Why Bullet Journaling Is Becoming My New Best Friend

illustration of journal with clock aboveI’m typically not a hop-on-the-trend-train person. I’m far more likely to hang back and wait to see how things go for a bit before trying something new.

But I ran across something called bullet journaling lately, and it’s fast becoming the best habit I’ve adopted in a long time. Right up there with regular mammograms and drinking more water.

What’s a bullet journal?

Well, the inventor of the concept has a whole website with explanations about the goals of a bullet journal, how to use it, and tips for customizing it to your life. But I couldn’t find a straightforward definition there, nor really anywhere else. So I’m making up my own. A bullet journal is an analog planner, journal, and idea holder all in one.

Using any journal, notebook, or spiral, you create monthly, weekly, and/or daily planners that work best for you. You keep track of activities, goals, to-dos, and whatever else you wish with bullets, which you can vary to mean different things. You can decorate your journal with stickers, doodles, or any other visuals that help you generate ideas or stay motivated. Each bullet journal can be as unique as the individual who uses it.

And that’s what I’m loving it.

I’ve tried day planners, apps, to-do lists, wall calendars, and all manner of This Will Get You Organized suggestions. The only thing that has consistently worked for me is lined post-it notes where I write down my to-dos for the day. But that never helped me see the overall picture. Now I can keep track of my calendar obligations, my weekly goals (separated into home and work tracks), and have a place to take notes on ideas and research. And I still use my post-it notes; I just tack them into the journal.

One of the best additions is a Serendipity page for each week, where I jot down anything I learned that week about my focus, my work process, or future goals. This wonderful idea came from author Jaye Wells, who talked about how she uses a bullet journal:

The beauty of a bullet journal is:

  • You can use any size or style notebook you want — as cheap or fancy as you desire.
  • You create your own calendars, using whatever format, time periods, or scheduling blocks mesh with the way you work.
  • You can keep track of your calendar, to-dos, and notes all in one place.
  • You can easily see what you’ve done (and celebrate that) and see what you have left to do.
  • You don’t feel penalized for not having accomplished something, because you just move it to the next day’s or week’s list. (Because good intentions gone awry are often not personal failure, but simply Life.)

I’m still exploring how to use my bullet journal, but it’s the first organizational plan that seems to be working for me. It’s taken a bit of time to adapt to this new approach, but I really do think I’m getting more done.

If you want to know more, here’s a video from the designer of bullet journaling:

 

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What’s Your Natural Writing Voice?

VoiceOne of my favorite writing blogs is Writers in the Storm, hosted by four wonderful women and featuring articles that run the gamut on the craft of writing, the writer’s life, and the publishing business. I was thrilled to get to add my two cents to their blog in a recent post on How to Embrace Your Natural Voice.

I share my story of learning about my natural writing voice and tips on how to discover and embrace your own voice.

Here’s a teaser and then the link where you can find the article:

When I first began writing novels, I longed to pen my prose like the literary greats I’d read in high school and college. Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Edgar Allen Poe, Leo Tolstoy, etc. were my beacons of beautiful prose.

But alas, their light flickered on me. Because I couldn’t seem to get two pages in without snark coming out on the page. So much for my lofty plans.

I’m not the only one who wanted or expected a different writing voice.

Read the rest.

4 Common Issues You Can Fix (Before Your Copy Editor Does)

Red Pen 3I recently had the opportunity to guest post on Jami Gold’s fabulous writing blog. She has a ton of helpful information for writers, from beginner to pro. And she let me talk about one of my favorite topics: grammar.

But don’t start sweating. I hate diagramming sentences too. Instead, when I write about grammar, I keep things upbeat, practical, and simple.

Here’s a taste of the post, with a link to follow:

As Jami has pointed out, it’s worthwhile having a copy editor take a look at your manuscript. Poor grammar can interrupt the flow of your story, and no matter how good you are with language and grammar, we all make mistakes.

But you know what? Some mistakes I see in manuscripts are easily fixed by the author, if they know what to look for. Since no copy editor is above missing something themselves, and some copy editors offer discounts for clean manuscripts, it makes sense for you to correct what you can.

Let’s talk about four common issues I see in manuscripts and how you can quickly edit them yourself.

4 Common Copy Editing Issues to Watch For — Guest: Julie Glover

The Power of Writing Partners…Or How I Won #NaNoWriMo After All

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner-smallerIn my last post, NaNoWriMo: 4 Reasons You Should Keep Going, Even If You Won’t Win, I talked about how far behind I was in my goal of writing 50k in one month. Although I kept writing, I felt pretty certain that I would not be a NaNoWriMo winner in 2016.

And then, something happened.

My good friend, Jenny Hansen, suggested doing writing sprints together. The NaNoWriMo website provided an easy, effective tool for setting up a group sprint and then adding your word count total at the end of your time. We coordinated our schedules, set up group sprints, and let our fingers fly across our keyboards.

Even though we’re separated by 1500 miles and two time zones, we experienced that connection of both going for the same goal and supporting one another. Just knowing she was on the other end and expected me to get some words down motivated me to, well, get some words down. Her encouragement was awesome, but the accountability probably mattered more.

Because having someone cheering for you isn’t quite like having someone on the same team with you. It’s fabulous to hear, “You can do it!” “I’m pulling for you!” “You’ve got this!” And the support of other writers on Facebook and Twitter and face-to-face absolutely helped me adopt the right attitude.

But the accountability of a writing partner forced me to clear the time, open up my manuscript, and write words and pages and scenes.

I was 20,000 words behind. But Jenny and I both ended up having two 5,000+ word days. And on November 30, we crossed the finish line together. That’s right, I’m a NaNoWriMo winner after all!

I have a mostly completed manuscript, a NaNoWriMo winner T-shirt on its way, and some great takeaways. Including that I want to continue writing with others to increase my accountability and meet my goals.

In fact, the NaNoWriMo site still has its group sprint page available, which I highly recommend. Or you could meet in person with local writers. Or set a clock and tag someone on social media. Whatever works for you.

Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo winners out there! And an especially big shout-out to Jenny Hansen for breaking the finish line ribbon with me.

Fabulous First Lines

Fabulous First LinesThe other day, I was perusing my bookcase to decide which novel to read next. I have a stockpile from which to choose, but I was in an impatient, wow-me mood so I grabbed a few books off the shelf and simply read the first line. The first two were okay, but the third one grabbed my attention:

I cracked my first lock when I was three.

Immediately, I wanted to know who this teenager was that cracked locks so young and why that was important to her life story.

I got swept into this novel about a spy girl, ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway. It was a great read, and that first line promised a story and tone that the author delivered on the page.

In celebration of other fabulous first lines, I wanted to share a few from books I’ve recently read. Congrats to these authors on penning a great hook for their readers.

I woke up to the smell of Lysol and the end of the world. — TORN, Erica O’Rourke

Where is this girl? Why is she smelling Lysol? And why is it the end of the world? Is that figurative or literal? Clearly, I wanted to read on. (Actually, I read on through all three books in the series, TORN, TANGLED, and BOUND.)

She’s so lovely, so fragile. Those haunted eyes. Those rosebud lips . . . they’ll scream so prettily. — POISON PRINCESS, Kresley Cole

Creep a reader out, will ya? That certainly set the tone for something sinister to come. This line appears in the prologue, and the first chapter is quite different. But it sets the mood properly to let the reader know that this book will delve into dark places.

Trevor Dunham talked quite a bit about his man part just before he drowned. — THE LIFEBOAT CLIQUE, Kathy Parks

A blurb on the front promises that this is a “savagely funny book,” and that first line cracked me up immediately. As I was picking up books at the Houston Teen Book Con, this first line sold me and I immediately decided to purchase. Sure enough, the book had a great balance of heartache and humor that this first line captured perfectly.

We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake. — THIS DARK ENDEAVOR, Kenneth Oppel

What a perfect first line for the first book in the series The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Having read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a YA twist of the story, but I was eager to delve in when we started right away with “the monster.” (Who, by the way, is not Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein was the creator of the monster.)

All of these books turned out to be novels I would recommend.

What are some wonderful first lines from books you’ve recently read or picked up? Share your favorites!

Questions for YA Authors: From Teen Book Con

Authors entering
YA authors entering the packed auditorium at Teen Book Con 2016.

I had the joy of attending the 7th annual Teen Book Con at Alief Taylor High School in Houston, Texas on Saturday. There were 25 young adult authors in the line-up, with a fabulous keynote address from Ruta Sepetys, author of Salt to the Sea, and six topical panels.

For the most part, teens asked the questions for the author panels. I was so impressed with the quality of their queries that I jotted several down. And I thought I’d answer them myself — see how I’d do on an author panel.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Authors are often asked about the best writing advice they’ve received, so this question was a nice reversal. I’d say the worst advice is anytime someone says there’s a single process for writing a novel. Whether it be plot this way or you must never edit while writing the first draft or use this method and you’ll turn out bestsellers, it’s just wrong. Not wrong for everyone, but wrong for some. It’s silly to assume that the way one writer turns out a great novel is the same process another must use. That would be like saying, “There’s only one route to New York,” when one of you is coming from Pennsylvania and the other from Africa. We’re different people coming from different places, so find whatever route gets you to the destination of Great Novel.

How often does the ending of your book surprise you?

When I write mysteries, I’m definitely surprised. I’ve written two mystery manuscripts, and both times I didn’t know who the perpetrator was when I started. I wrote more than half of those books with three different possibilities in mind — which made it easier to provide “red herrings,” I guess — but as the books progressed, it became clear whodunnit.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

This is a hard question, because I’d like to hang out with several of my characters. However, I’m currently writing a novel, Daring Charlotte, about a teenage girl who adores musicals. As a musical fan myself, I’d love to spend a day with Charlotte just watching musicals in a marathon movie event. The trouble would be narrowing it down to which ones we’d want to fit into our 24 hours.

IMG_2703
Who I did spend the day with — my fabulous critique partner and brilliant YA author, Christina Delay.

What is your hidden talent?

I can touch my tongue to my nose. Actually, now that I say that, it doesn’t sound a talent — more like a weird trick.

What’s your favorite part of the book to write?

First chapters. I love that fresh moment of a story idea falling onto the page, when I’m excited to meet these characters and eager to find the hook that gets readers interested in knowing more. I’m sure I spend way more time on the first chapter of a book than any other, because I believe it’s that important. (And that fun.)

What’s a romance trope you hate?

Bad boys turned good, solely because of the love of a nice girl. Seriously, ladies, if he’s only changing because he thinks it will get you to go out with him or get you in bed, it ain’t gonna last. Love does not cure drug addiction, bad ethics, or prison-worthy behavior. And it doesn’t make a jerk into a prince. A guy can be flawed, but he’d better be a good soul before he has a shot at the worthwhile female characters in my books.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Be willing to write crap and be willing to edit it into something wonderful. You can get so wrapped up in writing perfection that first time that you don’t get words down on the page. Set yourself up for the reality that you will delete or change quite a bit of what you write, and that’s okay. Excellence demands perspiration, so just commit to writing and then be willing to rewrite to make it better and better and better. Until you realize that what you wrote overall is pretty darn good, and worth sharing with others.

If your main character was real, what would they be doing right now?

I immediately thought about my YA novel Sharing Hunter (out on submission) and those two main characters. Chloe is wearing a small bikini, breaking into the hot tub at a local hotel, and inviting her love interest (no spoilers) to join her in the foam already. Rachel is carefully sketching a portrait of her and her love interest (no spoilers) to give to him for their __-month anniversary.

How would you answer any of the questions above? Or what questions would you ask of your favorite authors? 

Top 10 YA Books I Read in 2015

As soon as I typed that title, I knew I’d leave someone’s book out of my list. If it’s your book, please forgive me. My memory isn’t the best, and I failed to keep a definitive list of what I read this past year!

But even if some amazing novel is missing from my list, I vouch that the following books are worth reading. Here are my favorite YA novels I read in 2015.

1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (fantasy). The Reds are commoners, while the elite Silvers have special powers and rule the country. Except when Mare starts working in the palace, she discovers a power of her own — which could throw off the balance, endanger her life, and threaten her family and her heart.

Not only does this book have a fabulous cover, the story within is a compelling tale of fantasy, relationships, romance, and betrayal. It’s a pretty entangled plot, but more than that, I enjoyed the characters who kept me guessing what they would do and how things would turn out.

2. They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire (suspense). Kenzie somehow got voted onto a list of the hottest girls in high school. Every year, that list is the ticket to popularity, parties, and romantic perks. This year, however, if you’re on the list…you have a target on your back. When girls on the list start dying, Kenzie must figure out who’s behind it before someone takes aim and kills her first.

What a concept, right? And St. Claire pulled this off very well. Kenzie is a relatable character, and the plot twists and ticking clock keep you on your toes and cheering for her to figure out who’s behind the killings. There’s also interesting friends, a cute boy, and more. Just a great read.

3. Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs (superheroes). Kenna lives and works in a community of superheroes who oppose a society of villains — yet she is powerless, an ordinary. When she encounters a band of villains seeking to save one of their own, she finds a way to fight against them. But the encounter leaves her questioning her view of heroes and villains and what it means to be good.

When I picked this up, I admit thinking to myself, Seriously? What more can be said about superheroes? Yet Childs and Deebs approached the subject in an original way, infusing the story of superheroes with deeper questions, interesting relationships, and stellar dialogue. Powerless is the first in their Hero Agenda series, and I will be reading the next one.

4. The Murder Complex by Lindsey Cummings (dystopian). In this dystopian society, the murder rate is higher than the birth rate — by design. Meadow has been taught by her father to fight back and survive, but when Zephyr, a government-programmed assassin, puts Meadow in his sights, she’s thrown into an entirely new challenge that requires all her skills, courage, and determination. Not to mention her heart.

I’ll warn you now: The body count in this novel is high. This is a dystopian society on steroids. But I loved this fast-paced novel with fresh characters, plot twists, and high stakes. It’s the first in a two-book series, and I immediately read the follow-up, The Death Code, which I also recommend.

5. Find Me by Romily Bernard (thriller). Wick’s got a promising new foster home, courtesy of her dad being arrested for his felonies. She’s also got amazing hacker skills, a snarky attitude, and a cop in her heels who’s convinced she helped Daddy Dear with his crimes. But when a former friend’s diary ends up in Wick’s hands with the words Find Me, Wick’s hacking skills and criminal contacts might just help her find Tessa’s killer.

Wick is the kind of resilient teen I love to read about. She has a billion ways life has kicked her in the butt, yet she wants a better life for herself and her sister. Bernard weaves a marvelous thriller plot in with deep emotional stakes for Wick and those around her. This was that kind of novel that made me push my bedtime way late into the night to read “just one more chapter” again and again.

6. Winter by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi fantasy). Winter is a sci-fi retelling of Snow White, right along with the super-bad stepmother and a huntsman who isn’t willing to kill the princess. But the whole story is set in a futuristic setting with Earth and the Moon at war and weaves in characters from the three previous retellings of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.

This is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder. Whether you know anything about the classic fairy tales, these retellings are highly engaging — but the way Meyer weaves details from the fairy tales into her world is nothing short of brilliant. This is the series I have most recommended to friends over the last couple of years.

7. A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin (historical). It’s the age of Napoleon, but Georgiana’s biggest problem is her parents sending her to a severe boarding school after a few of her science experiments went slightly awry. The rumors about Stranje House promise a life of both poise and punishment, but the school holds more far more interesting secrets. And Georgiana might fit in after all.

Great setting, smart heroine, intriguing characters, page-turning plot, and brilliant writing. I can’t wait for book 2 in Baldwin’s Stranje House series!

8. Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander (contemporary). Charlie is a math genius, but definitely not a genius at love. Until he meets an unusual girl in a donut shop who defies all logic and captures his heart. But when the new girl Charlotte turns out to be dealing with a serious illness, Charlie’s world isn’t just lopsided — it turns upside down.

You might think this is The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s not. Yes, there’s a sick girl, a lovesick boy, and a romance. But much of the book is the unfolding of their relationship and intriguing twists about these characters. It sounds totally cliché, but yeah, I laughed, I cried, I loved it.

9. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (contemporary). Alex is a normal teenager in many ways with concerns about school, family, and love, but everything in her world is also colored by her daily struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. How can she know what’s real and what’s not? And can she somehow find inner peace and romantic love?

Amazingly written, Made You Up also lets you see all these events through the unreliable point of view of someone with paranoid schizophrenia. What The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time did to help readers understand Aspergers, Made You Up will do for this poorly understood mental illness. I felt the challenges Alex faced and couldn’t help but root for her throughout.

10. Finding Paris by Joy Preble (contemporary). Sisters Paris and Leo must rely on each other; they certainly can’t rely on their flaky mother or gambling stepfather. But when Paris goes missing from a Las Vegas diner one night, Leo and a brand-new friend must track her down with clues Paris has left around the city. Why has Paris disappeared? And what family secrets does she hold?

I’m not a re-reader of books. Once I’ve read a novel, it’s rare for me to go back and read it again — even years after. Yet as soon as I finished Finding Paris, I wanted to turn back to page one and read the whole thing again. I resisted the urge at that moment, but I have every intention of re-reading this quirky, intense, wonderful novel in 2016.

That’s it! My top ten.

What did you read in 2015 that you recommend others read in 2016?

10 More Christmas Gifts for Writers

10 More Christmas Gifts for WritersI have fun doing this every year — coming up with gift ideas for us writers. Because in some ways, we’re easy for shop for. After all, writing and office supplies can make us nearly giddy. One of my favorite gifts last year was a ream of printer paper from a friend. On the other hand, we’re creative types who also enjoy the extra effort at times when we receive something particularly fun for a writer.

I’ve had several posts in the past with gift ideas, but let me add 10 more ideas for the 2015 holiday season. (Click on links or photos below for specific product information.)

 

1. Literary Paper Dolls. I remember making paper dolls as a young girl, but I don’t remember getting to make Edgar Allen Poe. How sweet is that!

2. Chapter One/The End Earrings. I love literary-themed jewelry, and these earrings caught my eye. And you can find about a million other earrings for book lovers all over Etsy.

Book Lover Earrings 12mm Chapter One The End Antique Copper Dangle Earrings - Reader Literary Earrings - Librarian Gift Teacher Writer Gift

3. Novel Teas. Not every writer drinks coffee exclusively; many of us enjoy a cup of tea. Novel Teas have a literary quote with each tea bag. You can also find many book-themed teas in the fandom section of Adagio Teas, like these Banned Books Blends.

Novel Teas contains 25 teabags individually tagged with literary quotes from the world over, made with the finest English Breakfast tea.

4. Aqua Notes. I often come up with great ideas for my book when I’m in the shower. Which is frustrating. But hey, if I had these Aqua Notes, I could simply jot it down right there in the moment — never losing another brilliant idea to soap and spray.

5. Book-themed coasters. Out of Print Clothing is a fun place to shop, with lots of book-themed stuff, including drink coasters. Here’s one of my favorite options, for the sci-fi writer or reader.

Sci Fi Coasters

6. Writing Course Gift Certificate. You’d likely have to make the certificate yourself, but offer to pay for an online class. There are some great, inexpensive courses for writers through various sites, like Romance Writers of America­­® Chapters, Holly Lisle, and Lawson Writer’s Academy — where I’ll be teaching a young adult course next spring.

birthday gift certificate template

7. Bookmark. But not your average bookmark. Etsy has some marvelous options, like mermaid-shaped bookmarks to keep your place. (I think of fellow writer Diana Beebe every time I see this.)

Metal Mermaid Bookmark with Charms

8. Shakespearean Insult Bandages. Someone bought me these a few years ago, and I adore them. No one knew how to deliver a proper scathing insult quite like The Bard. (Check out the other products too at this great website, Gone Reading.)

William Shakespeare Insult Bandages

9. Ebook Stand. This is on my Christmas list. I don’t have one of those cases that becomes its own stand, but I like reading at the table while I’m eating or whatever. You can get a stand that works for mobile devices:

Rolodex™, Adjustable Mobile Device Mesh Stand, Black, Each (1866297)

Or one that can be used for print books as well:

Bookgem Book Holder - iPad Stand, Kindle, Tablet, & eBook Holder

10. Extra laptop supplies. I take my laptop everywhere, and having packed and repacked my laptop case a number of times, I can honestly say it’s far more convenient to have extra supplies stashed in your case so you don’t have to carry them back and forth. Grab a mini-mouse, an extra mouse pad, or a power cord specific to your writer’s laptop to make packing up and working elsewhere more convenient.

Logitech - Mini Wireless Optical Mouse - Black - Larger Front

Poppin Mouse Pad

And here are my previous years’ posts with gift ideas:

10 Holiday Gifts for Readers and Writers

Gifts for the Grammar Geek

Gifts for the Word Lover

Gifts for the Book Reader

Gifts for the Writer

10 Gifts for the Bookish and Writerly

Happy holiday shopping! Hope you can find the perfect gift for the writer in your life — even if that writer is you!

What’s a Writer’s Job Description?

Writer Job DescriptionI’ve always found it fascinating what people do for a living. There are so many jobs and tasks out there, you can hardly imagine all the possibilities. But I also find it fascinating how people describe their jobs. How do they perceive their own work?

There’s an oft-told parable about three stone masons, or bricklayers, working on the building of a great cathedral. A traveler arrived in town, toured the exterior, and witnessed the construction.

Seeing a stone mason, he stopped and asked, “What are you doing?” This first mason answered simply, “I’m laying bricks.”

Turning a corner, the traveler saw a second stone mason and asked the same question: “What are you doing?” This second mason answered, “I’m erecting a wall.”

Moving on, the traveler spotted a third stone mason and asked again, “What are you doing?” This time, the third mason straightened his spine, beamed with pride, and responded, “What am I doing, sir? I am building a cathedral.”

I suspect the third stone mason experienced far more job satisfaction. He believed himself to be contributing to something big, beautiful, and lasting.

When writers get asked about their job, the easiest answer is simply “I write books.” It’s straightforward, understandable, accurate. However, many writers see it more deeply. Ask them what they do for a living, and you might get answers like:

  • I make up lies for a living, and people love me for it.
  • I weave imaginary worlds and invite others to join me there.
  • I create fictional characters, then make readers care about what happens to them.
  • I use to stories to inspire people to believe in love, justice, and goodness.

When I’m asked what I do, I usually answer, “I write teen novels.” That’s the crux of it. But…I have a different version in my head. Because what I see myself as doing is more like building a cathedral — contributing to something bigger, more beautiful, and lasting.

I tell stories that encourage teens to recognize they’re stronger than they think they are, that humor can get you through a lot in life, and that doing the right thing — however difficult — is the best thing for your heart and for your soul. I write books, but I hope they mean something to my readers.

Even if it’s just a fun story that gives them an escape for a weekend, that’s a goal worth pursuing as well. I think very highly of those authors who have brought me genuine smiles and made me laugh.

I hope teens also view what they do in life now, and in the future, as big, beautiful, and lasting. Because I know it truly can be. But a lot depends on your perspective.

How do you define what you do? Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral? What does that look like for you?

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.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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?