online, and did a search for “how to write a book signing proposal.” Given that there are ten BAZILLION examples of how to write query letters and cover letters and synopses and summaries and log lines and outlines and everything else a writer could possibly need to know in the business, I figured I’d find what I needed right away.

W-R-O-N-G. I found absolutely zero examples of how to write a proposal for a book signing event. That’s right, not ONE. It didn’t even seem to be a real thing. “A book signing proposal? What’s that?” the Google page seemed to ask, its digital eyebrows quirking in confusion.

Apparently, I was on my own. So, I looked up everything I could about writing other types of proposals. Most of what I found didn’t apply to my situation–I was a writer trying to land a book signing, not a construction company  trying to undercut my competition’s lumber prices in order to win a contract. Eventually, I managed to skim the microscopic amount of actual, useful advice from the overwhelming river of info, and used it to create my own proposal, which I will share below.

But first, a few tidbits to get you started:

  • Address your proposal to a specific person, if possible (e.g. if you want to hold the event at a bookstore, find out who is in charge of events at that store and address it to that person)
  • Keep the length of your proposal to one page
  • Be as detailed as you can about what you want to do and why
  • Think of any questions the person receiving the proposal might have (e.g. “How much do the books cost?” or “What happens to unsold copies?”) and answer those questions in the proposal

And now, possibly for the first time on the Internet, here is an actual, real live example of how to write a book signing proposal. (And yes, you are MORE than welcome to use this as a template. Please do, in fact. It would make me happy to know that someone else benefited from my search engine-induced suffering.)

Book Signing Fundraiser Proposal – Nonprofit Organization

Dear Nonprofit CEO:

Greetings! My name is Gretchen Bassier, and I’m a local author interested in using my writing to give back to my community. This summer, two of my nonfiction stories were published in the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? I would love to do a book signing to benefit an organization that cares about animals as much as I do.

As one of the authors, I can purchase the books for a special price of $7.50 each (in cases of twenty). Nonprofit organizations also have the option of purchasing the books themselves for only $5.00 per book (in cases of twenty). The books can be sold for any price you choose. (The official “list price” for the books is $14.95.)

If I purchase the books myself, then for each book sold at the fundraiser, I would receive the initial price I paid – $7.50 – and your organization would receive one hundred percent of the profits. After the signing, I would take home any unsold books for use at future events.

Alternately, if your organization purchases the books, then any unsold copies would remain with you, to be sold at future events and/or in your gift shop. I would, of course, do the book signing at no cost to you.

A book signing fundraiser would probably work best in conjunction with another event, such as a dog walk, golf outing, a vaccine clinic, or an adoption day. People already planning to attend the event will have an additional way to help out your organization (by buying a book – or two!), and the inclusion of the book signing might also draw in some people who wouldn’t otherwise have attended.

If I were holding a book signing at one of your events, I would promote the signing with flyers in the weeks leading up to the event, reach out to local media to help publicize the event, and have my publicist advertise the event on Facebook and Twitter. On the day of the signing, I would arrive at least half an hour before the start time and bring: a table, a chair, a tablecloth, markers and pens, business cards, a bowl of individually-wrapped mints, bottled water, display stands for the books, the books themselves (if I was the one designated to purchase them), and most likely a stack of bookmarks featuring the animals from my stories (to be used as a giveaway).

If you are interested in having me hold a signing at any of your future events, please let me know so I can have everything ready well in advance. Thank you for taking the time to consider my proposal, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you and raise some money for our beloved critters!

Sincerely,
Gretchen Bassier

Phone number: XXX-XXXX  Email: xxxx@yahoo.com

Thanks in part to the above proposal, I have now held two book signings to benefit Furget Us Not Rescue (go check out their adoptable animals!). I had a great time at both events, and I will have another post detailing what I learned from my first two book signing adventures.

Example of a flyer I created to advertise my first book signing

Example of a flyer I created to advertise my first book signing

Once you’ve got your one-page proposal ready to go, here are a few useful items to put in the packet along with it:

  • A cover image of your new book
  • A press release or brief description of your book
  • Your business card

Not so hard, right? Just keep it simple, professional and informative, and I guarantee you’ll make a good first impression. Also, don’t forget to have FUN–you’re doing this to celebrate your new book. Cherish the moment, and all of the opportunities that go along with it.

Example of what happens when you let a friend borrow your camera during your book signing at PetSmart: random lizard pics!

Example of what happens when you let a friend borrow your camera during your book signing at PetSmart: random lizard pics!

So, hopefully now you know how to write a book signing proposal, to whom it should be addressed, and what should be included along with it. You even have a concrete example to use as a guide. So, what are you waiting for? Get your packet prepped, and get ready to sign some books!

Up next on ATHF: Long overdue TV reviews (I know, I know!), a baby shower idea that the writer in me just LOVES, and possibly some Potter-mania (we’ll see what happens at the release party tomorrow!)

 

 

 

 

Using Parentheses in Fiction Writing

 

BlogParenthesesComic

So, I was reading this book a while back. It was a pretty awesome book, too: great characters, intriguing plot, marvelous descriptions, skillful world-building. Everything was moving along as smooth as can be, and then – WHAM! Out of nowhere, I hit this one paragraph that completely threw me out of the story.

Fortunately, after taking a moment to shake off the jarring experience, I was able to plunge back in and enjoy the remainder of the book. The writer in me, however, couldn’t help but try to analyze what it was about this particular passage that so violently – if temporarily – derailed an otherwise highly entertaining story.

The answer: the entire paragraph was encapsulated in parentheses.

A few years ago, I read a review on Every Day Fiction that really stuck with me. I truly wish I could remember who posted it, so I could give proper credit, but the review went something like this: “Whenever I see parentheses in fiction, it’s like the author is stepping out of the story to address the readers directly.” The truth of this statement hit me so hard, I immediately went through my own novel and started taking out the parentheses wherever I found them.

Ever since I read that review, that’s all I can think of when I come upon parentheses in fiction writing – it’s like the writer wanted to convey certain information, but couldn’t come up with any other way to tell the readers than whispering it right in their ears. In that instant, the voice changes from “narrator” to “author” and it really does take you out of the story, if only for a moment or two. The only exception I can think of is the case of first-person stories.

If you’re writing in the first person, then your POV character is already directly addressing the audience. So, it might feel natural, depending on the character’s personality and speaking style, for him/her to take the reader aside and whisper something in confidence. It might even be humorous:

“Paul actually flirted with me today. (Yes, that’s the same guy who took Katie to prom and then dumped her the next day via text message. And no, I most certainly did not flirt back.)”

But in most cases, parentheses are something to avoid when it comes to writing fiction. They change the voice, break the flow, and jar the reader.

So, now some of you are panicking, right? Because your fiction story does have parentheses, and you don’t know what to do about it.

It’s okay – just relax and take a deep breath. Unlike some issues, this one’s very easy to fix.

The first thing you need to do is determine whether the information inside the parentheses is even truly necessary to the story. (A lot of times, it isn’t.)

Ex:

“Billy leapt from the car and raced into the parking lot to greet his fellow Boy Scouts with high fives and fart jokes. The troop leader (Scott) and his two assistants (Maurice and Isaac) stood off to the side, smiling at the boys’ antics.”

Well, maybe Scott, Maurice and Isaac aren’t very important to the story. Heck, maybe this is their only appearance in the whole book. If so, do we really need to know their names? Why not just cut that info out entirely and change it to:

“Billy leapt from the car and raced into the parking lot to greet his fellow Boy Scouts with high fives and fart jokes. The troop leader and his two assistants stood off to the side, smiling at the boys’ antics.”

Reads a bit smoother, doesn’t it?

But, on the other hand, maybe those three dudes are important in your book. Maybe this is the first of many appearances by the trio. In that case, try simply off-setting the information with commas, rather than using the parentheses:

“Billy leapt from the car and raced into the parking lot to greet his fellow Boy Scouts with high fives and fart jokes. The troop leader, Scott, and his two assistants, Maurice and Isaac, stood off to the side, smiling at the boys’ antics.”

It’s still a bit awkward, but less so than when the parentheses were in there.

Em dashes are also good ways to set certain information apart without completely breaking the flow the way parentheses do. In many cases, em dashes and parentheses are interchangeable:

Instead of:

“Jake flopped onto the couch, crossing his feet (which smelled like decomposing skunks) right next to Maria’s head. She quickly fled, wrinkling her nose and fanning the air.”

Try:

“Jake flopped onto the couch, crossing his feet–which smelled like decomposing skunks–right next to Maria’s head. She quickly fled, wrinkling her nose and fanning the air.”

By working with the scene a little more, you could probably do an even better job of integrating the information:

“Jake flopped onto the couch, crossing his feet right next to Maria’s head. A stench like decomposing skunks instantly enveloped her. Maria squealed and fled, vigorously fanning the air.

‘Dude,’ she choked, ‘invest in some Odor Eaters.'”

So, when you come across parentheses in your fiction, and you feel like they just aren’t working, don’t panic – you can easily replace those curvy symbols with commas or em dashes, do a little paragraph restructuring, or even eliminate the text inside the parentheses entirely. All are acceptable solutions – it just comes down to taste and personal writing style. However you choose to deal with those pesky parentheses, the goal is always the same: a smooth reading experience for your audience.

The Race: Burning Hot and Burning Out

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First off, a mega-sized THANK YOU to those who braved the frigid weather back in February to visit our event at PetSmart. Special moments included seeing a picture of my favorite kitty Teagan with her new mommy, watching a partially blind dog named Jack Sparrow go home with his new family, and meeting some fellow Supernatural fans (woo hoo!)! Also, great big hugs go out to my buddy Zach – AKA, the one-man sales team – and to Tara at Furget Us Not Rescue for continuing to fight the good fight!🙂

And now, moving on to a LONG overdue update on the status of our favorite shows. Some of them have been burning hot all season long, while others have completely flatlined. See how they all rank heading into the finales! (Note: iZombie and The X-Files have already completed their seasons, so they are not listed here, but they will definitely be included in the final 2015-2016 season report.)

Burning Hot

Limitless (Tuesday 10pm, CBS): Favorite new show of the season! The writers really dump buckets of creativity on every script, making each episode an epic adventure. Whether it’s an ep told from alternating perspectives, a giant kiddy-show dinosaur named Josh-O-Saurus Josh replacing scary words with nice ones, or a comic-book themed ep complete with breathtaking illustrations, this show isn’t afraid to take risks, smash through boundaries, and pull out all the stops to deliver the most entertaining content on TV. Brian Finch has earned his place as one of my all-time favorite characters, and the rest of the players are brilliant as well. One of the best things about this show, for me, is the way the story carries right over from one ep to the next. It’s not a bunch of stand-alone procedural eps with an occasional nugget of mythology thrown in to boost ratings for sweeps. This show progresses the storyline in every single ep – something one of my other great loves, The Mentalist, failed to do. I remember being fairly bored through a lot of the eps, because the Red John ones were basically the only ones where things actually happened. Not so on Limitless. Kudos to the writers and cast: you now own a piece of my heart. Be gentle with it (i.e. don’t kill off Brian or Rebecca in the finale)!

Score: 9
Status: Not Renewed Yet (And I’m starting to getting that bad feeling again, just like with Forever…Please say it ain’t so…)

Supernatural (Wednesday 9pm, CW): Um, I’m just going to come right out and ask: Is Kripke back? ‘Cause seriously, this show is at least as good as it was when he was in charge. If not – gasp – even better. I don’t know what it is about Season 11, but everything is just clicking. We’ve got the scary (freaky rabbit in “Plush,” Lucifer’s eyes glowing from the shadows of the cage), the feels (Rowena’s confession to Crowley before her neck got snapped stole my breath, the scene with Bobby and Dean staring at one another in “Safe House” froze me in my seat, and I can’t even talk about “Red Meat” yet – still too raw from that gut-wrenching Romeo and Juliet-type moment where Sam comes back alive just as Dean is falling dead…just OMG), the crazy levels of creativity (a touching episode about imaginary friends that had me thinking about it for days afterwards, an ep entirely from Baby’s perspective (coolest thing EVER), a wonderful juxtaposition of Sam/Dean and Bobby/Rufus working a case in different time periods – it just goes on and on), and of course the LOLs – Sam: “So, you’ll beat Amara, and then what?” Lucifer: “Move to LA, solve crimes?” ROFL. I haven’t bought a Supernatural DVD since Season Six, but Season Eleven is definitely going on my birthday list.

Score: 9
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017 (Whew!)

Lucifer (Monday 9pm, FOX): SHAY LIVES! Well, not exactly, but it’s still great to see Lauren German rocking a leading role over on Lucifer. This one is definitely my newest obsession (I’m already reading fanfic for it!). I feel weird saying this, but Lucifer is almost like a nasty version of Forever. I mean, look at the similarities – handsome dark-haired immortal with an accent teams up with tough female detective? In the pilot, he even got shot trying to protect her and she witnessed it (or thought she did)…Ring any bells? So, maybe that’s why I like it so much. Of course, other than being (mostly) immortal, Lucifer is not anything like Henry Morgan. Henry was deeply compassionate whereas Lucifer revels in being as shallow as possible. However, there is a deeper storyline of redemption below the surface of Lucifer and that’s what caught my eye. I like Lucifer best when he’s being real and honest, rather than just cracking jokes and pretending he doesn’t give a crap.  The idea that even the devil himself could somehow find his way back to the light – that resonates with me. Can’t wait to see where this one goes – especially with the new twist of Chloe being the one who makes him mortal!

Score: 8.5
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017 (YAY!!!)

Still Sizzling

Supergirl (Monday 8pm, CBS): I was kinda on the fence about this one when it first started up. Not anymore! Supergirl has become a real highlight for me – I really look forward to it. The characters are far and away what make this show for me – the stories might occasionally be a little hokey or cheesy, but I don’t care, because the performances carry the day. When these characters hurt, I hurt for them. When they succeed, I cheer for them. The ever-pithy Cat Grant always plants a smirk on my face, and Kara is a girl you just have to love and root for – her upbeat attitude and genuine compassion don’t give you a choice. The special bond between J’onn J’onzz and Alex and Kara makes me teary sometimes – just so sweet. I’ve always loved the Martian Manhunter, even back on Smallville. Just a wonderful character, and I was wigging out when they started to reveal that’s who Hank really is. I geek out completely whenever Clark makes an appearance, even if he’s just texting back and forth with Kara, giving his cousin some support. I love that Superman has a role in this universe, but that he respects Kara’s right to be her own hero and handle her own problems. Favorite eps include the one about how women are expected to deal with their anger in the workplace, and the one where Kara had lost her powers. “Falling” was also cool, but painful to watch. Great homage to Superman III in that ep, as well, with Kara flicking the peanuts in the bar. This show reminds me of Lois and Clark – not just because Dean Cain is on it, but because it gives me the same kind of hopeful feeling. Keep up the good work, Supergirl cast, crew and writers!

Score: 8.3
Status: Not Renewed Yet…

Gotham (Monday 8pm, FOX): Getting darker by the minute. Still utterly compelling, but I’m not sure how much more gruesome depravity I can take (A madman ripping a cop’s throat out with his teeth? Penguin feeding that lady her own kids?). Also, I didn’t like the corruption of Jim’s character, having him kill Galavan like that. Wish the show hadn’t gone there. It made sense, and it was believable, I just wish they hadn’t. Gotham is topnotch, riveting entertainment, but I don’t know if I will stick with it next year. I didn’t miss it while it was off the air, and that’s pretty telling. The finale might make the decision for me.

Score: 8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Chicago PD (Wednesday 10pm, NBC): PD is rocking it, big time. Great stories all around. I don’t even care that much that Adam and Burgess broke up – it wasn’t really going anywhere, anyhow. And she and Roman are kinda cute together…;) This show packs a gritty punch with every swing. The emotional connections between the cops and the victims are a special highlight. Antonio’s tears over a murdered child (and his near-hysteria over the killer’s complete lack of remorse) got to me big time. The crossovers with SVU are just as crisp as ever (I was scared they might go away when Med came on board). Speaking of which, the only ep that fell a little flat was the crossover with Med – too much courtroom, not enough action. The tie-in with Voight’s wife was excellent, though. Keep it up, PD!

Score: 8.4
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Heating Up

Chicago Fire (Tuesday 10pm, NBC): Much better!!! This show is totally back to the quality of eps we saw in the first two seasons. Fire is once again must-see, and I couldn’t be happier (I just wish it wasn’t on opposite Limitless!). They’ve really gotten better at having one central storyline in each episode, such as Sylvie’s stalker or Severide trying to find out what happened to that little girl found dead in the chimney. Also, the ep with them all trapped in a building with several mass shooters was especially emotional. Only complaints: 1.) Severide still gets to have no long-term friendships or romances (yes, I get that he’s friends with Matt, but sometimes the show gets dumb and makes them enemies, so the Matt-Sev bromance is never a sure thing), 2.) Don’t make characters act out-of character just to create stories (e.g. Chili’s sudden-onset emotional/behavioral problems (yeah, I know her sister died, but they wrote it like she’d had severe problems way before that), and Herrmann callously insulting Freddie, despite knowing Freddie’s history), 3.) When you make the villains so totally despicable, e.g. the old Alderman, they become caricatures.

Score: 7.5
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Grimm (Friday 9m, NBC): After a rocky and super-depressing start, this one quickly got back on track and once again became one of the most flat-out entertaining shows around. I *HEART* Grimm! They had some real poignant moments of grief early on in the season – e.g. just a quiet scene of Nick, lying in the dark, staring up at the ceiling. You could just feel the mix of emotions – the loss of his mother, the loss of Juliette, but also the newness of being a father and the bizarre budding relationship with Adalind (of all people!). I’m still not quite sure what to do with their romance (if you can call it that), but I don’t hate it, and that’s something. Eve is an awesome new character – can’t wait to see where things go with her. We finally got a glimpse (I think) of her showing actual human emotion in the last ep when she displayed protectiveness toward Nick. Then we have the mystery healing stick, Wu growing closer to wolfing out by the hour (Btw, my local NBC station totally preempted the Lycan ep, without warning, and I had to hunt it down online – not cool, NBC. Not cool at all.), Adalind morphing back into a Hexenbiest, Black Claw gaining ground all over the world, and (oh please no) my beloved Sean possibly helping the bad guys win. This show is rocking right now.

Score: 7.8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Cooling Off

Castle (Monday 10pm, ABC): Hard to believe this show was one of the top dogs in my rankings last year. Long hiatuses have essentially killed Castle for me. I’m entertained by the episodes, but that drive to watch is not there anymore. I don’t rush home to make sure I see it. If I miss 15 or 20 minutes of the beginning, it’s no big deal. Also, I’m not thrilled that they tied Castle’s amnesia into the LockSat (sp?) storyline. It was probably a smart move, plot-wise, but it left me a bit flat. I do like the British chick that sometimes helps them with the investigations. She’s cool.

Score: 6.5
Status: Not Renewed Yet

Elementary (Sunday 10pm, CBS): Still a great show, but the strength of my desire to watch it is pretty low, just like with Castle. If I make it home to see Elementary, then awesome. If I don’t, then **shrug**. I do like Sherlock dating the Aspie girl – that’s a nice story. Also, the b-plot with Sherlock helping the struggling ME was very sweet and emotional. And I loved the episode “Hounded” – great homage to The Hound of the Baskervilles. I actually wish they’d do more of this – modern interpretations of the original material, the way Sherlock does. They can obviously do it well, so why not?

Score: 6.8
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

Colder Than My Toes

Chicago Med (Tuesday 9pm, NBC): To be fair, I’ve only seen one full episode of this show – the one that was part of the three-way crossover with PD and Fire, after Herrmann got stabbed. The show was very sloooow. And booooring. A lot of manufactured, unnecessary drama between the docs and the firefighters. A medical “mystery” so predictable I was actually hoping I was wrong, just so I’d be surprised. I guess I’m used to House, where there were always a bunch of twists and wrong turns before they correctly diagnosed someone. As it was, the Splenda Guy was by far the most interesting part of the ep. Hope they kept him on. I’ll probably never find out, because I’ll be happily watching the INFINITELY more entertaining iZombie over on The CW. I wish nothing but the best of luck to Chicago Med and its fans – but “The Chicago Trilogy” will remain a duet for me.

Final Score: 5 (ouch!)
Status: Renewed for 2016-2017

 

And on we go to the finales!🙂

National Adoption Weekend

Me snuggling Madeline, a Furget Us Not Rescue cat, at our December 2014 event.

Me snuggling Madeline, a Furget Us Not Rescue cat, at our December 2014 event.

By some miracle, you remembered the date. You bought the sparkly necklace, you got the overpriced card, and you think you’re all set…but you’re still forgetting something:

This weekend is not only a time to buy candy and flowers for your significant other, but also a time to open up your heart and see if you can make a real difference in a special cat or dog’s life. This weekend is National Adoption Weekend.

If you think about it, you and your family could make this the BEST Valentine’s Day ever, not by shelling out cash for roses that will shrivel up or cards that will be thrown out after a few weeks, but by having an honest discussion about whether you have room in your home and your life for an animal that truly needs you.

Many animals fitting that description will be at PetSmarts all over the USA this weekend. At the PetSmart in Chesterfield, MI (51347 Gratiot Ave.), the cats and dogs batting their gorgeous eyes at you will be from Furget Us Not Rescue, a non-profit, foster-based group devoted to finding them “furever” homes. They will be there, waiting to meet you, from 12pm-3pm on Saturday, February 13th, and Sunday February 14th. Please don’t disappoint them!

I will also be visiting the store from 1pm-3pm on both days, signing all three of my Chicken Soup for the Soul books to benefit Furget Us Not Rescue.

We will have free candy and gift-wrapping available for the book signing, as well as a video of a cat doing something VERY silly. And I am always eager to meet fellow writers, readers, and fans. (Knowing me, we’ll probably wind up chatting endlessly about Forever with cute dogs curled up on our laps.)

Sound cool? Of course it does! But it won’t be the same if you don’t join us. Please come out to the event this weekend, support a great cause, and maybe, just maybe, meet a loving friend who will be with you for years to come.

 

The X-Files: X Reasons to Love Season X

Mulder

(Yeah, I got a little carried away with the Roman numerals. Guilty as charged.)

I.) Mulder and Scully are back. Yes, both of them. As my fellow Philes know all too well, only about half of Season Eight’s episodes contained Mulder, and he appeared in just one episode of Season Nine – the finale. Note to TV writers everywhere: The truth is out there, and the truth is, when your series completely revolves around the lives and struggles of your two main characters, don’t try to continue without one of those characters. It’ll end badly. The last few seasons of The X-Files were hard to watch. Sure, there were some gems here and there, but for the most part, many fans (myself included) were watching out of loyalty, not out of love. Season Ten has brought the love back. I feel a thrill of excitement as I perch on the edge of the couch cushion, too eager to sit back and relax, lest I miss one single second of the newest installment.

II.) It’s authentic. This isn’t some Dark Shadows reboot that would make fans of the original series cringe. This is the real deal – original cast, original writers, and Mark Snow on music – just as it should be. They even used the good credits, the ones from Seasons 1-7, and not the cheesy, fakey-looking ones from after Duchovny left. When I heard The X-Files was returning, the very first question out of my mouth was: Is this a remake, or a revival? I’m not sure I could’ve watched new actors try to take on the iconic roles of Mulder and Scully. Thank goodness we didn’t have to!

III.) Skinner. I don’t know exactly when it happened, whether it occurred gradually over the course of the series or if it was a more dramatic, sudden shift after Mulder left, but at some point along the way, you couldn’t have The X-Files without Skinner. We need him like we need Mulder and Scully themselves. They love and trust him. We love and trust him. Skinner has Mulder and Scully’s backs when no one else on the planet does. The one major change made to the credits this time around was the addition of Skinner’s badge (in cool, vintage black-and-white glory, of course). As soon as his beautiful, bald head appeared, I nodded my approval wholeheartedly.

IV.) A clean slate. No matter how much you loved the show’s mythology, you have to admit that at a certain point, it just got WAY too complicated. I truly and honestly believe that by the end of the series, the writers themselves could not have told us how each piece fit into the puzzle. We had at least three species of aliens (the green bloods, the black bloods, and the alien replacements (those things with the metal vertebrae)), plus two different alien viruses, not to mention all manner of human-alien hybrids. We had an Alien Bounty Hunter, numerous Jeremiahs, and a bunch of really old, pampered white dudes who liked to sit in a smoky room and dictate our planet’s future with overly cryptic, sometimes nonsensical dialogue. Year by year, season by season, more layers were added to the conspiracy, until, like an unstable wedding cake, it eventually toppled. The writers knew this (note how they even poked a little bit of fun at their own writing in “My Struggle”). The viewers knew it. The critics knew it and stated it loudly. This time around, The X-Files is playing it smarter. This time around, the writers have wiped down the chalkboard with a wet sponge. They’ve scrubbed away the tangled mess we were left with after nine seasons, and written one word in its place: Experimentation. The aliens aren’t trying to take us over, after all – the government is. It was the government all along. They have many ways in which to accomplish this, as outlined in the first ep of Season Ten. The only thing we don’t know is, why are they experimenting with alien DNA? What role does that play in the grand scheme of world domination? Giving Mulder and Scully one complex and personal question to answer, rather than ten thousand tangentially-related threads to follow, is a wise move, especially since they only have six episodes in which to solve the mystery.

V.) The Cigarette Smoking Man. Okay, yes, he’s as much a part of The X-Files as Mulder, Scully and Skinner, but COME ON! How is that dude even still alive? Didn’t we see a missile physically blast through his skull? I suppose it could’ve been an alien replacement that got nuked, and not the REAL CSM, but still. A little bit ridiculous. And yet…a little bit right, too. No matter how hard we try to banish evil, it still manages to waft, smoke-like, up through the cracks. So, even as I was rolling my eyes at his return, I found myself grinning all the same. After all, what is The X-Files – or any fictional universe, for that matter – without a true nemesis?

VI.) Cool FX! Way cool! The X-Files always strove to be cutting edge with its visual effects, aiming to make a small movie each week, rather than just a TV show. Seeing The X-Files FX team get to play with all the current technology, stuff that simply wasn’t available thirteen years ago, is like getting to watch captive dolphins jump and splash in the ocean for the first time. The alien and spaceship in “My Struggle” were top notch, as was the vividly realistic gore in “Founder’s Mutation.” I fully expect more eye candy – both sweet and disgusting sour – throughout the rest of the season.

VII.) Heart and soul. Right from the start, The X-Files was about way more than alien abductions and scary monsters. It was about two characters on a quest to find the truth. Many times, that quest cost them dearly. Mulder lost his parents. Scully lost her sister and daughter. Both Mulder and Scully have been shot, abducted and experimented on. Both of them had to give up their only son to keep him safe. With each new loss, each new trauma, the characters became closer to each other and we, in turn, became closer to them. Mulder, Scully, and all the people they connect with along the way, are the true heart and soul of this series, and Season Ten hasn’t forgotten that. Far from it. Whether it’s Scully’s raw emotion at hearing a stranger’s clinical recitation of her relationship with Mulder, or a series of poignant scenes depicting “what might have been” if Scully and Mulder had kept their son, this show still knows full well that the humans (not the monsters or the aliens) are what keep us coming back for more.

VIII.) Continuity. The slate may be clean, but that doesn’t mean all the history, all the things Mulder and Scully witnessed and experienced, never happened. Longtime viewers will enjoy the familiar sight of triangular experimental crafts built with UFO technology (like the ones featured in “Deep Throat” and “Dreamland I and II”), and the image of a little girl breathing underwater, which instantly brings to mind the hybrids snoozing in tanks in the “The Erlenmeyer Flask.” Even after all these years, it pays to be a fan who really watched closely.🙂

IX.) The LOLZ. Aw man, how much have I missed Mulder and his dry one-liners? Is there a number higher than infinity? A friend once commented that without Mulder, the humor of the show took a nosedive, and he was so right. Scully and Doggett together? It was like having two Sams on Supernatural, rather than a Sam and a Dean. In any partnership, you need one straight man, and one joker. Mulder is back and witty as ever as the joker, and I can’t help snorting with laughter every time he says something like “Obamacare” or “Why would I want to watch this jack-ass?” or “I blacked out around the time his eyes popped out of the sockets.” ROFL! Keep them coming, Mulder – I need more lolz in my life.

X.) The Awe. As I sat down to watch last Monday night, I thought to myself: How freaking amazing is this? How many more times in my life am I going to get to sit down in front of a TV screen and watch a NEW episode of The X-Files? This is the show that helped me forge lifelong friendships. This is the show I watched in high school when I was working on take-home calculus tests. This is the show that introduced me to fan fiction in college. I’m thirty-five years old, and the series that wowed me in my teenage years is back on, showcasing front and center every reason why I fell in love with it in the first place. A fangirl can’t get much luckier than that.
🙂

Hungry for more X-Files mania? Go check out my friend Carbonated Beverage Drinking Man’s awesome reviews of the new season:

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