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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Whoop! Whoop! That’s The Sound Uh Da Police! #SWAT #3weekroundup #CBS #recap #review

Whoop! Whoop! That’s The Sound Uh Da Police! #SWAT #3weekroundup #CBS #recap #review
All pictures courtesy of CBS 

Here we are again with another late-season three-week roundup of a brand new (read: completely old and overdone) show. On deck this time, we have CBS’s latest remake/reboot of the police drama S.W.A.T. While I’d like to hand it to them this time for picking a decade other than the 80s to finally remake something from, I can’t help but still feel a certain turning anguish in my stomach at the fact that we are getting yet another remake. Granted, this is of a very pedestrian idea, but there are so many pedestrian ideas out there that haven’t been explored that it somehow gives me pause to see a new show and/or network (or a film and film studio for that matter) trade on an easily recognizable name over even considering something that could be wholly different. Yes, there are thousands of stories one can tell that are centered around the S.W.A.T. team, especially in this day of mass shootings galore and terrorists supposedly running to every corner of the earth, but there’s other agencies that we could explore and in very intriguing ways. But again, since this is so on-the-head obvious, I guess I can give it a pass as it is another cop show and, frankly, they’re all alike anyway. So, is this newest iteration of S.W.A.T. a battering ram in the right direction or will it just be another flash(bang) in the pan? Let’s find out together!

CBS’s new 2017 SWAT (from here on out I will not be putting periods between the letters) stars Shemar Moore (most recently of Criminal Minds fame) as Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson who is one of the leaders of the Special Weapons and Tactics force of Los Angeles. The little bit of twist this time around from what I’ve read (I don’t actually know because I never saw the original) is that this black Daniel, like every black cop character apparently, has a connection to the very streets over which he now “presides.” Side note: Why is it that every black or Latino character who plays a cop has to have the same played connection to the streets but the white guys usually just get to be cops? Seriously? I really try to keep this blog non-political and try to stay away from commenting about feminism, race, religion and the like, but what is it with that? At some point they almost always deliver a, “Hey, but I got outta that life” speech and/or a, “but people like me seeing people like me, black people for them and not against them...” speech too, signaling that they became cops because they want to put a stop to this notion that minorities don’t respect the law or that good cops do exist or that cops can have a positive influence on society or something like that. It’s never that the black or Latino guy became a cop because they just wanted to stop bad guys. Now I’ve gone on a rant at the beginning of the review which is definitely no good. Let me hop back on track. No race stuff from here out. Maybe. No promises.

Hondo and Deacon in foreground, Christina and Tan in back
Daniel is put in charge of his unit over another qualified senior SWAT member after the previous leader shot and nearly killed a black kid during the opening raid. Some weapons runners were in the middle of a deal and took off running through the streets and jumping on rooftops and houses, which is, apparently, a thing in LA because they did the same thing in Straight Outta Compton. Well, Hondo uses the opportunity to prove his badassdom by beating up one of the runners and shooting one in the head within seconds, sniping a guy from 30 feet away. The leader tries to shoot one of the other runners but errantly hits a black teenager. Because of this, and LA being what it is, the police chief and mayor decide to fire the old leader and promote the black Hondo over the white guy who was next in line, one sergeant David “Deacon” Kay who looks like the next oldest guy on the team.

Through the first three episodes, not much is given on Deacon’s character per se, but you do get a sense of who he is. A family man, he is a strong, rather silent type who, while he clearly feels the burn of being passed over for a job which should’ve been his, is hardly fuming about it as much as the many petty people that populate this world would fume. But to his credit, Hondo has been a good leader so far and has even consulted Deacon on the moves they should make in a particular stakeout, but that’s not until episode three.

Along with Deacon and Hondo, we also have Dominique Luca who is the older lock-and-step guy who does what his commanding officer tells him to do but is a crack-up when not in the field. A SWAT lifer, he is the womanizer who refuses to commit to anyone or anything outside of the job. His father was a SWAT member and so was his grandfather, making him third generation badass. We also have Victor Tan who is, for all intents and purposes, our token Asian character through the first three episodes. With so much going on with everyone else, he hasn’t earned the character spotlight and, if I’m being honest, has nearly melted into the background like ice cream into my belly (and you thought I was gonna say pavement, didn’t ya? Nope! Went with the clumsier simile). I think he also said that he’s married but I can’t be certain. And I also don’t remember him doing anything of real note, so... Yeah. Next we have Christina “Chris” Alonso (side note: because I hate girls using boy’s names and because it might get confusing with later references, I will call her Christina) who is the Latina of the group. She is a softer version of Michelle Rodriguez’s character from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She’s Leti 2.0—the version that came back to the franchise after they killed her off earlier, then brought her back more caring and nurturing. Christina’s kickass-ness is quite evident and she seems to have better detective skills than some of the others on the team, Hondo excluded. She is also young and is one half of a “duo” that represents the millennial generation (the actor playing Tan is technically a millennial but I’m not sure if the character is or not).

The other half of the duo is newbie Jim Street, played by Alex Russell of The Chronicle fame. Hand-picked by the exiting squad leader, he is your quintessential young maverick/death-wisher who runs gung-ho into any situation. We see him first zooming through the downtown streets of LA on his motorcycle, racing to get to work and tailed by a patrol unit of cops who have no idea who he is. He shows up late to his first day and in the dressed-down tactical uniform. He changes out of that and joins the rest of the group.

After the opening salvo, the community where the black boy got shot is up in arms about yet another police shooting. They organize an outside protest rally for change for their little neighborhood and the city as a whole. SWAT goes to walk around in their plain blue uniforms, meeting people in the community and patrolling the gathering. This is the best they come up with to mitigate the disaster that was the shooting of the kid. While there, Jim flirts with Christina and I don’t know if it’s the actor who is just always happy-go-lucky in real life or if that is how the character is sorta supposed to be played, but you can tell straight away that even though she is turning down his advances because they work together, she is totally going to give him some eventually. She gave this tiny flinch of a smile that looked like she was holding back from jumping his bones that night in favor of the, “Nah, I’mma make you work for this” trope, which I am totally down for. I have no idea why, but I really liked this. I’m jumping ahead.

Jim Getting The Chew From Hondo And Deacon
The main speaker at the rally is a young man who had a family member also suffer gun violence and police malfeasance not too long ago. As he is up on the dais making his speech, someone starts shooting and guns down one of the other people right beside him. Jim takes off toward the shooter with little regard for his safety or his team. He loses the shooter after showing some pretty impressive Spider-man skills. Hondo and the team have to chew him a little and they go back to the station.
Hondo learns the chief commanding officer in charge of all the SWAT units in the city wants to handle the job with a sledgehammer rather than some finesse, and he ain’t goin’ for it. Instead of roughing people up, Hondo takes the “this is my hood” approach so often used by the black cop in these shows/movies. He goes around the city with his squad and asks some of the locals, stopping first at a salon, which leads him to a street-hustling BBQ master, which finally leads him to a towing company that was seen fleeing the rally on the day of the shootings.

Well, the towing company is run by some ex-military dudes (mostly white) who look tough but SWAT’s got nothing on them for now. So Hondo makes a stop over at the shot-kid’s hospital room. He’s alive and awake and surrounded by family and the black activist dude. Hondo says some encouraging words about how he was once in the same streets and how it’s tough but the kid will make it and about how the police are not there to be enemies to anyone. He then gets some intel from the activist dude who said that he knew some ex-military sniper who was supposedly into the movement but more from a “the government is corrupt” standpoint rather than a “Black Lives Matter” view.

Hondo and the squad go to this sniper dude’s house to find that the other towing ex-military people live there to. They figure out that not only are these guys some of the people that were involved in buying the guns at the beginning of the episode but that they also shot the black people at the rally. They are trying to cause a race war not because they believe in white power or the oppression of blacks but because they are trying to bring down the entire system of the government and hoping the city will rip itself apart in utter chaos.

Well, Hondo splits his team. He gets to the roof of a building to stop the sniper who has promised to kill a bunch of grade-schoolers only to find that the threat is a decoy and they really plan to rob a very important bank and start the domino in bankrupting the city(?). It kinda got convoluted at that point but by then it was only ten minutes left in the episode and I was ready for the wrap up.

The bad guys have a rocket launcher that they use once on a truck. Hondo and his team manage to stop the baddies and fight them in the street. Jim shows that he can definitely fight and be good at the job, but still gets saved by Hondo and the day is saved.

Jessica and Hondo; They Actually Make A Cute Couple When Dressed Down... And Naked

On a side note, one of their superiors Jessica Cortez is sleeping with Hondo. But because she is younger than him, a woman, and higher-ranking, at the start of the episode she wants to officially put in the paperwork to declare their relationship. But when Hondo gets the promotion, she then becomes his direct superior which makes her want to break it off, and you can just tell that Hondo wants part-time custody of her bed sheets (he’ll come by and hit it on the weekends). And as much as she is objecting, you can tell she’s gonna cave. A lot of this show is predictable, but it’s the first few episodes so... what can you expect?

Episode two sees them open with a training exercise on a meth lab setpiece. There, as they go through the raid and look into room after room of meth makers without firing a single shot, newbie Jim takes off once again on his own and winds up taking one of the meth lab workers down but getting shut with a sticky arrow in the back of the head by a secondary SWAT training officer/meth maker. His team lost the exercise do to his freestyling without the team, and if it was real life he would’ve gotten killed. They break from the exercise only for the chief over the SWAT units to come and privately talk to Deacon about the racial tension having died down in the city and how he can now go back and make Deacon the new squad leader and, I guess demote Hondo? It’s all very hush-hush and Deacon really isn’t having it because he, at the very least, is a man of integrity.

Meanwhile, as the squad is going through more practice drills, across town a county jail transport goes horribly wrong when the cousin of a big bad criminal breaks him out of the transport. See, the lead prisoner and three others were being transported to prison and were inside of a building with a glass elevator. The lead prisoner’s cousin came and shot up the guards, posed as a guard himself and they made off with the lead prisoner and the other criminals who had to escape too because they were all chained together. I’ll say I was actually surprised that the lead prisoner and his cousin didn’t just kill the other criminals once they escaped because he would’ve had to know that by finding the other criminals, the police could potentially interrogate them and then find him. And that’s exactly what the SWAT unit tries to do.

Not only is an escaped prisoner troubling the city, Hondo’s non-girlfriend girlfriend and boss Jessica (she has a desk job but used to be a patrolwoman; everybody is a cop) is the person who busted the lead escaped criminal. If she knows one thing, it is that this guy is all about the vengeance. Loves the vengeance. So she is concerned most about the woman whose testimony put him away. That woman is a single mom with two children, one of which was used as a carving board for the lead criminal. As it turns out the lead criminal was a rapist and pedophile who used to sleep with young teenage girls. There mighta been some murdering stuff in there too, but I can’t remember as they only mentioned it once. It’s a good probability that the single mom and her family need protection but because the police unit is already tight on fund allocation, the head honcho will never approve of it. So Hondo takes it upon himself to jump ahead and assign Christina and Jim to the woman’s house as a safety detail. Naturally, they get their flirt on without really flirting, talking about the latest dating apps and such.

As Christina and Jim are getting familiar with each other at the single mom’s house, Hondo has split the rest of the team up to go and collect the various criminals around the city, the very plan I knew they’d try. They believe they can get the other accidental escapees to rat on where the rapist dude might be or at least where he dropped them off. So they trick the black criminal’s friend into telling them that the black criminal sometimes frequents his sister’s place; then they find the exotic animal smuggler back at his home feeding the crazy exotic animals because they haven’t been fed since he was arrested I guess; and they also find some other dude doing something else.

None of that leads them to the rapist. But then Christina and Jim notice that this teenage boy has been riding back and forth in front of the single mom’s house like he’s casing the joint. They and Hondo ask if he’s reconning for the rapist but he explains that he wants to kill the escapee just as bad. He even says that he’s been bouncing between the single mom’s house and his cousin’s house because the rapist always claimed that the young teenage girl living there was his bride and belonged with him. So Hondo and the group go over there to find the rapist there, leaving Christina and Jim behind on the detail. No, they’re not done protecting the family. In fact, the rapist’s brother comes to get the single mom and her kids who go and hide in the bathroom. Jim tells the little boy some story about how he had to be a little man when he was younger and how that’s the kid’s responsibility now and how the kid can calm himself down during times of stress. Well, the kid does the thing and we get to see none of the kickass-ing that Christina and Jim do to the brother, but they do take him down.

As it turns out, the rapist is not only at the other young girl’s house but escapes out the back with her. Now they need to figure out where he might go. They hear something from one of the other re-captured escapees and/or the girl’s father about some cabin, discover that his aunt had a cabin which is still listed as existing outside the city and not belonging to anyone, and they load up and get going. We get a huge shootout between the rapist and SWAT and even have Hondo come riding in on a helicopter. Hondo, being the capeless superhero he is, magically has the best shot from up high when the rapist steps to the window using the girl as a shield. He shoots the guy’s brains out and the day is saved. We also got a little back and forth with Hondo and Jessica about their relationship and his unspoken bad boy promises that he’s still gonna come over every now and then and tap, flip and lick it, and she’s caving. She wants to be bad. Secret romance that’s forbidden at work? Like Brandy sang back in the 90s, she “wanna be dow-ow-own!”

Episode three opens wiith them doing typical SWAT stuff: a raid on a heroin smuggling ring. Nestled inside what looks like a pretty nice apartment complex, they get some good intel about some people smuggling drugs and go to raid the place. They bumrush the door and immediately people scatter. They catch a few of the people, gun others down, then return to the apartment to find a fairly clean room. There’s no coke, no ex, no nothing inside. If this was a drug den at one point then they have surely missed the—boomp! They hear a subtle sound come from somewhere in the back and open up a room to find a bunch of people crowded into a room no bigger than a janitor’s closet at a rundown elementary school. One man, the “lead mule” is the only one who can speak English. They get his name out of him and some gobblety gook about wanting to be in America or something and then he starts rubbing on his stomach, foaming at the mouth and collapses in front of them. He’s overdosing on the copious amounts of burst condoms full of heroin.

As it turns out the people in the closet were all Filipino immigrants who were being forced to be drug mules, and now the team has to figure out who is behind this ring. Also, they learn that the people in the closet (sounds like an off-Broadway gay musical about an entire gay club in some straight-laced Republican dude’s closet) are actually only halves or partial families. So they have to find the families as well.

While that investigation is going on, we get some more background for Jim. In the first episode, we learned that the SWAT leader that was fired was the same cop that busted Jim’s mom. Her crime: she killed her boyfriend who was abusing her and little Jim when he was young. Zoom forward to episode three when we actually see Jim visiting his mother in prison. She is still in there for a while (maybe for life) but she looks good. Actually, if you watch a lotta TV you will notice that his mother is Sherilyn Fenn who played Audrey on Twin Peaks. Anyway, she tells her son that one of the girls who she is close with in jail is getting out soon and that the woman is scared that her ex (a supposed abuser) is going to find her and get violent with her again. She just wants Jim to go over to the guy and warn him off of this woman, rough him up if he needs to. He promises to do so.

Back to the main story, the team starts to search for the strands that lead back to the people behind the smuggling ring. Remember we’re not only dealing with drug smugglers, but also human traffickers and extortionists. So this has to be a pretty big ring. They discover that all of the people in the closet were asssociated with this one particular pastor/priest. Because the lead mule is still struggling to live and is currently unconscious in a hospital bed, the priest tells the cops that they all worked for this same cleaning and hospitality agency. So they go to the place, which supplies workers for a lot of medical properties like nursing homes or places where “not a lot of Americans want to clean out bed pans.” A white guy, he tells them that he hires a lot of immigrants because they are willing to work the nasty jobs for a visa, but that he has outsourced his hiring to this one guy because this guy speaks Filipino.

Well, cut through the BS, SWAT chase around the HR guy, then a few others only to end up back in the white guy’s house. They figure that it actually was the white guy the entire time. So they go to his wife and, surprise, surprise, his wife is Filipino (I don’t think the actress is actually Filipino but some other Asian ethnicity. I’ve seen her play a few different Asian characters). And I’m like, “Well, it was her the whole time.” But apparently the one cop (who is not part of Hondo’s SWAT team) doesn’t realize this. He turns his back on her and gets shot when he turns back around.

The woman and her husband get to a private airport where they try to take off in a private jet but are stopped. The husband caves quicker than a knifed souffle and tells the team everything while she resists saying anything. She’s a gangster. With the husband’s intel, they find the rest of the families before they die from suffocation while locked away in a shipping container.

Back with Jim, he goes to rough up the dude for his mom and gets arrested for throwing paws with the guy who is totally not feeling anything he’s saying. Well, Hondo discovers the real intel about Jim’s mom and goes to visit her in prison. It turns out that prison has corrupted her. Now Jim’s mom is a seller of contraband and the guy on the outside was working with this woman on the inside who was never actually getting paroled but is Jim’s mom’s competition. Hondo warns her off of ever contacting her son again, or at least for a good long while because he doesn’t need that kind of distraction in his life right now. Oh, and there was a tiny thing about Dominique needing a place to stay and depending on his SWAT brethren and sisteren to house him for a while because his latest girl kicked him out. Take a guess of who he stays with. 

Dominique and Hondo

What’s my grade? I give it a B+. It’s strange that I enjoyed this show because it’s a typical procedural drama that literally adds nothing new to the plethora of cop shows we have on the horizon of TV. But as a procedural, it is decent. The problem with the series is that it’s just decent. It’s not flashy, nothing heavily intricate and is predictable at nearly every turn, yet it’s entertaining for what it is. I’ve said that a few times this new TV season and for those that don’t know what it means, it means that you should know what you are getting the moment you see the commercial for the show. It’s just like every other cop show. And that’s the problem, but only if you’re looking for something new and innovative.

The show is also very strange in that it takes SWAT, which is known for being the tactical team that comes in when a situation gets out of hand, and turns them (or at least the public’s general idea of them) into your basic detective unit. In the first three episodes they did more detective work than both Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling did in the two Blade Runner movies. It makes me wonder what the other cops do.

Then we have the stereotypes within the show. They get it right with all of the minority inclusion, and it was about time that Shemar Moore got to lead his own show (yes, he was a big part of Criminal Minds but not the lead), but the writing is more typical of a lot of white writers sitting around thinking about what other minorities do, rather than having ethnic writers. I’m sure they do have minority writers, but something about the black guy having come from “the hood” is such a played motif that I groaned at the very mention of it. But I digress.

Should you be watching? Sure, if you like shows where the good guys always catch the bad guys and procedurals are generally your thing. If stuff like Criminal Minds, Chicago PD and the like are what you enjoy, then go for it. This is an acceptable remake to a show that, in and of itself, was not all that great. I can’t really be mad at an average show that has produced an average show. And SWAT wins a few brownie points for having adopted and adapted the old theme song to both make it current while not sullying the catchiness of the original tune. But if you are looking for something with a little more dramatic depth, then this probably isn’t the show for you. Ultimately, SWAT is a bubblegum show that tastes good for a while but quickly goes flavorless after a few commercial breaks. Will you be talking about it the next day at the watercooler? Probably not. But the cases could get interesting and they do a good job at establishing all of their characters while leaving plenty of room for intriguing developments. SWAT airs on CBS Thursdays at 10pm.

What do you think? Have you heard of the new TV remake of SWAT? If you haven’t, do you think you would check it out now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? Do you like it? What do you think they can improve? Do you think that Deacon will betray Hondo? And will Jim find out about Hondo talking to his mom? And what do you think about the relationships between Hondo and Jessica, and Jim and Christina? Let me know in the comments below. 
Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking. If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, “Hi, 911? Yeah, there’s a giant pitcher of red liquid walking around the house across the street. I’m getting nervous and I think he has a bomb.”
‘Have you seen a bomb?’
“No, but he keeps talking about an explosion... of flavor.
‘Of flavor?’
“Oh god, he’s coming this way. Ahhh! He just burst through the wall of my house. [background noise: ‘Oh yeah!’] He’s terrorizing me with Kool-Aid goodness! Help!”

P.S. But on a serious note, swatting is a very serious and very dangerous practice done by quite a few idiots out there. If ever it is done to you make sure that you don’t panic, get down low, do not resist and calmly explain what has happened. I’ll try to come up with a much better, shorter sign-off next time.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Growing Up Ain’t Always Easy... Or Fun #YoungSheldon #3weekroundup #CBS #recap #review

Growing Up Ain’t Always Easy... Or Fun #YoungSheldon #3weekroundup #CBS #recap #review

All pictures courtesy of CBS and Young Sheldon promotional materials

It’s time for another review/recap of one of this fall’s new shows. And because these idiot networks can’t seem to premiere everything at once like they used to, and insist on shuffling, re-shuffling, and cutting the deck that is their lineup of shows, we’re here in the middle of November for a show that premiered back in October (or September. Whichever). Yay! So, is CBS’s hit show Young Sheldon really deserving of all of its blue ribbon accolades or is this one of those homemade volcanoes at the school science fair (womp, womp)? Let’s find out together.

CBS’s Young Sheldon, a spin-off of the long-running hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, stars Iain Armitage as our titular character and follows a nine-year-old sheldon as he embarks on the hormone-soaked wilds of the high school jungle in, apparently, 1989. It is at this point in the review that I must stop and give a caveat that I am not a fan of The Big Bang Theory. It is not that I actively dislike the show, but simply is a matter of timing. I didn’t see the very first episode (or season, for that matter) of the show and I hate coming into things at the middle when I can get it at the beginning. It premiered during a time in which I was watching zero CBS shows because most of them seemed to trend older with the exception of How I Met Your Mother. I didn’t even like Two and a Half Men, so nothing drew me to watch CBS. I have only seen a literal handful of episodes of The Big Bang Theory and that was in syndication, so if you are a fan of The Big Bang Theory, then take everything I have to say both during the recap and during the review with a grain of salt. OK? Good. I now return you to your recap/review already in progress.

Young Sheldon, at the start of our series, is thrust into a new world that he is hardly frightened of, but, in fact, looks forward to the adventures of learning and overachieving at the high school level. But there’s a few problems. First, he is leaving his twin sister Missy behind in, I’m assuming, elementary school. She is your average little girl but she abhors her I’m-smarter-than-you brother and has a sarcastic outlook on life. He will also be joining his eldest brother Georgie (George Jr.) who is, at 14, entering High School also as a freshman. As a football jock, Georgie wants nothing to do with his younger brother because he has to build his own reputation which is difficult enough, especially with the family’s current situation.

The current situation: the family has had to move sometime within the last few years. Why? Because their father George Sr. (played by Lance Barber) is a football coach. As we learned in the first episode where Sheldon sought to point out the flaws in everyone, including his teachers who break the school’s rule book and, according to him, aren’t smart enough, George must sit his son down and tell him about the lesson he recently learned. Recap of that last sentence: we learned that the dad learned and was about to learn his son something, you follow? George used to coach at another high school and I guess he saw some of the other coaches maybe at his own school (I was a little confused here because of the situation) who cheated in some way and was then let go and made a pariah. The reason I say I was confused (and I don’t usually confuse easily, but it was very late and I was mentally fatigued) is because it makes little sense for the school to have fired him for seeing some other school’s coaches cheating, especially if that rival school was cheating against his own school. Then again, maybe there was an acceptable culture of cheating, but that’s hard to believe because the show is set in Texas and we all know how seriously Texans take their football at all levels.

That, of course, leaves the most important character of the series, even more important than Sheldon: his mother Mary. Mary, played by Zoe Perry (fun fact: she is the Millennial-aged daughter of Laurie Metcalf of Roseanne fame and Jeff Perry of Private Practice and currently Scandal), is the best character on the series so far. I will try to withhold my critiques but just know that I like her. The typical 80s mom, she is concerned about all of her children but is most concerned about her little genius child and how he fits into his new school and the world in general. We see this more in the second episode, but let’s stick with the pilot for a little while longer.

Sheldon goes to high school where, as I said, he goes through every one of his classes and tells each one of his teachers something about how they are doing something wrong. He even says that one teacher has a mustache which goes against the school’s dress code. And that teacher was a white woman. To get him to fit in more, his parents talk to him about how everything isn’t always so rigid. While his parents argue with the school administration about how he needs to stay in that school and the teachers need to just deal with him, Sheldon ventures into a music class where he shows that he is a musical savant as he sits down to perfectly play the piano, though he’s never done it before. And while the teacher there tells him that he should pursue music, he refuses outright because he’s purely about science and musicians take drugs. We see a little bit of his brother being teased as the dumb brother as Sheldon’s reputation has already spread, and get a talk from dad about how to deal with a genius brother.

The episode bobbles along with some stuff in there to demonstrate Sheldon’s aversion to playing outside, watching cartoons and doing anything that doesn’t require the mind or science. And we also see a little thing about Sheldon going to church and how he simply doesn’t get it. But we end with a heart-warming and honest talk between Sheldon and George about his firing from his previous coaching job. “Is he sad about it,” Sheldon asks. Yeah. He’s angry and a litle sad. And that comment makes Sheldon touch his father’s bare hand without his mits on connecting on his father on a more human, personal level.
Georgie Jr. and Sheldon

Episode two focuses on Mary’s concern that Sheldon doesn’t have any friends. This stems from her seeing her two sons eating in the cafeteria and Georgie Jr. eating with friends but Sheldon sitting alone having delusions about the cosmos and the big bang (get it? Get it! Ha!). I should say, just in case you didn’t get it from the first episode, that George Sr. is the new football coach at this high school so his wife popping up and hanging with him during the day isn’t that weird around lunch time. I don’t yet know what she does for work, if she does work (this is the 80s and not the 50s, so I assume she does work but who knows).

Missy and Sheldon
Mary errantly tells Missy about her worries concerning Sheldon having no friends, and Missy then relays that message to Sheldon. So Sheldon goes on an adventure to develop some friendships. He goes to the library where he is pointed to the old book How to Win Friends and Influence People. He uses the techniques within the book to visit all the different cliques in the school to make friends. Along the way he makes a few funny jokes that align with the “greetings, earthlings” trope that fish-out-of-water stories have, but has no luck with friends. Finally, his sister, who is struggling with the idea of not being exceptional like her brother, comes up with the idea to read the names on the book’s reservation card because those people were also desperate enough to need a book to make friends. As it turns out, all of the people who recently took it out are adults, his teachers in fact. And after hearing a few terrible stories about how one teacher stole another teacher’s innocence and how that innocence-stealer was also left damaged from the breakup, he has to return the book.

In returing the book, Sheldon finds a young Asian boy who is also having trouble making a friend and huzzah! You’ve got a friend in me. Mary tells him to invite his new friend over and they have a dinner where George Sr. makes sure the boy’s mother doesn’t have a particular name (he fought in ‘Nam), and the boy tells the story of how his family escaped from Vietnam and have migrated here to become low-paid, overworked immigrants. How depressing! But the good news is that he and Sheldon can build rockets together and they both are super into math.

Sheldon's friend and Sheldon

Episode three focuses on two things: Sheldon’s grandmother (his mother’s mom) and his rejection of religion. Every Sunday, Mary goes to church and often takes the children (her husband is sometimes busy with the football team). But Sheldon, being the person he is, must call out the preacher’s claims that God created the world in six days, and challenges the existence of God and even tries to make that old stupid argument that God and science don’t align. But when he learns that some of the greatest scientists he admires also believe in God and that Pascale said that it’s smarter to believe in God than it is to not, he is flabbergast.

Meanwhile, his grandmother, played by Annie Potts, comes to babysit a few times. Like most grandparents, when she comes, the rules are a little more lax as she adores her grandchildren. But when George Sr. suffers some serious health emergency, grandmother or MeeMaw has to come and emergency-babysit while George and Mary go to the hospital. Things don’t look good when George thinks he is having a heart attack and has to stay in the hospital longer than expected. With Meemaw not being forthcoming enough with the deets about their dad’s health, Georgie Jr. decides to take it upon himself to steal his sleeping grandmother’s car and drive his siblings to the hospital. But being 14 he can’t drive and swerves all over the road hitting things at eight miles per hour. He finally lucks out when they all see an ambulance and follow it to the hospital.

Both plots come to a head when Sheldon sneaks away to pray in the hospital chapel. No, he doesn’t pray to God but to famed legendary scientist Pascale because he thinks that if Pascale was wrong and there is no God, then no harm done, and if he was right, then Pascale would surely be near God and able to pass along Sheldon’s message. He prays for his father’s good health, and just like that, his father is getting better again. The episode ends with the entire family going back to church and Sheldon’s tiny bit of belief having already dissipated back into atheistic doubt. All is well.

What’s my grade? I give it a C+. The only reason I see for this being this fall’s number one new show is that it has The Big Bang Theory as a lead-in and is associated with that show. If, however, this was not associated with that show in any way, I doubt it would really be all that. Let’s start with the way CBS rolled this thing out.

For starters, I have a few issues with how networks and streaming services premiere new shows these days. There almost seems to seldom be a happy medium and it’s getting worse, not better. With Marvel’s Inhumans premiering its first two episodes as a movie a few weeks before the TV premiere; Star Trek Discovery premiering one episode on CBS, then the second one on CBS All Access the very same night, and the third the next week; and with streaming services premiering entire seasons for binge-watching, I absolutely hate how we consume TV. One of the biggest pluses for cutting the cord, other than the cost, should be the ability to not fall prey to a network’s whimsical maneuverings of their schedule. I have yet to cut the cord. But even if I had, I would still have fallen prey to the same thing when viewing Young Sheldon. For some dumb reason, CBS decided to premiere this show not only out of its regular timeslot and date, but a full month ahead of the second episode. The first episode came on during premiere week on September 25th. The second episode finally came on on November 2nd, and the show moved from Mondays to Thursdays where it follows The Big Bang Theory. I can only guess that the network is deathly afraid of the show dying without the BBT lead-in. But in any case, having one episode of something play, then skipping weeks before showing the next one, then having it be off for at least another week during the Thanksgiving holiday, especially during an era in which people want full seasons of shows all at once, is courting cancellation. The time thing is needlessly disruptive and can leave a bad impression on viewers, especially if they didn’t love the first episode. And God the first show was awful.

Missy, MeeMaw and Sheldon
Speaking of, the pilot for this show is the textbook reason for why I always give a show at least three episodes to prove itself. To me, it was an absolutely terrible premiere episode, starting with who narrates the show. It’s funny that I went to the IMDb page for this to read some reviews and a few of those reviewers said the same thing I was thinking, and that is that the show seems to suffer from Jim Parsons narration. Parsons, who plays the adult Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, voices Young Sheldon’s inner-thoughts similar to on The Wonder Years or Arrested Development. It’s not necessarily his narration that is bad, but the fact that the show comes from his viewpoint when it probably would be better if it came from his mother Mary’s viewpoint.

After having seen Zoe Perry on last season’s Scandal, I can say without doubt that she is a phenomenal actress. She shines in this series, too. The show might actually be better if she narrated the show and it focused on her perspective raising such a gifted child. She’s really quite young in real life, but somehow plays older and has the mother thing down really well. Out of all the characters on the show, she actually feels the most geniune in all of her scenes. The comedic lines are delivered with conviction, she showed true caring and motherly concern for her family, and she is the one trying to balance Sheldon’s genius eccentricities with being a regular kid. In fact, both she and the husband character are pretty good parents, even if they do play into a few stereotypical family sitcom tropes.

The biggest problem with the show, outside of the dramatic tonal shift between this show and The Big Bang Theory, is that the titular character is not likable. Let me say that I abhor the “likable” description for characters. I have watched and read enough book, film and TV reviews in my life to cringe every time I hear that word. To me, it is a cop out for whenever a reviewer doesn’t understand or agree with the choices of a character, and it only applies maybe five to ten percent of the time. Characters don’t have to be likable, they have to be interesting, and their interesting-ness should overpower any annoyance or outright disdain one might have for them. Young Sheldon does not overpower my disdain.

Of the few episodes of The Big Bang Theory I’ve seen, Sheldon is a strange genius who, while very annoying and flawed, is played in a way that can often come off as endearing. However, Sheldon’s annoying I’m-better-than-everyone attitude is evened out by the fact that he lives/works with a bunch of other geniuses that are deeply flawed and know they are flawed. They are the essential “geeks that can’t get girls” concept, who evolved over time.

Here, on Young Sheldon, I know we must give him enough time to develop into the character he is supposed to be, but that will take years/seasons to happen. On this show, he comes off as a smart-alecky, know-it-all brat who thinks that everyone around him is exhaustingly beneath him. I had a friend tell me that she didn’t want to watch the show because she felt that she would get pissed watching some smart-mouthed kid talk back to adults and would feel compelled to pop the character in the mouth once. She’s old school and from the Midwest so don’t give me the PC “you can’t hit kids” thing. And while I probably wouldn’t do that myself, I had the same inclination.

Young Sheldon is not endearing and seldom funny in his pursuits. Where adult Sheldon has this almost Grinch-like or Cat-in-the-Hat-esque mischievous grin upon his face even when putting down his fellow geniuses or the non-superior-brained normies, Young Sheldon never gives that particular type of warm invitation to come laugh with him. Instead, he looks at everyone as if he is fed up that they don’t think his way, and that they’re idiots for not. He’s got a huge superiority complex that goes beyond America’s love of precocious kids. This is only made more evident by the fact that he is surrounded only by his family. Where on Big Bang he is circled around three other geniuses in their own right, on this show he only has the laypersons of his family. On Big Bang when he makes jokes about his colleagues intelligence or eccentricities, its endearing because you know that he is speaking with people who are close to his equals. Here, we know that he has no equal. Everyone is mentally a peon to him, even the adults, and he treats them as such, which is the most annoying thing you can do in this particular political climate. Again, I’m definitely not the PC-type (read my books to find out) but saying that Texas is some stupid, backwards land where a child is the smartest person serves to make fun of the average working Joe and Jane in a way that might not be great viewing for everyone. I thought we were past the "small town life is full of simpletons"-trope about twenty years ago. If you’re going to satirize the “simple-minded” religious of Middle America, then you better be damn funny doing it, otherwise, they might tell you to take a hike. And this show really ain’t all that funny, even though I’m not one of the simple-minded.

Should you be watching? If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory then yes you should check it out. Some people won’t like the change in format between the shows--going from the multi-cam studio audience show that is The Big Bang Theory to a single-cam show of Young Sheldon in which there is no laugh track. This is a big departure for CBS in the comedy area, though ABC, FOX and NBC have all been doing it for years with much success. The other non-studio-audience comedy CBS has/had is the new show Me, Myself and I, which has since been shelved, but not officially canceled. This show will be a little different for most CBS viewers to watch as it doesn’t even have strong musical cues to hammer home the jokes. I personally think that was a bad idea to switch formats between the two shows, but it does give some variety. As far as it being funny: eh! The first episode wasn’t funny at all, but the next two episodes had a few good laughs in them. Personally, I probably wouldn’t watch the whole season and would only tune in now and then for Zoe Perry. I find that the callbacks to The Wonder Years and Boy Meets World aren’t strong enough for me to recommend it as the new go-to family show, but it’s serviceable, as in it can serve up one or two laughs per episode. Maybe. Young Sheldon airs on CBS Thursdays at 8:30pm.

Included this pic because Zoe Perry looks her age, a young 33.

What do you think? Have you heard of Young Sheldon? If not, do you think you’ll tune in now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? Did you like it? Was I too hard on the show? Where do you think the show can improve? And do you think we’ll one day get kid-cameos of the other Big Bang characters somehow? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, “Let’s see: two and two make five? That doesn’t sound right.”
‘I don’t know. Looks right to me and I’m pretty smart. I’m a whale biologist.’
“But the numbers—”
‘Whale biologist!’

P.S. OK, that’s not the actual dialogue, but points to you if you know the reference to which that paraphrasing might refer to? Hint: It was an animated comedy on FOX. That show had scientists too. And, uh.. Yeah. That’s all I have to say. I’ll think of a better sign-off next time.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Write A Novel #NaNoWriMo #HalfwayMark #TMOTR

To Write A Novel #NaNoWriMo #HalfwayMark #TMOTR

This picture courtesy of the NaNoWriMo commission

Writing a novel can be pretty hard, y’all. Like... yeah! For those that don’t know or who have never tried, writing a full-length novel is very difficult and can be not only taxing on you mentally but quite a pain physically. And that’s even if you’re writing something you enjoy writing, something wonderful, something light and free and fluffy and lovey-dovey! Piecing everything together to create an easy, memorable and enjoyable reading experience for those future readers you one day hope to have is no easy task, but it is sometimes in this difficulty that we stumble upon (mental stumble upon. Wait, what do you call that...? Thunk upon! That sounds right) brilliance. The one drawback to brilliance is that you never quite know if it counts as such until it’s out there for others to see and consume. But that doesn’t mean you have to fret. I believe that all writing, even the fairly bad stuff, contains nuggets of greatness. That means that for you NaNoWriMo’ers this month, even if you struggle to get to your goal, even if you end the month without having completed your task, remember that you most likely have written something great.

Remembering back two years ago, I embarked on my first official (that’s very important) NaNoWriMo in November of 2015. It was a helluva month as I also decided to take on the unnecessary added challenge of NaNoBloPoMo or, wait... Is that what it is? That doesn’t sound right. NaBlo...? National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo! Ha!). For those that are unfamiliar with it or don’t blog, NaBloPoMo is where you post at least one blog post everyday for an entire month. Now, if you’ve read anything else on my blog, you’ll know that it is not like me to not be very verbose. Trying to both do my writing on my novel while also doing the whole blogging thing was extremely hectic and nearly pushed me over the edge. Somehow I managed to accomplish both in a whirlwind that saw me complete the month with at least 30 (don’t know the actual number. Would have to look back to check and I’m rather lazy and too busy to do that right now) blog posts and a 118,000 word first-draft mystery novel.

That novel is TMOTR (#TMOTR for social media) but you can call it by its god-given name The Man On The Roof. It was only the second mystery novel I had ever written, yet all the while writing it I felt a surge of energy that continued to push me forward each day and make me cognizant of its weightiness. I felt I was writing something that would be amazing. Now, granted, I am quite often delusional according to my therapist Bert the trash man who absolutely swears he’s just a trash man but is older, black, always has great nuggets of wisdom and totally fits the archetype of the magical negro (I swear that brotha went to Hogwarts or somethin’). But even with that I still couldn’t fight the feeling that I had created something great, which is one of the biggest reasons that kept me pushing through the project, pushing through the small snippets of writer’s block (though I find it insanely difficult to actually get writer’s block when you’re constantly writing and working on at least two different projects at once. I know it sounds crazy hard, but try it. It frees your mind) and the mental fatigue of crafting a story; pushing through the emotional roller coaster that was (and still is) my relationship with each of the characters and growing to love and loathe them as the time went on; charging forward through the quandaries and quagmires of questions that came up in the plot and how to get from point A to point C while making point B the most dramatic; creating a world and setting for not just my characters to live in but creating enough empty space for the reader to slot his or her thoughts and feelings into the setting too, in order to fill out the rest of the environment; battling to create not just narrative but atmospheric narrative; making sure each voice was right, each character just distinct enough; and figuring out a way to lure the reader deeper and deeper into the mysterious darkness while keeping them hooked on every word, every sentence, every idea put forth in the book. It’s a heck of a lot.

Now, two years after having written it, I finally am ready to release it and am looking for reviewers of this book that I think is similar to Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train, Big Little Lies, In A Dark, Dark Wood and the like. No, I wasn’t editing this the whole time. I worked on the editing for three weeks after I finished it and haven’t touched it since but only now do I think the timing for the book is right.

That’s neither here nor there. What is important is that I know your plight dear NaNoWriMo’er and for all you first-timers, I can say that it is wholly doable. Is it a challenge? Of course. And no, nobody expects you to finish over 100,000 words (which is only an achievement if the book is actually good). But push yourself further and harder than you ever have before.

First Mystery Suspense Thriller
Coming In 
OK, now it’s that cringe-worthy time where I give you unsolicited advice. I know. I hate getting that kind of advice because it seems to almost always come from some smart-butt who thinks he or she knows everything or knows something that I don’t, and just wants to rub it in. If you don’t want to take it that’s totally fine, but I do find that sometimes this stuff helps. Sometimes it helps to hear something you already know from someone else to sure-up your own confidence and sometimes there truly are things that you didn’t think of that another person has thought of and that can be helpful to you. So, here it goes, my tips on getting through the month.

First, I know that this month, for many, is so often not really about finishing the novel but about word counts and lengths, and as we get deeper into this thing, we’re gonna start seeing more and more people posting about how many words they’ve written in one day or one week, or how close they are to the minimum goal of 50,000 words. Ignore it! Ignore it all. Is it good to keep track of just how much you’ve done, you’ve accomplished? Of course. And taking a peek at how many words you’ve logged in a day or over a week does help you to gauge your productivity level, but don’t let this sidetrack you. In fact, don’t let the word count get you down at all. This is totally gonna sound like bragging but I assure you it is not and it’s truthful (you can go back through my blog and check if you’d like). So don’t judge.

Anyways, as I was doing the posts and the novel writing, and we did have the Thanksgiving holiday on which I am always the primary cook for my family, I still also had yardwork to do. As some of my long-time readers may know, I am a vegetable gardener and all-around environmentalist (Go #CaptainPlanet) so I am really big into composting. Well, that year I foolishly, for the first (but not last) time requested a truckload of leaves be delivered to my house. Leaves which I would use both for mulching all of my aesthetic gardening beds, as well as mixing with coffee grounds, lawn clippings and food scraps to set as the base for my compost pile. The picture below is of the leaf pile.

The pile was taller than me, as long as a full-sized Sedan (maybe longer), and made of the driest, most compact assortment of leaves you can get. Most were maple leaves and they smelled amazing, like warm maple syrup. We had 70 degree temps that week in November which is unseasonably warm but pretty great because it would get dark hella early and it was the week of Thanksgiving so everybody was home and off. Moving the leaves alone, it took me four days to get them all moved from the front of my yard to all around the property where they needed to be. That was four days of not writing at all on my novel.

Whatever time I did get at the end of the night went directly to my blogging and sleep. And another full day of Thanksgiving-ing (uh... That should totally be a word. Yes, I know that thanksgiving in and of itself is technically a verb. Don’t bother me with minutia, reader) where I also hardly wrote anything. So out of 30 days I only wrote for about 25 of them. My point is that if I had stressed over word count and how much I got done during those days (I may have blogged about stressing a little), I would have volunteered my brain for writer’s block and never achieved my goal. How many words you have doesn’t matter as much as how complete the story is and how good those words are. Granted, there is some importance to the word count if all you’ve previously done is write short stories, but even then, I’d say don’t look at the word count until you are satisfactorily finished with the story, then hopefully you still have a week of time left at the end of the month to make some changes or additions within the story.

The Writer Seasons 1-3 Out NOW
on Amazon Kindle
With that point made, I feel everything else should flow easily. Remember, while this month is certainly focused on finishing a full novel, it’s not really about finishing a full novel, but telling a story as best you can in a way that pleases both you and a potential reader one day. Have fun with this thing. Remember that the writing is supposed to be the fun part, even if you are purging anger, resentment, depression or the like out onto the blank page (The Man On The Roof #TMOTR was written in a rage-fueled miasma that stemmed from continuing to be a failure at writing and all-around, and having poor timing in my life). Don’t stress over words. Take risks with your writing, try new things, let the story take you where it wants to venture and be willing to make mistakes. But—this is something that most other authors won’t tell you because everyone is a huge worshipper of the editing and revisions process—make your first draft as near to perfect as possible. Yes, you’ll have plenty of time to go back and tinker and fix and add and subtract, but one of the reasons why this month is so challenging is not because of the word counts or things of that nature, but because it wants you to challenge yourself to write a novel and not just slop together some pretty words that occasionally make sense. If you’re gonna stress over anything, stress over the tightness of the narrative and the believability of the characters (not even so much the relatability as each reader will pick and choose who they relate to based on their own biases).

Another big nugget of advice: DON’T TRY TO EDIT ANYTHING DURING THE MONTH!! It’s tempting, I know. And some people will tell you that it pays to be a perfectionist and if you just go back and tweak things, it’s OK. No. Stop before you do that and remember this thought: there is more brilliance deleted by authors than ever makes it into their novels. Quote from me. Michael Stephenson. If you’re a seasoned writer you should already know that you should never be deleting anything anyway, unless it is a grammatical error like mispalings and such. But sentences that don’t sound right in the flow of things, dialogue that you don’t particularly care for and even entire scenes that you think can be cut—keep all of it in your first draft. And if you want to make an edit later, then mark it as something you want to take a look at, then write whatever you wanted to edit it to be (if you already have something in mind) just below your note, but don’t delete it. And don’t slow down your mind’s conscious stream of thought to go back and question yourself if this one particular word is the right particular word in that sentence, because you could come back to the novel in a month or two and realize that your first choice was the best choice but you can’t remember what it was.

As for outlining and framework construction, I will leave it up to you. I will tell you that while I had been thinking of TMOTR for a while, I hadn’t had a proper outline and, in fact, the original idea I had for the story was drastically different than what the novel ended up becoming. Sometimes I have an outline but sometimes I simply leave prompts for myself, something which I recommend all writers do. The prompts are generally questions or brief synopses about what I want or think should happen either next in the story or what I am comfortable writing next. Again, this month should be about getting into a particular groove of comfort that allows you to open your most creative mindset. Some good questions are: what a particular character learned from what you wrote that day, when you want a crucial event to happen, how you see the characters interacting with each other at the end, and et cetera. Those are just examples, but it is important to think like a reader would which is going to actually drive your narrative. If you can get into the mind of your reader before they are in their own mind, and anticipate what they will think when reading your work, then you can reward them by fulfilling their expectations or yank them deeper into the story by throwing an unexpected twist at them. And yes, sometimes the best thing to do is to let yourself fall into a bout of writer’s block because right after that is usually when the magic happens, but never get concerned about not being able to get any words down on the page.

Extraordinary Season One Out NOW!

This month’s pursuit is solely to make you a better writer, make you a faster thinker and more agile wordsmith. It is meant to challenge your perspective on how you write from start to finish, including the planning process. So get messy, make mistakes, and most of all, have fun! And some of the best times you’ll have during this process will come, surprisingly, not from the writing, though that will be pretty amazing. Some of the best times might very well come from social media and any other offline/real-life socializing groups that you have where you can get together and talk about either writing or reading or both. NaNoWriMo is one of the few months where you don’t have to be or feel alone in the writing process. Yes, writing is often solitary but it doesn’t have to be this month. Go to wherever other writers are and share your stories of what you are doing. Give updates on what you are writing, what characters you’ve fallen in love with, which ones you absolutely loathe, or how the plot has changed from what you thought it was originally. And don’t just share triumphs, share failures, the mundane, the quirky, the questionable and the like. If you’re struggling with a particular section, don’t agonize in silence, take it to Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads or wherever and ask questions about that situation there. Yes, while there is always a bit of paranoia about idea theft, there are still tons of authors out there willing to help you solve your writing problems. And sometimes it’s just good to commiserate with others trying to achieve the same thing. Make friendships and more importantly, make enemies, too. Seriously, haven’t you always wanted a nemesis? You could totally have one and have that person be a writer just like you. It’s perfect!

Anyway, that’s my two cents. To all my fellow writers and authors who dare to participate in the 2017 November NaNoWriMo, I wish you good luck and happy writing. And for anyone interested in reviewing my novel The Man On The Roof, I would love it if you did. Here’s a description:
There was a man on your roof.” And so starts the psychological intrigue. A small, quiet, Northeast Ohio suburb plays host to a murder when the body of a teenage ne'er-do-well is found hanging from a street banner on a summer morning. At the end of the lane where the murder took place, live five different couples and one old man. Neighbors make for convenient friends as all five couples consider themselves one collective group. But someone here is a murderer. Lies, betrayal and twisted deeds come to light as fingers point and eyes narrow. Who's lying? Who can be trusted? Who has a secret worth killing for? As spouses turn against each other but one thing is for sure: The boy's murderer was trying to send a message. The murderer will kill again.

A psychological mystery thriller in the vein of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, The Man on the Roof is told in 10 distinct voices that dig into the inner marrow of the lives and secrets that the people at the end of Shady Lane hold. Designed to be re-readable and keep readers on their toes, it will keep you up at night and have you second and third-guessing every theory about who done it and why. You might want to take notes on this one because you'll surely be talking about The Man on the Roof (#TMOTR) all year long! If you'd like to review it, let me know in the comments below and we can set something up. Currently, it will only be an ebook but hopefully within six months I will have hard copies.

Otherwise, I wish you all as much success as you can stand this month and beyond. Write something cool, and if it isn’t cool don’t fret, nobody actually reads books anymore anyway ;).
Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, (looks at book on coffee table) “Wow! Have you read that book?”
‘Uh... Yeah, totally.’
“I love the part when she takes the paddle and starts spanking the guy and he turns into a dragon and—”
‘Well, actually, I haven’t read it at all. I’ve just been using it as a coaster for my tea mug. Dat tea be hot and delicious!’
(exasperated head shakes)

P.S. Yes, I know that was a long sign-off. Don’t judge me. I should be judging you, reader. You totally know that you have at least one or two books that you have been meaning to read but is now serving as a cup coaster somewhere or is sitting somewhere in plain sight to make you look well-read. For shame! Well, at least drink a cup of tea for me. Cheers! I’ll think of a better, shorter sign-off line next time.

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