It’s time for Barbara Walters to reveal her top 10 Most Fascinating People of the year, and again, I don’t agree. Walters announced eight of the ten names, leaving the other two to be announced when the special airs on December 9th at 10 pm. The eight names are: Kate Middleton, Sandra Bullock, Justin Bieber, Betty White, LeBron James, Sarah Palin, Jennifer Lopez, and the cast of the Jersey Shore.
The Jersey Shore? Really? What’s fascinating about people that go on a TV show and get wasted and take turns hooking up with each other? Sarah Palin- again? What has changed for last year when she was featured? Her daughter did Dancing With the Stars? Put Bristol on then if you have to. Jennifer Lopez? So she’s hosting American Idol- big deal! What else is fascinating about her?
Any guess on who the two other names are? Maybe Lady Gaga? One of the Obama’s? A Kardashian? Who do you think will be the Most Fascinating person out of the bunch?
Photo Credit: REX USA, Fame, AP, Retna
Emily Isley is a blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on Online Degree for Guide to Online Schools.
In a lot of ways, putting a reality TV show together is like crafting a novel. An outrageous, out of control novel, but a novel nonetheless. Take “The Real Housewives” franchise from Bravo, which now has been made in six flavors, from Orange County to Atlanta. Instead of writing the characters, The Real Housewives casts for for certain roles and hopes that the people they choose can manage to stay within character throughout the show. The show selects certain people to create a particular dynamic, and when those “characters” decide that they want to “develop” out of their assigned role, the results can be pretty interesting.
Let’s look at some of the character tropes from the Real Housewives of New York. You’ve got Ramona, the classic party girl whose tagline would have to be “life’s too short not to party.” Then you have LuAnn, the queen bee, who is obsessed with being the supreme socialite of the group. There’s no doubt Jill is the princess, perhaps the biggest narcissist out of all the New York women. And Kelly loves to fly off the handle–in fact, you could deem her the crazy one. Bethenny exists to highlight the extreme behaviors of all the others, by being Mrs. Reasonable.
By selecting this troop of easily identifiable characters, the show’s producers can have some control over what happens in the show. The combination ensures that a requisite amount of drama will ensue. But what happens when some of these women “fall out of character,” by say, evolving from one archetype to another, princess to Mrs. Reasonable, for example? Take Ramona from the New York housewives. This past season she has cleaned up her act, and as some critics have noted, either had a spiritual awakening or started taking medication. Because of Ramona’s change of heart, the dynamics of the show shifted. A momentary void was opened in the princess category (although arguably all of the women have princess tendencies). The producers took the emphasis off the newly boring character and shifted it to others with more craziness to offer.
Unlike in a novel, the producers of The Real Housewives can’t control exactly what each character does. But, it’s exactly this unpredictability that makes reality television so interesting and exciting to watch. Even though the show can cast for these particular roles, one has to wonder if the producers don’t pray that the characters evolve a bit throughout the season, to keep viewers coming back.
Bio: Catherine O’Connell is a Chicago native, and a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Journalism. She has been employed in a number of fields that include hotel maid, bar manager, floor runner at the Chicago Board of Trade, sommelier, and sales executive, giving her insight into many walks of life that she incorporates into her writing.
A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she sits on the board of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and oversees the foundation’s weekly writers group. She is also a literacy advocate through the adult education program, English in Action, and has served as a moderator of the Great Books and Sharing Shakespeare programs at the Aspen Institute.
Catherine has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, the Cox network and numerous radio shows including WGN Radio’s SUNDAY PAPERS with Rick Kogan.
Currently: Catherine currently divides her time between Aspen, Chicago and Paris, and is working on Well Wed and Dead.
Titles: Well Bred and Dead, Well Read and Dead, and Skins.
I have reviewed: Well Bred and Dead, 4/5 stars
Bio Retrieved from www.catherineoconnell.net
Pauline Cook, a widowed Chicago socialite, likes the finer things in life. Her stunning Chicago penthouse with 360 degree views of the city, the latest fashions, her classic car and high society luncheons. Pauline is hiding a secret though- her money is running out. Her husband, who passed 10 years before, didn’t leave Pauline with the millions she thought, and a few bad stock market choices have left her drying out. But Pauline’s troubles worsen when she finds her friend, Ethan, dead in is apartment. Suicide, the police say, but Pauline thinks something more is at stake. She follows her instinct, which leads her to Ethan’s double identity, past murders, and a whole lot of trouble. Pauline’s life is threatened when she finally uncovers the big secret, and a final twist in the plot ends this classy mystery.
I really enjoyed Well Bred and Dead by Catherine O’Connell. At first I had trouble liking the heroine- who continues to shop and live luxurious when she is about to go broke. But after a few chapters go by, I started to like her for her sense of loyalty, especially to the deceased Ethan. There are enough plot twists at every turn to keep you guessing the final reveal until the very end. O’Connell’s writing fits perfectly with the heroine and her upper class ways, and this truly is a “high society novel.” I look forward to reading more of Pauline’s stories!
Bio: Author of more than 100 romance and mystery novels, Sherryl Woods grew up in Virginia. Over the years she had lived in Ohio and Florida, as well as California. Currently she divides her time between Key Biscayne, Florida and Colonial Beach, Virginia, the small, river-front town where she spent her childhood summers.
A graduate of Ohio State University School of Journalism, Sherryl spent more than ten years as a journalist, most of them as a television critic for newspapers in Ohio and Florida. For several years she also coordinated a motivational program for the more than 8,000 employees at the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
Her first book, RESTORING LOVE, was published in 1982 by Dell Candlelight Ecstasy under the pseudonym of Suzanne Sherrill. Her second book, SAND CASTLES, under the pseudonym of Alexandra Kirk, was published later that same year by Bantam. She began using her own name when she moved to the Second Chance at Love line at Berkley Publishing. In 1986, she began writing full-time and also began her long career at Silhouette Books with the Desire title NOT AT EIGHT, DARLING, set in the world of television which she covered for so many years.
In addition to her more than 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition, she has written thirteen mysteries — nine in the Amanda Roberts series and four in the Molly DeWitt series.
When she’s not writing or reading, Sherryl loves to garden, though she’s not at her best on a riding lawn mower. She also loves tennis, theater, and ballet, even though her top spin has long since vanished, she’s never set foot on a stage, and she’s way too uncoordinated to dance. She also loves baseball and claims anyone who’s ever seen Kevin Costner in “Bull Durham” can understand why.
Current Titles: Stealing Home, Slice of Heaven, Feels Like Family, Mending Fences, Seaview Inn, Welcome to Serenity, The Inn at Eagle Point, Flowers on Main, Harbor Lights, That Holiday Feeling, Amazing Gracie, Home in Carolina, Sweet Tea at Sunrise, Honeysuckle Summer, Home at Rose Cottage, A Chesapeake Shores Christmas, and Return to Rose Cottage.
I have reviewed: A Chesapeake Shores Christmas. Rating: 3.5/5
Bio Retrieved from www.sherrylwoods.com
John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston welcomed son Benjamin into the world on Tuesday in a Florida hospital, People.com has confirmed. The baby weighed 8 lbs., 3 oz. The Travolta’s released this happy statement: “John, Kelly and their daughter Ella Bleu are ecstatic and very happy about the newest member of the family. Both mother and baby are healthy and doing beautifully.” Travolta, 56, and Preston, 48, lost son Jett to a fatal seizure in 2009 when he was only 16. Baby Benjamin joins big sister Ella Bleu.
Photo Credit: Michael Doven
Mick and Megan O’Brien divorced twelve years ago and had five children together. After twelve years of trying to go their separate ways, Mick and Megan are back together, slowly working towards reconciliation and getting remarried. Megan still can’t seem to let go that Mick is stubborn in his ways, and that he continually put his work before her while they were married- and fears he will do the same the second time around. Some of the children (now grown adults) aren’t quite on board with their parents impending nuptials, especially divorce attorney Connor, who seems determined to ruin the wedding. Will the family be able to come together for the holidays, or will too many unseen obstacles keep getting in the way?
A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods is from a series, but don’t be worried if you haven’t read the previous books. You will feel right at home with the O’Brien family. The story is sweet, a couple coming together after years apart, finding their way again after so many hurdles. I read that many people didn’t like Megan’s character, because she left the family after her and Mick divorced, but I related with her. As the story goes on, she becomes a very likeable heroine: strong, determined, and trying to be independent. It is clear that she loves all her children deeply, even Connor who keeps trying to shut her out. I think my only problem with this story is that it was just too nice and sweet. Sure, Connor plays a villain and has his own challenge present itself, but that wasn’t enough conflict to really make me feel for the character’s stories. If you are looking for a light read that will make you saw “aww” and feel warm and cuddly inside, A Chesapeake Shores Christmas would be right for you.
I have been a huge fan of the E! network for many years. I love the new shows they come up with, from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kendra, and now my newest guilty pleasure Married to Rock. I watch E! News daily and laugh along with Ryan, G, Jason, and Catt, and must watch all the E! True Hollywood Stories. But the latest reality show the network is promoting has be a little disturbed. Bridalplasty showcases 12 bride-to-be’s competing for a different plastic surgery each week as they prepare to walk down the aisle. The last one standing gets her dream wedding (paid for by the show) and the rest of her plastic surgery “wish list.”
Am I the only one completely freaked out by this idea? I think there will always be a debate over plastic surgery and why women (and men) choose to go under the knife. Many say it is to give them confidence, better their own opinions of themselves. But with a show like this, I can’t help but feel disappointed in E! for making plastic surgery seem like it is some big extravagant prize. Especially for brides. Women who are getting married are under enough pressure as it is, with all the planning, choosing the one dress, the most fabulous cake, perfect DJ, but now to tell woman that your face must be free of wrinkles, breasts that rival Pamela, and any cellulite sucked off your bod? I can’t believe woman would compete to get a complete overhaul of their body done before their big day. Didn’t their boyfriends propose to them because they loved them, body imperfections aside? Do these brides want their husbands to recognize them as they walk down the aisle?
I enjoy reality TV, including the competitions. But people are usually competing for money, vacations, a modeling contract. I don’t think I need to remind people that plastic surgery is actually dangerous, that serious complications can arise from cutting into a person’s body. And the format of the show sounds like these women could be getting several procedures done in a short amount of time, which can be even more dangerous.
I guess my bottom line is that I just hate to see reality TV coming to this. Let us follow celebrities, let us watch ordinary people turn into singing superstars, but why do we have to ask women to completely change themselves to fit into this stereotypical world?
In My Mailbox: Week of November 21st
Title: Goodnight Tweetheart
Received: From Ayelet Gruenspecht/Gallery Books
Synopsis: Abigail Donovan has a lot of stuff she should be doing. Namely writing her next novel. A bestselling author who is still recovering from a near Pulitzer Prize win and the heady success that follows Oprah’s stamp of approval, she is stuck at Chapter Five and losing confidence daily. But when her publicist signs her up for a Twitter account, she’s intrigued. What’s all the fuss? Taken under the wing of one of her Twitter followers, “MarkBaynard”—a quick witted, quick-typing professor on sabbatical—Abby finds it easy to put words out into the world 140 characters at a time. And once she gets a handle on tweets, retweets, direct messages, hashtags, and trends, she starts to feel unblocked in writing and in life. After all, why should she be spending hours in her apartment staring at her TweetDeck and fretting about her stalled career when Mark is out there traveling the world and living? Or is he? Told almost entirely in tweets and DMs, Goodnight Tweetheart is a truly modern take on a classic tale of love and loss—a Griffin and Sabine for the Twitter generation.
Author: Talli Roland
Received: From Talli Roland
Synopsis: When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she’s confident she’ll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she’s perfected from years of her love ‘em and leave ‘em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it’s revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?
Author: Beth Orsoff
Received: From Beth Orsoff
Synopsis: When Los Angeles publicist Sydney Green convinces her boss to let her produce a documentary for the Save the Walrus Foundation, the only one Sydney Green is interested in saving is herself. The walruses are merely a means to improving her career and her love life, and not necessarily in that order. Sydney would’ve killed the project the second she learned she’d be the one having to spend a month in rural Alaska if it had been for any other client. But for rising star and sometimes boyfriend Blake McKinley, no sacrifice is ever too great. Yet a funny thing happens on the way to the Arctic. A gregarious walrus pup, a cantankerous scientist, an Australian sex goddess, a Star Wars obsessed six-year-old, and friends and nemeses both past and present rock Sydney Green’s well-ordered world. Soon Sydney must choose between doing what’s easy and doing what’s right.
When I first started taking my writing seriously, I pounded out a rough draft in a few short months. I read it over, made a few changes, and thought it was perfect. Time to start agent querying, right? So wrong. I read on a few different blogs that you should always have someone else read through your work before you start the query process, so I found a writing contest, entered, and paid $40 to have an editor give me a critique on my first chapter and synopsis. The response came back positive; I was told I was a good writer with a definite story-telling ability, but that my characters needed some tweaking and possibly my plot a new direction.
I was so confused! I thought my manuscript was perfect and I would have agents lining up to represent me. I asked a few Twitter friends to critique my first chapter for me, and their comments came back similar to what the editor had said. Before I began writing, I didn’t have any professional training in the world of fiction. I focused, signed up for workshops and seminars, bought books on writing and editing, and began the process of learning how to be a great writer. Now, I am hard at work on my fourth rewrite of my manuscript, and finally can really grasp character development, the mechanics of dialogue, syntax, proportion, and so much more!
So why should you hire an editor? Perhaps you are like me last year, new to all things writing and publishing, and need some guidance along the way. Without having this editor and my virtual friends look over my chapters for me, I would have started querying agents who probably would have laughed at my work! Another great reason for hiring an editor is simply to have a fresh set of eyes looking at your writing. Writers become invested in the characters, they know how they will act, interact, fight, love, etc., so it can become increasingly difficult for the writer to see flaws. Readers will find them easily, and they can be a huge distraction, possibly even having the reader give up on the book.
As an editor, I read through your manuscript one time, just simply reading. If anything real jarring stands out, I will make note of it, but the first read-through I am just getting to know your story, your characters, and your voice. The second time I read through is the in-depth session, where I will make notes on anything that I think doesn’t work in the story. I don’t want my critiques to be all negative of course, so I also add the elements I think work and should be kept. My goal is to never re-write your scenes, instead give you a fresh take to help you go back and edit your own work. I don’t believe editors should go in and change everything on your manuscript. I think editors should give opinions and suggestions, but in the end, help the writers understand, so eventually they can do the majority of editing themselves.
I can say with conviction that hiring an editor was the best choice I made in my writing. Without her help, I would have continued thinking my first draft was the best I could do, without understanding why readers wouldn’t be as invested in the story. I hope that you will give a serious thought to hiring an editor, whether it is myself or someone else, because I believe than can be a huge asset to your writing career. If you would like to contact me regarding my editing services, please email me at Samantha (at) chicklitplus (dot) com.