Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Celebrating a new book and more... with Debra H. Goldstein #bookgiveaway

 

HALLIE EPHRON: Today we are happily welcoming back that writer who's dangerous in the kitchen, Debra H. Goldstein, celebrating the launch of FIVE BELLES TOO MANY, her fifth Sarah Blair mystery. Today she's in a contemplative mood, looking at the milestones that life and a writing career can offer up to us.

DEBRA H. GOLDSTEIN: I lurk, but I read the Jungle Red Writers blog religiously. Consequently, like most of you, I’ve come to know tidbits of the various authors lives – including their families. I’ve rejoiced with them when a grandchild has a Bar Mitzvah, a daughter becomes a co-writer, a child reaches a new milestone, and been saddened when there has been a loss of a loved one.

Two things I’ve come to look forward to are the announcements of new books and new grandchildren. The fun from both of these is the anticipation of how this new being will grow, be accepted, and mature in today’s world. From the tidbits from this blog, we know some will turn out successful, some duds (okay, none of the JRW’s family members but maybe a book here or there), some empathetic, some hilarious. During the past few years, I’ve found myself in the same duo state of anticipation.

As you read this, know that it is but one of several blogs that will appear this week announcing Kensington’s “birth” of my new Sarah Blair mystery, Five Belles Too Many. It is the fifth book, but one of my favorites in the series. I loved the idea of writing a behind the scenes account of a television show filming five finalists, including Sarah’s sixty-plus-year-old mother, trying to win the perfect Southern wedding.

The time researching and prepping the book was fun, as was putting Sarah in the middle of everything by making Sarah her mother’s chaperone. As you can imagine, Sarah, the woman who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder, isn’t any better suited to being a chaperone.


My trepidation is whether the world of readers will see the humor in this situation the same way I do? Will they like the book? I can only hope (pray) the nuances of the different couples will engage readers and that they will feel I stuck the whodunit.

Similarly, I hope readers notice and are satisfied with the arc growths of characters with whom they already are familiar. Most importantly, will readers buy Five Belles Too Many? I don’t know. I can only contemplate how the book’s life will flow.



At the same time that I am agonizing over the birth and development of Five Belles Too Many, the stork delivered a baby to my daughter and son-in-law (because I write cozy mysteries, I can’t go into the details). From his fingers to his toes, this eight-pound thirteen-ounce, full head of dark-haired boy has won my heart.

Already, I’m anticipating how he will get along with his sister, whether he will tend to smile or frown, whether he will be geeky or an athlete, whether he will be tall or short, and what kind of man he will become. Each wish and dream I have for him is accompanied by a fear or question.

There isn’t much difference in how I feel about the birth of Baby Bear (his sister’s name for him) or Five Belles Too Many. Both share the miracle of coming to life, my anguish, anticipation, and the sense of joy they are giving me. OK, maybe I am a little prejudiced in Baby Bear’s favor for the long term, but in the short run, Five Belles Too Many is important, too.

For a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many, tell me how you feel about new books in a series and your take on reality game shows.

72 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Debra, on the arrival of Baby Bear and on your newest book. Each is a treasure [and I’m looking forward to finding out just how that game show works out] . . . .

    I look forward to new books in a series; I love discovering what new danger/event/happening will capture our intrepid heroine/hero in the pages of the story.

    As for reality game shows, I enjoy mentally challenging shows like Jeopardy, but I am less enamored with those game shows that are physical challenges. And I’ll pass on the rest of those reality shows . . . .

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    1. My grandkids were here this weekend and I had drive-by sightings of one of those physical challenge game shows. ICK. And reality shows... anyone remember the Louds? That (was it public TV?) mustabeen the first reality show of its kind destroyed them. Talk about careful what you wish for.

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    2. Joan, thanks for stopping by. I agree each is a treasure, but for once I'm a little bit biased to Baby Bear even though i'm having a blast with Sarah in this book. I'm with you in terms of the reality shows....though I really like watching the cooking ones, too.

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    3. Although I didn't watch the Louds when it came on, I remember reading articles later about how that show impacted the family. I think we see that type of show and its impact play out repeatedly.

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  2. Congratulations on your book release and your new grandson. I love new books in a series because I get to visit with them and root them on as they solve the crime, of course I want to figure out first. Not a fan of reality shows.

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    1. Dru . thanks for all you do for writers. I love expanding the adventures of the characters, like I do in Five Belles by involving them in new things.

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  3. Congratulations on your new book. I enjoy reading series (got my start with A is for Alibi) and really getting to know the characters. I'm not big on reality shows, so I'm curious to know what you think goes on behind the scenes! Thanks for offering a give away.

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    1. I've read all the way through Sue Grafton's alphabet, too. Loved them all. BUT it was the first time I started wondering why late-series books are so much longer than early-series books. Because there are so many characters waiting in the wings? Or the early books got more editing? What gives??

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    2. Marianne, having been on one game show, tried out for another one, and attended tapings of several shows, I've been fascinated since I was a kid. That's why it was so fun to interview people and to pull together the behind the scenes for Five Belles. Like you, I like reading through series and none was more engaging from A-Y than Grafton's. I was introduced to her writing with H and I, but had to find my way back to A. Hallie, her books didn't hit until she was on E or F, but when they did, people went back to read from A and from that point on all were on the bestseller list. Why they got longer? --- maybe publisher suggestions changed or the descriptions and plots took up more space?

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  4. DEBRA: Congratulations on the book birthday #5 and the arrival of your new grandson!
    If it's a new book in a series, I look forward to revisiting familiar characters and setting. Putting Sarah in the role of chaperone for her mother is different. Another uncomfortable situation for Sarah to work on while dealing with solving the crime.

    Personally, I'm also not a fan of reality shows. I have been without cable TV for a decade so it's been easy to avoid watching them.

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    1. I love series/books that mix family drama with the mystery. Can make it both lighter and more treacherous.

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    2. Grace, thank you. It was fun to have Sarah play against character (the role of chaperone that a mother would normally take) especially with contemplating controlling Mother Maybelle. I've appreciated how you've followed this series. Hallie, your books often mix family drama and mystery and the balance keeps me glued to wanting to turn the page.

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  5. I'm so happy for your new grandson! And for the new book, Debra. A double blessing.

    The latest book in a series by an author I love - like you - is always welcome news. Reality shows? Never touch the stuff. But I'm sure you pulled off the reality of them perfectly!

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    1. Edith, I don't know when you'd have time to watch TV, let alone reality shows. Thank you for your kind words. The reality show and the personalities were so much fun to play with.

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  6. Debra, congratulations on the release of book #5 in your Sarah Blair mystery series and huge congratulations on the arrival of Baby Bear. I love the photo of you holding him. There is nothing that feels quite like that!

    Occasionally we will watch a game show but never watch reality shows which feel mean. As for Sarah playing chaperone to her mother while her mom tries to win the perfect Southern wedding, it is potentially hilarious and a chance to play up some mother-daughter shtick while solving a murder.

    I love to read series and am always excited when a new book is coming out in a one that I follow. Best of luck with Five Belles Too Many. It is on my TBR list.

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    1. Thanks for putting Five Belles on your TBR list and thank you for the congrats on Baby Bear. He is a dear and thank goodness his sister still feels the same way. I agree that there is a balance between reality shows that are mean and those that are pure fun.. that's why I like the game shows (even though they get edited for "bad guys" like in Top Chef) that incorporate skills rather than the ones that contemplate how much botox might make the cast's lips or bottoms more appealing.

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  7. Congratulations Debra on all this good news! Your book sounds delightful! Hallie finally made me watch the Great British baking show, since I have a contest in my WIP. I enjoyed watching with her, but I can't say I'm hooked:)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. LUCY: Interesting that you're not hooked on GBBS. Although I love to bake, I have never watched a single episode of GBBS or the Canadian version. I used to be an Food Network TV show addict but having been without that channel for almost a decade, I have stopped watching most cooking shows (or competitions).

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    3. I can not only watch GBBS, I can watch it over and over again! (Like every Agathan Christie I've ever re-read I rarely remember the endings.)

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    4. Having read all of your books, I can envision you watching the GBBS and making notes while your mind thought of ways to incorporate what you saw.....same as I would do. I'm like Hallie, I can watch the cooking shows more than once, even if I remember who wins, because I love watching the creation and the little bit of snarkiness from the judges. At the same time, I don't enjoy rewatching a show like Jeopardy where I remember who wins....perhaps because I remember many of the answers whereas the cooking dumbfounds me like it does my protagonist, Sarah.

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    5. I enjoy watching the GBBS! It is fun to watch the contestants create different and to me new types of baking. I have no personal interest in cooking or baking! The GBBS is the UK version of reality TV, much kinder. Those of you not interested, consider yourselves foodies and are enthusiastic cooks and bakers. I’m guessing you find the GBBS show a bit beneath your food creation standards. However, maybe you should watch, I believe you would learn something.

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  8. Debra - dual congratulations. Baby Bear is adorable!

    I love seeing a new book in a favorite series, although I'm with you in that each time I release a new book I wonder if anyone will buy it.

    I'm not much into realty TV shows. I did watch a season of "Survivor" with The Boy and I did find it surprisingly entertaining. But I haven't watched another.

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    1. Liz, thanks for the congratulations. I think releasing a new book or having a baby leaves one wondering nervously for the future. One hopes the best for both.....I watched a bit of Survivor over the years, but never got into it enough to keep looking for it. Watching the news channels is more interesting to me.

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  9. Congrats on all your success Debra. Seems like only yesterday we were chatting at Bouchercon in Toronto. You've landed on a great thing with this series!

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    1. judy, I still remember being in the food court in Toronto chatting about what we hoped and dreamed. You've done so much (just finishing up your Canadian presidency and the books you've written!). At the time, Sarah Blair was out in her first book, One Taste Too Many. I'm very happy with the arc she has followed and thrilled for the fun you and I have been having as our personal arcs have developed.

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  10. Congratulations Debra! Babies are so precious! The book sounds great. I watch reality cooking shows, but have steered clear of the romance or wedding themed shows. I think a humorous take on the topic would be very welcome.

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    1. Gillian, the fun thing was combining all of them. I'm not much for the dating to the rose shows (in fact I look at statistically how long the couples endure more than who gets together), but the more I played with the topic and the characters who might compete, the more I knew I had to write them into this book. My goal for my books is for the reader to have fun and it doesn't hurt if the situation the characters are in also is fun. I think that's why people liked the different situations Jessica Fletcher found herself in...the settings might not be something the reader experienced daily, but they were relatable and the reader had fun being the fly on the wall.

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  11. Hank Phillippi RyanJune 28, 2022 at 9:06 AM

    Oh congratulations! How absolutely wonderful! And yes, one fabulous thing, at least, about our social media works is how our sense of community grows, and how we can share the good and the bad – – and the spectacular, like the birth of a baby and the birth of a book ! Hurray on both!

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  12. Hank Phillippi RyanJune 28, 2022 at 9:12 AM

    And I am always tempted by cooking reality shows, I have to say! Although I don’t watch them with any regularity. But I am a secret Survivor fan!

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  13. Baby Bear is adorable, Debra. Mazel tov. And congratulations on the birth of the book. Writing a book is like giving birth to an elephant, isn't it? Almost two years of weighed-down gestation, then a long and painful delivery. Then you have to take care of the darn thing for years, sometimes trying to find a place to keep it.

    Being married to a filmmaker for more than 40 years, I know how the sausage is made, and it's too hard for me to suspend disbelief watching "reality" shows. Two different friends have been part of those "fix your house in three days" shows, and one local friend's daughter was on Extreme Makeover. The stories they told! The only ones that seem even close to real are Dancing with the Stars, and Great British Baking Show. But I don't even watch them, any more. The talent might not be faked, but the hyped up "results", etc. wear me down.

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    1. My two older sisters love Dancing with the Stars (including the Canadian Buddhist, which is the strangest cognitive dissonance, I have to say). I tried, but it's the hype that wears me down. I just can't stand it.

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    2. The constant repetitious padding makes me crazy, Edith. And not just on reality shows these days, but lots of others, as well. The #2 reason our TV stays off (the #1 is because of shock/propaganda political ads).

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    3. And this is exactly what makes it such a good setting for a mystery - all the behind-the-scenes padding and fixes that get spackled on to make it suspenseful

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    4. Exactly! One of the most common stories had to do with the faked surprise shots of every "reveal"-type show. They film them over and over again to get the most dramatic expressions. That alone would drive me to murder!

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  14. First off, congratulations!

    I love new books in a series. Especially ones in a series that I am dedicated to. Nothing better then getting to go on a new journey with old friends. Anytime I’ve read a book set during a reality game show, I’ve loved it! It’s a nice refresher from some of the older tropes and I always learn a new nugget of information.

    I’m real life…. Not so much. Unless it’s a cooking show! The others seem to always have some version of catty/underdressed people and that’s not my thing. I don’t need to see two random strangers pulling each other’s hair.

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    1. I think that's the same feeling I have. I want to relax so the cooking and challenge shows are more interesting to me than the ones that pit people against each other in supposedly true emotional settings. Hope you enjoy taking a journey with Sarah and her friends. Five Belles is one of my favorites in the series because of the twists you see in the characters and the revealing of what happens behind the scenes. Thanks for the congrats and for stopping by.

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  15. Congratulations on both births, Debra! Snuggling a baby beats a new book by a nose, though. Alas, no babies on my horizon, but new books in series I love makes a day sweeter. I do read standalones, but much prefer series--you get to step into someone else's reality with each new book. Reality shows? Just nope.

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    1. Thank you for the congratulations. There is nothing sweeter than cuddling a newborn baby or perhaps more nerve wracking than waiting for the world to cuddle a new book. It's fun though to see both a series grow and a child mature. The difference with a book is that it is pure escape (a reality within a reality), but the sweet baby will occasionally wail or soil his/her diaper (that's when I try to give him back to his mother)... I'm enjoying both! Thanks for leaving a comment.

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  16. Your new book sounds wonderful, Debra! There are quite a few cozy mystery series that I love, and I can't wait for each new book because I enjoy spending time with the characters. And, of course, I love to hear about new additions to the family. I moved to be closer to my now 5- and 3-year-old grandchildren, and I couldn't be happier. Congratulations on Baby Bear!

    As for reality competition series, I'm drawn to some of the dance shows (specifically, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars), singing shows (mainly American Idol), and cooking shows (just finished up the newest Iron Chef and, of course, I have a deep love for The Great British Baking Show). I've also become obsessed with a Netflix show called Dating on the Spectrum--there's a new American version this year. I'll give others a try, but if they are too silly or I don't like the host, I won't persist.

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    1. Margie, I answered before but apparently it didn't stick. Congrats on moving closer to your grandchildren. That is a joy. Believe me, I 've been burning up the highway to visit Baby Bear and his sister. Interesting to see your comment about liking the host. I think it does make a difference. As I noted, the ratings went through the roof with Steve Harvey (Family Feud) as compared with Richard Dawson (well liked) and the second daytime host (whose name I can't even recall).

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  17. I love new books in a series, but am circumspect about reality TV. I did enjoy Baby Ballroom a while back, however.

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    1. Hope you get a chance to follow Sarah Blair's adventures - especially her intro and observations with reality TV. The book is meant for the reader to enjoy!

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    2. It's fun to follow adventures in books. I like how they build upon each other. I didn't catch Baby Ballroom - is it little kids dancing?

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    3. Yes, children learning and competing in ballroom dancing. Fun to watch and pretty amazing to see what the kids could do!

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  18. Hallie and Jungle Red Writers, thank you for hosting me today. This is one of my favorite blogs to lurk on a daily basis. Of course, because of the time difference, by the time I see it, there are wonderful comments to read, too. Kudos to all of you for your writings, your blog, and the kindness and generosity you show other authors. Thank you.

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  19. Congratulations, Debra, on both births. Milestones each.

    I'm a huge believer in pre-orders for series books that I enjoy. That way, I don't miss a thing. May take me a bit to read them, but I know there're there :). Reality TV - nope, not for me, except for the HGTV shows - and I've read that those are not quite reality! The competition reality shows too often rely on nastiness for conflict. I prefer watching kinder shows.

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    1. That's exactly what make the Great British Baking Show stand out - the contestants are sympathetic and nice to each other. I used to watch Project Runway but it was obvious that the producers were encouraging bitchiness and mean behavior.

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    2. I was hooked (or should I say my mom while I stayed with her after an accident) got me hooked on the HGTV shows. Imagine my sorrow in researching them at the time to find the lawsuits, that only certain rooms were done and staged, and that even on some of them where they were househunting, tney already had to have bought the house in question. As for books, my TBR only grows for the reason you stated. I have a few authors that I'm 3-4 books behind, but I own them.

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  20. Debra, congrats on both births! As to reality shows, I will go on record of saying I generally hate them for two reasons: as a scripted writer in Hollywood, they’ve taken away from our work.; they’re often far from actual “reality”; and most are just plain terrible. Cringe, as a Kardashiam would say. Hey, that’s three reasons!

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    1. Thank you for your comments, I hadn't thought about them taking away scripted work, but I see that now. They are so much cheaper to produce, especially because so much is pre-arranged or donated keeping costs down and reality out the window. Glad you stopped by today

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  21. Congratulations, Debra! Two wonderful additions to your life :) I'm looking forward to your latest book. I am ever fascinated by the behind the scenes look at television even though I'm not a reality show watcher as I stick mostly to crime shows - have to keep filling the mystery well! LOL.

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    1. Jenn, I, too, tend to watch procedurals, crime, news, and verbal sparred comedies (think Big Bang, Dick Van Dyke, etc.), but pulling the curtain back fascinated me.

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  22. Congrats on the arrival of baby Bear and of FIVE BELLES TOO MANY, Debra!
    The only reality shows I watch are the HGTV home makeovers/house hunts. People competing against each other to stay on an island or at a beach house tends to trigger my second-hand embarrassment complex...

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    1. Julia,
      Thank you for the duo congrats. Even though I know much about the HGTV makeovers aren't "real," I've learned a lot from them and actually got some ideas that we incorporated when we built our home two years ago. I'm with you.... give me food and homes and leave surviving to the fittest (which I am not).

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  23. I'm happy for you about book ##5 and your grandson, Debra, and I can easily imagine the mix of joy and apprehension you feel as you contemplate their futures. I hope both generate only good news!

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    1. Joy and apprehension co-exist every minute. Thank you for your good wishes for Baby Bear and Five Belles Too Many in terms of good news for now and the future.

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  24. Congrats on both births, Debra! I generally hate reality shows for three reasons: 1) as a scripted writer in Hollywood, they've taken away a lot of work. 2) Few are actually "reality" - they're manipulated and edited (look up "frankenbites"); and 3) I find them uniformly poorly done and unwatchable - "cringe" as a Kardashian would say. (BTW, I wrote a comment before that didn't show up, so apologies if I'm repeating myself.)

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    1. The comment popped up as anonymous (scripted writer is the giveaway). I'll say the same thing - I hadn't thought about how much work the cheaper reality TV hours took from writers (only the cost savings to the networks). The manipulation amazes me. I enjoy the cooking competitions to see the ideas the chefs come up with, but I find the ones where a chef goes in to clean up a restaurant and we see everything from bad food and roaches and then suddenly it is ready for a Michelin star rating ludicrous.

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    2. Not sure why my earlier response to you didn't show up. I hadn't thought about scripted writers losing work - only the manipulation behind the scenes of the shows and the fact that many of us enjoy them or at least certain ones.

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  25. Wishing you joy! Nothing like a new baby and a new book. I'm not a fan of reality shows though I have been known to watch some of them. I laugh at certain phrases that constantly pop up in house hunting shows. I get a kick out of movies and books that go behind the scenes of reality shows and show just how unreal they are.

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    1. Pat, from your comment, you will truly enjoy Five Belles Too Many -- and will chuckle at scenes in the book. Thank you for your joyful wishes.

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    2. Pat, not sure why an earlier response didn't show up, but thank you for your good wishes. There is nothing like a new baby ... though the book is a close second. I'm with you on the phrases on the house hunting shows and how dismal some of the ones they visit are, but I know they will get the perfect house in the end.

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  26. Congratulations on Baby Bear! Two new arrivals at once--I'm overwhelmed at so much good news, which has not been the norm this week. Hooray! I love series, and welcome each new addition. I try not to be greedy, wanting the next. Reading this blog has helped tamp down those feelings, as I've become much more aware of and sympathetic to all that goes on behind the scenes and every real-world circumstance which can delay another "episode" in my beloved fictional world arriving quickly. As for unscripted series, I'm not a fan. I hate the way they pushed aside writers, the way they titillate audiences, and the tendency to turn relationships into competitions and to reward manipulations or aggression. But that's just me. wordygirl@earthlink.net

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    1. Beth, thanks for the congrats. I hope good news comes to you in some way this coming week!

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  27. A new baby and a new book! What a memorable year you're having, Debra. Wishing you much joy with Baby Bear, and continued success with Five Belles.

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    1. Gay, thank you! What's even better, is come the end of October, there will be two new babies - one twin just had the baby pictured above, and the other just told us he and his wife are due at the end of October. We are feeling blessed this year with two grands and Five Belles.

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    2. What a treat! (pun intended)

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  28. Congratulations on your Baby Bear. So cute in his head of hair. I love your series and look forward to the newest one. I don't watch many reality shows except ones on Food Network however since my husband hates them not often.

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