Saying Goodbye to Daphne and Bay

Last night, FreeForm (formerly abcfamily) said goodbye to Switched at Birth. As usual, I was late to the party with this show. About a year ago I had just finished binge watching One Tree Hill and was looking for a new show to binge. That’s when I remembered Switched at Birth, the story of two girls who, you guessed it, were accidentially switched in the hospital. The switch wasn’t what caught my attention. It was that one of the girls was deaf.

I’m an ASL student, currently taking a break, but hoping to become an interpreter. My interest love of ASL goes back to my childhood. Around the age of eight or nine, I learned how to fingerspell. I would practice constantly, spelling words that I heard or read, trying to get better, faster. In fact, I still catch myself doing that quite often. Fast forward to my late twenties when I realized I wanted to become an interpreter after watching an ASL class on TLC every afternoon while my kiddos napped. But, being a homeschooling, stay at home mom, I wasn’t able to go to school full-time to pursue that. So, I’ve been waiting patiently, taking a few classes here and there, for my youngest to graduate from high school. She has a year and a month until graduation and I plan on being a full-time student the following fall semester.

Back to SAB – I love reading books or watching shows and movies that feature deaf characters. So, I decided it was time to jump into Switched at Birth. It’s a really sweet show, a little corny at times, but not enough to turn me away. It follows the two girls, Bay and Daphne, and their families as they try to build relationships that are fifteen years overdue. Thankfully the writers didn’t try to make it seem like it was all rainbows and unicorns. I think they wrote a real show, portraying all the hurt, anger, resentment, anxiety and love that one would experience in that situation.

The writers also addressed other real life issues, like rape, drug use, bullying, discrimination and alcoholism. Yes, happy endings were usually the order of the day, but the struggles were shown and not ignored.

Of course, I would have loved for the whole show to be signed. That’s never going to happen, but having deaf actors, like Marlee Matlin, for whom ASL is their first language was wonderful. I could sit and watch them sign all day. Yeah, I’m a geek, which is not news to anyone who has read this blog in the past.

Last night’s finale was a great sendoff for the show. After five years, the ‘kids’ are making their way out into the world. Bay, the artist, is becoming a tattoo artist who is getting recognition. Daphne is working her way toward med school, despite her disability and the challenges it might present. Their friends are also moving forward with their lives. Even the adults are heading into their next chapters. All in all, it was a great place to end.

One more thing about the finale. I’d like to thank the writers for keeping the fan manipulation to a minimum. Yes, they brought back characters from the past. But, for the most part, they did it in a way that seemed organic. (Unlike another show that recently ended after eight seasons. I’m looking at you, TVD.) I get sappy and weepy enough on my own. I don’t need to have the issue forced.

Thanks to the cast and crew of Switched at Birth. For five season, you aired a show that was entertaining and definitely worth watching. I’m only sorry that I didn’t discover it sooner.

Next week, Pretty Little Liars starts its final ten episode run. I can’t wait to see what the girls and ‘A’ have lined up for us. If you have any thoughts about the SAB finale, I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments.

Let’s Hear it for the Boys (and Girls)

Do you binge watch shows? Are Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video some of your best friends? Do you find yourself saying “one more episode” too many times to count? Yeah, me too.

For the past three days, while fighting a cold and feeling completely crummy, I have been binge watching 90210 (the reboot, not the original). I was watching this morning and had a realization. If you were to look at my watch list over the last few years, you would see a who’s who of teen dramas – The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, The OC, Gossip Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AngelDawson’s Creek, Veronica Mars, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill. I’ve wondered why I’m drawn to them. I don’t come close to fitting the demographic, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I do enjoy a good teen drama.

The first thing that draws me to the genre is angst. Let’s face it, teens have more than their fair share of angst. It’s almost a monopoly. I love angst. I love to watch it. I love to read it. I want to feel a connection, an emotional one, to watch I read or draw. Angst probably draws me in faster than anything else. Yes, it can be played a little overdramaticly on a teen show, but I think that’s the reminder that it is fiction and not reality. Although, raising four children, one of whom is still a teen, we’ve had plenty of drama in our home of the normal, everyday variety – grades, broken hearts, curfews, etc. It’s the stuff that all parents deal with at some point.

That brings me to the other thing that draws me to the teen dramas. They aren’t reality. At the end of each episode, I’m relieved that I have a normal, boring family. The drama that goes on in our house occurs in thousands of other homes each and every day. Thankfully, for us, it doesn’t involve vampires, werewolves, witches, trust fund kids, Hollywood parties, love triangles, apathetic parents, gangs, drugs or teenage pregnancies. Other than the first three items on that list, all of those things are a fact of life for some people. But they aren’t for me. So, watching these shows while silently judging the adults who don’t seem to have a clue might give me a little “thank goodness that’s not me” moment. If nothing else, they provide an escape.

Isn’t that what fiction of any kind, whether books, tv, movies or theater, is about? An escape from your day-to-day life. I, for one, enjoy those little journeys.

Back to the angst for just a moment. All of the shows that I listed above are loaded it with it. Do you have a favorite moment from one of those shows? Maybe from a show that I didn’t list? Please share it in the comments. I love talking about my favorites and I’m always looking for something new to try.

As Easy As Falling Down a Rabbit Hole

It happened before I realized what I had done. I had just finished watching season 4 of Switched at Birth and nothing on my Netflix list was really grabbing me. I had been itching to watch some Alias, as you do when you’re a J.J. Abrams fan. So, thinking I would just watch an episode or two while I decided what my next binge watch would be, I pushed play on the pilot episode.

Two and a half season later, I find myself in the middle of an accidental series re-watch. How does that even happen? It’s as easy as falling down a rabbit hole. The premise, the characters, the script and the acting just suck me in every single time. I’m completely defenseless when it comes to this show. I knew I was in trouble when I realized I watched five episodes without leaving the couch.

Sydney Bristow is probably my all-time favorite kick-ass female character on television. She is the one who gets sent in on missions, while the boys play supporting roles and act as her backup. Yes, Dixon and Vaughn take on their share of the bad guys, but Sydney is the one who ends up fighting three or more thugs solo.

The thing is, it’s not just Alias. Sure, it was my introduction to J.J. Abrams. (I never watched Felicity.) But, after Alias, it was LOST and then Fringe and Person of Interest. In between the successful shows, there are the ones that had potential but just didn’t quite catch on, like Alcatraz and Undercovers and more. I haven’t even gotten to the movies. All of these shows, all of the movies point to one thing J.J. Abrams is a genius. I will watch anything he touches. He’s just that good.

J.J. is extremely talented in his own right, but he also surrounds himself with talented people. In my house, we call them the JJ Minions and there are many of them. And many of them have moved on to their own projects. Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz worked on LOST. They are the minds behind Once Upon a Time. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci worked on Alias and Fringe. Since then they have worked on other shows and movies, including the new Star Trek movies. One of my favorites of the JJ Minions is Michael Giacchino. He is a composer who has scored almost, if not everything, that J.J. Abrams has directed and produced. The main theme for the new Star Trek movies is one of favorites. For me it ranks up with the Star Wars and Superman themes by John Williams. When someone as talented as J.J. Abrams works with all of these talented people, magic happens. We, the fans, reap the rewards when we watch the television shows and movies created by all of these talented people.

Next up for me from the mind of J.J. Abrams – the Cloverfield movies. Somehow, I manged to not see them and it’s time for me to rectify that.



Welcome to Haven

Haven is a Syfy original series. Haven is also the name of the very troubled town in Maine where the series is set. Actually, that should be Troubled with a capital T, which rhymes with… – you get the idea.

I have had Haven on my to-watch list for several years. I added it when I read that Colin Ferguson from Eureka had been added to the cast in 2013. Eureka is such a fun, quirky show and Ferguson’s Sheriff Jack Carter was a big a big part of that. Which is why I wanted to give Haven a chance. It’s not the first time I’ve followed an actor to a new (to me) show. That’s actually why I watched Buffy and Angel, because I had watched Bones and wanted to see more of David Boreanaz. So, Haven remained in my Netflix queue waiting for the day I decided to take the leap. That was about ten days ago when I saw that new episodes had been added, making the full series available to binge.

That’s exactly what I did – seventy-eight episodes in about eight days. Let’s just call it my Netflix coma. Here’s why it was to addictive – to me and maybe you, too.

After the first few episodes, I was comparing it to Eureka without the silliness. Strange things happen in Haven, with no apparent explanations. Strange events that get chalked up to gas leaks, power outages, strange illnesses or weather phenomena. And weirdly, the people of Haven seem to accept this.

Then there is FBI Agent Audrey Parker and Haven PD Detective Nathan Wuornos. Both characters are interesting and little mysterious. Audrey, newly arrived in Haven, resembles a woman who had been in town twenty-seven years earlier. Nathan has his own Trouble that affects only him, unlike most of the other Troubles in town. It doesn’t hurt that there is an almost instant chemistry between the two of them, either. By episode three I was shipping Audrey and Nathan just as hard as I shipped Damon and Elena or Booth and Brennan. Hard.

As the series progressed, I realized it wasn’t as similar to Eureka as I originally thought. Most of the happenings in Eureka were caused by geniuses who didn’t look at the consequences of their experiments beyond their labs. In Haven, there is a supernatural force behind the strange events that plague the town. (Yes, there were even plagues in Haven.) That force and the mystery behind it combined to lure me in.

The final piece of the puzzle for me was the characters. Audrey and Nathan are surrounded by a town filled with likable and also mysterious characters. Duke Crocker, the self described pirate and Dave and Vince Teagues, owners of the local newspaper, are just a few. Duke is the guy that you are maybe supposed to hate, but just can’t. Dave and Vince know far more about events in Haven than they are willing to reveal.

If you are wondering whether or not I would recommend Haven the answer is ABSOLUTELY. I confess to being just a little obsessed with it right now. In fact, I might be planning on jumping into a re-watch very, very soon. You should give it a try, too. As I said before, the complete series is available on Netflix.

If you are looking for a quirky show to watch, I recommend Eureka and Warehouse 13. Both of the Syfy shows are fun, not taking themselves too seriously. There are even a few cross-over episodes between the two. Unfortunately, only season five of Eureka in on Netflix and Warehouse 13 has been removed completely. They are both available for purchase on Amazon Video, if you want to give them a try.

No Tights, No Flights

If you are a fan of a certain show that aired for ten seasons on the WB and then the CW, then you get the reference. If not, let me explain. From its inception, Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had a rule – for the run of the show, Clark Kent would not have the ability to fly, nor would he be seen in tights. With a few creative exceptions, they managed to stay true to that. But, more on that later.

I was and still am a huge fan of Smallville. Um, Superman! Of course I was a fan. I watched every episode, from pilot to series finale, when they aired. For years, I have wanted to do a re-watch. Unfortunately, it’s not available on any of the streaming services. Lucky for me, my husband gifted me the complete series over the last few Christmases. So, finding myself between series last fall, I decided it was finally time for that re-watch to happen.

You know how you can build up something in your mind and make better than it really was, but when you revisit it, the actuality doesn’t live up to your mental image? That totally did not happen as I watched Smallville this time around. If anything, I realized the memory had dimmed a little for me. I found myself thinking over and over that I had forgotten just how much I loved the show. And, for what I consider to be a bonus, I found new things to love about it. Spending the time to re-watch was definitely a win/win for me.

In case you aren’t aware of the premise of the show because maybe you were living under a rock, here it is. Smallville is the story of a young Clark Kent, only fifteen years old in the pilot, growing up in Smallville, Kansas. He’s being raised by his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. Our hero is like any other American teenager. He goes to school, has friends, has a secret crush on the girl next door. He struggles between fitting in and being himself. He wants to make his parents proud and sometimes disappoints them. Because, like any other teenager, he occasionally makes the wrong choice. Even Kryptonian kids need to rebel a little, right? And there is the difference – Clark is Kryptonian. Blending in is key to keeping his secrets just that – secret. Blending in, staying in the background is the difference between having a normal life and being outed as an alien.

Along the way, Clark realized he couldn’t keep such a big secret, lying to his friends all the time. He did tell some of his most trusted friends, Pete, Chloe and eventually, Lana. Just like it was too much for Clark to keep to himself, there were times when it was too much for his friends. Clark learned that not everyone could handle the burden of knowing his secret. Even when Lois came into his life and he realized he was in love with her, he kept his secret, lying to her to protect her. Little did Clark know, Lois discovered his secret long before he told her. She’s not a star reporter for nothing.

Clark faced the monsters of the week who were usually the result of the meteor shower that brought Clark to Earth. He fought against some of his classic DC foes, such as Doomsday, Darkseid and Brainiac. He found allies among the DC heroes, like Green Arrow, Black Canary, Aquaman and Cyborg.

He also made mistakes through the ten-year origin story that is Smallville. (Can you say red kryptonite?) And, like we want for our own kids, Clark learned from those mistakes and became a person because of them. Sounds kind of human, huh? Maybe that’s why he is one of my favorite superheroes. He has great power, not just ‘toys’ thanks to wealth, but he makes mistakes. He learns from them and through it all, his one mission is to protect Earth, the only home he’s ever known. He could have continued to stay under the radar and played it safe. But, he didn’t. He put the needs of humans above his own. That definitely makes him a hero in my book.

Back to the ‘no tights, no flights’ policy – there were a few times that we saw Clark fly, unusually under the influence of something or someone. However, in the series finale, Clark realizes that he has had the ability all along, he just needed to believe in himself. He flies, defeats Darkseid and flies back to the Fortress of Solitude to have a little chat with his fathers – Jor-El and Jonathan Kent. As he flies away, he changes into his new ‘supersuit,’ which we get just a glimpse of through the ice pillars that form the Fortress. I, for one, am so glad that TPTB (the powers that be) relented on the ‘no tights, no flights’ in the end. It was the perfect way to end the series, showing Clark transitioning from Clark Kent to Superman.

So… if you can’t tell, I love this series. If you haven’t watched it, please, beg, borrow or steal it! If you are a super hero fan, especially a Superman fan, it is an absolute must see!

On a related tangent, Batman v. Superman officially opens in two days. I canNOT WAIT!!! I already know I’ll be seeing it twice in the next week, which is only making the suspense worse. Rest assured, there WILL be a post about the movie as soon as I can put a coherent thought together.

There Really is a Method to My Madness

Long ago, my family accepted my Netflix addiction. They are used to walking through the living room and seeing me glued to my laptop, earbuds in place, engrossed in one show or another. That was within the acceptable behavior parameters. But, I’m fairly certain they decided I had a permanent ticket on the crazy train when they realized that I have different methods for rewatching shows. Yes, people, I said ‘methods’ – plural. Because, depending on the situation, I conduct rewatches in one of three ways. Let me explain.

First up is a complete series rewatch. This usually happens immediately after I binge watch a show for the first time. When I say binge watch, I’m serious. It’s not unusual for me to watch two, three or four episodes in one sitting. That’s the point where I force myself to walk away and do something horribly domestic with the promise of another episode upon completion. Yes, I’m forty-eight years old and I still respond to the reward system. Laughable, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

My most recent example of this is Veronica Mars. I spent a week watching all three seasons plus the movie. Immediately after watching the movie, I was back on Amazon watching the pilot again. I’m almost done with that rewatch – about halfway through season three, as of this morning.

Why do I do this? Easy. I’m a thinker, a plotter, an analyzer. I find that when I binge watch, I don’t do that. I don’t give myself time between episodes to ponder what has and what might happen. I find when I binge watch, I miss things. One of my favorite things about rewatching is catching the little things I missed the first time or the third time around.

My second rewatch plan is used when  I’m gearing up for the new season. I watch the first and last episode of each season. I like to seeing where a show started and how it has progressed to where it is now. I don’t do this for every show, just my favorites. Some networks, like ABC, have made this easier by getting the most recent season of some shows to Netflix early. Marvel’s Agents of Shield season two was added in June. And then some networks (boo to you, CW) wait until the new season has started before adding last season, making it impossible to get ahead before the new season starts.

In addition to rewatching Veronica Mars, I have been rewatching Heroes. Unfortunately, what started as a complete series rewatch is going to end up as a first and last rewatch. I’m still early in season two and just don’t have the time to watch through the end of season four before Heroes Reborn starts tomorrow night. I need to see how the series ended before the new one begins. Reborn has been near the top of my highly anticipated list since it was announced. The fact that Zachary Levi is part of the cast certainly doesn’t hurt.

My final method usually depends on my mood. For any of my favorite shows, I have a go to list of episodes. Whether I’m wanting to watch a favorite episode or one that matches my mood (happy, sad, or a desire to watch a certain show), I know just which episode to turn to. For example, if I’m in a mood to watch Angel, I’ll watch the Angelus episodes in season four. If I want to watch Star Trek: Enterprise, I’ll pick my favorite episodes from the Xindi arc in season three or the Vulcan arc in season four. When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, I’ll watch the pivotal episodes in Damon and Elena’s relationship, beginning with the second episode of the series.

You’ve heard about the exception that proves the rule, right? Here is the one that doesn’t fit into any of the above. This summer I watched/rewatched Prison Break. How can it be both a first time watch and a rewatch? Here’s how – I faithfully watched seasons one and two when they aired. Then, season three happened. I watched two or three episodes and then stopped. Seeing Michael Scofield trying to break out of another prison felt like a step backwards and I decided I was done. Fast forward to earlier this year when FOX announced a limited run Prison Break that will air in early 2016. I knew then that I’d have to go back and watch the rest of the series before then. I have to admit, about halfway through season three, I was hooked all over again and finishing the series wasn’t the chore I feared it might be. Now, I’m completely excited about the new series.

So, I’ve shared a little of my madness with you. Surely, I’m not the only person this, um, obsessed. If you have a method you use to watch or rewatch a series, please share! Who knows, I might incorporate it into my own.

Until next time…

What I Did Over Summer Vacation

No, it’s not my first day of school. But, it is my baby girl’s first day of tenth grade. That makes me feel all kinds of old. I keep reminding myself that I’ve been through this three times already. I can survive one more.

In my last blog post, I talked about what I have been doing all summer – reading. Lots and lots of reading. Believe it or not, I have actually done a few other things this summer.

I re-watched Battlestar Galactica (2004). I love it just as much, if not more than the first time I watched it. It has a little bit of everything. There are strong female characters with Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace and Laura Roslin. These women are strong, but allowed to have flaws and weaknesses. They aren’t just hard-nosed b*tches. They love. They mourn. They make mistakes, but they aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe.

The ethical, political and religious questions/dilemmas in BSG ring true and feel oh so familiar. Monotheism v. polytheism. Abortion v. right to life. Political rule v. military rule. Treatment of prisoners/traitors. Human rights v. Cylon rights. And on and on and on.

The casting in BSG is another high point. Whether it’s the stars or recurring or guest actors, the casting is spot on in almost every case. BSG is where I discovered Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber and Tahmoh Penikett. I still get excited when they appear in other shows. The recurring/guest actors that parade through BSG are a who’s who of some of my favorite TV actors. It’s a long list, but here are a few – Mark Sheppard (Superrnatural), Rick Worthy (Star Trek: Enterprise, The Vampire Diaries, Heroes), Ty Olsson (Eureka, The Vampire Diaries), James Callis (Eureka), Richard Hatch (the original Battlestar Galactica) and Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap). Seriously, that’s the short list. I could go on and on.

I also started my Prison Break re-watch. I’m almost at the end of season one. There are so many twists and turns that I had forgotten about this show, it’s almost like watching it for the first time. About halfway through season one, my husband asked if I was falling in love with Michael Scofield like I did the first time around. Short answer – yes! I’m not rushing through this re-watch, but plan on finishing before the Prison Break even on FOX next year. I’m still curious how they will handle the parts of Michael and Lincoln, since Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell will be on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which begins at midseason.

Hubby and I are still working our way through Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. We have three episodes left and I wish I were more excited to watch them. As much as I want to love the show, I don’t. I think it’s the pace of the episodes. Many of them seem to drag. I think Daredevil falls into the same trap that many origin stories do. There is so much foundation to be laid, it bogs down the action. I’m hoping that season two moves past that.

I’ve also done some writing, although not nearly as much as I’d like. I did finish secret project #1, a short story. I need to start editing it, but wanted to take a break from it first. I’m also debating posting in on Fiction Press or Wattpad. Hopefully, but the time I finish the editing process, I’ll have an idea of what I want to do with it. In the meantime, I’ve continued to work on secret project #2 and started project #3. This summer I have realized one thing about writing. If I don’t make it a priority, it’s not going to happen. So, I think it’s time for me to set a daily word count and a time to write. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Back to what I have been doing this summer – reading, which I talk about here. As of this morning, this is what my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge looks like.

reading challenge

I’ve already bumped up my goal a few times and will probably do it again.

That’s been my summer. Not very exciting, huh? Let’s face it, that’s my life year round. That’s perfectly fine with me. I’d rather have a predictable, peaceful life than one filled with daily drama.

What have you done this summer? Anything fun and exciting? Please share in the comments.

My New (Old) Obsession

I know. You don’t have to tell me. I’ve been very quiet over the last few months. Deathly quiet. What kind of fangirl is that quiet? What has she been doing? I’d like to say that I’ve been so busy doing all kinds of exciting things that I just haven’t had time to blog. That, however, would be a big, fat lie. What I have been doing is rediscovering an old love – books.

I learned to read right along with everyone else in kindergarten and first grade. I was an only child who dealt with the loneliness by imagining scenes and acting them out behind my closed bedroom door. (My fourteen year old daughter still does this. I’m pretty sure she has an acting career in her future.) When I learned to read, books became my playmates. The characters were my friends. Their worlds became mine.

I was the girl who was always reading, who had a few books at school, a few at home and could seamlessly move between them, reading whatever matched my mood. I read everything from Nancy Drew to The Bobsey Twins to Judy Blume and anything else I could get my hands on. In junior high, I read Gone With the Wind and hundreds of other books that I can’t remember. In high school, it was The Winds of War, The Caine Mutiny and The Thorn Birds and more. Reading was my passion.

That passion stayed with me into adulthood. I would go to the library and schlep home a stack of ten or fifteen books, hoping they would last a week. Many times they didn’t. As a stay-at-home mom, I would read when the kids napped or played on the living room floor. I hoped that by reading to them and around them, they would all find a love of reading, too. (Three of the four found that love.)

About two years ago, that passion for reading shifted from books to fan fiction. It started with an innocent tweet. I clicked a link and fell into a never-ending rabbit hole. I don’t remember the first fic I read, but I do remember the third, the one that really sucked me in. It was The When and The How: A Bone to Pick by MoxieGirl. It’s a Bones fic and, unfortunately, unfinished. I didn’t care that it was unfinished. I spent my time in between updates reading other fics. There are some amazing writers in fan fiction. Anyone who ridicules it, probably hasn’t read it. Over the last two years, I have read hundreds of fics, millions of words.

I’ve read fics from many fandoms, but have barely touched the massive amount of material out there. Having said that, I’d love to share some of my favorites. In the Bones fandom, I tried to narrow it down to three favs. I just can’t do that. So, I’m keeping it to five, but even at that, I’m leaving out some really excellent writing.

Need by dgschneider

Fated by sleeplessinatlanta

String Theory by Covalent Bond

The Hand You’re Dealt by casketformytears

Running on Empty by GCatsPjs

Okay, that felt like picking which child is my favorite. Seriously, if you are a Bones fan, or just like to read good stories, check these out. You can also check my list of favorites (craftyjhawk) to see what I left off of this list.

On to some other favorites, if you are a Supernatural fan, here are a few.

In Reverse by sodakey

Between the Shadows by Dawn N

If you are a TVD (The Vampire Diaries) fan, these are for you.

Bloom by vanagonne

Consumed by CreepingMuse

River Deep, Ocean Wide by Nightlightbright

The Story of Us by Beautiful1Disaster

Claiming Hearts and Spaces by morvamp

That’s just a small sampling of what I have been reading over the last two years. That changed this past May when there seemed to be a lull in new material. Desperate for something to read and having reread many of my go-to fics, I opened the Kindle app on my iPad to see what I had downloaded but never read. Just my luck, nothing really caught my attention.

What did catch my attention was another innocent tweet raving about Colleen Hoover. I had no idea who she was, but decided to give one of her books a try. I bought and read Ugly Love in less than a day. From there I moved on to Confess and the Hopeless. At that point, I decided I was hopeless in love with Colleen Hoover and quickly read through all of her books. Very quickly, like in less than a week. Seriously, if I weren’t straight and happily married, I would marry Colleen Hoover in a heartbeat. That’s what her words do to me.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. When I reached the end of the last of her books, I was at a loss. I had rediscovered my love of books, but had no idea what to read next. Thank goodness for Amazon! Their helpful “If you like Colleen Hoover, try (fill in the blank)” was my lifesaver.

Almost three months and 144 books later, I have found many authors that I love. Even though I’m a forty-something mother of four, I am addicted to the Young Adult and New Adult genres. I can’t explain the attraction, but I don’t feel the need to, either. I am all about doing what makes you happy and these books make me happy. These authors – Hoover, Corine Michaels, L.B. Simmons, Claire Contreras, A.L. Jackson, S.C. Stephens and others – make me happy, even when they are dragging me through the depths of their characters angst. Do yourself a favor. Check these authors out. You won’t be disappointed. You can also check my Goodreads list (craftyjhawk) to see whom else I’ve been reading.

The moral of this story – READ. Whether it’s highly acclaimed fiction, graphic novels or even the much-maligned fan fiction, just read. Read to your kids. Keep books around for them to read alone. Reading is a release, an escape, a stress reliever. Reading helps to keep your mind sharp as you age. Reading opens the creative centers of your brain. And when it comes right down to it, reading is just fun.

Summer Watch/Re-watch

Summer is here and I couldn’t be more excited. People who know me probably would say that is an odd statement. I am not an outdoors kind of girl. I’m happy to stay in and live my little hermit life. Ah, the joys of being a painfully shy introvert!

For me, summer means fewer obligations and responsibilities. We have homeschooled or done the virtual school thing for years. Summer means a break from lesson plans and grading in the case of homeschooling and nagging about completing lessons, keeping track of hours worked and talking to teachers for the virtual school. School isn’t out for just the kids. It’s out for me, too

My absolute favorite part of summer is having the time to tackle my watch/re-watch list. I have this really bad habit of saying “I need to watch (re-watch) that,” whatever ‘that’ might be. My Netflix list is VERY long thanks to that habit. It’s definitely too long to tackle in one summer, but I love trying.

So far, my watch list is fairly manageable. This is my first-time viewing list. It’s usually, but not always, complete series.

  • Bones – I’ve watched season 10 through episode 10. I know I’m in the minority among my Twitter friends, but I really wasn’t enjoying it. When it came back from hiatus in March, its future was still undetermined. I will probably have to duck rotten fruit thrown in my direction, but I was ready for season 10 to be the last. With that in mind, I decided to wait until the end of the season to marathon the final twelve episodes. I’ll probably watch the first half again, just to see if I feel better about it. This isn’t on Netflix yet, but is on Amazon Instant Video. I bought a season pass at the beginning of the season, so these episodes are sitting there, waiting for me.
  • Gilmore Girls – This is one of those shows that interested me, but not my husband when it aired. It was before the days of the DVR, so we were limited by what we could record on our VCR. Gilmore Girls was one of the many shows that lost out when we had to compromise. (Netflix)
  • The X-Files – I know! This geeky fangirl never watched The X-Files. I don’t really know why either. Really, it’s a show straight from my wheelhouse, but it never caught my attention back in the day. With the new episodes airing early next year, I think it’s time for me to see what it’s all about. (Netflix)
  • Marvel’s Daredevil – Hubby and I have been slowly making our way through this really excellent show. I think we are about halfway through, so finishing it will not be a problem. If you haven’t watched, I highly recommend it. It’s a little dark, more like the CW’s Arrow than The Flash, yet very enjoyable. (Netflix)

That’s my watch list, not terribly long. However, when combined with my re-watch list, it becomes a little intimidating. Now for the re-watch list:

  • LOST – I’ve already begun this re-watch, but got a little bogged down with it. I’m still early in season 1, but I’m at an episode that I didn’t enjoy on first watch. That dislike is keeping me from moving forward. I could skip it, but this is LOST. Skipping anything is a mistake. It could be the difference between understanding something twenty episodes down the road or not. I’ll get back to it, but it might be a while. (Netflix)
  • Battlestar Galactica – This is another re-watch I’ve already started. I’m about halfway through season 2 and I still love it. Anyone who is a fan of Star Trek knows that Ron Moore is a genius. He doesn’t disappoint when it comes to BSG. I was a huge fan of the original series. Because of that I thought I would have a hard time accepting some of the character gender swaps that came with the reimagined series. As I realized when I watched it for the first time several years ago, I shouldn’t have worried. It’s handled so expertly, it’s a non-issue. Again, if you haven’t watched, you really should. Unfortunately, BSG is not currently on Netflix. Amazon Instant Video does carry it, but you’ll have to pay for it by the episode or the season.
  • Prison Break – My husband and I loved this show when it originally aired. The premise was very interesting. The execution was perfect. But, sometime during season 3, our interest waned. Episodes went unwatched for weeks until we made the decision to abandon the show. Since it was added to Netflix, I’ve wanted to see how it ended. It was recently announced that FOX will be airing a limited run, stand-alone storyline Prison Break ‘revival.’ I’m interested to see how they will do this, considering the two stars, Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, will both be staring in the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is scheduled as a midseason show. All of this Prison Break talk has reignited my interest and placed this show on my re-watch list. (Netflix)
  • Merlin (BBC) – Even as a kid, I was fascinated by the Arthurian legend. I read the Mary Stewart books as soon as I was old enough. When the BBC show was first aired in the US on NBC, I was all in. After the first season (I think), it was moved to Syfy. We continued to watch, right up to the bitter, painful end. And yes, I’m still bitter about the series finale. Even though the finale is still like a dagger in my heart, watching the entire series is completely worth it. (Netflix)

I think that covers my list of complete series re-watches. I also have a list of shows that I will randomly watch an episode of here and there, as the mood strikes. Those are: anything Star Trek (except TOS), Supernatural, Bones, The Vampire Diaries, Chuck, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Alias. There are others, but these are my go-to shows.

Just a few other suggestions:

  • The CW is airing the entire first season of The Flash. Tomorrow’s episode is 1×04. If you haven’t watched this show, you must! Grant Gustin is amazing as Barry. The father/son relationship between Barry and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is the best.
  • Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD season 2 was added to Netflix last week. If you haven’t watched, here is your chance to catch up before the new season begins in the fall.
  • Sherlock (BBC) will be back with new episodes in 2016. If you haven’t watched season 1 through 3, do it! It’s just a total of nine episodes at about eighty-five minutes each. Definitely worth the time.

That’s it, my summer in a nutshell. I’ll keep you updated on my progress through the summer. I’m interested to see how unrealistic this list really is.

What’s on your watch/re-watch list? I’m always interested in suggestions.

From Wannabe to Want to Be

When I hear the word wannabe, I think poser, someone who is pretending to be something they are not. Up until recently, that is exactly how I felt about my writing.

Eighteen months ago, I wasn’t writing. At all. The sum totally of my writing experience amounted to me venting about whatever was going on in my life at the time. As a preteen, I would fill spiral notebooks with my thoughts, feelings and the drama around me. I was ten, there was no real drama in my very ordinary life, but I was sure there was. As a teen, I would fill those notebooks with all of the usual teenage angst, heartache over unrequited ‘love,’ anger over ‘wrongs’ committed by my friends, my ‘poetry’ attempts, you know, the usual. Each of those notebooks was squirreled away in my cedar chest, never to see the light of day again.

As an adult, I would occasionally do the same thing, when life got to be just too much, I would write it all out. There was no rhyme or reason, just a stream of consciousness word vomit that would somehow leave me feeling a little better. Never did I consider what I was doing writing. Never did I even think about wanting to write. It was just something I did to cope because there are just some things that you can’t tell anyone.

All of that changed when I discovered fan fiction nearly two years ago. I know, I was very late to the fanfic party, but better late than never, right? I had become more active on Twitter, especially in the Bones fandom. After following a link to, a series of breadcrumbs lead back to the Twitter account of a fanfic writer. I followed her, she pointed me to some other fanfic writers and before I knew it, I was hanging out with this group of wildly talented writers, fanfic, original fiction, published, trying to be published, you name it.

When you hang out with such a group, the question – do you write – is inevitably asked. Every single time, I would laugh and say no. Funny thing, after being asked the question time after time, I began to consider it. Did I want to write? About eighteen months ago, the answer went from an emphatic ‘no’ to ‘I’d like to, but I can’t.’ After I made that statement, a Twitter friend sent some prompts my way, all for Bones. I’ll be honest, the thought of writing for an established fandom scared the hell out of me. I just knew I would screw up and have angry readers yelling at me via private messages. I set the prompts aside, but there was this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to give it a try.

I’d like to say that it was something simple that pushed me to write. It wasn’t. It was some extreme family drama that drove me to it. I fell back in to my old habits, in a way. Instead of just venting, I wrote an original story that was very similar to what was going on in my life. After a lot of encouragement from some writer friends, I posted it on It wasn’t widely read or reviewed, but the feedback I did get was positive. It was enough to feed the fire that was just starting to burn in me.

That one story led to another seven on FictionPress and fifteen on FanFiction. Most, if not all of those, I consider my wannabe stage. I truly felt like a poser, like I had no clue what I was doing, like I didn’t deserve to be on the same site as my more talented writer friends.

What I have recently discovered is that I want to write, I want to be a writer. That doesn’t mean I think there is a mass audience out there ready to read what I write. It means that I have this need to write, that if I go a day without writing, I feel as though I’ve failed. It means that on the days the words don’t come, I hope for any words, even if they are the wrong ones. Just the act of pounding out a few sentences, a few paragraphs, a few pages makes me feel like I’m closer to accomplishing my goal, closer to being a writer. It means that if twenty people, hell, if five people read what I write and are touched by it, if it makes them think, if it makes their day better, then I can call myself a successful writer.

That’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to practice this craft, to see if anything resonates with my tiny, little audience. (Of course, the other reason is that I have way more to say about my favorite things than my family can listen to, but if you read this blog, you already know that.)

I’ve also started what I’ve been calling the ‘secret project,’ an original short story/novella that I’d like to see published (or, more likely, self-published) some day. Now that I have outed myself, I’m sure my bestie will be nagging me daily to read it. (Sorry, C, you’ll have to wait until I complete the first draft.) Now that I’ve outed myself, I’ve probably set myself up for some accountability, which I want and need.

I’m making the transition from wannabe writer to I want to be a writer. I still have a long way to go before I will feel comfortable saying I am a writer. I’m okay with that. Life is a process, it’s full of transitions. Why should this be any different?

Now, a little advice, which is something I rarely give. Listen to the voice pushing you to try something. Be open to the new. I’m not saying to go out and try base jumping, but if you’ve always wanted to paint, give it a try. Sure, you might suck at it. Then again, you might be the next great artist of your generation. You never know. If a friend asks ‘do you ____,’ maybe they are seeing something in you that you don’t see in yourself. Don’t immediately dismiss it, especially if it comes up again and again. Once I finally gave in to the suggestions, to the urge, I found a part of myself I didn’t know I was missing.

If you’ve already found your thing, isn’t it a great feeling? If you haven’t yet, I hope you do soon. I hope you go from wannabe to want to be, too.