Monthly Archives: August 2012

Reality TV: Stranger than Fiction

Remember the days when reality TV was a walk on the moon, a royal wedding or the California Highway Patrol chasing OJ’s white Bronco?  Oh, how far we’ve come!  It’s like that Bowling for Soup song, 1985, bemoaning the fact that MTV used to be about music, not Teen Mom.

Nowadays, much of the content on television is made up of reality TV.  Looking for a hot crime drama?  Turn on The First 48, DEA or COPS.  Need a drama fix?  Check out any of the Real Housewives, Teen Dance Moms or Real World, MTV’s longest running reality TV show.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The genre is not without critics,  but the fact remains viewers flock to these shows turning these real people into bona fide celebrities.  Just ask Kim Kardashian or Honey Boo Boo.  What?  You haven’t heard of Honey Boo Boo a.k.a. Alana Thompson?  She’s a recurring cast member of the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras.Alana was so popular—or sensational—the network had to give her a show of her own.  The show has spurred quite a controversy among viewers–and everyone else who wants to put their two cents in–about whether the six-year-old is being exploited. Yet, those would be detractors are still making her show the most watched show on television this month (not that hard going up against the Republican National Convention). Honey Boo Boo and her family of self-proclaimed Red Necks (yep, they’re speaking English despite those subtitles) are laughing all the way to the bank.

For the average fiction writer, reality TV is better than Google.  Where else can you watch real people deal with subjects authors write about?  It’s a great source for capturing the emotions and mannerisms for, oh I don’t know, wrestling an alligator.  Where else can you watch a detective sequentially solve a crime in the first forty eight hours after it occurs?  Sure, you could do it the old fashion way and request a ride along.  But who wants to do that when you never have to leave your couch?  I admit to watching a little of the DEA show to capture dialog and mannerisms while researching a series of books involving DEA agents. Is your heroine a ballerina or a jockey?  Turn on cable because they’ve got their own shows.  Maybe your hero is a forest ranger or an exterminator?  They are there, too.  (If your protagonist is based on the Swamp Man, however, I’m not buying it.  Just sayin’.)

Several authors I know who’ve written books about home restoration admit to spending a lot of research time watching HGTV and the DYI network.  I’m kind of partial to Stars Earn Stripes right now.  I can see a few heroes for future books among the military men on the show.  Gotta love, Grady, right ladies?   Not the stars, though.  Sorry Dean Caine.

So, how about all you authors out there?  Are there any reality shows you’ve used to research parts of your books?

Back To School…

This is a big year in our house.  The last of our little birds has started her senior year.   That pic up there is her first day of Kindergarten, and her first day of 12th grade. 

We went through this with my son five years ago, but this one is hitting me a little more nostalgically.  I think because the first time around I knew we still had one coming up through the ranks.  Now, everything is the “last time”.  🙂

We had the last start up pep rally last week.  This is her last marching season in the band for the football games.  She made the theater production troupe this year, so this will be the last of all that.

I remember graduating and thinking that those friends would be forever, so when she and her friends talk about the hook ups they will make on college breaks and when my daughter gets leave (she’s going into the Navy), I get a little sad.  I’ve seen some of these kids since Kindergarten, and I know how they will drift apart once they aren’t together every day.

This picture below was from her first grade class, where she made a new best friend, Kenzie.  My daughter is the one looking like she’s eating her purple Scooby Doo backpack.  Kenzie is on the left looking shy and sweet.

This is them a few weeks ago, as I took them on our annual girls day school clothes shopping spree for the very last time!

They are young women now.  About to go off into the big world after this last crazy year.  That’s amazing to me.

I think it’s going to be a roller coaster of a year!!

What are your back to school experiences like?


ORLANDO PUBLIC LIBRARY ~ Romancing the Authors Book Signing August 2012

This weekend was the Orlando Public Library Book Signing Event and what fun!  Several area romance authors were on hand for book signing as well as meet and greet.  For me it was a double pleasure, because not only did I get to see my readers, I was able to reconnect with author friends from the Central Florida Romance Chapter like steamy author Wynter Daniels and YA writer Jax Cassidy, aka my cover designer.

Which is so valuable to me as a writer.  I spend so much time holed away in my office crafting novels, I don’t get out much! Kids think it’s so uncool.  But they enjoyed hearing stories about my readers!

My number one twitter friend stopped in today with her daughter which was so great–especially in light of the fact that my own daughter was supposed to be in attendance with me, but ditched me last minute for a sleepover!  Go figure.

And here’s a lovely Bloomin’ Warrior sporting her fabulous T-shirt and smile.  Talk about excitement, I’m not sure who was more excited to be there, her or me! (What’s a Bloomin’ Warrior?  Find out here.)

But in reality it really was a pleasure.  And more proof that it’s a small world out there.  One of my fellow romance authors signing today, Maria Geraci, was a member a my spring Authors in Bloom Blog Hop AND it turns out, good friends with a girlfriend of mine who lives in the Orlando area.

WOW.  How neat is that?  In my book, very.  As was meeting all the new readers, a few of which were also gardening fans!  Great day.  Simply great.  Thank you all for coming and look forward to the next signing. 🙂

Change And How We Deal With It

My son graduated from high school.  My daughter graduated from middle school.

He started junior college several days ago.  She starts high school this Monday.

Change.  My life is always changing. These changes are good, but my stomach and the rest of my body are reacting otherwise.  I usually go to bed at 10:30.  Now I’m having trouble falling asleep.  I wake up too early and only get about 5 or 6 hours rest.  I have headaches every day and Advil isn’t helping.  This is the first time I’ve come up “idea-less” when I tried to think of something to write for Women Unplugged.  As Kristen Lamb would say, this is “bad ju-ju”.

For thirteen years I drove my son to school and for nine years I drove my daughter as well.  Now he gets a ride from his friend to the junior college and she wants to walk to school.  The “typical” day I had been accustomed to for so many years has been completely turned upside down.  Of course, I still have a reason to get up in the mornings.  I have books to edit, novels to read, wash to do and errands to run, dogs to feed and a horse to ride.  I DO have a life separate from my two kids.

But do I have to get up at 6:30 in the morning to drive them to school, make sure they take their lunches, jackets, and book bags? Not really.  My son has already established his college routine that involves being with his friends 24/7.  And she will have to leave really early to walk to school, loves to be involved in extracurricular activities, and has tons of friends.

Am I feeling lonely already?  I’d say, yes, a bit.  Feeling less needed?  Yeah, a little.  I still want to “be here” for them when they get home.  I swear, it’s in my genes.  I am so accustomed to being the rock that’s always waiting for them, I don’t know how to act any other way.

Does anyone else out there feel like this?

When Thunder Rolls

Last night, we had a series of thunder storms pass through our area. In the middle of the night, we stood on our roof covered deck while lightning flashed around us and thunder boomed in our ears.

I don’t recall having storms like this when I was a kid. But ever since a tornado swept through our area in 1987, killing 37 people, injuring hundreds more, my awareness of storms has increased.

And I’m fascinated by them. On hot humid days like yesterday, I check the Weather Network because they almost always have a weather warning in place. And then I watch the sky.

Crazy storms like last night’s make my heart pound and my stomach churn. The lightning flashed like those disco strobe lights from the 80’s, blinding if you looked at it, impossible to avoid. It flashed so often and so quick, there was no time to close my eyes or look away. It rained so hard, it pounded on the rooftop like hail, while water filled the gentle curves and valleys on our property.

We stood there for nearly an hour, spellbound by the powerful, dangerous storm. Across the farmer’s field, two power transformers blew. The shockwave from a boom of thunder set off our neighbor’s car alarm, his headlights flashing on and off in the distance, the alarm barely distinguishable over the sound of the storm. A few minutes later, another shockwave turned on the light on our automatic garage door opener which was inside the closed garage.

After the storm blasted through, we climbed back into bed. Lightning flashed in the distance and thunder rumbled through the open bedroom window, bringing with it a cool breeze on my face. It was cozy and peaceful and put me to sleep.

Since ’87, we’ve had numerous tornadoes rip across the Canadian prairies, some with deadly consequences, others with only property damage. But when the threat of one is in the air, am I smart enough to stay indoors or hide in the basement? Apparently not.

How about you? What dangerous thing fascinates you more than it terrifies you?

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