No TV Weeks 9 to 16

Go ahead and be amazed. This TV junkie has been television-free for sixteen, count ’em, sixteen wonderful weeks. Sure, I ached that I missed the end of season episode of “Major Crimes” and hubby caught me muttering and carrying the remote around the house during the season finale of “Castle,” but thankfully, life has intervened to pull me out of the house and away from temptation.

No tv fly to VeniceI’ve hiked in the Smokey Mountains, flown with hubby to lunch in Venice, Florida, spent a few weekends near Asheville, visited family in Las Vegas for a week, and learned how to load and fire various handguns.

My evenings, previously spent in inertia on the sofa–remote in one hand, popcorn in the other–are now filled with stories by Janet Evanovich, Kristan Higgins, John Foxjohn, Sue Monk Kidd, Ian McEwan, Diane Capri, Liane Moriarty, Joshua Graham, and Kristin Hannah. I’ve even discovered books by first-time authors: Deborah Wilding’s Then I Met You, Martha Sibley George’s Goodbye, Miss Emily, and a few others I’m judging for the international Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence contest. Recently enjoyed the second novel by Noelle August. The first book was Boomerang and the second is Rebound. Also read an exciting medical thriller written by a physician friend that should be coming out soon.

twin-engine seaplaneI was hired by a national aviation magazine to report on Sun ‘N Fun, the annual general aviation gathering founded by the Experimental Aircraft Association, better known as EAA. Sun ‘N Fun begins next week in Lakeland, Florida. The Brietling Jet Team will be performing airshows, and a few friends will be receiving the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award next week. The son of friends will also be in town after being certified or approved to land on carriers. Is this a great life or what? I get PAID to meet my aviation heroes and write about them.

So, overall I have not missed television. I’m out having fun in the real world and reading wonderful, hilarious, and exciting stories. Oh, and I’m writing a few of my own. One is a 90,000-word suspense story with elements of romance, and the other is an 85,000-word suspense story with elements of romance. My BETA readers and critique partners are chewing through them now. All prayers are appreciated.

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

To the Nines (Stephanie Plum, #9)To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To the Nines
Stephanie Plum, Bond Enforcement Agent, has bad guys stalking her, men lusting after her, and she keeps losing cars as usual. In To The Nines she is chasing clues to find Samuel Singh, a man who wants to evade his fiancé and players in a deadly computer game. Her sister’s baby is due and Grandma Mazur is up to her usual craziness. Fast, funny, and feverish fun.

For fans, this book has more Morelli and less Ranger. Both men lust after and love Stephanie in their own way.

View all my reviews

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum, #8)Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Team Ranger dominates this episode of the Stephanie Plum series and things heat up when Stephanie tries to do a favor for a neighbor that puts her at odds with a dangerous loan shark. In addition to chasing bond jumpers, Stephanie is accruing debt with Ranger and he intends to collect. Ranger’s presence causes women’s body temperatures to rise and Stephanie is not immune. With mixed fear and fantasy, Stephanie wonders when Ranger will call in his debt. Locked doors don’t even slow him down, so look for thrills and hilarious situations in Hard Eight.

View all my reviews

No TV Week 4

I made it a month without television. A month. Handsome and my daughter are in awe. They still bet I won’t last the year, but the odds have shifted slightly in my favor. After telling a few friends about my resolution, they unconsciously began defending their television viewing as if holding candy bars at a Weight Watchers meeting. Honestly, deep down, I really miss slouching in the sofa with a bowl of popcorn, but it was becoming a habit that reduced interaction with living people. I don’t judge television as evil, or self-indulgent, or a complete waste of time. I certainly don’t judge others for how they spend their time. Dear friends, my resolution is about reclaiming my most valuable commodity—TIME.

If I had given up television for my health then I’d be at the gym or jogging sweating off twenty spare pounds of jiggle. It’s not about the television. It’s about time. The older I get the more valuable time becomes.

When handsome turned on the two-hour season finale of “Major Crimes” I had to flee the room on wobbly legs to overcome the urge to sit beside him. I hope the recording stays on the DVR until next January. So instead of caving in on my self-imposed TV fast, I finished reading a rollicking fun art heist and intrigue story call The Job.

With the time rescued from television in this first month, I’ve read: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell, (pre-publication sneak peek of) False Truth Part 8 by Diane Capri, The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, Gifted Hands by Ben Carson, and yes, a few Dr. Seuss books to help Giana with her sight words.

Also saw American Sniper, Selma, and Black Hat in theaters.

hands shown on computer keyboardOverall, the TV blackout has driven me back to writing. Revisions on two suspense novels blaze on. I entered chapters of one of the novels in a prestigious contest. While it would be sweet to win, the guaranteed outcome is critiques from the judges, which is well worth the entry fee. An editor requested a reprint of one of my magazine articles. The local newspaper called about covering an aviation story, but I declined because I knew the instructor who died in the crash and because I’m a stringer for a national aviation magazine. Give me airshows and conferences and fly-ins to report on, but not crashes. I also took a workshop on WordPress taught by Pat Haggerty to sharpen my tech skills.

So far the lack of television has been a positive change in my life. Like any habit, it takes willpower and time to maintain the change. Wish me luck.

What would you do with an extra fourteen hours a week?

 

No TV Week 3

I smugly celebrate week three without TV. Okay, so I’m on two medications for bronchitis and need to keep moving so I don’t cough myself sick, but still. Week three. The family is placing bets on how long I’ll last. I fantasize about binge-watching all the stuff recorded on the DVR, and stock-piling a seasons’ worth of episodes from Netflix for next January. Hubby insisted that we go to a movie once in a while, so since it isn’t television, that’s a go.

Nonetheless, I am smug because so far this year I’ve read: Gifted Hands by Ben Carson, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and I’m partway through The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, and How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell. Since I make a living as a writer, the last book is more about becoming familiar with Mr. Bell, who is speaking at a writer’s workshop in Charleston in a few weekends. I look forward to meeting him there. His books on writing nail their topics.

To celebrate my birthday this weekend, hubby is taking me out to a movie then the next day my daughter and son-in-law will go with us to American Sniper. This could easily tide me over for the week without television. Perhaps what I miss most about television is the stories: crime, fantasy, comedy, romance.

cropped-researchstackofbooks.jpgFalling back into books has filled that need for story and I believe reading is a more intimate thread between the author and the reader because books can easily dive deeper into a character’s thoughts and emotions than any movie can. Voice overs that speak the character’s thoughts in movies come off as artificial as stage asides. Rarely does a narrated voice in a movie work for me without breaking the magic because it is a reminder of being outside the story. Books entice the reader to climb into the stories more to explore new perspectives, cultures, worlds, and ideas. Books offer far more depth and scope to the stories than movie adaptations can. Sometimes the adaptations baffle me. Take for instance the Lord of the Rings series. The larger books were made into movies, but the smallest book was made into two movies. Same with the Harry Potter series. The last Harry Potter book stretched into two movies, one slooooow and one blazing fast. Irritating money-driven decisions perhaps to milk the enterprise.

The other upside of reading over television is my friendships with my book club. We love to debate stories over a meal. Goodreads.com is another reader’s paradise where diverse readers share their reviews of books. I have a Goodreads Page with my favorites listed.

What was the last book you read? And how long ago was that?

Book Hoarding Made Easy

Family dragged me into the digital age of reading books on a screen. I wasn’t really kicking and screaming, more like whining. At first I balked that the screen didn’t have the heft, the tactile knowledge of nearing the last chapter, the smell of ink and paper, and the visual reminder of a world once explored. And then how could I get a copy signed by an author? Okay, and I also harbor a general leeriness toward fad-of-the-moment technology. What if digital book technology was like the Sony Walkman, pagers, Betamax, Super 8/8mm video cameras, laser disc players, floppy discs, or 8-track type players? Why bother deciphering the user manual if the thing would soon go the way of the manual typewriter?

All whining quieted after Hubby bought me a Kindle. A generous soul by nature, hubby gave me this device for a thoughtful reason and a selfish one. The thoughtful reason catered to my voracious appetite for reading. The Kindle enabled me to buy books instantly, and who doesn’t love instant gratification?

INSTANT AVAILABILITY

The selfish reason hubby bought the Kindle was to satisfy his longing for more order on the bookcases in our home. Stacking books two deep on shelves didn’t appeal to his aesthetics. He often urged me to read the books we own before buying more. But honey, I said, when I go to writers conferences they GIVE me books…and the used bookstore in town takes trade-ins. Supply and demand remained in balance for the most part. Fine. I’ll admit that I spend money on books as fearlessly as congress spends our tax dollars. Not on that scale, mind you, but with equal abandon.

HOARDING

Could I be a hoarder? My name is Joni. I am a book hoarder. Wait, no. Let’s call it collecting. Hoarding books isn’t as frightening as say, hoarding broken clocks, or mismatched china, or human teeth. Right? The signs of hoarding include:

  1. keeping things most other people don’t value.
  2. being unable to use parts of one’s house for their intended purpose.
  3. having so much clutter that it causes distress or impairment.

Like good manners, I suppose many people these days don’t value books as they once did. I can’t use the sofa in the study because of the stack of books on it. And–uh, oh–hubby is distressed by the stacks and I’m too embarrassed to show photos of the worst of the overstuffed bookcases. Egad. I’m three for three. My daughter might be dialing a reality tv show producer at this moment. So many it’s time for a Kindle.

FREEBIES

The first major selling point on the Kindle was the vast collection of freebie classics! Free! Like a kid in a candy store, I think I drooled  as I scrolled through pages of freebies. I’ve lost so many books over the years from lending them out to moving from Indiana to Louisiana to Florida that uploading classics felt like reclaiming long-lost friends.

MAGIC

The second major selling point on the Kindle was the promise of magic–being able to pack HUNDREDS of books in my purse. Like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag, or Hermione’s magical handbag carrying a tent and supplies for Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, the Kindle contains worlds. In the mood for a hilarious romance? Click on a title by Kristin Higgins. Horror? Stephen King and Dean Koontz’s works are a touch away. Various versions of the Bible at the ready and word searchable. Sort your collection by title, by author, or by most-recently uploaded with a Midas touch. Honestly, I couldn’t find which room, let alone which bookshelf a particular fiction book might be in my house. This magic slab of plastic and metal will keep all nineteen–soon to be twenty–of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books together in one place instead of migrating from house to car to suitcase to friends. Organization and instant access, the device is my personal librarian, or a genie at my command.

ACCESS

The third major selling point on digital books is that oh-so-handy Kindle application that can connect me to my digital library from my laptop, a tablet, a smart phone, or my Kindle. Never again will hubby and I have to wrestle over the only copy of Dan Brown’s latest book. If the house blows away in a hurricane, my digital book collection will be safely stored in the cloud.

 AUTHOR SIGNATURE

The fourth major selling point, the one that obliterates my last objection, is that authors can digitally sign books. I have amassed signed books from over 100 of my favorite authors. These books reside in a glass-enclosed bookcase in the study where children cannot play with them. Meeting the author adds more meaning to the book. Each book signing marks the bond between author and reader. Even though I am an author, I am first a reader, a devourer of stories. Though I haven’t asked for a digital signature from an author yet, the time will come. And who knows when an author might sit beside me on a plane? It will be easy to have a copy of his or her work on hand.

So when pastor sees me looking down into the glow of my device during service he might suspect I’m texting, or trolling the internet, but I’m following along in King James, New American Standard, and New International Version. Because I can.

So there. Let book purists weep over me. I’ve gone to the dark side, gone to digital for the freebies, for the instant access, for the ease of finding one book among hundreds, and to prevent buying a fourteenth bookcase. Now only Amazon.com and I will know how many books I’ve hoarded. Hehehehe. And no, I’m not getting rid of the cloth, leather, or paperback bound books filling our bookcases. Sometimes I still need the feel and smell of them.