Saturday, September 12, 2009

I like my reality with a side of... "de plane! de plane!"

In other words, FANTASY.

(Those of you who have lived long enough, will remember my title riff as pertaining to that old Saturday night cheez-fest, Fantasy Island, starring the always delightful Ricardo Montalban. Those of you who haven't, well, youtube is your friend. Or possibly not, in this case.)

So. It seems that I, alone, of the Noble Order of Novel Girls, tend to eschew reality TV. It is my lot in life. I've always been an odd duck. *sigh*

I understand the fascination, I truly do. I just can't do it. I watched the first season of Survivor - mostly because it was impossible to have a relevant conversation with my mother if I hadn't seen that weeks episode - but that's about it.

Other than that, I occasionally stumble across an episode of America's Next Top Model, which I will watch for ten minutes or so, just for the the sheer roadkill factor, before I have to hit the remote. And sometimes, when John is out, there's the odd half-hour of home-decor porn (oh Debbie Travis, you wall-bashing vixen, you).

But that's really it.

I can't watch any of the dancing shows, because they just remind me of my failed age 6 aspirations of prima ballerina-dom (they were brief and fleeting, really - I was a hobbyist - but still). And even though I hear that SYTYCD is damn entertaining, I just can't commit.

I can't watch the Idol shows because I tend to exhibit violent, over-reactionary behavior in the face of aspiration-mockery. Too many years spent auditioning, I think. It's somewhat soured me on the process - I just can't watch contestants have their dreams steamrollered week after week.

I also can't watch any of the aging has-been freak-show parades. They just make me feel ooky.

And I fondly remember a blissful, more innocent, gentler time, when I had never even heard of Jon and Kate (or their eight), or that Tila Tequila chick. Who are these people, why on earth should I care, and when are they going to have the good sense to be ashamed of themselves and crawl back into obscurity where I don't have to read about them in the morning Metro??? Gah.

I guess if I have to watch something that you could call reality tv, I would have to say that I do have one form of it I will watch with an obsession bordering on the unhealthy. And that is Leafs hockey. It's heartbreakingly real. Especially every time the playoffs roll around and we're not in them.

Right! So having confessed, who's with me? Any reality haters in the crowd? Stand with me!

And while your doing that - don't forget to enter the Novel Girls Blogoversary Contest-o-Rama-Rama for a chance to win a signed copy of A Bump in the Road and a $100 Amazon Gift Card!! Details on the side bar!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome Allison Winn Scotch, Authoress Extraordinare!

In honor of our Blog-o-versary, please join us in welcoming one of our favorite authors, Allison Winn Scotch! Allison is the author of The Department of Lost and Found (HarperCollins, 2007), Time of My Life (Random House, October 2008) and the forthcoming The One That I Want (fall/summer 2010). If you haven't picked up one of her books, RUN to the bookstore! She's an amazing writer and wonderful storyteller.

To celebrate the August paperback release of Time of My Life (Seriously one of my favorite books ever), Allison kindly agreed to do an interview with The Novel Girls:

1. What is your writing schedule like?

It all depends on where I am in the writing process, but generally, I do the bulk of my writing in the morning, after I’ve dropped my son off at school and surfed my requisite websites. When I working on fiction, I have the tendency to procrastinate to the 1000th power, so I’ve long learned that the only definitely way to ensure that I get it done for the day is to get it done right away. That way, after a few hours, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and if I want to write more – great, and if not, I’ve done what I needed to do.

2. How do you choose your names for your characters?

I think I choose them much like a parent does a child – I take a hard look at who these characters are, their circumstances, who I hope they’ll be, and sort of roll a few names around in my brain. Eventually, one sticks. For example, in Time of My Life, I needed a classic but could-still-be-slightly-uptight, but still also cute guy’s name, and Henry seemed perfect. For The One that I Want, I wanted my protagonist’s name to be a little quirky, a little small-townish, a little girlish who didn’t quite grow up-ish, and Tilly just came to me.

3. If you're in procrastination mode, what are three things sure to steal your attention from writing?

Well, obviously, the internet – I could surf gossip sites for hours. Ditto Facebook and Twitter. But I’ll count that as one. Running/working out is know that I REALLY don’t want to write when I head out for a run instead. :) Hmmm, the other? Maybe my DVR, though I actually very, very rarely watch TV during the day. But I’m a big pop-culture junkie, so sure, I’m probably not above watching last night’s Project Runway instead of writing!

4. What book is next in your To Be Read pile?

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Too many people have told me to read it for me not to.

5. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Teleportation. I hate to fly but love to travel, so think it would be SO cool just to be able to wake up in Paris.

6. Where is one place anywhere in the world you haven't yet visited but would like to?

South Africa. I’d love, love, love to take a safari and experience the animals/wild life, but with two young kids, it’s not in the cards right now. Probably when they’re older.

7. What has been the most surprising thing about your publishing success?

How so little changes! I recently ran into an old college friend who was like, “Whoa, Allison Winn! You’re a famous author!” Which just made me giggle. Because a) I’m not famous but b) my life is exactly the same, more or less, other than the security of having a job that I love and the checks that this job brings in. I’m still wearing my sweatpants, still chasing after my kids, still doing every single thing that I did before my “publishing success.” Actually, I’m not even sure this is that surprising – to me, at least, but I think other people would find it surprising. As if being published or being a bestseller really could (or should) change that much about you or your life.

8. What's one thing you wish you knew as a debut author?

That you need to manage your expectations. Which sounds pessimistic, I know, but it’s not. Just honest. I think that you should revel in EVERY LAST SECOND of being a debut, published author, but if that’s the most that happens from your book, let that be okay. Dream of movie rights and bestseller lists and People magazine reviews, and then, if none of that happens (because for 99% of books, it doesn’t), still be just as proud of yourself and just as excited as you were before none of this happened. There is inevitably a post-publication let-down (I’ve never spoken with an author who hasn’t experienced it), and I think you can manage it better than others if you’re content with whatever success comes your way.

9. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Gossip magazines and TV. I read A LOT, but I also love television – the two don’t have to be separate entities! In fact, I also do celebrity profiles/interviews, which indulges my love of both guilty pleasures. And I don’t apologize for one second for loving ‘em. :)

10. What’s your favorite thing about the writing process? Your least?

My favorite thing is being done. :) I’m not even kidding. Okay, to be more specific, I truly love having finished the first draft of the manuscript because it’s like climbing a mountain – you’ve scaled it, even when you thought that you couldn’t. I also love the weeks post-publication, when you start to hear from readers with whom your book resonated. My least favorite? Starting a new book. Until I reach about 20k words, I just feel like it’s so unsubstantial, so impossible that I’m going to manage 85k words, and I dread, dread, dread it. Again, it’s standing at the base of the mountain looking upward – you know that you can do it, but you also know that there’s going to be a little blood, sweat and tears on the way up.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Allison! Fabulous answers and definitely spot-on! (Not that I'm hovering just below 20K in my new book or

OK, so same rules apply for today's post. Leave a comment and be entered to win a signed copy of A Bump in the Road and a $100 Amazon gift card! For more chances to win, check out the sidebar to the left. Lesley graciously agreed to move her blog posting to tomorrow, so be sure to stop back and check out her take on reality television!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paula, I Already Miss Ya

I had my reality show post all written and ready to post, when my husband just announced to me from across the room that Ellen DeGeneres is taking over for Paula next season on American Idol. WHAT?

Okay, I’m sure you would’ve found my fascination with celebrity reality TV (a la Tori & Dean, Guiliana & Bill, Kathy Griffin, and Denise Richards) quite interesting -- and if you want, you can read about it over at my personal blog. But this begs to be discussed. Really? Ellen DeGeneres?

It’s not that I don’t love Ellen, because I think she’s great at what she does. Funny. Love her talk show. But she isn’t a musician. I’ll admit, I’ve sometimes taken issue with Paula and Randy and Kara and Simon, but at least they’re all qualified to judge; they’re all part of the music industry.

According to Ellen, she’s going to represent “the people’s point of view” on the judging panel. Interesting thought, I guess. But don’t the people already have a point of view, as in ourselves, our own unqualified thoughts and opinions?

I guess part of what upsets me is that I’ve always elevated American Idol above other “reality shows.” Yes, it’s a reality show, but it’s miles away from watching the cast of The Real World get drunk and get in fights, or watching Denise Richards plan a baby shower without a party planner. I love watching Idol for what it represents, the idea that someone with raw-undiscovered talent who was unable to break into the business on his/her own can be thrust into the spotlight, judged by America, and given the chance at what felt like an impossible career. I’ve followed Idol from the beginning, starting with Kelly Clarkson’s story, about how she’d moved to LA to give the music business a shot on her own before, but had gotten rejected. And when she won, it felt like a triumph for me, for any artist who has ever been rejected and discouraged.

But now, Idol has Ellen DeGeneres. Maybe she’ll be great. Maybe I – and America – will love her in her new role. But I can’t help but think this, in a way, cheapens the show, makes it less about the talent and more about spectacle. And that makes me sad.

What do you think?

Don’t forget to comment or do any of the other fun things listed on our sidebar for your chance to win a signed copy of the fabulous and funny A BUMP IN THE ROAD by Maureen Lipinski AND to be entered to win $100 to Amazon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I've been hornswoggled for the last time.

I'm trying to remember life before reality . . . shows that is. Sitcoms were king (at least in my book) and dramas were my queeen. Especially Knots Landing back in the olden days along with Dynasty and Dallas. Now it's Gray's Anatomy and The Office but we're onto another subject.

Yes I suppose American Idol is my fave but since Tracy has already talked about it I won't go on and on. I watch it mainly because I love music, and after working in that business for over 20 years I feel like I kinda sorta have a good idea about what's good and what's not. It remains to be seen if I'll watch it next year. I'm a Paula fan. She provided a necessary balance in the judging.

I can't believe I'm about to admit this to the world, but The Bachelor USED to be my reality show obsession. I'm using past tense here because I finally banged the gavel after last season. When the dude from Seattle with the little boy dumped the girl only a few weeks after he proposed on a cliff in New Zealand I was D.O.N.E. He had me completely believing that he truly had fallen for her . . . you know the brunette - was her name Melissa? - and that she would be the perfect step-mom. When they all jumped in the pool together I was right there with them, so happy for the little boy and the couple. But when "After the Bachelor" or "After the Final Rose" (whatever they call it) aired I realized right then and there that I had been hornswoggled. I turned off the TV and swore I'd never let it happen again. I can't help but wonder if the producers had it planned all along that Jason would go back to the runner-up. All in the name of ratings!?! Poor Melissa.

I never meant to start watching The Bachelor in the first place. Seriously I didn't. But when it's a Monday night with not much to do, I'll start flipping through the channels. For some reason it never failed to be the opening night of the show. I'd see the bachelors or bachelorettes stepping out of the limo and was instantly hooked. And by the time they were toasting the days to come in the mansion I'd already picked out who I wanted to win.

And I'll tell you something else. I'm not so sure that the producers don't plant those slutty, annoying girls who drive the others crazy. There's one on every show. I mean who really acts like that? I'm convinced the producers tell the bachelor that he has to keep "the pill" on through most of the show. I mean isn't it the conflict that sells? That's Creative Writing 101. I'm telling you The Bachelor has us all hornswoggled.

Thanks for all of the posts last week and especially for all of the new followers that have signed up. Please keep up the comments. I want everyone to have a chance to win all the great prizes we're offering up. This week Maureen is giving away a signed copy of A Bump In The Road. Just feast your eyes over to the right to learn how to win.

I'd love to know if anyone else feels the same way as I do about The Bachelor. Come on now. Don't hold back!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

For Love of Trashy Shows...

First off, let me say a big THANK YOU to all of our new followers and to everyone who participated in the contest last week! LEXIE--I'm sure you will love your Dorchester books!

Now, *drumroll please* for this week's prize...a signed copy of my book, A BUMP IN THE ROAD! You want it. You know you do. :)

All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered. Check out the sidebar to the right of this blog for more ways to win! Good luck!

Alright, as for the topic at hand--reality shows. People who know me in real life know that I'm a bit of a reality show lover. Which is embarrassing enough. What makes it worse is that the kind of shows I watch aren't even the ones of value--American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. Those shows actually have some merit involved.

Nope, I'm strictly a trashy reality show junkie. Anything airing on Vh1 and involving aging rock stars like Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, Pretty much any of the "...of Love" shows, Real World...

You see where this is going. It's not pretty.

For some reason, I find it fascinating to watch people who are only on a show for the media exposure and who will do just about anything to stand out. Although, I can't say I'm surprised. I knew there couldn't be that many women who want to date Bret Michaels. (Stay tuned for the next season of Rock of Love: Geritol Edition...)

I will say that if anyone ever needs life validation and proof that you've made good decisions, to turn on one of these shows. Because no matter what is happening in my life, at least I'm not drunk on television and crying about how Flavor Flav dumped me.

So, what are your favorite reality shows?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why I Watch American Idol (And a WINNER!)

Wow, I can't believe we're on the tail-end of Labor Day weekend. Before I can blink, it will be Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. Crazy how fast time flies! I hope all of the TNG readers had a most excellent holiday weekend filled with whatever you wanted it filled with.

Before I write on Maureen's topic for the week, I want to announce the winner (chosen via from week one of our Blogoversary Bash!

The winner of two books of her choosing from Dorchester Publishing is LEXIE! Yay! Huge congrats, Lexie! Please e-mail me at with your full name, mailing address, and the two books (titles and authors, please) you'd like from Dorchester Publishing. I'll get them ordered and sent out to you this week!'re still eligible for the Grand Prize of a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate that we'll be giving away at the end of the month.

This week we're also giving away a prize, but I don't know what that is. Maureen will tell everyone tomorrow. It will be cool. Really, really cool. I'm sure of it, so stay tuned!

Okay, and I'm going to use THIS blog to reach another one of our readers, because I saw she commented. Tonya Kappes! You won a prize over on my blog last week, but I can't find your email address, shoot me an email, please!

On to this week's topic, brought to us by Maureen: Reality Shows!

I'm totally addicted to reality shows, but not all of them. In fact, there are far more reality shows on the air at any given time that I've never watched than there are those that I watch faithfully. My favorite, by far, is American Idol.

I started watching Idol in its second season, and have watched every episode that has aired since. Yes, even the auditions, which are the episodes I tend to like the least each and every season. Mostly because I want to hear who can sing well, those who actually have a shot, and as anyone who has ever watched AI knows, the audtions are mostly about the funny. Which, by the way, I don't normally find funny, but that's neither here nor there.

So I find myself this year, for the first year since I began watching AI, oddly apprehensive. I'll admit it...the shakeup in the judging has me not too happy. For one, I liked the THREE judge format, before they added judge number 4 last year. And two, this year, Paula is said to not be involved in American Idol any longer.

I like Paula. Yes, I do. I like her attitude, I like how she pumps the contestants up, and yes, I even like how she often says very silly things. Besides which, in my mind, Paula and Simon are a pair. I'm not sure I'll enjoy his "wit" nearly as much without Paula's wit added in.

But I'll give the show a chance. Because when push comes to shove, I don't watch because of the judges...not at all. I watch because of the contestants. It has to be so nerve-wracking to step up on that stage and sing for all America to watch, but they do it week after week, in hopes of reaching their dreams.

And to me, that's exactly what most (if not all) reality shows are about, and it is what makes them so darn appealing to the public. Well, that and the human drama that is bound to come through whenever there's a camera on a bunch of virtual strangers. It's cool. It's fun. And I love seeing dreams come true.

What about you? Do you watch reality shows? If so, which are your favorite? If not, why not?

And remember...our Blogoversary Celebration continues all month, so leave your comments and check out the rules on the sidebar to learn about how you can earn more chances to win!