29 September 2011

Bridge Over Troubled ... Months ...

Hmm. Maybe I should leave songwriting to the professionals. "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" is much more catchy as a title, no?

The paranormal: we are fascinated by it. We want to believe. We tell stories about ghosts and goblins, dragons and the fey. It’s what we see out of the corner of our eye, or what lives beyond the light at night. We follow spritualists and go to live performances, hoping that maybe it might be real and not a man behind a curtain.

Our tour through television has brought us many different kinds of entertainment, from reality to the outskirts of speculation. Our next theme, “Here There Be Dragons: and Werewolves and More” brings us to those edges and beyond.

As a bridge between September’s and October’s themes, I thought I’d talk a bit about some good dragon and werewolf stories that might not be as well known.

First, the well-known author Ursula K. LeGuin wrote the Earthsea trilogy, which she then continued with Tehanu, the fourth in what is now a cycle.

To my pleased surprise, a made for television miniseries was made of the story that is really interesting. Danny Glover is in it, and he rocks. The actor they chose for Ged, and the one for Vetch, are also awesome. The Shadow is deliciously creepy.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have a book called A Century of Lesbian Erotica. In it is “Blood and Silver,” by Pat Califia from 1997. This introduced me to a darker side of fantasy because the idea is a woman transforms into a werewolf, and then leads a secret life of dominating men and making them reveal their own animal natures. This was the first time I encountered the paranormal as a sexual object.

Then someone recommended Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels to me, and I loved them. It was a bridge between very hard-boiled paranormal mystery and erotica, and rather than the traditional fade-to-black at the moment of the bedroom scene, Laurell took us right inside the bedroom with her characters. Very fun.

From what I understand, though I’m hardly an expert, the idea of the vampire as sexually attractive is relatively new. Older legends and myths about them, and about werewolves, weren’t at all like that – they were considered very dangerous, evil predators.

I like the more sexy version. What about you?

Second question: which do you prefer, vampires or werewolves (or other lycanthropes)?

26 September 2011

Those Lovely Fall Premiers

Greetings,  Kittens!

Happy Autumn! I hope you enjoyed the Equinox. Whether you celebrate it spiritually or secularly, after the summer temperatures we’ve had, it was a welcome sight! I love the trappings of fall that have appeared everywhere over the past two weeks, and this weekend in particular. From the pumpkin pies, tarts, drinks and even ice cream, to all things fresh apple, caramel and apple and apple cider, it’s had everything but the leaves changing—but that’s the Southwest for you.

My all time favorite sign of fall would have to be the shows! Although I absolutely love the fact that networks like USA and TNT have created wonderful summer seasons that aren’t to be missed, there’s still nothing quite like the premier of the new fall lineup. To me, it’s akin to that sensation of going back to school as a young kid. There’s excitement, nervousness, a desire to put it off a few more weeks, and a rush to see what’s changed. And just like going back to school, the fall premiers are a chance to see old friends again as trusted shows return, and a chance to make new ones that will hopefully last the year.

This season’s new guys have shown some promise, but this will be the week where everything shows it’s true colors. Much to my delight, this year the colors are skewed heavily towards sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal. Terra Nova premiers tonight with a two hour pilot and more pressure than any new show should carry. In our post-Lost television landscape, there’s been a search for a successor these last two years. Shows like Flashforward and The Event, failed to live up to the mantle, but Terra Nova has been promised as the show to turn all of that around. It has time-travel, dinosaurs, an apocalyptic future and a solution 85 million years in the past. What’s not to like?

On the heels of FOX’s  Terra Nova this week, next week gives us a return to fairy tales in shows like NBC’s Grimm about detectives investigating crimes by fairy creatures, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time where Snow White, Prince Charming and other beloved characters live under assumed/alternate identities in the mysterious New England town of Storybrooke. ABC also has a spring debut in The River, a supernatural thriller even closer to the phenomena of Lost. Not to be left out, NBC also has a midseason paranormal in Awake, about a police detective whose perception is split between alternate realities after a car accident. FOX will greet the midseason with the J.J. Abrams show Alcatraz about a group of guards and prisoners that appear in modern day after disappearing 30 years ago, starring Lost veteran Jorge Garcia.

CBS got a jump on the other networks and tried to make amends for its treatment of Medium with the new show A Gifted Man. This ghostly drama debuted Friday about a surgeon who begins to see his ex-wife’s ghost and is left trying to fulfill her unfinished business. Just an episode in, I have to say that I truly like the supporting cast, the premise works well and the main character—although a complete jerk—has a incredible potential if the writing stays even and on track.

Toddler on the block, the CW went two for two and debuted yet another show based on a L.J. Smith series, The Secret Circle about a bloodline of witches that have been stripped of their powers after a mysterious tragedy sixteen years ago. The teens of these bloodlines have found out about their heritage and finally have a complete circle with the arrival of Cassie, who returns to live with her grandmother after her mother’s death. Two episodes in, this has not yet lived up to Practical Magic meets Dawson’s Creek, and has veered dangerously close to The Craft meets 90210 at points, but it has a likeable cast, gorgeous scenery and a real chance to find success with what it truly is, The Vampire Diaries but with witches. *Grin*

Speaking of The Vampire Diaries, CW saw a strong ratings with the return of it’s third season and even stronger viewership for truly veteran paranormal Supernatural this past Friday for it’s 7th season. Fox was pleased with the return of Fringe for season four, while ABC is pretending V never happened.

For those of us in love with sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal, it’s a good crop so far this fall, with promise for winter and spring. But we’ve seen a good number of shows, both firmly in the genre spectrum like Stargate Universe, and skirting it’s edges like Pushing Daisies, just drop off the radar, never to be seen again. So I’m hopeful for the new season, but like always, I’m not getting attached until May 2012 upfronts when I know their coming back and even then....

Expect a Thursday Thirteen on the new shows a few months down the line, but for now, this ramble is done, Kittens!

Happy Viewing,


25 September 2011

Why I Love Fan Mail

A long time ago in a small apartment far, far away (okay, in Toronto) I sat and watched the first episode of this quirky odd television show. It grabbed me because of the characters, the paranormal angle and the relationship between the main characters.

That show was the X-Files.

It might seem odd to newer television viewers to say that this was a milestone show, which broke all the rules and then some, but it did. It pushed the concept of paranormal phenomena out into the public eye like no other, not since Kolchak: The Night Stalker brought vampires and werewolves into the family living room and grabbed you by the throat, demanding you sit and think.

And it had two darned great characters. Mulder and Scully soon fell into our lingo and still exist today where you can talk about them and everyone knows instantly who and what you're referring to.

But I don't want to talk only about Moose and Squirrel. I want to talk about how the X-Files changed lives.

Specifically, mine.

I was working at a hospital at that time as a security guard, wrestling drunks in the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning and coming home to the apartment I shared with my mother and a second-hand Mac.

And the internet. And user groups where I found fans who loved the X-Files as much as I did, if not more.

And fan fiction.

Now I can see you laughing, you younglings, at the idea of newsgroups and people posting their fan fiction through a long complicated process of cutting and pasting into messages posted up in public for anyone to see, battling not only the horrors of a dial-up modem but the follies of newsgroups where you could lose a post at any time for any reason.

I loved to read the stories but, as many a fan fiction author has, that I could do better.

So I did.

It's been said that an author needs to write a million words of crap before he/she hones their craft to the point of being publishable. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm sure most of that first million in my case was spent on XF fan fiction.

I bashed out thousands of words in short stories, in novels, in serials that went on from season to season, filling in the gaps between episodes and during those long summer months between seasons. I wrote when I was at work, between dealing with loud obnoxious drunks who never lost a fight (or so they said) and a social life that only existed online due to my work situation.

I got plenty of fan mail, I'm rather proud to say. Someone sent me a copy of the Rolling Stone issue from Australia where Mulder and Scully are on the cover, naked and in each other arms. I loved getting fan mail and still love to get feedback on those older stories along with my original fiction.

But the real X-File happened one day in 1993 when I opened up a specific email. It was from a nice American boy down in Pennsylvania and detailed how he enjoyed my writing, specifically my Dragon series with my original character, Jackie St. George.

A bit of a backtrack here – I used an original character to be a Greek chorus for the audience in some of my stories, voicing what we the fans thought about the relationship between Mulder and Scully and how we wanted them to get together. She was Canadian, a CSIS agent and owner of a berserker curse. Not quite a Mary Sue by definition but darned close. (I will confess that I did apply to CSIS and came *this* close to being accepted. Talk about your life turns…)

Anyway this fan loved St. George and urged me to write more. I didn't need much encouragement and kept on writing. He kept on writing emails and eventually we moved up to phone calls. I think it's fair to say that we alone kept Bell Canada afloat for many months.

Finally he gets the courage up to come to Canada and see me. By then we'd both realized this relationship was moving far beyond the "I love your work!" phase and into the "I love you!" area.

I won't bore you with the details but I moved from Canada to the United States in 2000 and married my Wookie, the man who first found me through X-Files fan fiction. We've been very happily married for over a decade and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I write all day and he reads it before I send it off to publishers. He loves to see my books on the shelves and brags to his friends about marrying two women, myself and St. George.

I've never loved a show as much as I've loved the X-Files, though many have come close. We're both enjoying "Haven" on the Syfy channel and watch "Fringe", laughing at all the XF references. But I think our first true love of the X-Files will never be replaced.

I love to tell people this story because it not only illustrates what I call Twu Luv but also the importance of answering fan mail. If I had deleted that email without reading it or never responded… well, I'd probably still be wrestling drunks on the midnight shift.

Now I wrestle with story ideas and other things at night.


24 September 2011

A Saturday Selection from Dragon*Con 2011

I’m way past the point of calling my three-hour a night TV habit a guilty pleasure. Too much Highlander, Andromeda, Remington Steele and Antonio Banderas movies were directly responsible for With Nine You Get Vanyr—to say nothing of my involvement in fan culture.

Rather than go over the same ground as my talented colleagues, today I want to talk to you about what happens if you get too deep into fandom. Sooner or later you will find yourself at a media convention. And the biggest, baddest media con, run by fans for fans, is Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, held every year in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. If you are very lucky, you will graduate from wide-eyed attendee to participating guest. It’s a great gig. You get up-close-and-personal with the art and exhibits. Writers, artists and the occasional musician start to remember your name—and almost never run away when they hear it.

The only downside to this scenario is you start to use the con as a business tool. These days my schedule revolves around my panels and desired interviews instead of gorging myself on the fan panels I really want to see. But that doesn’t mean my inner fan girl is entirely dead.

I still get a kick about Atlanta’s slow, inexorable slide into accepting Dragon*Con as its very own “Nerdi Gras” (as one fan called it). Check out the banners that were already flying on Peachtree Street when I arrived in town August 31.

Or the world’s most perfect fantasy real estate sign.

Meanwhile, in the Hyatt Regency, one of the con’s five participating hotels, they were outfitting the Dragon*Con Armory with lots of sharp pointy objects and things that go boom. Pay no attention to that harmless looking woman with the camera. She’s not the one you want. She’s just here to, um, drool over those lethal blades.

The squee-worthy moments change. Instead of freaking over sitting the front row in your favorite star, you learn to cherish the chance encounters—sharing the elevator with the actor you grew up watching on TV or catching Rogue, the lead singer for the Cruxshadows (one of my all-time favorite bands) unloading the van late Thursday night.

But no matter what you’re doing at Dragon*Con, you’re never more than a few feet away from a great costume.

(Yes, those are liquor shots slung in those bandoleers. Something tells me these boys were very popular.)

Or a jaw-dropping parade float.

(I confess. I arrived too late to the parade to catch more than a few videos, which I haven’t posted yet. But what I saw was amazing. Even more amazing was the fact every slot in the parade was filled before they opened on-site registration.)

To say nothing of the dopplegangers.

(Is this or is this not the most amazing James Scott impersonator you’ve ever seen?)

And the music.

(This is from the Jefferson Starship’s late Sunday night show. Check out singer Cathy Richardson’s Star Trek uniform.)

Including some musical moments not on the program.

(This is my best shot of the con: The Cruxshadows’ JoHanna Moresco demonstrating violin technique to a young friend.)

Capped off by an intimate Monday afternoon show by one of my other favorite bands, Emerald Rose.

But fans will be fans.

I confess, Sunday night I snuck away to indulge a total fan girl moment in an off-site reading from The Greyfriar by none other than James Marsters (shown here flanked by The Greyfriar authors Clay and Susan Griffith).

Buffy’s Spike. Torchwood’s Captain Jack Hart. In the living flesh.
Did I mention I shot video? From the front row?
But that, my darlings, is another blog entirely…


If you’d like to see the rest of my Dragon*Con pictures (including some of your favorite authors) and more notes than I have space for here, check out my Flickr photo stream. No videos yet, but I’m working on it. I’m working on it!

Jean Marie

23 September 2011

When it's over...

For the past 3 years or more I'd been in a monogamous TV relationship with True Blood. The amazing part about that is I rarely commit myself to a TV show for very long, I rather play the field, get some variety in. But I admit it, True Blood drew me in and there was no turning back. Now True Blood and I have had some minor fights over the years, I admit I've been hurt many times, but we always found a way to make up.

That was, until 2 weeks ago…

(Spoilers ahead)




Though I admit the vampires of Bon Temps are not my favorite people (except Jessica), I was pretty relieved episode before last when they finally killed off the head witch, who had long ago gotten on my last nerve with her whining and moaning. I even allowed myself to enjoy the vampire juice box moment with Eric, despite the fact I have still never forgiven Eric for what he did to Lafayette in season 2.

Unfortunately, some folks just don't know when it's time to stay dead. Whiny Witchypoo jumped on board Lala and with his body she killed off one of my 3 favorite characters on the show, Jesus. Normally I prefer women loving women, I don’t read m/m, yet I freaking loved Lafayette and Jesus’ relationship. Team Lala and Jesus all the way. Producer Alan Ball's response to Jesus’ death? “Happy relationships are boring.

” Screw you!

In the first 5 min the writers of the show managed to destroy one of the only couples on the show that I cared anything about. The Sookie?Eric/Bill thing got old ages ago, especially her whole “I can't choose so I have to give up both of you” scene. Alpha vampires or not, I find it hard to believe that if that fairy nooky is that good, that these boys would not have found a way of working out so they could both get some. Especially with a great bromance they had going on this episode.

For a good chunk of the rest of the show the only thing that made me happy was seeing Gran yank the witch’s spirit out of my beloved Lafayette. I love Gran, she didn't play. The spark was gone from me besides that scene, especially seeing someone who just murdered one of the most wonderful, goodhearted guys on that show get to go off to her wonderful peaceful afterlife. How is that fair?

And if my heart hadn’t been ripped out enough watching Jesus’ spirit comfort Lafayette through Lala’s medium ability, promising he would always be with them, was almost too much to take, and then… and then… they finally kill off Debbie Pelt, but only after Tara taking a shotgun round across the side of her head to protect Sookie. There is not enough swearwords for me to fully express how pissed off I was at that moment.

I have 3 characters that been the heart and soul of that show for me, one is dead after being stabbed in the chest, the other is missing a chunk of her side of her head, and the 3rd looks to have lost damn near everybody he ever cared about. A woman can only take so much abuse before she has enough and have to break things off.

Am I saying I completely given up on my beloved True Blood? I don't know, but it would take a heckuva lot of groveling and some big ass impressive writing changes to heal the damage that was done during the season 4 finale. Until then I will enjoy my new tshirt I got today that says “WWLD… What would Lafayette do?”, watch old episodes and enjoy the happier times with team Lala and Jesus.

21 September 2011

No TV post

ACK! Sorry for the whited-out posting before - it was late last night and I was tired. I've fixed it!

Sorry, I have no TV post for you today. Though I'm sure I could totally ramble on for pages about TV characters and my favorite shows - my DVR is nearly full and several nights a week we have something taping on both televisions.

But no. I have bigger news and wanted to share. Well, it's officially unofficial news, since the contracts have not yet been signed by both parties. But I've been keeping it to myself for nearly a week, and it's been hard!  

Let me 'splain. No, it is too long. Let me sum up. (sorry, I'm a little giddy and I can't help myself.)

I started writing ten years ago. Ten years this month. Of the seven novels I've completed, I've sent three of those to look for agents. My first book went nowhere with agents, and probably rightly so. I mean, kids love it and it's all right, but I can see how it wasn't ready for prime time. The rewrites for the new edition are coming along fabulously. Anyway, then it was the first of the Library of Athena series, which got a better response but no takers. Hey, it went to Samhain and I'm still getting royalty checks. Didn't seem right to send the rest of the series to look for an agent when the first was already published somewhere.

And so we come to my Steampunk Fairy Tale, SMOKE & MIRRORS. This was the one, I said. My best effort. I sent it out, oh, a year or so ago, and it's been doing the rounds ever since. Two years, and two nearly complete rewrites later, and here we are.

And now, I'd like to introduce you to someone. Meet Terrie Wolf, of AKA Literary. She's an agent.

As of today, she's MY agent. Or, she will be officially when the postal service delivers the contract to her.

Yep. Took a decade, and seven books, and two rewrites of the one that finally landed her, but I have an agent. Terrie is AWESOME. We talked over an hour and a half last week, and we seem to be a perfect fit. I am completely confident in her ability to take SMOKE & MIRRORS to a great publisher and get us a great deal.

Here's an interview she did at Middle Grade Ninja just yesterday. Isn't she adorable??

While I am still a little in shock, and it doesn't seem real yet, I am really really really happy.

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!! Shhhh!

19 September 2011

The Truth Is Out There

I have broad tastes.

For TV shows I like quirky (Pushing Up Daisies), funny (Seinfeld, Friends), dramatic (24, Grey's Anatomy, Hill Street Blues) and romantic (Bachelor).

But my all time favorite, the series that would make me look foward to Sunday nights, was X-Files.

OMG, I loved that show.

The intrigue, the eww-factor, the FBI procedures, cases ripped from the headlines, the paranormal mysteries about aliens to serial killers...all combined with two of the best, well-written characters on tv.

Agent Mulder, with his spooky, heart-felt, intelligent, fighting for justice yumminess could have carried the show alone BUT add to the mix the small, cute, gentle, brave, super-smart, pessimistic, medical doctor, Agent Scully and...BAM!

A great show. Sigh, I miss it.

The truth is still out there...somewhere, just not on TV Sunday nights.

Kimberley's website

18 September 2011

Television Bites!

I must admit, when it comes to T.V., I lean toward the same genre that I write, paranormal. It's action-packed, full of suspense and a little eye candy doesn't hurt the ratings.
Vampire Diaries has Stefan and Damon, although I am personally partial to Damon. His smart-ass comebacks and crooked smile give new meaning to the bad boy persona.

Supernatural has it's own pair of brothers and the plot leans toward the messier aspect of the paranormal world.

Yet my all-time favorite show is still Home Improvement.

When work gets stressful and all the news seems bad, it's nice to escape reality for a while. The paranormal genre entertains my dark side and Home Improvement satisfies the need for happily-ever-after. Its the ying and yang of my television world.

17 September 2011

Fall TV Schedule - The Secret Circle

I'm behind. With my schedule, the only way I get to follow television is through online streaming or Hulu. :) And that means I never catch on to the really good shows until it's too late.

But, wonder of wonders, I zipped over to iTunes last week and saw the pilot for "The Secret Circle" as a free preview download. Since it's on my list of shows I'd like to eventually follow, I downloaded it. And man, am I glad I did!

The lead in the show is a favorite from "Life Unexpected." The idea of the show is from a YA series I haven't read, but now plan to dig up. Covenant and Practical Magic all tied into one. I was intrigued and now am looking forward to following it.

And that brings me to the question: Has anyone else noticed the surge of paranormal shows popping up? I mean, True Blood, Supernatural, and Vampire Diaries aside, most supernatural shows I get addicted to get canceled pretty quickly. Wolf Lake, Night Stalker, and the Invisible Man, just to name a few that I liked that didn't make it.

What about you? What new shows coming out this year are you looking forward to following? I know that I am still going to have to rely on Hulu and online streaming to keep track of things, but it definitely looks like a great winter line-up.

12 September 2011

Yes, I Remember the Sixties, Is That Bad?

Ah, television. Back when I was young, TV was a special pleasure. For years we had a black and white TV. On Sunday night, several of us younger kids went to the end of the street to the one neighbor who had a color set. We’d watch Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. And it was wonderful. Magic.

Fast forward to 1966. Star Trek began and we even had a color TV to watch it on. I became an immediate fan, and looked forward to every episode. My mom worried I’d have nightmares, but I was actually more likely to dream of being on the Enterprise and rushing toward new adventures. When the novelizations of the show came out, I sucked them down. A friend suggested I try some real science fiction, and suggested several books. Books by people like Bradbury, Asimov, Clark. I fell hard. I wanted to write SF. But my muse didn’t like the hard SF I loved to read. My muse leaned toward human drama.

In 1969, the show Medical Center debuted. OK, I’ll admit I had a big time crush on Chad Everett (who’s aged quite well, I must point out). When he had a love scene I just kind of melted. In fact, most intense love scenes (not sex in those days, just holding and kissing and stuff) had my stomach tingling. It took me a while to figure out romance and SF didn’t go together. But oh, if they just could.

Many years later, I heard Catherine Asaro speak. Before SF or paranormal romance was even a subgenre, she talked about combining the two in her work. At that time, the way to do this was to write straight SF and downplay the romance so the predominately-male audience wouldn’t be turned off. Seeing this beautiful, highly educated woman speak was life altering for me. I wanted to combine SF and romance. My muse, however, was still resisting the SF idea, even with romance attached. For years I wrote straight romance, and though I got compliments on my work, I wasn’t getting any contracts.

My muse, however, would let me take altered reality a bit further to fantasy/paranormal. And even let me add romance. By this time, the market was changing. Paranormal romance was a real sub-genre. But I only wrote short fiction. Finally I gave in and wrote a haunted house romance novel. This book got more interest than any other, and eventually got me my first contract. So, I guess I owe my publishing career to Star Trek, Chad Everett, and Catherine Asaro. Thanks, guys!

Have a great week!


10 September 2011

Reality Shows!

My Guilty Pleasures – Reality Shows!

Now hold up! Regardless of the title of this post, I am not about to expose all my guilty pleasures. First of all, that would be waaaaay too many and take far more space than I have here. Secondly, ya’ll don’t want to see some of that stuff anyway. Therapy would send you (and me via your lawsuit) into the poor house.

But as television goes, however, I am willing to divulge my guilty pleasures. I, dear readers, love drama. Oh, not the kind of drama you see on Law and Order. Naw, the scripted drama just doesn’t cut it. I want, I demand, I crave reality shows.

Yep, I’m one of those people. From Big Brother to all the Housewives spin-offs, I love watching real people be real. I’m not above saying how much I adored watching Nene and Kim (Housewives of Atlanta) go at it on the bus. I will not deny how much I gasp (excitedly) to see Abby Lee (Dance Moms) yell at the kids and their moms. I almost salivate when Jerseylicious comes on. Not only because I’m eating one of my other guilty pleasures─hot buttered popcorn with melted cheese on top─but because I am a reality show junkie.

But why do I lust after shows like Most Eligible Dallas and Flipping Out? How did this happen? Like many of you, I grew up watching great classic shows like I Love Lucy and Laverne and Shirley. I loved the antics of sitcoms and how everything was tied up into a neat little package in thirty minutes. I loved that everyone got along─at least at the end. I wanted to be just like Lucy.

No one ever thought of following “average” people before that show. Why should they have? What did normal, every-day people do that we didn’t all do day in and day out? How interesting could a show about my neighbors be? A reality show would’ve been laughed off the network. And why do we now seek confrontation? Did we finally grow tired of “nice” shows and developed the need to feed the darker side of ourselves? Has the darker side of me been released?

I’m not sure how reality television came about. Did it start with Survivor and then move on to the seamier side of life? Did showing viewers a new kind of game show start us down this road? Is watching reality television a legal way to snoop on your neighbors? I haven’t got a clue.

And frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn (Sorry. I couldn’t resist) why I like these shows so much. I don’t care if some people think I’m crazy. I don’t care that my husband won’t stay in the same room when I’m watching Theresa flip a table. The only thing I really care about is that I’m not anything like the people on these shows. And you know what? I thank my lucky stars for it!

So? What about you? Come on out of hiding and ’fess up. Are you a reality show junkie too?

09 September 2011

Murder, anyone?

Let me just start by saying that I really don't like reality shows. Sometimes I will find myself watching -- fascinated by the penchant some people have of making total fools of themselves for the world to see.

Personally, I prefer make believe. My favorite form of television entertainment? For years and years, it's been the weekly mystery/crime drama. If they can add a bit of humor, all the better.

I remember tuning in every week to watch Columbo or McMillan and Wife, and others in the NBC Mystery Movie night. These die-hard favorites often included intrigue, danger, some quirky characters, and a car chase or two. I loved Columbo and his wrinkled raincoat; his seemingly inept manor that put every bad guy and gal at ease. I thought Susan St. James was wonderfully cute and perky while she tried -- in an almost Lucille Ball fashion -- to help her husband solve crime.

But I was young. And, in all honesty, so was television for all intents and purposes. The weekly crime drama has evolved. Blood and gore abound... plots are a bit more twisted and not always so easy to figure out. But I do still love a good murder. ;) My favorites, however, are the ones where I have to figure it out along with the show's resident 'detective' -- whether that person be a mystery writer, cop, or forensic scientist*.

*Although, really, how many pathologists head out in the field to question suspects? Ummm, I'm thinking not many.

I love puzzles. I adore discovering those clues right along the hero (or heroine) on the small screen. I thrill at being able to piece it together and, sometimes, figuring it out before the professional sleuth does. With some shows that task is often difficult -- and those are the ones I watch more often.

So, while I still need a bit of mindless, silly comedy from time to time, (Thank you, Disney Channel); and something educational at rare moments (ala The History Channel) -- the crime drama is still my special fave.

Monk, sadly, is gone, except in reruns. But I still adore:

NCIS (the original, not the LA version. Sorry).

Other favorites include: Castle (love the character interaction);
Flash Point (fast-paced and often riveting);
Psych (much silliness and Shawn's dialog tends to wear me out.);
The Mentalist (sort of a 'grown-up' Psych?);
The Closer, a must-see every week (Again, love the characters!);
Warehouse 13 (rarely murder involved, but I love the sci-fi aspect and the characters).

I suppose it really comes down to which shows have characters that fascinate me? Entertain me? Characters that I care about?

This life-long fixation is why I like to include a bit of mystery in my novels. It keeps me, and the reader, involved with a story.

Do you like mysteries? Crime drama? Or do you prefer to laugh your way through television viewing?

~~Meg Allison

Indulge your senses...

08 September 2011

Turn on, Tune in, Drop by: From Guilty Pleasures to Classic Genre Television

“Classic” television is our topic du jour. I ought to talk about what makes television great. But I’m not. I’m going to talk about what television I loved when I watched television, back in the days when you actually had to get up off your arse, walk across the room, and change the channel manually. Man, was I excited when we got a snazzy push-button television!

07 September 2011

13 Plus Books About Cats

I thought I'd do a Thursday Thirteen today and share 13 romances with cats in them -- actual cats or housecat shifters, not panthers and lions and cougars, oh my -- but I found a lot more than 13 when I searched Amazon's 'romance' and 'cat' tags combined! I haven't read a lot of these, and some are out of print (but often available used). There are also many anthologies.

(Pictured: Hopper from www.meankitty.com. He is excited about all these books about cats!)

Here's the links:

http://www.amazon.com/Cattitude-ebook/dp/B0040ZN224/ (have read, loved it)

http://www.amazon.com/Cats-Fancy-Time-Your-Life/dp/0505523973/ (have read, loved it)




















http://www.amazon.com/Cats-Book-Romance-Kate-Ledger/dp/0740738461/ (nonfiction)

And last but not least, my own book:

(Pictured: Sometimes Meankitty and Big D are quite lovey dovey!)

Some of these books are books in a series. There are actually quite a few mystery series about cats, but I only listed one here since it mentioned Cupid in the title. There was one Harlequin Intrigue mystery romance series about Familiars which looked really interesting! And, of course, the many, many Regency Kitten type anthologies, and I didn't list all of those. There might be some romances in the Cat Fantastic anthologies, too.

I also have to say, after double checking with Google just what reading one can find involving cats and romance, who knew there was so much slash CATS fanfiction? Or so many books by Cat Johnson (probably her readers)? That woman is crazy prolific.

So, got any favorite housecat type cat books you love? Read any of these and care to share a quick review in the comments?

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

04 September 2011

My weakness for Britcoms

The crew from back to front: Holly (on the screen) Kryten the robot, Arnold the hologram (big H on his head), Dave Lister the last human and Cat.

I blame my father for it, but not that’s it’s something horrible. I’m quite thankful for it. I love British Comedies. Sure, I’m a fan of Dr. Who and Torchwood but that’s a WHOLE separate post.

I grew up watching British comedies like Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and Are You Being Served. It wasn’t until I was much older that I finally understood the many double entendres, including the numerous jokes about Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy.

When I hit my teens I gained my own repertoire of favorite British Comedies, Blackadder, Mr. Bean (though I preferred Blackadder over Mr. Bean, Blackadder was also where I first saw Hugh Laurie and was a fan of his long before House), As Time Goes By (LOVE me some Dame Judi Dench), Vicar of Dibley and my absolute favorite Red Dwarf.

The British have this amazing ability to combine actors and the cast just ‘clicks’. Many people have tried to copy British comedies, but they don’t work.

I am a huge Sci/Fi nut, so Red Dwarf is perfection. It combines my love of Sci/Fi with my love of British Comedy.

Red Dwarf’s humour is basically a lot to do with sexual innuendos. I mean the basic plot is everyone the mining ship Red Dwarf is dead. A radiation leak killed off everyone. Fast forward a million years into deep space and we find one human survived, Dave Lister. He was in stasis. He wakes up to find he is alone, save for a hologram version of his bunk mate Arnold Rimmer whom he HATES and a creature that evolved from his cat who had been safely sealed in the hold and thus safe from the radiation. Also as Dave’s companions are Holly the ship’s computer which has gone a little wonky and Kryton a missih eccentric computer who gets joy out of ironing bras over his head.

The characters feed off each other in their mission to get back to Earth, even though there’s no guarantee the human race have survived.

Basically the plot revolves around Dave Lister getting back to Earth and getting laid. Though his true heart’s desire is Christine Kochanski (who was killed in the radiation leak), but this is Sci/Fi and anything can happen including parallel dimensions and time tears.

At the start of the series Dave is a slob. He’s lazy and basically a bum. Arnold is obsessed with becoming an officer. He’s a brown noser and no one liked him when he was a alive, but during the years this show ran (and still is running I just got to watch Red Dwarf Back to Earth) the characters grow and change…which is what I as a writer strive to do with my own characters.

The only character who doesn’t change is Cat and really he doesn’t need to. He personifies a Cat and he doesn’t need to have furry ears, whiskers or a tail to do it. I get a bit secretly annoyed with shifters or aliens who have these aspects, when all you have to do is show us a bit of his character.

I mean, take a look at Cat in this You Tube video:

Cat has to be one of my favourite characters of all time.

Red Dwarf is my brain candy. It lightens me up when I’m down. Most British Comedies do. They’re my band aid for the soul and I love them.

Do you have any favorite characters or shows which make you feel better?

03 September 2011

I have this love-hate relationship with TV. I used to work in a busy newspaper office, and I got used to the constant buzz of background noise – conversations, phones ringing, keyboards tapping. Once I started freelancing, working primarily from home – or in a “normal” office – the silence was deafening.

So I’ve gotten used to flipping on the TV just for the background noise. Funnily enough, I can’t work to the sound of the radio. Talk radio, even my beloved NPR, is distracting, music even more so. Music flips on the wrong side of my brain for my more technical freelance work, and interferes with my thought process when I’m working on a story. Probably because I’m so musically oriented. When I’m performing, my whole being is focused on it.

But TV? Easy to ignore, easy to stare at mindlessly while the back of my brain works out a problem or a knotty sentence structure. My husband fusses at me for having it on all day, which he says will burn out the screen. But hey, isn’t he about ready for a flat-screen? I’m just helping things along!

Having said all of the above, I have a few guilty pleasures.

Ghost Hunters - though my family groans when I remind them it’s Wednesday night, and constantly mock me and the show in the background while I’m trying to watch. I don’t care…it’s still the best ghost hunting show on TV, all others are pale imitations or just plain annoying (*cough*GhostAdventures*cough*).

(Trivia: Did you know Jason has an amazing smile? I never knew he COULD smile until I saw him as a guest on Millionaire. It's actually quite brilliant.)

Supernatural - Despite my issues with the show’s tendency to wander off the main story line, it’s still a riveting story arc. I rarely watch it on TV anymore, though – I wait and watch it online later.

Vampire Diaries – Actually this show is too teeny bop for me, but day-um, Damon is hot… :D

America’s Next Top Model – Every time I watch this show, I wonder why. LOL I’m kinda winding down with this one, however back when it first started a friend of mine (*cough*JCWilder*cough*) and I would watch it together – by instant messaging back and forth while it was on. How geeky is that?

Project Runway – I think this show falls into the same category as ANTM, at least on one of the reasons why it’s fascinating. It involves a creative process where the participants literally have to bust out a finished product in an impossibly short period of time – flaws and all. It’s not unlike NaNoWriMo. Puke it out, even if it’s ugly. Put it out for critique and learn to listen, even if it’s bad. Chances are better than excellent that you’ll take away something from it that’ll become your signature style. Like Say Yes To The Dress, or What Not To Wear, throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

Anthony Bourdain/No Reservations – I mean, really. Who wouldn’t want to have a job where you get to travel the world, experience the best (and maybe the worst) of each region’s food and culture, and write about it? I want to BE him. (Okay, maybe I just want to be as TALL as him.)

Deadliest Catch – Bait the pot, drop the pot, pull the pot. The breathless anticipation of what’s in the pot wore off a long time ago. What keeps me coming back are the human stories. Though I’m the first one to recognize that these things are heavily edited for drama. Now I just want to be there when Keith finally gets a handle on his temper – or strokes out. Root for the Harris boys to rise to the challenges before them. Look for Edgar to be standing on the dock when Sig brings the Northwestern home. And you know what, I’d really like to see the right woman bring that hard-ass Johnathan to his knees.

So readers, since most of the above shows are going to be winding down, help me pick out something new to obsess about. What do you like?

In fact, let’s have a contest! Leave a comment and I’ll draw a winner. I brought back a bag full of books and swag from the Authors After Dark con, and it all needs a home!

Happy reading,