Friday, August 22, 2014

Outlander--My New TV Show Obsession

For the first time in a while, I'm actually hooked on several TV shows. I watch a lot of TV and movies. Most times, it's way after the show is out, many seasons deep, or has ended.

And now I'm picky with the movies as the ticket price and the outrageous concession prices add up. So with the help of Netflix and my Comcast On Demand, I've fallen hard for Orphan Black, The Strain, Helix, The Last Ship, Longmire, Sherlock, Sleepy Hollow, Bitten, Blacklist.

If those weren't enough, I must add Outlander to the mix. I read the book many moons ago. Here's the blurb, (courtesy of Dell; Random House): Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I might reread. But it's not necessary to enjoy this TV series on Starz. Every week, the episode is a tourism invite to visit Scotland with its sweeping shots of the landscape, kilts, and the wild haired men folk. Every week it's an invite to an older time of which we hold romantic notions about honor and duty, when it was more like survival of the fittest. Then there are the "feisty" women who must be able to hold their own and navigate through the confines of the day. And when you slide all that aside, there is a remarkable love story of a woman with two men. Get rid of those erotic fantasies.The woman has a husband in the present time (post WWII) and quite possibly will have this lover in an earlier era. You, however, might indulge in your fantasy as you head to Scotland on the hunt for the circle of stones to see if you can also defy the laws of time travel (are there laws?).

So if you'd like to catch up on my tongue in cheek review of each episode, which I share with Mandi Schreiner, please join us at the USA TODAY Happy Ever Blog every Saturday, immediately after the episode airs at 10 p.m. EST.

Episode 1: Please click here

Episode 2: Please click here

Friday, August 8, 2014

To MD's Prince George County Police

You would think that with the rash of negative publicity that cops from various states have earned by their own doing that the rest of the fraternity would have a more measured approach when dealing with the community. Apparently three of The Order didn't feel that the rules had to change. Instead, they preferred the "us" vs. "them" attitude and did their best to foster that feeling. For their efforts, they get an A+ for being total dicks. As a public servant, taking the vow to protect and serve, they've earned an F.

Over dinner late last night, after my son returned from work, I asked the obligatory question, "how was your day?" The reply wasn't the routine answer of "played video games," "working at the job is hard," or the latest happenings about a friend. Nope. He said, "I was stopped by the police." I laughed. "What do you mean stopped?" He doesn't drive. "I was stopped by the police. Me and my friend." I laugh because I can't tell whether he's being silly. So, I asked, "Why?" "Because I'm black." I laugh some more. He says, "I'm not kidding. It's because I'm black." I replied, "I don't doubt that they stopped you because you're black, but are you telling me that they just pulled up and said, 'hey, you, what are you doing?'" He said, "Yeah." And so I stopped laughing to hear the rest of this story.

I'm sure in all the police procedures and laws, you can stop a person for a variety of reasons, even on the basis of suspicion. But here's how it played out. So my son's friend, let's call him Bob, was walking toward the park in the neighborhood from one direction and my son was coming up from the opposite direction. They'd stopped Bob, questioned him (he texted another friend afterward about the entire thing), took down my son's name as the person Bob was going to meet, took a photo of him, and told him to go back home.

So then here comes my son. The officers are basically waiting for him, to ask him not only who he is, but has he been stealing from the houses in the neighborhood. He was asked this several times, in different ways. Then one officer asked if he had outstanding warrants. My son says no. The other officer says no outstanding warrants...yet. Third officer remains quiet (but he had done his part in the interrogation of Bob). My son didn't have ID on him. One officer said you're supposed to have your ID. My son said, I was just going to the park (again, in his neighborhood). Then they asked my son if he knew the people at the park, pushing to see if he's from the area, he named everyone. One officer says that's enough, as he laughs because the other officer is clearly annoyed because with all the questions my son is calm, but also not backing down from responding to all their asinine questions.

My son since senior year of high school has been stopped by county or park police 4 or 5 times in the area, just like this time, with this random questioning. The worst cops are the black ones he says. They approach with an attitude and aggression, even if another (white) cop is present. He said, the white cops have actually been kinder in the way they talk to him.

I'm not going to dissuade him that he wasn't stopped because he was black, but I'm also going to add that he was stopped also for being young. I watch how people, these officers, sales lady in a store, adults in general, react to young males. I watch because I use the information in my writing. Their body language changes, as if they are preparing themselves for a skirmish. In my son's case, when I identify that I'm his mother, then they are all smiles and solicitous...too late. I know how foul you are.

The youth are not the enemy. Black young men are not the enemy. You can't come into the neighborhood, of which he has lived for 18 years, and act like the Gestapo. Taking pictures of these men. What's next, a yellow star? How dare you tell anyone to go home, or go back to his own neighborhood, whatever. You have lost your sense of reality.

If you'd bother to take the time to get out of the car, walk around the neighborhood, stop in at the parks, introduce yourself to the kids, you'd start knowing the faces at these places. It's the same people who usually pop up to play basketball or skateboard.

As for the black male officers, you are looking at your citizens as failures, guilty until you convince me otherwise. Don't project your stereotypes, prejudices, and policing issues on all our young men. Don't look at him and decide he is a gang member, a thief, a burglar. Don't judge him and determine that he lacks a father figure, has an absentee mother, is a delinquent. You are the one who is the failure in the system. You fail as a police officer. You fail as a man. You are a bully with a badge and a gun.

For the Hispanic officer who said to my son, you don't have any warrants yet. I have to shake my head in utter disgust that you looked at my son as a statistic. You, part of the Latino population, dare to prejudge on statistical or stereotypical data. Let me turn the tables on you. How far into your family tree is someone on drugs, out of wedlock pregnant, on welfare, holding outstanding warrants, an alcoholic, illegal? Do I get to judge you, the member of a minority population, despite your gun and badge that give you a false sense of honor and identity. Another bully in the mix.

You are public servants. My taxes help to pay your salary. You serve the public. It's a job you chose to do. It wasn't thrust upon you. It wasn't a royal title that you were born into. My point is that, if you can't do the job properly, then like any job get the hell out. It doesn't matter to me if you are decorated with ribbons and awards, you, collectively, make the mistake of harming my son in any of your "stop and be an asshole" techniques of interrogation and I swear that my only mission in life is to make your life a living hell.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Land of Romance Fiction Is Like A Colorful Fruit Salad

Readers,

Have you ever attended Romance Writers of America 400+ author booksigning event. It's always the Wednesday of the conference week. Quite an impressive sight to see because it's a smidgen of the books and authors who dwell in romance fiction land.

I personally haven't signed at the event in years. But I do go through to say hi to my fellow authors. This year had a massive outpouring of readers in San Antonio, Texas. They lined up for hours, as though it was a rock concert and they had to get to the mosh pit. BTW, next year is in New York City. Keep an eye for the details at RWA's site.

Basically, there were books filling every corner and space of several large meeting rooms.

Paranormal. Erotic. Contemporary. Urban Fantasy. Historical. New Adult. Young Adult.

Over $50K was spent that night in book purchases. Again, this is only a smidgen of what's out there.

The visual of that extensive and diverse list of books reminded me of my delightful childhood food/fruit options. I grew up in Guyana, home to an enormous amount of fruits. Trust me, nothing in any supersized supermarket captures half of the tropical gifts like guinep (fleshy tart, tangy, or sweet), five finger (tart), Pawpaw aka papaya (soft & sweet), star apple (purple & milky white flesh, sweet), souri (sour), plus simmoto, mangoes, cashews, gooseberries, guavas, pineapples, soursop, and on and on.

Some people loved them all. Some liked most, with a few exceptions. Others with finicky tastes may have only liked a handful of the selection. But it didn't matter because there was something for everyone.

That is the romance genre in a nutshell: There's something out there for everyone.

Thank you to those who have sampled my wares as part of the "fruit salad." I especially love those who have sought out MY "fruits of my labor" because you've fallen in love with my style and voice. I appreciate you adding me to your favorite author list and hanging in there for my literary ride.

Keeping you in the loop:
Turned in my 2nd book to the editor, One To Love, in the Meadows Family series. Coming out in Apr 2015
1st book, One of A Kind, on sale at all major e-retailers--Amazon's.

Still enjoying sales of my short story - Operation Conquer and Seduction in the Executive Assistant Anthology (written as Michelle Rhys). On sale at major e-retailers. Evernight's.



Happy Reading!
Michelle