What Fall TV Premiere Are You Looking Forward To?

I’ve been perusing the TV schedule for this fall, with all the series and season premieres. Gone are some of the shows I watched regularly, like Hart of Dixie and Revenge. And new ones have taken their place.

While I might find a gem among the lot of new offerings this fall, what I look forward to more is the return of shows I’ve grown attached to — ones that happily continue, at least one more season. What am I look forward to?

TBBTIt started with this one on Monday night — the 9th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory. It’s tough to keep a series going that long and keep the magic. But I think this series has done well because the characters have grown as the series has continued, yet they still have their quirks and challenges. Also, TBBT hasn’t fallen into the temptation of tangents, like a police procedural that gets lost in the weeds of a romantic relationship, or a medical drama that wanders off into politics, or — let’s face it — most J.J. Abrams shows. TBBT has a clear identity, while mixing it up enough to keep fans watching.


CastleThen there’s Castle. I fully admit this is my catnip. A writer turned crime solver? A fabulous ensemble cast? Nathan Fillion? More, please. This show also demonstrates that the chemistry and interest need not die after the hero and heroine finally get together. In real life, there are still challenges involved in being a couple, especially if that couple works together in high-pressure situations as these two do. I do have a couple of suggestions for the show writers, though. We writers out here loved the references to real authors and especially the poker game, which has included such big-name authors as James Patterson, Steven J Cannell, and Dennis Lehane. Also, you might want to show Castle actually writing from time to time, so our families don’t think you just turn out novels in between family laser tag and book signings. Still, eager for another season!


GrimmTwo fairy-tale based shows came out in the same year: Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Hubby and I watched the pilots of both, chose Grimm, and never looked back. This series has had a few bumps, in my opinion, but the ensemble feel of this show has grown. And we’re now attached to the story of not only the main character, but great supporting characters like Monroe, Hank, Rosalee, and Sergeant Wu. Also, I still recognize fairy tale plot lines from time to time, and I still have moments when I turn to the hubster and say, “Wow, didn’t see that coming.” For all those reasons, I’m ready to dive back into another season of Grimm.


iZombieBut the show I’m most eager to follow again is iZombie, a comic-based show co-developed with Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, anyone?) which premiered last year. It’s a great twist on the zombie story, with protagonist Liv Moore eating brains, experiencing her meal’s memories, and then using that information to help solve their murders. There are so many fun little references thrown in, the supporting characters are perfectly cast, and the script has great dialogue. This almost makes up for Veronica Mars having such a short run. Actually, I take that back — nothing makes up for that. Anyway, I’m still ready for some more iZombie. Coming in October…


Miss FisherI would be remiss if I didn’t mention the series I’m currently catching up on, courtesy of Netflix. I discovered this Australian delight earlier this year and binge-watched two seasons. I nearly squealed with glee when I saw that the third season was now available. (Can’t get the show here in the States while it’s airing in Australia.) It’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a fabulous show set in the 1920s and featuring larger-than-life Miss Fisher as a private detective. I confess to not having read the books by Kerry Greenwood, but this author clearly created an engaging character worth several seasons of a TV series. I hope it continues, but I’m savoring every episode of season three right now.

Your turn! What fall TV premiere are you anticipating with eagerness? What shows do you think you’ll give a trial showing? Anyone gems we might have missed that we should binge-watch on Netflix?

What Are Female Superheroes Wearing? (And Who Fights Crime in That?!)

I still remember my now-teenage son, back when he was a little kid, asking me about superheroes. He was fascinated with them and loved a great superhero story. However, he looked at one of his action figures, turned up his sweet young face to me, and asked, “Why is Wonder Woman wearing her underwear?”

Good question, kid, I thought. Instead of answering, “Because she was drawn by a man who wanted his superhero to turn him on,” I scanned my brain for an answer that would ring true yet retain his innocence. My answer? “That’s her swimsuit. She was raised on an island surrounded by water, so she went swimming a lot.”

Not bad, eh? Kind of my own superpower to come up with that one on the fly!

But it’s still a good question. Why on earth are female superheros dressed like they’re about to film a sexually-laced hip-hop video instead of fighting crime and pursuing justice?

I’ve long been a fan of superheroes, starting with the classic TV series Batman, in which Adam West and Burt Ward POWed and KAPLATed their way to justice. Then there was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, the cartoon Justice League (including the Wonder Twins—anyone remember them?), and even the not-so-well-done Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis that aired on Saturday mornings. I’ve seen numerous superhero movies from Christopher Reeve’s Superman to all but the last X-Men to Guardians of the Galaxy (a recent favorite).

As much as I love superheroes, I still don’t understand most of the fashion choices when it comes to women. So when I realized I had a superhero-themed costume party to attend this summer, a fellow attendee and I had this conversation:

Her: How come all the women superheroes have no clothes on? How can you fight crime in a thong…

Me: I’ve wondered that too. Like we’re sitting around and thinking, “Hey, I’m ready to go fight crime. But first I need to put on my strapless top so the criminals will have lots of cleavage to distract them and my breasts will jiggle properly when I’m running. And I need a thong up my butt, because nothing says ‘I’m fearless!’ like a willingness to floss your crack. And stiletto heels, please, because if a woman can’t run, jump, and kick in ridiculously high heels, how can she even bother to call herself a superhero?!”

Wonder Woman lasso
Here’s my lasso of truth! Tell me: Is this costume too revealing?

When I started actually shopping for costume options, I was shocked how many choices were preceded by the word “sexy,” as in Sexy Supergirl, Sexy Spidergirl, Sexy Wonder Woman. Really? We need to add more sexiness to that Amazon princess’s corseted look?

Stop the madness, people! This is no way to dress women in 2015! Or really any century, decade, or year.

No self-respecting crime-fighting woman would wear such get-ups. They are impractical for the physical feats expected of superheroes. They make the female class of superheroes out to be eye candy more than serious justice fighters. They don’t give the right message to young women who can be beautiful and powerful without being overly revealing. (Oh yes, you can, girl!) Moreover, they make emulating them for costume parties require a year-long gym membership and/or several pairs of Spanx.

Yes, there are some exceptions, and I applaud the creators of these more relatable female superheroes. I’d like to see more.

What do you think of the costumes for female superheroes? Who are your favorite female superheroes? How would you design a costume for superpowered crime-fighting?

Are You a Christmas Person? (Reblog)

While I enjoy certain aspects of Christmas — like caroling and A Charlie Brown Christmas — I approach other parts of the yuletide with this expression:

In my opinion, there are a lot of to-do’s, traffic, travel, and testiness involved with the holidays. However, I want to get into the spirit, so here’s a 10-question, multiple-choice quiz to decide how you measure up on the Xmas spirit-o-meter.

1. When it comes to holiday specials on television, I:

a. Curse at the TV when my regular programming gets preempted and send hate mail to the networks. The silly Christmas saps should be the ones to hunt down their shows, not me.

b. Turn on the TV, discover a special, and happily settle in to watch. Who doesn’t like Santa Claus is Coming to Town?

c. Track when the best specials will air and post a schedule on the refrigerator. I can’t stand the thought of missing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Year Without Santa Claus!

d. Own an extensive Christmas library of classics and watch one each day in anticipation of the big day. Heck, I know every word of Frosty the Snowman and You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

2. For holiday decorating, our family:

a. Puts up a tabletop tree and a few stockings. That’s quite enough, thank you. My house isn’t a store display window.

b. Erects a nice Christmas tree with ornaments and a few household decorations about two weeks before. Then we can count down those 12 days of Christmas as presents start to pile under and around the tree.

c. Had a couple of trees, household decor, and outside lights up the day after Thanksgiving. I love this time of the year, and having a festive house is one way to amp up the holiday spirit and have a welcoming environment for our annual Christmas party.

d. Decorate several trees around the house, each with its own theme, and receive complaints from the neighbors about our extensive light show. But the families who come by in cars and slow down to look seem to like it a lot!

3. When it comes to cooking, my idea of holiday baking is:

a. Picking up rumballs at the local bakery for the office party. Those babies are good any time of year.

b. Baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my kids in the shapes of trees, wreaths, and Santa Claus. They especially enjoy sprinkles.

c. Hosting a party or two with fresh-baked goodies and handing out homemade bread and candy as gifts to family and friends.

d. Turning my kitchen into a Paula Deen playground for a couple of weeks beforehand. This is the best time to make breads, pies, fruitcake, and cookies. I have several holiday cookbooks that I put to good use during the Christmas season.

4. My favorite holiday movie is:

a. Die Hard – Terrorists interrupting a Christmas Eve party and Bruce Willis getting revenge? What could possibly compete?

b. A Christmas Story – Getting the toy you want for Christmas? Who can’t relate to this classic theme and its humor?

c. It’s a Wonderful Life – I love that part when Bedford Falls gathers at the house and Clarence gets his wings.

d. Miracle on 34th Street – Santa Claus is REAL. And if you don’t believe, you don’t receive.

5. Some people like to dress Christmas-y this time of year, and I:

a. Mock their dorky Christmas sweaters and Santa Claus hats, in person, on Facebook, and on Twitter. What are those fools thinking?

b. Have one nice Christmas sweater that I bring out to wear to the office or church party.

c. Own Christmas shirts, some holiday jewelry, and a set of red-and-green plaid pajamas to help me get into the seasonal swing.

d. Wear something festive every day in December, put Rudolph antlers on the dog, and have everyone pose in their brand-new Christmas pajamas for our annual family Christmas photo.

6. Santa Claus is:

a. The delusional character we invented to scare kids into behaving the rest of the year.

b. A jolly fictional character represented by seasonal workers in the mall who welcome little children onto their laps to rattle off their wish lists.

c. A fairytale figure who inspires us to be more generous toward others, especially toward little children.

d. The man who lives at the North Pole, has a workshop of elves, and visits every single child on Christmas night with his magical sleigh and flying reindeer.

7. On Black Friday, you could find me:

a. Snoozing in until 12:00 noon, then holing up at my house with a remote control and football on television. Let the idiots shop ’til they drop while I drink beer, eat leftover turkey, and yell at stupid referees.

b. Checking the flyers and websites for good deals, then concluding I don’t have the appropriate body armor for the trip. Maybe one day I’ll brace myself and venture out on that crazy shopping day.

c. Out for a couple of hours with friends or family to catch a few deals. I bought the latest electronic for 60% off (which the rest of you will only get for 50% off later).

d. Camped outside the store since midnight the night before, filing my fingernails into claw shape, and drawing a diagram strategy for me and my team to rush in and grab the best deals first.

8. When I see mistletoe, I:

a. Yank it down. I’m allergic, and what do a bunch of leaves have to do with whether I get lucky anyway.

b. Smile at the sweet notion that someone might get kissed underneath. For myself, it’s never worked any wonders, though.

c. Find my honey and plant a big smooch on  him. Why not use mistletoe as an excuse to get some lip-locking?

d. Drag everyone in my family underneath and give them a big kiss. Then hang some at my workplace to kiss that handsome coworker three cubicles down from me and the delicious Corrigan water guy. That’s what mistletoe is for, baby!

9. My favorite Christmas carol is:

a. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. That song cracks me up.

b. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. That’s what this season is about.

c. O Holy Night. It’s a classic.

d. A toss-up between The Twelve Days of Christmas and Handel’s Messiah. The first helps me count down those precious days until Christmas arrives, while the second must be heard in its entirety to revel in the Christmas spirit.

10. My feelings about this quiz can be summed up as:

a. Can I have my 10 minutes back? This was a total waste of my time.

b. Cute, but I could have used the time for online holiday shopping.

c. Fun to take this quiz and start thinking about the Christmas spirit.

d. Are you kidding? I love EVERYTHING Christmas – even quizzes!

SCORING: Count up your a’s, b’s, c’s, and d’s. Which letter got the most answers?

from A Christmas Carol (2009)

Mostly a’sSCROOGE. On Christmas Eve, be prepared to be visited by three scary ghosts who need to jolt you into a little show of humanity and Christmas spirit. Drop the “Bah hum bug” attitude and find your inner elf.

from Yes, Virginia (2009)

Mostly b’sVIRGINIA. You have some doubts about this season, but you know deep down that “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Still, you might want to take a Christmas lights tour or visit a Nativity scene to get yourself more excited about the holidays.

from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Mostly c’sMAX. You understand that Christmas isn’t perfect, but you are determined to get into the spirit and have a great season no matter what. Put on that smile and pull the sleigh. It will all work out in the end!

From http://www.dragoart.com

Mostly d’sELF. You belong at the North Pole year-round just getting ready for Christmas — the best day of the year. Santa Claus is accepting applications for toybuilders, and I will happily write you a recommendation letter.



So are you a Christmas person? Hanukkah person? Perhaps something else?

Merry Christmas!

Post first published December 2011.

Should You Take the Ice Bucket Challenge?

I got tagged by friend and fellow author Danette Fogarty, so I did my version of the ice bucket challenge. Which meant that I had to know how this thing got started, why people are doing it, and what the results of this tag-and-donate challenge have been. And, of course, I share that all with you!

Tagged: Bonnie K., Jenny Hansen, and Jess Witkins

Whether you accept the ice bucket challenge or not (assuming you get tagged), I pray this viral sensation encourages us to look for more opportunities to be charitable.

My Name is Julie, and I’m a Binge-TV Addict

Binge-watch is in the dictionary now. Check out the Dictionary.com definition (based on Random House):

binge-watch definition

I still remember the days before Netflix and Hulu, before DVD players, before VCRs . . . the long-past days when you had to plant yourself before the TV right as your favorite show aired or you flat-out missed it. There was no catching up online, recording the show for later, or view on demand anywhere. You were either there at Monday 8:00 p.m., or the show went ahead without you.

Thank goodness that’s changed.

But I’ve gone farther lately than catching up on a show here and there I missed. Instead, I catch up on the whole TV series I missed. My name is Julie, and I’m a binge-TV addict.

White Collar Logo
My current binge-watch show

Here are some reasons why:

I’m extremely impatient. (Really! Just ask my husband.) Don’t you hate that cliffhanger at the end of a season, and then you have to wait months and months to see that plot line resolved? Wait no longer! If you’re impatient like me, you just watch the whole series as you want. Too eager to wait for the season 3? Simply cue it up at the end of season 2. Binge-watching was made with the impatient in mind.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Logo
Didn’t catch it? Binge-watch it!

I can get cool really quick. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I missed quite a few good shows. I was a little busy parenting young children and thus watching series like Blue’s Clues, Maisy, and Bear in the Big Blue House. So when people talked about how cool Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, I had no idea what they were talking about. I vaguely recalled seeing a commercial with a blond chick and fanged people, right before I turned to the channel back to Disney. Now with binge-watching, I’m back at the cool table. Yep, binge-watching got me caught up on shows like ScrubsCharmedBuffy, Arrested Development, and Leverage.

I feel a little queen-like when the series is at my beck-and-call. When other little girls were oohing and aahing over Barbie and her fashion accessories, I was enamored with a Miss America doll we owned — because she had a crown and scepter and was clearly in charge of something. I’ve been knocked down enough in life by now that I’ve learned a sufficient amount of humility; however, that desire to rule can peek through at times and get sated just enough by binge-watching a whole series. As if I’m Queen of the TV World, I simply summon the next show when I’m ready — like royalty would summon their entertainment in the form of a minstrel or court jester.

I more easily grasp the big picture. When you watch a series in a compressed period of time, you get a better sense of the series as a whole. Which means you can spot references to previous plot lines, recurring characters, the broader character arc, and — yes, indeed — mistakes and contradictions with previous shows in the series. I can see the big picture because there isn’t so much time between the first episode and the middle episode and the finale.

Jericho TV series logo
Just one of my many casualties. Sorry!

If I watch shows as they air, I kill them. I’m convinced that merely by my watching a show, its chances of survival decrease by 63%. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. It’s simply safer for me to wait until the show has had its full run — whether that’s one season or eight — and then watch the whole series. That way, my choice to partake in a series doesn’t impact its renewal outcome.

Now if only I could binge-write and binge-edit . . . successfully. Instead, here’s my step-by-step progress in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

1. Read 12 books. I’m in the middle of three different books right now! I’m reading Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum.; Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain; and while sitting in an ER lobby without nothing to do while I waited, I downloaded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and started reading. I didn’t finish any of these this week, however. So I’m still at 10 of 12 completed.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Didn’t happen.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I received comments back from one teenage beta reader on the next short and agreed with her summary. When I receive the other beta reader’s comments, I’ll finish editing and polishing that story.

In the meantime, I did work on some editing for a third story. Some progress.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is available on Amazon. I’ve been troubleshooting some issues with the Barnes & Noble account and think I have it worked out finally to upload the story there this week. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. I did not get to check in this week, since my internet time was very limited.

Why was your internet time limited, and why were you sitting in an ER this past week? you ask. Well, I was at church camp with no WiFi and on the last day a kid got a concussion, but he’s fine now. Thanks for asking! 🙂

Do you binge-watch any TV series? Why or why not? And how was your week?

If You Give a Guy a Bigger TV

Mouse CookieLaura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a classic picture book that children adore. My own kids enjoyed this circular story of a mouse who wants a cookie, then milk, then a straw and so on, and so on, and so on . . . until he’s made quite a mess in the house and comes back to wanting another cookie. Still, the mouse is so cute, you let him have what he needs and wants.

Same thing with a good husband, I guess.


If you give a guy a bigger TV, he’s going to ask for the bells-and-whistles one.

Bigger TV

When you give him the bells-and-whistles one, he’ll probably ask you for a new stand.

When he’s got the stand on order, he’ll ask you for a wall to put it against.

Then he’ll move all the furniture around to make sure the TV and speakers work well together.

When he looks at the speakers, he might notice the surround sound won’t work that way. So he’ll probably ask for a new table for the side speaker.

When he’s finished telling you what all he needs, he’ll want to start hooking things up. He’ll start the installation.

He might get carried away and read every word in the manual. He may even end up spending hours getting to know the remote control!

When he’s done, he’ll probably want to move more furniture. You’ll have to look around at the room and figure out none of this is going to work. No way, no how. He’ll negotiate, you’ll discuss, and finally decide to yank out the built-ins where the older, smaller TV was perfectly housed.

He’ll probably ask you to call the handyman right away. So the handyman will come by, and he’ll start to remove cabinets.

When he removes the cabinets, he’ll discover a major wall repair that needs to be completed. He’ll ask for more money. He’ll need another day.


When the cabinets are removed, he’ll also point out that you need more supplies. Then he’ll price the items at a local building supply store (expensive!). Then he’ll suggest you shop around. Which means you’ll research online for hours and visit several places to get what you need. You’ll pick up the stuff and return home.

Looking at the mess back at home will remind you how much you clearly love your husband (darn him!). Thus, years and years ago, you agreed to marry him.

And chances are if you marry him, someday he’s going to want a bigger TV.


Given this upheaval in my home, and all that handyman hammering from the demolition of my living room, I lost a bit of writing time this week. However, I still managed to get some things done. Here’s my weekly report for A Round of Words in 80 Days.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. Finished The Quantum League: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby (middle grade fiction) and read Self-Publishing Attack by James Scott Bell (nonfiction). 3 of 12 done.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Compiled my draft into an ebook and began reading it through. I really need to do this before I can tackle the edits. A bit of progress.

3. Edit one short story to publication qualityStill waiting on the first beta reader’s feedback. Also sent the story to another reader for input. Making steady progress.

4. Publish and promote two short stories. Made copy edits, worked on formatting, and received cover options from my book cover designer. It was tough trying to decide which cover to go with, because I loved two of them. But I finally made my pick on Saturday. My first young adult paranormal short story will be released soon, titled My Sister’s Demon. Lots of progress!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. Yep, I checked on quite a few writers this week and enjoyed reading the updates! Also, my guest post went up on Monday: When Did You Fall in Love. Done.

What purchase for your home turned out to be a bigger deal than you expected? And how was your week?

Giving Fans a Good Series Finale

Two seasons ago, I decided to stop watching How I Met Your Mother. I was frustrated with the slow unfolding of the main plot line and decided to shelve that show in favor of others. But a friend brought me back into the fold by encouraging me to get back on board because “it gets better.”

So I binge-watched the penultimate season and then watched the final season, which recently concluded with the series finale. I’d seen a bit of hubbub surrounding the conclusion of the series, but I didn’t understand until I watched the hour-long show the next day. I promise not to give any spoilers, but like many fans my take-away was . . .

Worst. Finale. Ever.

What were you thinking?

Sorry, but I’m weeks past that moment, and I’m still kind of angry. Which got me thinking about series finales in general — whether a TV series, a movie series, or a book series. What makes an audience thrilled with the ending, and what makes the audience revolt in frustration?

Here are my own ideas about giving fans a good series finale:

Don’t cop out with a twist ending. Yes, you want to go out with a big bang. But a big bang is probably more of the same. Make it bigger and better, but don’t pull a bait-and-switch on the audience. It may feel clever to introduce something entirely different at the end — like you’ve created a breath-taking A-ha! moment. But it can backfire.

If you do give a twist, make it one that falls in line with the tone of the rest of the piece. For example, this is the best-ever twist ending for a TV series I’ve seen:

Do maintain the character arc. The main and supporting characters should grow through the series. Through trials and triumphs, they learn something important about themselves. They’re still the people we’ve come to know and love, but a better version for having gone down the path we journeyed with them. Keep that arc until the end. Regression is not acceptable. If they learned something, let them hold onto those hard-earned lessons.

Do answer the main question. If we know that a character’s main goal in life is discovering the true identity of his mother, and we endure seven books or five TV seasons or four movies, the protagonist better know who Mama is by the end. Not every thread must be tied up perfectly, but if a question has been a driving force throughout the series, it needs to reach some satisfactory conclusion. Maybe it’s not even fully explained, but it’s enough for the main character to find peace.

Don’t get silly. Maybe you can’t imagine what this point is about. But you know it when you see it: Lost, the Ewoks of The Return of the Jedi, the last few seasons of Heroes, . . .

When writing a series, the author or screenwriter may feel like they’re running out of material or they may wish to push the envelope further and further. It can be tempting to get more and more imaginative until you finally cross a line that makes your fans say, “What the heck was that?!” Instead, keep the tone, the tension, and the integrity of a series all the way to the end.

Those are my four Do’s and Don’ts for giving fans a good series finale. But ultimately, you have to Respect the Audience. Think about why the series has been so successful and then amp that up for the final goodbye.

Who’s done it well?

One that comes to mind is the most watched finale ever: M*A*S*H:, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.” The finale remains a classic because it honored the characters, pushed Hawkeye (the main character) through the remainder of his personal struggle, and gave closure to the series through the ending of the Korean War and the characters parting ways. As they said goodbye to one another, we felt like we were saying our goodbyes as well. If you want to watch that final scene, you can find it here.

MASH Goodbye Final Shot

And now for the beginning of my series of progress updates with this round of A Round of Words in 80 Days.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. Read The Collector by Victoria Scott. One down, 11 to go!

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Put this off until I finish the first draft of another story I needed to finish. No progress this week.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. Worked on a plot hole I need to resolve in one story. Some progress.

4. Publish and promote two short stories. Not ready to publish until end of the month or early May, but I finally picked all of my stories’ titles — with the fabulous help of my fabulous book cover designer, Melinda VanLone. Need a cover? Check her out here. Progress made!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. I already submitted my sponsor article for the ROW80 blog, and it should go up later this month. Then checked in on everyone on Friday. Done.

Now what’s your vote for best and worst book, TV, or movie series finales? What advice would you give to an author or screenwriter when crafting the final installment of a series? And how was your week?