Tag Archive for: #Television

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Why Books
are Better for Your Brain

By Saralyn


Since the
beginning of television, debates have been held over the benefits of reading
over TV watching or vice versa. Some of the tried-and-true arguments include:

allows you to form pictures in your brain, which involves more creativity and
imagination than having them spoon-fed.

time is all quality time, with no time wasted on commercials.

are portable and less expensive to use.

delve into thought-provoking issues more thoroughly than TV shows.

is a quieter, more peaceful activity.

can read on your own schedule.

don’t have to worry about whether you subscribe to the right channel.

All great
points, but here are a few more that come from educational (and brain-based)

unlike watching or listening to media, allows the brain to stop, think,
process, and imagine the narrative in front of you.

creates connections in the brain that promote language, cognitive, social, and
emotional development.

rewires the brain and creates new white matter.

puts the reader in the shoes of the character in the book, figuratively and
biologically. It creates empathy.

increases attention spans and encourages sequential thinking.

increases vocabulary.

rewires your brain, so that you can imagine alternative paths, remember
details, picture detailed scenes, and think through complex problems.

In short,
reading makes you more knowledgeable AND more functional. In other words, if
television is a bag of potato chips and a soft drink, reading is a warm and
tasty meal and a delicious smoothie.

My years
in education have proven to me over and over again how important it is to be a
good reader. Literacy is the basis for all learning (even mathematics and
music, which are other forms of reading). The more you practice reading, the
better able you will be to comprehend, analyze, compare and contrast,
synthesize, and evaluate. No one I know of has ever made those same claims for
watching television.

I’m not
advocating the abolishment of TVs or television programming. But I do recommend
making reading a priority when carving out your leisure time. Whatever you
choose to read, you’ll have excellent entertainment, and your brain will thank

Richard’s award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book
pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor
houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.
 Saralyn’s most recent release is Bad Blood Sisters. A
member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America,
Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an
author is interacting with readers like you.
here, on her
Amazon page 
here, or on Facebook here.

Learning to Write from TV Commercials

Learning to Write from TV Commercials by Debra H. Goldstein

Lately, I’ve vegged in front of the TV. It isn’t the shows that attract my attention, but the commercials. They are a perfect lesson in storytelling for a writer to observe. Why? Because they must tell their tale in thirty to sixty seconds in a way that we remember. They achieve this through tight scripts, careful casting of actors, and specific product placement.

Like short stories, commercials limit themselves to a single or simple story arc with a final twist. Let me give you some examples. Some of the longer commercials, which are shown on stations that run golden oldie procedurals, run more than a minute. Two, which target different groups, show children or veterans with challenges and how the advertised hospital system or non-profit improves lives through the aid being given. These commercials depend upon characterization and the emotional strength of their stories to attract supporters to make donations when the ad concludes with a plea for money.

Many commercials are set in a kitchen. A husband, boyfriend, or child asks a wife, girlfriend, or mother about a specific food product or if they have more of an item. The woman provides a taste of the food or directs the individual to where the product is. The man or child is satisfied by the taste or being drowned in the product. The stories in these commercials are not as important as selling the name of the product or service. Consequently, there is product placement of a bag of the frozen food or a dish made with the advertised food. My favorite, which advertises a buying club, has roll after roll of paper towel dropping on a man. After the wife explains that without paying much, this service allows one to get quality and quantity, the twist is a child asking if next time they can order cookies. One laughs at the joke, and remembers the buying club.

Other commercials, like books in a series, build upon memories from previous commercials. The Budweiser Clydesdales were introduced in 1933 when prohibition ended. At that time, they pulled a Budweiser beer wagon. Today, they advertise beer for Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, the parent company that subsequently bought the Budweiser brand. People wait for each year’s new Super Bowl ad in the same way readers wait for the next book in a series by a favorite author.

Commercials hold our attention by using scripts that address topics from purely realistic or sentimental viewpoints or by mixing what people know with moments of fantasy. If the commercial is successful, the viewer remembers the product as opposed to only the story line. If the writer succeeds, the reader subconsciously thinks about ideas the writer planted while enjoying the plotline. 
What commercial makes the biggest impact on you? Why?

Clicking Our Heels – Television and the Gang

New Year’s Resolution – Don’t leave blogs
until last minute. New Year’s Reality – Oops!

I cannot tell a lie.  Between a self-imposed deadline, holiday fun,
and a million other things, I spent last night sprawled in front of the television
vegging out. I completely forgot the first Wednesday of 2018 fell two days
after January 1 because I was engrossed in the Tuesday night line-up of NCIS,
Bull, NCIS-New Orleans, and Major Crimes (which I will miss!).  Now you know my guilty pleasures, but here
are some of my blog mates’ favorite TV shows and a word about how they
influenced them. Me? Mindless joy. – Debra
H. Goldstein.

Judy Penz Sheluk: Gilmore Girls. Great
writing and a stellar example of character development. I also loved the 2016
Netflix four-part series that caught us up on the characters as they are today.

Bethany Maines: I’ve had several favorite TV shows over the
years.  I usually tend toward shows that
have a humorous or whimsical take on life, but with realistic characters. From
Better off Ted, to Firefly, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the West Wing,
all of them had very serious characters who must contend with the superb
ridiculousness that is life.  I think my
writing reflects that taste.

Shari Randall: Did it ever. My favorite show as a child was
The Avengers. From the moment I first saw super cool, catsuit-clad
martial arts expert Emma Peel, that’s who I’ve wanted to be. Hasn’t quite
worked out that way, but her panache, her boots, her style inspire me. I
occasionally try a few of her poses when I’m psyching myself up to write.

Jennae Phillippe: Star
Trek: The Next Generation — full of progressive values and characters that
cared a lot about doing the right thing. Also responsible for a lot of my
teenage crushes. But I think what I remember most was their willingness to
tackle an issue and not have a clear message about how people should think
about it. It was okay for people to debate and disagree. I wish modern times
were more like that. 

TK Thorne: Don’t watch much TV, but when the new Battlestar Galactica was
on, I couldn’t wait to see it because everything you thought you knew got
turned on its head frequently. I realized that was an important part of
enticing drama and try to incorporate that concept into my writing.

B.A. Plum: The GOOD WIFE served as a good model for the kind of female
character I wanted to paint on the page. Alicia was much savvier than my
heroine, AnnaSophia in The Dispensable

Dru Ann Love: Mary Tyler Moore Show. She showed that women can do anything
that a man can do and still be feminine at the same time.

:  Star Trek.
To this day, if someone’s trying to bully or emotionally manipulate me by
threatening a public scene, I go into Spock mode and become more and more controlled
and infuriatingly calm as they up the threats or bad behavior. It’s never
failed me yet. It passed into the next generation, and now my grown son uses
the same technique.

Juliana Aragon
: The Walking Dead characters are larger than
life, pun intended. My characters in The Colorado Sisters may seem
strange to some readers but are based on people I know and love, even the
villains. My Atlanta Butcher killer cuts up the billionaire Reggie Hartless who
likes to grab pussies. He gets butchered. Many of the women are strong
characters that kick ass in stilettoes and cowgirl boots.

Revision and Television

and Television by Debra H. Goldstein

Lately, I’ve been fast
forwarding through a lot of television shows, avoiding the commercials. It
makes it possible for me to quickly get to the gist of each program, but also
makes me realize how much of normal program running time is taken up by ads.
Perhaps the most egregious one was a recent airing of Beaches.
Because I loved the Bette
Midler/Barbara Hershey version, I was a little leery about the remake, but having
been an Idina Menzel fan since seeing her in Rent and Wicked, I
decided to bite the bullet. Joel and I had other plans the night it was
telecast, so I taped it. When I finally sat down with my remote control to
watch the multi-hour presentation, I discovered that almost a third of it had
been commercials. Good for me, but a bummer for those who watched the original
For me, first drafts are
much like watching a show with its commercials intact. They are bloated and
often contain spots I can do without. Revision is comparable to using a remote
control. I can fast forward or edit through garbage, but slow down if there is
a passage (advertisement) that catches my eye or I’ve hit the spot where the
plot actually flows. Sometimes, I fast forward too quickly in terms of my
revisions, and must backtrack a bit; other times, it is a stop and start method
until I get the wording exactly like I want it. The key is to make my
manuscript as tight as a script must be to fit into its limited time. A thirty-minute
show must move the acts of its plot within twenty-two minutes. My work must be
equally concise or I will lose a reader’s attention.

That’s why I am going to
end this blog now. Or, perhaps I should insert a commercial – want to know more
about me? Check out my new website at www.DebraHGoldstein.com
and sign up there to follow my personal blog, It’s Not Always a Mystery, and, if you haven’t already done so,
follow The Stiletto Gang, https://www.thestilettogang.com/
(and like the gang’s facebook pageJ).

Coming to a Television Near You

Today’s blog is a perfect example of why everyone should write with a partner. This is Marian writing about Rhonda’s interest in the upcoming television season.

Why, you ask? I mean there are really two questions. Why don’t I, Marian, write about my own interest in the upcoming television season? That answer is easy. I don’t watch much television other than cooking shows, old movies, and the news (and yes, I tape Extreme Couponing, but I’d prefer that not to get around). It’s not that I’m averse to TV. I watched it nonstop for years. It’s just lately, I haven’t found a “must-see” show. When I do, I promise to put it on my DVR list.

Second question. Why is Marian writing about what Rhonda wants to watch this Fall? Again, easy answer. Rhonda’s Mom is coming for a visit so there is whirlwind, power cleaning going on in Oklahoma. No time for writing blogs about television, let alone watching any.

Sooooo – the new television season begins this week. First, another question. Why do the television powers that be feel that the nation needs to watch a new version of Charlie’s Angels? Have we not already goine through a half dozen Angels in its first incarnation, and then suffered through two movies of the same name? Is there nothing new that appealed to ABC?

Also, let me ask another question of those ABC television execs? Pam Am? Really? A show that focuses on pilots and airline stewardesses – when pilots were only male and stewardesses were only female? I’m all for retro, but can we skip some of the gender stereotypes?

Or how about the new show entitled The Playboy Club? Need I say anything??

Alright, back to Rhonda’s list.

She’s looking forward to some old favorites:

NCIS – which has a strong ensemble with smart women and as she points out, what can be bad about a show that has Mark Harmon?

The Good Wife – again, strong, smart women, but Rhonda’s complaint is that they have drawn out the will they-won’t they relationship of Good Wife and handsome co-worker. Rhonda’s no longer, pardon the pun, passionately interested in if they do or don’t.

Parenthood – the writing and acting feels fresh to her. The Northern half of Evelyn David, who may not watch television but does follow the gossip columns, pointed out that Peter Krause and Lauren Ambrose are dating, and they play brother and sister on the show. Rhonda didn’t know that little tidbit, nor care.

Harry’s Law – it’s all about Kathy Bates, who according to Rhonda, “I’d watch her eat.”

As to new shows, Rhonda mentioned:

Terra Nova – dinosaurs and time traveling humans, a perfect combo.

American Horror Story – think Dark Shadows, couple buys a house with a creepy creature living in the basement (in this real estate market, they’re going to have problems with resale).

Hell on Wheels – think The Fugitive set in the post-Civil War era while building the transcontinental railroad. Confederate soldier searches for Union soldier who killed his wife (don’t know if Union soldier has only one arm).

So Stiletto Faithful, what are you watching and what are you hoping to see in the new television season?

Marian and Rhonda, the collective Evelyn David

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Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
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Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords

Love Lessons – KindleNookSmashwords

Guilty Pleasures

I’m really not a big TV watcher. But when I’m down, or just need to relax, or when I’m a little stuck on my WIP, I do turn to what I call my comfort shows. There are a few of them.

Supernatural is one of my top favorites.

Once in a while I watch Southland.

Love Love Love Project Runway.

But these are all done, and now so is American Idol.

Last night Lee DeWyze won and all is good in Idol world.

I’ve written about Friday Night Lights–my other TV love.

(and it’s on NBC again so I can see the whole season!) Yes!!

But I really love another show.

g l e e

Raise your hand if you’re a Glee fan. Go ahead, all the way up.

Things I love about Glee:

  • The singing–of course!
  • The head-on approach it takes with toughissues like not blending in or being true to who you are.
  • The homage to pop culture.
  • A whole show paying tribute to Madonna.
  • Special Guest star Olivia Newton John.
  • Sue and the Cheerios.
  • Gaga day.
  • The melodrama. It’s over the top and God how I love it!
  • Kristen Chenowith.
  • Kurt and Finn trying to be almost brothers.
  • The angst.
  • The emotion.
  • The truth underneath the theatricality.
  • The cheerio, Brittany, who said, “Did you know Dolphins are just gay sharks?”

There’s so much to love about Glee. It’s a guilty pleasure… and one I’m not afraid to admit.

So here’s my question:

What’s your guilty pleasure?