It’s a fall of premieres

If you’ve been anywhere near a tv or the internet lately, you know there have been a ton of new shows premiering this fall. But how’s a person to figure out which ones to watch? Well, you could quit your job and watch one after another until you run out of money to pay your rent/mortgage and have no food to eat.

Or you could just let me make suggestions. Cause I’m helpful like that. For me, a few new shows stand out from the rest. Let me break down my top three for you. (All air times are in EDT. Cause, East Coast girl here.)

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World – charming, heartfelt dramedy (think Brothers and Sisters meets Eureka or Parenthood meets Good Witch)

Tuesdays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu

Premise: guy who can’t get his life together ends up with the power to save the world. It’s a common enough premise but that’s because it’s a good one. Add the fact that the lead is Jason Ritter (who legit proved his acting capabilities to me in Parenthood) and I was willing to give it a shot.

What I love: I seriously underestimated this show. Fifteen minutes in and I was already telling my husband he needed to watch it. It surprised me with nuance and warmth. The humor is honest, the characters relatable. As others have pointed out, the mystical black woman as spirit guide can be a cliché, but the creators have promised they have given the character more depth and plot that will ensure they avoid cliché land, and Kimberly Hébert Gregory absolutely sparkles in the role. Add Joanna Garcia Swisher (who has that Sandra Bullock-esque quality of being likable in every role she tackles) and I’m so invested already.

The Brave – military drama with a strong, complex ensemble (think NCIS meets Chicago Fire or Quantico meets The Closer)

Mondays at 9 pm on NBC; Hulu

Premise: a Special Ops squad and a team of analysts work together to protect and defend American citizens. Unlike a lot of military action dramas, this one shows both sides of the spectrum, giving the analysts their own recognition. And each character has complexity and a backstory that unfolds throughout.

What I love: you mean besides the fact that there’s a female sniper? While there are certainly some cowboy moments, this show stands out from other cop or military shows in the way it focuses on tactics and intel. Both sides of the team have to be adaptable, making quick decisions to achieve the best outcomes, instead of just bursting in with guns blazing. The head of the ops team isn’t your usual over-the-top alpha male (thank goodness), but a perceptive leader who values his team, and the director of the analysts is an intelligent, decisive woman with her own tragedies to process. There’s a lot to explore, so I’m interested to see where this show goes.

The Good Doctor – emotionally complex medical drama (think House meets Switched at Birth or The Night Shift meets Monk)

Mondays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu

Premise: as he begins a new job, a surgical resident’s autism and savant syndrome provide both advantages and disadvantages, helping him see the world in a unique way while also making it difficult for him to communicate and understand human behavior.

What I love: I was entirely unprepared for the way this show would casually reach in and rip my heart out. In my experience knowing people with autism, this show is one of the few to express it accurately (although, I have to point out, autism is a broad spectrum that varies widely in characteristics). This protagonist, played brilliantly by Freddie Highmore, is no emotionless, robotic character, but a young man who clearly feels deeply while having difficulty processing or expressing those emotions. The struggles of his past, revealed through flashbacks, provide context and show more of his humanity, while the present day storyline shows him adapting to life in the medical world. He’s underestimated, misunderstood, wholehearted, and brilliant, exactly the kind of character I want to root for.

There you have it, folks. Three solid options that range across genres and styles. What do you think? What new shows are you watching this fall?

 

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Dear You: Raise your voice. Or don’t.

I’ll be honest: motivational/inspirational quotes make my eyes roll back so far I can practically see my brain. But I do appreciate authentic encouragement. And in this world, in this current atmosphere, there’s a lot of negativity and frustration. If you’re craving a moment of honest encouragement, this is to you, from me.

Dear You,

Holy potatoes, there’s a lot of yelling these days, isn’t there? People are angry—some understandably frustrated, some just filled with hate. They’re yelling at people for what they do and what they don’t do, for speaking up and for staying silent. And in the midst of all that noise and chaos, it can be difficult to figure out your place in a world of a thousand loud opinions, all of them drowning out your own thoughts.

But you do have a place, a purpose. There’s a space in this intense, noisy world only you can fill, a contribution only you, with your unique mix of skills, can offer. Maybe you don’t know yet what that contribution could be or even what those skills are. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s no shame in still trying to figure things out.

It’s okay if you don’t wage wars on Twitter. And there’s great beauty in not sharing long Facebook posts about your opinions. But if you feel compelled to address an issue close to you, that’s awesome too. It’s your choice. It belongs to you and no one else.

Your worth is not measured by how much you engage or disengage. The strength of your voice is not dependent on how loudly you can yell but by the ideas you express and the methods you choose for sharing. Sometimes a whisper at the right moment can be more powerful than a hundred people screaming. Sometimes the greatest impact you can make is not by influencing crowds but by investing in one person.

But you can’t know your purpose without knowing who you are. And you can’t know who you are until you believe that you matter.

You. Matter.

Your life, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, is an incredible opportunity that was handed to you. You didn’t ask for or earn your existence, but here you are. You have changed the world simply by existing. How you make an impact beyond that, well, it’s up to you.

And that is a wonderful thing.

 

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Come fly with me…

If you know me, you know I like to be helpful. I also like to be prepared. (Bandaids in my bag? You bet. Hand sanitizer? Obviously. Need Tylenol? I’m here for you.) So it should be no surprise that when it comes to traveling, I like to do my research, and since I recently got back from a week of travel, just in case you’ll be traveling soon (the holidays are racing toward us!), I want to share a few items that could help make traveling easier.

Airborne Chewable Tablets

Airborne. I’ll be honest, I’m a skeptic when it comes to magic supplements. I mean, I take my multi-vitamin every day, but I used to get sick every time I traveled. On a plane, in a car, it didn’t matter, I would catch a bug on the way to or from my destination. And who needs that? So out of desperation, I tried Airborne. The first few times, I chalked it up to coincidence. But after two years of “coincidentally” not getting sick while taking Airborne and traveling, I’m willing to admit this stuff works for me. I don’t know what it is exactly that transforms my immune system from Incrediboy to Wonder Woman, but I’m so on board. Just one tablet before I’m in transit and another when I reach my destination seems sufficient to fight off the germ villains.

Apps. If a plane is your mode of transport, there’s good news: most airlines offer free in-flight entertainment on your personal device. But it requires a little bit of planning since you usually have to download a specific app. United streams movies through their own app, Delta uses GoGo Entertainment. I have no idea about the others, but make sure you download the necessary app first and pack those earbuds to help your flight time feel faster.

Contigo Ashland Glass Bottle

Water bottle. Yeah, I know, no more than 3 ounces of liquid through airport security. But there are water fountains (and sometimes bottle fillers) on the other side. So take an empty water bottle to fill up after security. And make it easy on yourself: use a carabiner to clip the bottle to your bag so you don’t have to carry it or try to fit it in your bag. That way you can access it easily but it won’t be in your way. Or buy one with a built-in clip, like this beauty I recently picked up from Target. It even has a lock switch so you won’t accidentally pop up the top if you bump it. Now that’s attention to detail.

Glasses case. Okay, so that might sound weird if you don’t wear glasses, but this tip isn’t about vision. See, I have a great, hard shell, travel jewelry case but sometimes it’s bigger than I need. But I do want something that will keep the more delicate pieces from being crushed. Enter the glasses case! And as a bonus, nobody’s gonna look at a glasses case and think it has jewelry inside, so it’s a two-for-one deal. If you don’t need to pack jewelry, it also works for other small items you want to keep protected.

Mediterra Snack Bar

Snack bars. Whether you’re on a plane, in a car, or strolling around a city, snacks are important, am I right? Nobody wants to deal with you and your hangry self. And one of my new favorite snack discoveries is the Mediterra savory snack bar. When I’m hungry, I don’t crave sweet, I want savory or salty but unfortunately most protein/snack bars are incredibly sweet so I had to do some digging to find another option. Enter Mediterra! These bars still have a hint of sweetness but they’re savory, with the goodness of pumpkin seeds and kale. Just, you know, check your teeth after you have one.

Pepper spray. So that took a turn, huh? When I travel alone, safety is a concern. Hello, I write about crime so of course I’m gonna think about worst case scenarios. One of your best defensive tools is awareness, but it never hurts to have a little backup. Obviously you can’t take pepper spray on a plane, so if that’s how you’re traveling, you can just slip it in your checked bag. (In a ziplock bag in case things go horribly wrong.) Once you get your suitcase, you can retrieve the spray and put it in a more accessible place before leaving the airport. Just make sure you know the pepper spray laws for whatever state you’ll be in.

Flapjacked Mighty Muffin

Breakfast. Speaking of being prepared, I always feel more ready to take on the world when I have protein for breakfast, which can be hard in a hotel. But again, a bit of research and hello, Mighty Muffins. These little beauties just require water and a microwave and boom: low carb, high protein nutrition to start your day. They’re not your standard sweet muffins, though. More like bread, which I prefer for a breakfast food. (They’re gluten free, too, if that’s your thing.) If low carb isn’t your concern, Kodiak Cakes makes their own version of instant muffins. Just make sure you pack a fork.

Bodium French Press Mug

Coffee. if you know me at all, you know my breakfast wouldn’t be complete without coffee. Good coffee. So naturally, when I’m confronted with the possibility of drinking hotel coffee, I pack my own. (Go ahead, call me a coffee snob. And then do it again after you’ve had old, stale coffee.) Lately I’ve been really enjoying cold brew coffee, so when I found this French press travel mug, it was the perfect solution. I just mix the ground coffee and water, stick it in the mini-fridge overnight, and the next morning I have a smooth, delicious iced coffee to sip. It also works well for visiting people who don’t own a coffeemaker. (Yes, those people do exist, apparently.)

Those are my favorite ways to make travel easier and more fun. What about you? Got any travel tips to add?

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Nashville, Here I Come

This week, I’m heading to Killer Nashville, a writers’ conference for people like me who write about murder and other crimes. If you’re going to be there, please consider this permission to approach. Here’s what I look like these days:

Yes, that is teal in my hair. It’s an easy way to recognize me. I’m very introvert friendly, so don’t be scared. And I’m great with pep talks or pitch practice (I started public speaking when I was 6, so, you know, credentials.) Or if you just want a safe place to sit quietly, that’s fine too. Have a seat next to me and tell me you need some silence. I’m down with that.

I’m also a major observer. So if I’m sitting somewhere and staring at you, I’m probably just analyzing you and plotting your murder. Nothing personal. Feel free to plot my murder as well. Could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I’ve been told I have an expressive face. Sometimes what I’m thinking shows up on my face.

That’s amusement on the left and mild concern on the right. Any time I had to take standardized tests in high school, I often ended up entertaining my teachers with my facial reactions to the questions. I tend to communicate a lot with my face, something my husband can attest to. That’s probably why I loved doing theatre.

I’m also a creative problem-solver, which makes me a fantastic brainstormer. So if you’ve hit a plot snag with your current manuscript and want to talk it out, feel free to ask for help. Or if you just want to play “Where Would You Hide a Body,” that’s good too. If you see me glancing around a room, studying the corners and ceiling, that’s probably what I’m doing.

So there you go, that’s me in a few snapshots. I look forward to meeting other creatively murderous minds and learning more about making a career of crafting twisty, suspenseful tales.

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