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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Great Reads, Volume 2: It’s Raining You-Know-What

Maymaykitten

Before we get to the awesome stories, I just wanted to say an enormous “Thank You!” to everybody who came out to the Chesterfield Petsmart on Sunday, December 21st to support Furget Us Not Rescue. The event was a big success, all because of you! 🙂  In the near future, I will be doing an in-depth piece about book promotion to help my fellow authors, including what worked and didn’t in terms of advertising, a copy of my proposal, event dos and don’ts, and much more. In the meantime, though, I have a nice little post-holiday gift for my fellow fans: FIVE absolutely excellent stories for you to enjoy – two original flash fiction pieces, and three fanfics, all on the theme of cats and dogs!

The two original stories aren’t just two of the best cat and dog stories I’ve ever read – they’re two of the best stories I’ve ever read, period. Seriously, if you haven’t read these, your life is not complete. Go fix that now, by reading and reviewing these phenomenal fics.

In terms of the fanfics, we’ve got one for The Mentalist, one for Smallville, and I even went old-school with a golden oldie written for The X-Files! So go forth, read, and enjoy!

ORIGINAL STORIES

The Last Accounting ” by JR Hume

For full appreciation of the awesomeness, make sure you read the Rainbow Bridge verse by William M. Britton. You will need tissues for both the poem and the story. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, if you love the story: a.) let the author know and b.) check out the plethora of other stories by JR Hume!

Nikki Comes Home” by Christopher Owen

This one just rips me to shreds. But, like, in a good way. I’ll never forget this story as long as I live, because of how deeply it touched me. So short, so sweet, so perfect. Another major Kleenex alert. If you love it (and you will), tell the author!

FANFICTION

The X-Files

Walk Like a Man” by Windsinger (aka Sue Esty)

Took me three days to track this one down, but man was it worth it. I couldn’t let myself give up, because I just had to share this story with other fans. When something you read has stayed in your heart – like exact quotes from the text – for over a decade, you know it’s something special. Another Kleenex Alert (best to have two boxes on hand), and warnings also for disturbing themes of child abuse. The overall message is positive, but the journey is rough. You have been warned.

Smallville

My Favorite Things” by paperbkryter

No tissues needed here – all smiles for this one. A sweet Season One story featuring the beauty and innocence of Clark and Lana’s early friendship. Oh, yeah, and there’s some really cute cats in it. A guaranteed pick-me-up after the first three tear-jerkers. 🙂

The Mentalist

Big Red Tabby” by ruuger

Another one that’ll leave you smiling. The talented ruuger lifts Jane out of his gloom and sends him on a mini-adventure to help out a worried little boy, with some adorable results. Features great characterization, as always, plus some nice jokes and sweet moments. A very well-rounded fic.

Don’t forget to review!

Up Next On ATHF: November/December Race Highlights, January Race Results, 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer, one of the BEST writing resources on the web, 10 Reasons The Mentalist Fans Will Love Forever, and Care and Feeding of Your Forever Obsession