Friday, December 28, 2012

Reality television... America’s guilty pleasure

To be fair, I must preface my first blog entry with this statement: I am a huge fan of many reality television shows. Now to understand why, please read on!

I’m not going to lie, there’s a good chance that any night of the week, sometime after 8PM, you can find me sitting on my couch with my laptop perched precariously in my lap and some sort of reality show on the television.

Many people may say, “Why would you watch that trash?” My answer, “It’s not all trash… (Dramatic Pause) and sometimes, I like the trash!”

First, I think it’s important to divide the majority of reality shows into these four categories:

1) Look What I Have That You Don’t!
2) I’m Going to Win, No Matter What!
3) I Want Money and I Don’t Care How Stupid I Look Making It!
4) I Got Skills!

The first category, “Look What I Have That You Don’t!” is my guilty pleasure! I like to lump many of the reality shows on Bravo (which happens to be my all time favorite channel) into this category. For example, many women from any of the Real Housewives shows embody this concept and often push it to the extreme. These women often flaunt their wealth and have no trouble stating that they have paid obscene amount of money for trivial items. For example, Miss Dana Wilkey was taped showing off a pair of sunglasses and saying, “Did you know… twenty-five thousand!” Apparently she is so filthy rich that she spends more on a pair of sunglasses than I did as a down payment on my house! But guess what? I’m okay with that! I love watching these women throw their money around! Also, guess what? Some of these reality stars that fall into this category can transition to the fourth group, “I Got Skills!” More on that later…

The second category, “I’m Going to Win, No Matter What!” is a very popular category with many Americans. Shows like The Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance, and the X Factor are just a few of the shows that fill up prime time on a nightly basis. These shows are appealing for two reasons, the first reason is that we love to watch people compete! Who’s going to win? Are they going to fight dirty? Will they cry if they lose? The second reason, we love to see really talented people sing and dance their hearts out! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been brought to tears while watching a young singer belt out an emotional ballad.

The third category, “I Want Money and I Don’t Care How Stupid I Look Making It!” is my least favorite category of all time. Some of the shows that fall into this category are Wife Swap, The Bad Girls Club, and they feature people like Honey Boo Boo. Now people on these shows will often do absolutely anything for money and they don’t care how ignorant they look doing it. They allow us to enter into their lives and see every minute detail. I mean, where else could you see someone get paid for sharing their homemade lemonade recipe that includes five pounds of sugar? Like I said, it’s my least favorite category of reality television. That said, I simply can’t throw shade their way! Why, you ask? Because they are getting their money!

The fourth category, “I Got Skills!” is my second favorite category. This category is filled with people who are really good at stuff! For example, Nineteen Kids and Counting falls into this category. You may ask, “What are the Duggar’s good at?” My answer is simple, these people are really good at a) having babies b) raising well-mannered and superbly behaved children and c) they have basically no carbon footprint and their immediate family is the size of a football team. Another show that falls into this category is, Cops. I bet Inner Circle is already in your head, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…” Amazing television filled with just the right combination of humor, violence, and the good guys winning! Also, I think about 90% of the shows on the HGTV channel fall into this category as well! The designers on this network are amazing and they can pretty much make, decorate, tear down, and/or build anything!

So why are reality television shows America’s guilty pleasure? The answer is simple, because there is literally something for everyone!

What’s that? You like watching people eat strange food? Guess what? There’s a show for you! Huh? You like watching people risk their lives to save endangered wildlife? I know just the show for you!
Now sure, there may be people out there who can’t stand reality television and that’s okay. But guess what? I bet if you gave it a chance, you’d be hooked!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

holy crap... i wrote a book

In first grade, I remember writing a twenty-four-page story about a whale living in a polluted ocean. I dutifully illustrated this story and read it aloud to my class. From that point on, writing was in my blood. I remember filling notebooks with stories late into the night throughout middle and high school. Once I entered college, I took a break from writing for fun, and instead I wrote essays and research papers.

It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to start writing again. More specifically, in May of 2012, I decided I was going to try and write a book. I did some research, came up with an idea for my story, and started writing. I knew I was going to need some help so I joined SCBWI and found an amazing critique group. From that point on, I was writing at least twenty pages every two weeks.

When I wasn’t writing, I was on Twitter or Facebook, connecting with other authors and trying to build a fan base. Then, the magic number appeared, 20,000 words. I had actually written 20,000 words! I did a little happy dance, had a glass of wine to celebrate, and then got back to writing. My end goal was 60,000 words and I still had a ways to go.

September and October passed and my word count rose. When I did the math, the total number of words divided by 250, I was astounded that my total page count was over two hundred! I was writing, editing, and revising almost every day.

Finally, on a chilly November night, I reached 60,000 words! Talk about proud! I announced it on Facebook, Twitter, and to anyone who would listen! A short time later, it happened and by it, I mean I finished my book. HOLY CRAP! I finished my book! I could barely believe it!

So what next? I kept revising, editing, and perfecting my manuscript. Then, with the help of my Twitter friend Janet, I wrote my query letter. I must have been doing something right, because a publisher actually asked me to send them my work! After receiving two requests for full manuscripts, I received a contract to publish my first book, THE GRISHMA, with Limitless Publishing.

The past seven months have been full of hard work, long nights, and the occasional writer’s block. Also, trying to balance working full time as an Early Childhood Special Education teacher and writing a novel was tricky and at times, extremely tiring! However, when all was said and done, I persisted, I wrote my book, I was offered a contract, and now I’m on the path towards publication!

My parting advice, never give up on your dream and always believe in yourself! With hard work and persistence, you can accomplish anything!