News, Reviews and More!

Hey, all – sorry I’ve been offline for so long! Lots of stuff going on right now – some good, some bad. I’ll try to catch you up! Okay, so the news first:

Publications

I read a werewolf novella by Joshua Werner and loved it so much I just had to write a review! My review of Rampant can be found in the May issue of Bloodbond, a werewolf-, shapeshifter- and vampire-themed magazine published by Alban Lake Publishing. The other content in the zine is all fiction, poetry and artwork pertaining to shapeshifters and vamps, so if you’re as crazy about creatures of the night as I am, be sure to check that out!

Up next: I have two stories coming out this August in Chicken Soup for the Soul books! Yay! The first story, “One Step at a Time,” is about my cat Sputnik’s miracle recovery from a severe health crisis. That can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Really Did That?, which will be available on August 8. The second story, “Out of the Mouths of Strangers,” is a bit more humorous and includes MANY embarrassing moments from my junior high and high school years. That one will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind of America, which comes out on August 29.

 

Movie Reviews

In other happy news, I was fortunate enough to see THREE superhero movies in the last several months. Here’s what I thought of them:

Logan

A good movie, no doubt. High-quality and well-written. I do question the need to make this an R movie. I’m not sure that was the right way to send off the character (at least Hugh Jackman’s version of him). Wolverine has many younger fans who wouldn’t be able to see this film, and therefore wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to their favorite character. My other main issue with Logan is that it isn’t a well-balanced film. This is one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in recent years. Virtually every character dies. And before they do, the majority of them suffer from physical and mental illness, as well as torture at the hands of their enemies. There is very little humor, and very little hope. The tone is dark and stays that way throughout, rather unrelentingly. Also, the f-word is overused. When I hear it that many times in a row, at a certain point the writer in me starts thinking, Couldn’t you have come up with a better, more creative expletive?

Despite everything, this still was a really good movie. Definitely worth seeing, but I’m not sure I’d want to own it. My suggestion: rent it when you’re in a good mood. If you’re already feeling low, this movie will only bring you down further.

Wonder Woman

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see this movie. Now, I can’t imagine NOT having seen it. Wonder Woman is pure magic. Unlike Logan, this movie is perfectly balanced, with just the right mix of hope, humor, action, romance and sorrow. This is the first female superhero movie to come along in…geez, I don’t even know how many years – and it delivers in a BIG way! Just seeing those powerful Amazon warriors training on their horses in the beginning of the film…I got chills. I didn’t even know how much I needed this movie until I saw it. No matter what your gender is, I promise you will leave the theatre grinning and hoping the next Wonder Woman movie is coming out sooner rather than later. Readers of this blog should be glad I don’t have a lot of time right now, otherwise you’d be getting a 5,000-word post raving about Wonder Woman.

My suggestion: See it!

Captain Underpants

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie with all three of my nephews, and I really enjoyed it. Though much of the humor is of the bathroom variety (as you can guess from the movie’s title), the core story of friendship between the two main characters is touching. As a writer (and a big superhero fan), I loved that the MCs are an author and an illustrator who created their own superhero and publish their own comic book. The fact that they get to see their creation come to life before their eyes – something any writer would give up their pinky toe to see happen – only adds to the joy of this film.

My suggestion: If you’ve got kids between 7-11 years old, take them to see it! They won’t be disappointed, and neither will you. 🙂

TV Reviews

No, no, I didn’t forget about the TV shows! That would never happen.

Last season, two shows tied for first place: Limitless, for being so friggin’ awesome in its first season, and Supernatural for being so friggin’ awesome in its ELEVENTH season! Both shows demonstrated amazing creativity and I had such a great time watching them that it was impossible to choose. I give them both a 9.5 score for the season. Runners-up included my old love, The X-Files, as well as the sparkly newcomer, Lucifer.

Some friends of mine were disgruntled about TXF, as it seemed the network might just be drawing us in with Mulder and Scully, only to reboot a new version of the show starring the recently introduced characters of Miller and Einstein. Personally, I’m withholding judgement until this actually happens. The last time I checked, Season Eleven was listed as a “sure thing” – with the original cast – so we’ll see. I do like the new characters, but Mulder and Scully need to be the stars. Always.

This season I had to make some sacrifices and only watched a few shows religiously. Among those were Lucifer and Supernatural (duh). I loved the mom-drama on both shows, but in the end, Lucifer won out for just being incredible from start to finish. Last year was a little hit-and-miss for me, but this year was DYNAMITE. There was much more focus on the supernatural elements of the show, and the emotions were running a lot higher this year, too.

I’m glad they at least established the beginning of a romance between Chloe and Lucifer. When shows wait too long to introduce romantic interest between the leads, the characters can get stuck in the friend zone. Then, if the writers do decide to put them together down the line, it’s very awkward. (Castle was one show that got this right, while The Mentalist waited too long). The characters don’t have to be together all the time – we just have to know there’s some attraction between them.

Oh, and the Lucifer finale? I just have one word: WINGZZZZZ!!!!! Also, Lucifer gets mega-points for not killing off any beloved characters in the finale. Unlike Supernatural :(. Um, some of those people can come back…right? Please???

Elsewhere on TV: Chicago Fire: We needed more time to get to know Anna before they killed her off. Grimm: Why the heck did they cancel this amazing show??? Emerald City: Too caught up in the glitz of its concept to deliver on an emotional level. This is Us: If you’re not watching it yet, start now! Great show, with many alums from other shows we love, including Smallville and Supernatural. Plus, it’s not getting cancelled anytime soon, so you can watch without fear.

Novel Update

Some of you may recall that I was in the process of editing one of my novels. Last time I posted about it, the book was at 150K words. Now, thanks to an awesome writing partner (and her equally awesome son), the manuscript is at about 106K and still shrinking. That’s down from 300K, people! Cutting your book IS doable.

For more help on cutting words from your manuscript, check out this post:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/how-to-cut-thousands-of-words/ 

Loads of great advice in the comments, too, along with a wonderful quote that sums up the cutting process:

“Every word you cut gives its power to the words that remain.” ~ Cathy’s brother

Wish me luck in getting my book down under 100K, and I hope to be back soon with more news, reviews and other goodies!

~Gretchen

 

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Five Lucifer Fanfics (and One Fanart) to Get You Through the Hiatus

So, Lucifer‘s been on hiatus for a hellishly long time. And we’ve still got two-and-a-half weeks to go before the Prince of Darkness returns on May 1st. Feeling antsy? Missing your favorite fallen angel? These five devilishly good fics (and one gorgeous fanart!) will get you through the rest of the hiatus:

There’s No Music in Hell by Solo’s Falcon
Summary: The murder of a priest leads detective Chloe Decker to a secluded abbey to investigate. Having Lucifer as her partner proves to be both an asset and a liability. But keeping him on a leash is not her biggest problem. Dealing with her growing attraction towards him is. While they struggle with their feelings, a threat lurks in the shadows determined to bring the Devil to his knees.

Damnatio Memoriae by Ice Queen1
Summary: Chloe tries to solve the riddle that is Lucifer Morningstar. Dan even manages to help. When mysterious ritualized killings start showing up, Chloe suspects Lucifer may know more than he lets on. Problem is, she doesn’t know what she thinks she does. Lucifer Whump. Chapter 21 is rated M for violence at readers’ suggestion, but remainder of story is T.

Cecidit Angelus by Ice Queen1
Summary: When Lucifer is picked up wandering the highway alone at night with no memory of who he is or how he got there, he’s brought to a mental hospital. The poor staff has no idea what to make of him, and unfortunately, neither does he. Another patient by the name of Constantine may be able to help – or maybe he’s just as crazy as he is.

A Conversation – Long Overdue by Skaoi
Summary: A guy walks into a bar…stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Anything Brighter by Black Hawk
Summary: All the coy smiles and misdirections that Lucifer has come to rely upon don’t distract Chloe from the handful of moments she has happened to catch him unawares. The eerie tightness in his dark eyes when he thinks no one is looking twists something inside of her in response.

Lucifer Morningstar (fanart) by TricksterKat209

Enjoy!

See you on May 1st, my fellow Lucifans!

The Race: Burning Hot and Burning Out

RaceImage

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! 🙂