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Life of the not-so-rich, pretty poor

wheel

Dreamstime

My household is full of excitement this week as both my husband and I are perched on the edge of fame. Okay, okay, maybe not fame. But we’re both floating above our usual clouds of obscurity just a tad.

My husband is set to go this morning to a second round of tryouts for the Great Mobile Wheel of Fortune. I know that “Great” is not really part of the name of the big bus that travels around the country overseeing hordes of excited fans trying to get on the most-popular-game-show-ever, but it should be. This show has been on the air for 35 years, the longest-running syndicated television competition ever, and there’s a good reason. Even my 88-year-old Daddy, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, still shouts out answers occasionally—and he’s usually right. He can’t remember what he did five minutes ago, but he loves this game. It’s an American icon, the nighttime ritual of millions—one half hour of excitement that ties a hugely broad diversity of people together, even if that tying occurs in front of the boob tube.  And it isn’t exactly easy to get on. This is my dear hubby’s third time of trying to get past that initial two-day mass tryout. He’s proud and excited to be called back for a second round, and if you want to be part of this household’s brush with fame, you’ll get on his facebook page and wish him luck. (that’s Raymond Parente, Dumfries, VA, folks!)

Then there’s me, and my amazing 86-year-old mom of course. We are appearing three times the last week in February on Conversations with Rich, a local (Channel 10, Fairfax [VA] Public Access Station). Rich is well known in the Washington, D.C. area for hosting different types of talks shows, including two of his most popular, which feature restaurants and cooking. Mom and I won’t be talking about cooking (I’m hearing great sighs of relief out there!); we’re talking about our successful two books—Twist of Fate and Wretched Fate. But we have already spent two luncheons discussing at length what colors we might wear that would de-emphasize the reason we’re on in the first place: we’re old (Amazing, yes, but old).

Which brings me to point three of this blog: true “fame,” or at least glory. Mom and I had a second visit at the Emeritus assisted living community in Manassas this week. The residents there read our first book, Twist of Fate, during the month of January, and agreed to give us their comments, then purchase Wretched Fate if they liked the first book. By the end of 45 minutes of discussion, mom and I had to try to stuff our inflated heads back into hats. Lynn Hess, the dynamic life enrichment director of this facility, said she feared she’d be mobbed if she made residents stick with the original plan: to read (then discuss) only a certain number of pages per week during the month. There is no greater compliment to a writer than “I couldn’t put it down.” Lynn truly has a great bunch of intelligent readers in that community and their comments were invaluable, full of insight, and right on the mark. Needless to say, we’ll be returning to hear about Wretched at the end of February. To mom and I, who know we’re probably too advanced in years to build up an audience that can provide the riches, their enthusiasm was our reward for the hard work that goes into our books.

We’ll have to rely on my handsome, charming and talented husband, to win the big money prize!

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fishing for readers

The most common question both mom and I get when we speak to book clubs and meetings is: where do you get your inspiration and ideas? How did you come up with a girl in a wheelchair and a boy who is homeless who get thrown together in a snowstorm? How were you able to lead readers away from the true villain so they were surprised at “who dunnit?” We’ve discussed this issue many times, and we’ll be talking about it for many more years. This is because the source of creativity for each of us, at least for these Sam Osborne books, is different.

Mom is a story-former. She lays in bed at night and the characters come to her, then when she sits down at the computer, they spill at random, sometimes shocking her with their actions. The story has its own steam. I would call myself, in terms of this series, the word polisher. I take what she’s written and my own knowledge from years of being an editor, as well as my knowledge of how my own mom thinks, and I do what I do best: flourish. I fill in the descriptions, round out the characters, paint the scenery.

I think the reason this book series works so well is that we have combined those two aspects of being a writer. Both are vital and the best books are written by authors thagoldfish_and_hookt can do both. You have to have tasty-looking bait or readers will just ignore your lure. But you also need a good, solid story line to keep them hooked and reel them in.

Think about some of your favorite authors. Mary Higgins Clark, for example, is a master story teller. She can create twists and turns that fascinate. But would you read her work if she didn’t also have the skill it takes to give you a smooth ride? You barely know you’re boating when you read a Mary Higgins Clark novel. You just cut through the waves on your way to the destination she’s created. A good example from my own personal favorites is P.C. Cast and her daughter Kristin. My teenage daughter got me to read the first in the House of Night series and once I was on my way, I didn’t stop reading until I realized I was spending way too much time reading a teenagers’ series (that was about book seven and I’m just taking a break!). The series is about vampires, which is a sore subject (forgive the pun) for someone of my generation who feels the teenage world has been bombarded with fangs, fur and blood. I was fascinated with why I couldn’t put down the Cast authors’ books, and I now believe it’s because the mother’s many years as a writer and the daughter’s input into what youth truly reads were the two main ingredients. The series has a good story line and the words are put together smoothly.

I think if mom had started writing earlier in life, she would have become the wordsmith I am. And I hope that through her example, I’ll be able to sit down some day and let my own story lines emerge more fully. I’ve started that process with a book of my own about a girl who learns to travel outside her physical body. For now, though, I’m happy with the progress of Sam Osborne and the characters in the Twist of Fate series. And pretty soon, we’ll be casting out the next line: Wretched Fate.
Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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