The Death of Sharon Raydor

If you were shocked by the ending of last night’s 2nd episode of Major Crimes, then you had plenty of company – I included. I was so clueless I didn’t even know that this was to be the successful police procedural’s final season.

Call me crazy but I didn’t see it coming, until last night’s episode. I assumed (wrongly) that Sharon’s health condition was merely a complication that she would either beat in the end or force her into retirement. Color me surprised and very sad and a little bit mad.

In this article from Variety actress Mary McDonnell shares insights into the decision to kill her character in the show, as well as the shock of realizing the show would not be optioned for a 7th season. I found her to be very gracious about having her character killed off and perhaps a little too understanding.

My hat is off to the producers/writers for taking what was essentially a very unlikable character (Raydor) and turning her into not just relatable and likable but a real hero. A character who didn’t have to pretend to be a man, or tote a gun, or wear hip boots to prove how tough and resourceful she was. McDonnell portrayed her character as a real woman working in a largely male world, and who though tough as nails when needed, never lost touch with her softer intuitive side. And in fact, used that to get to the truth of the matter countless times. Somebody needs to give this woman an Emmy or some other award because I can’t imagine anyone having it done it better. And though I was a huge fan of The Closer and Kyra Sedgewick, McDonnell stole my heart where female heroes are concerned.

Even now when I think of those final scenes in last night’s episode I feel sad and the urge to cry. Not just for the character but for the show itself. TNT, what is the matter with you? You end a highly rated show, yet keep on mindless crap that nobody wants to watch? (I digress, this is fodder for another post though.)

But now here’s the gripe I have – I understand that the writer wanted to end the show on his own terms – and kudos to him for doing that. However, by and large viewers don’t want you to kill off their heroes. They just don’t. You can mortally injure them, you can give them terrible challenges and losses, you can even expose their dark underbellies but KILLING them is really not what we want. We haven’t tuned in for multiple seasons to have the final season killing someone who has become a near and dear friend to us. It doesn’t give us closure that she took care of business before she died. It doesn’t make us feel satisfied that she ended her life on her own terms. It just makes us sad. And frankly, it seemed a little selfish that in order for you to end the show on your own terms that you felt you had to go for the worst possible character to kill off. Yes, I’m sure the shock value was hefty and there are probably hundreds of articles/posts about this because of it. But it doesn’t endear you to the fans. Based on what I saw last night, there are many who are so upset that they aren’t going to watch the remaining four episodes of what can only be described as a topnotch show.

In a perfect world, we’ll learn next week that the whole death scene was merely a bad dream that Rusty had and Sharon will be there waking him and assuring him she is not going anywhere. And then they will spend the last four episodes finding Stroh and kicking his evil ass. Sadly, even I know that won’t happen.

So I’ll just say this. Thank you Mary McDonnell, for creating a living breathing normal woman as our hero. Thank you for showing us that there is strength in a soft voice and dedicated determination. Thank you for showing young women that you can be a woman and be a hero without having to look, talk, or act like a man. Thank you for showing us that in the end, that character is what makes a hero, not gender, car chases, or action scenes.

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From conquering fear to business models that don’t react – best reads of the week

It’s been a while since I’ve done a link post – and I think I want to get that back in on this blog. The holidays and general craziness is over for now, so time to get back to basics. Following are some super reads that I wanted to share.

Overcoming Fear by Jo Eberhardt. This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read on overcoming our own doubts about ourselves. I actually cried as I read this heartfelt and often funny story. Do yourself a favor and read it – it will make your day, put a little bounce in your step and lift your head just a little higher.

THE E-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION IS DEFINITELY NOT OVER (Regardless of what you’ve heard)
Literary Agent Laurie McLean, is pretty sure the ePub revolution is not over and that Indies still have some serious say in the world of books.

75 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. Yup that’s right WiseInk has 75 resolutions from which to choose that you could conquer this year. I have to admit, there were quite a few I think I’m going for.

9 Ways To Make Your Author Resource Box Sizzle by Publicist Joan Stewart. You know she has some great examples of the mini bios that authors can do for various platforms. Some of them really quite good.

Business Musings: The Reactive Business Model by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’s a long read and there was a lot of ‘back story’ to get to the point but when she gets there, it’s worth the trip. And I couldn’t agree more with her.

As a little bit of further inspiration, I tossed in this trailer for a movie called, “Joy,” which I just saw this afternoon. If you are someone with a dream, I highly recommend the film. One of the most inspirational stories I’ve seen in a long time.

Have a great week.

Annie

Power posing, body language what it tells us about ourselves

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Over the weekend, I stumbled upon this TED talk by Social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She discusses how body language affects how others see us, which I thought was interesting.

But the truly relatable material for me was when she touched on how our body language affects how we see ourselves. In particular, when she relates her own personal story of feeling that she didn’t belong or deserve to be in an academic program I was touched to the point of tears.

I think we can all relate to that feeling of not belonging or deserving an opportunity and I’d urge anyone who has felt so, to watch the talk. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for NaNo!

Have a great week!

Annie

Why Waitresses Make Good Detectives

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When I was contemplating writing a series, I looked to my own personal experience to see if there was something unique that I could use to create an interesting character. Though I’ve worked in many fields, the industry where I had an abundance of experience was food service. My very first job was working in a doughnut shop before school. And I quickly learned the joy of working for tips.

For several years after that and whenever I was in a pinch for fast money, I waited tables. Diners, greasy spoons, family restaurants, or dinner houses – it didn’t matter what kind of house, as long as it was popular and had a lot of regulars.

Contrary to popular opinion and stereotypical characterization, waitresses are not airheads. Somebody who isn’t sharp, can’t think on their feet or control ten things at once will get eaten alive in the food biz. In fact, some of the sharpest people I ever knew waited tables. So think again if you believe that woman serving you your food isn’t as smart as you, makes as much (or more) money than you and has a dead-end life. Because chances are you’d be wrong.

A good detective is:

  • Observant
  • Critical thinker/Sharp mind
  • Independent
  • Flexible/able to adapt to changing situations
  • Understands human nature, can read body language and other cues
  • Can intuit what others think/want
  • Curious/Nosy
  • Good with details
  • Can talk a good game
  • Organized
  • Knows how to bend the rules when necessary

Any good waitress has the same skills

  1. A waitress who can’t observe won’t make it. She has to have eyes in the back of her head, be able to sense that toddler zooming around the corner while she’s carrying a pot of hot coffee or full tray – and do it all with a smile and grace.
  2. A waitress who can’t think critically will never be able to juggle orders, customers, special requests – know what table is turning or how to sweet talk the cooks she’s working with. She’ll fall apart and walk out.
  3. All waitresses are independent. In their minds, their stations are their own little franchises and they keep their own going concerns humming. They also know if they do it right, they’ll be validated with good tips. Instead of begging some cubicle king for a 50 cent raise after slaving away for two years.
  4. Waitresses have to be adaptable, they have to be able to think on their feet. It’s how they’re wired. You can go from one coffee drinker in your station to an entire football team in ten seconds. They have to remember who is sitting where and who is drinking what and which person had that special order. This is not a job for sissies.
  5. To work in the food biz you have to like and understand people. You have to be able to read the cues, intuit what they need before they ask. You won’t have to ask a good waitress for crackers for your baby because she’ll bring them and the high chair when she brings the menus.
  6. If you work with and around people all day then you have to have a sense of curiosity. Know how to make small talk. Show interest. With regular customers you better remember their favorite meals and drinks and just how they like their stake. Chance are you’ll know their kids’ names, when they’re graduating from high school and their anniversary or birthday.
  7. Since food service is practically nothing but details, you won’t survive as a waitress if you can’t keep the details straight. Ditto with organization. How could you ever feed 30 people at once if you aren’t organized?
  8. A good waitress also knows when and how much she can bend the rules. And she’ll do fine if she does it in order to give better service to her customer.

So you see, waitresses and detectives have a lot in common. They’re sharp, quick-witted, adaptable multi-taskers who can see a bullshitter coming from two blocks away but can still handle them with finesse and a smile.

How about you? What do you think of waitresses? Have you ever waited tables? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Would you make a good detective? Tell your tales in the comments.

Coffee and Crime new release

The Truth About Beauty

A friend sent me this in an email, and though I’d read it before it hit home more this time around. It’s a poem by the timeless beauty, Audrey Hepburn. I really like how that lady thought. WC

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”

Audrey Hepburn

My Life, Without a Horse – by cA Hughes

 

When I was five, I wanted a tree swing; also a pony.I would fantasize about it, the pony I mean. I got the tree swing. I sat on it while daydreaming about the pony. Her name would be Cinnamon, as her coat was that same red/orangey-brown color as the spice and she’d have a black mane and tail. My feet’d be muddy and walking her around through tallish grasses.

Gnats and butterflies and dust would dot the air, flecks of gold cresting and dipping in summery sunlight.

Even I, in my imagined yet still filthy gingham, would look lovely and hardy in the country light with Cinnamon in a stately follow.

Straddling Cinnamon, I was happy.Behind my closed eyes, I’d rest my face against her neck and tangle my stubby fingers in her mane. I was hypnotized by the heavy, hollow thud of her hoof-falls as we meandered through the countryside.We communicated in our secret way; she knew me by scent; my breathing, the rise and fall and squeakiness of my voice soothed her spirit. And she’d buck anyone else who attempted to ride, brush or feed her.

She would be mine and only mine.This was the best part because in my life without a horse, there was nothing mine.

I don’t know where this desire for a horse came from. We lived in the city. There were no tall grass fields or creeks or beautiful summer days hazy with shining little bugs that looked like fairies in the setting sunlight. No stands of trees aged with gnarled branches. “Where would we keep a horse?” asked Mother.I said in the garage, desperate. “That would be cruel,” she said. Then her eyes glazed over with a dreamy shine. “Horses need to be in a field, they need to run and graze and have sun on their backs…”

I put a horse on my Christmas lists and asked for one each birthday for the next six years.

“Where did she get such an idea?” My father asked Mother once. He was upset that I had been giving them the silent treatment for three straight days after my seventh birthday.

“All little girls want a horse,” she said.

He chuckled at that. “And why is that?” he asked.

My mother got red in the cheeks and I saw a dark, quick flicker in her eyes- so quick I doubted it the moment I saw it. It happened sometimes, mostly when she was talking to Father about us girls. “They just do,” she said.

I think she was right about that. My daughters have been pleading with their dad and me to get a horse. “Maybe someday,” I say. It is possible since we live in the country. We take walks on streets along the horse ranches nearby and I think, We can get a horse and keep it at a stables. I ask them what they think of the name Cinnamon for a horse.

“I like it,” says the older one.

“Aw, I like Fred,” says the younger.

“Maybe we should get two,” the older says.”Then I can name mine Roses”

“How about three?” say I. “Cinnamon, Roses and Fred.” We like this idea and discuss what our horses would look like- the color of their manes and coats, whether we’d braid their tails with ribbon.

The books I’ve read in which girls had horses, there is no boy-craziness. The girl with a horse does not need anybody. She is independent and free, strong like the legs of her steed. And though beautiful and ethereal, horses do seem somewhat phallic; look at the neck, look at the long face broad at the top; look at how they must be straddled and ridden. A girl conquers the phallus, astride her steed. It can take her to her life; take her away from her life. She is control of her destination and the route there. She is not a princess but a queen. She is not a queen but an outlaw. She is not an outlaw but an explorer, a knight, a cowboy. All of these things and natural and wild.

Free.

copyright cA Hughes

Gracie Does Pomp & Circumstance by Jess Em

I was a clumsy kid.  As a matter of fact, I’m a clumsy adult.  The person who falls down in the middle of an empty sidewalk wearing flip flops and carrying nothing more interesting than a small bag I purchased specifically for it’s easy-to-carry-while-carting-around-two-toddlers style.  And then attempts to pretend that I didn’t just fall down while all alone, surrounded by nothing more than air, while strolling leisurely on the most innocuous sidewalk in the world.  It’s a sad testament to my capability as a grown adult, but at least I’ve managed to never harm another human being in my inability to do anything gracefully.

 I grew up in Jersey.  We had big hair, wore leggings under everything, and had high tops to coordinate with every sweatshirt-dress we owned.  I had at least ten pairs of dangly star earrings in a variety of colors, and wore them proudly with my crimped hair and teased bangs.  I was cool.  Until I walked into an open locker while staring at Eric Cochrane over my right shoulder.  Or fell in PE while jogging as I tried to impress him with my fleet-footed sprinting capability.  My parents called me “Gracie”, a supposedly affectionate nickname that served only to remind everyone that I was bound to trip over something. 

 My school was K-8, the eighth grade graduation being the culmination of all things.  It was the pinnacle of the early school years: an event each of us yearned for as we entered into the middle-school wing.  We had the pomp, the ceremony.  The eighth graders missed class for graduation practice.  They got to leave school early…they got pizza for lunch TWICE a week.  They were the ultimate.  We all wanted to be in eighth grade, so when I reached that pinnacle, I knew great things would come.  My eighth grade graduation would be the day, the one where I shined.  I was smart-I knew I’d get awards.  I’d be stylish, because mom took me shopping for shoes with heels on them.  By God, I’d have good hair.  No frizz. 

 The day of The Graduation dawned bright and beautiful, as it can only be on the Jersey shore in June.  My parents had made reservations at a rather jazzy little place in Manasquan, and I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle to the graduation song.  I had my new shoes ready, heels and all, and took my time getting my bangs to just the right height to sit perfectly under the square of my graduation cap.  I loved the jaunty swing of my tassel; the click of my little heels on the floor.    I was wearing makeup.  Mascara, and a little lip gloss.  I was the shit. 

 We got to the school, my family took their seats, camera at the ready.  They had already put in their order for the VHS of the ceremony.  I joined my classmates in the band room, all of us happily chattering in our royal blue graduation robes.  My bangs were the perfect height, I noted, looking at the bangs of my classmates. 

 The chairs for the graduates were set up on the stage of the elementary school gym stage.  The kind with the heavy red curtains used for everything from dances to PE class to PTA meetings.  My last name starting with an “M”, I was right in the middle of the procession.  To get to our seats, we had to walk down the center aisle, turn right at the stage, walking around the band to go up the stairs at the right side.  Simple.  And interesting to watch, I’m sure, as 90 eighth graders step-tap-step-tapped all the way down the aisle to the beat of “Pomp and Circumstance”. 

 My turn, finally, and I step-tap-step-tapped my way down the center aisle, smiling for the cameras, my little heels clicking on the floor, my bangs maintaining their perfect height.  My tassel swinging perfectly.  It was beautiful.  My shining moment.  I walk down the aisle, around the band, up the steps.

 Until, well.  The Moment.  The moment of all things ridiculous, mortifying, humiliating.  I tripped.  Up the top step.  Shouldn’t have been a big deal, a little stumble that was easily recoverable. 

 Except.  I was wearing heels, for the first time ever.    So here’s how it went: I trip up the step, try to recover, step on my robe, slip on my heels, teeter left, over the stage.  Off the stage.  Onto a band member, slamming my forehead against the edge of the stage on my way down, before landing on the back of my head on the lovely, well-polished, hardwood floor. 

 I spent my graduation in the ER, being treated for a concussion.  Getting stitches over my left ear where I slammed into the trumpet of the terrified fifth grade band member as I fell onto the floor. 

 Needless to say, my parents have kept their VCR in good repair solely for the purpose of being able to show that particular video.  To everyone in the world.  If they knew about YouTube, it’d probably be on there too.

Jess Em

What Moms Will Do For Their Kids…

 

(My friend, the super-mom, sent me this true story of how she ‘helped’ her kids learn one of those scout-type lessons. Amazing, the lengths we’ll go to for our kids, eh?  😉 WC )

We had our Daisy troop meeting at Oakwood Park this afternoon so we could work on our “Making the World a Better Place” petal by going around the park picking up litter.  I got there with a handful of plastic grocery sacks so each girl could fill her own bag with litter.  Then we were going to talk about recycling as we took any bottles and cans we found and put them in a separate recycling bag. 

So, while the girls are playing before we get started, I look around and….. the park is spotless!!  No litter anywhere!!  Nothing!!  Our petal earning was in serious jeopardy

The only thing I could think of was to send my older daughter to our van (where there happens to be plenty of litter) to get some litter and go out and sprinkle it around ahead of us as we got started.  She said she got some strange looks from people as she was boldly and deliberately littering.  That is, before they saw our Daisies way behind on the trail squealing as they raced to pick up the scraps.

Thank God one of the boys playing basketball happened to finish his water bottle so we had something to recycle!

Technically, we didn’t really make the world a better place but I think they got the idea 😉  Too bad there isn’t a “Make your leader’s van a better place” petal.  😉

(LOL- that’s what I call ingenuity!  WC)

If You Could Be Any…

literary or movie character, from any time period, who would you be? Being a lover of books and movies I find this question intriguing and appealing, so I’ll answer it.

 

If I could be any literary character I would be Dagney Taggert who is the hero in Atlas Shrugged. I know that some might think that John Galt is the hero but I’d disagree with them. Dagney is the epitome of guts, glory and rugged individualism. She is beautiful, smart, strong, innovative, self-sufficient and lives life on her own terms. But she is also all woman and when she finds the man of her heart she gives herself completely to him. Amazing. Amazing journey too. This 1,000 page plus book is a story of mamoth proportions but I loved being in that world for its entirety. How I wish I had two weeks to do nothing but read – I would go there again in a heartbeat.

 

If I could be any movie character, I would be Margo in All About Eve – played flawlessly by Bette Davis. She is brilliant, spoiled, talented, insecure, sexy as hell in a broken glass kind of way – and whips the hell out of the little schemer in the end. Ah…the pause that refreshes.

So, what about y’all? Who would you want to be and why, if you care to tell us.

WC