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#ChildhoodUnplugged

When I was a child, somewhere around 7 or 8 (early 1970s), our family’s television set broke. It was an old, black and white relic, and my folks—you’d have to know my folks; they don’t worry about stuff like that—just didn’t bother to get another one. This period of “TV famine” (back then, no TV was like no internet is today) gave me a unique perspective compared to many of my peers. For a short time, way before it became a hashtag, I had an “unplugged childhood.” And it changed my life from that point forward.

If you had asked me during that TV drought, I would have groused to you about not being able to see the annual Wizard of Oz special and Saturday morning cartoons, but looking back, I’m glad I had that period of time to myself without televised media for two reasons:

  1. I was already a reader by that point, and I read a lot of books, even when we had TV. But once TV could never be a distraction for me, I read even more. This period of time just so happened to coincide with a time when I was starting to read longer chapter books, and it set me on a path of voracious book consumption that lasted until I discovered boys and other adolescent distractions. From what I know now about such things, that excess of exposure to print cemented my vocabulary, and my knowledge of grammar, syntax, morphology, and story structure in a way that no excellent teacher (and I had several) could do on his/her own. It was learning by immersion, and it took a hold of my impressionable mind and never let it go.
  2. When I wasn’t reading, I had to entertain myself in other ways, and the way I often did that was by acting out stories—ones I had read, and some I made up. In that space created by boredom, I developed my imagination and learned to live inside my own head. I truly believe that time period was one of the things that set me on the path to be a writer. It’s no coincidence that I wrote my first book, the unpublished (thank goodness!) masterpiece, Big Blue the Elephant (written and illustrated, mind you) in 1974, right after that time period without TV. For those months? a year? I was probably bored out of my gourd, and that was most likely a good thing ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201801/can-i-let-my-child-be-bored )

I don’t remember how long this TV break up lasted. I do know by the summer after I turned 8, a new color set found its way into our house. I know we got TV back around this time because my mother spent the entire summer watching the Watergate hearings ALL. DAY. LONG. My dad set up the rabbit ears, we got 4 stations (the 3 major networks and PBS), and the picture was often terrible.

So, I went back to watching a little TV in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley gave us our news again. Bicentennial minutes started playing on TV. I dropped what I was doing to watch SchoolHouse Rock. I kept on reading but not quite as much. I got to see the Wizard of Oz special.

TV didn’t destroy my childhood, and an absence of TV didn’t save it. But it made me different, and I’m grateful for that unplugged oasis in a sand-filled sea of constant noise and change.

My kids (now in their 20s) never had an unplugged childhood, even temporarily (their dad would have Freaked Out.) I tried to guide and limit their screen time, but that was a lot harder than when I was a kid, and all a parent had to do was not replace a broken set. My kids are kind, wonderful, functional adults.

But somehow, I think they missed out.

 

 

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Son of a Preacher Man by Karen M Cox

On the virtual road with a stop at Anna’s blog…

Diary of an Eccentric

I’m delighted to welcome Karen M Cox back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of Son of a Preacher Man, an original novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The novel is set in 1959, so Karen is here to talk about money during that year. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thanks so much for the invitation to be a guest on Diary of an Eccentric! I’m Karen M Cox, and I write fiction accented with history and romance. My new release is titled, Son of a Preacher Man, and it’s my fifth full-length novel. It holds a special place in my heart because of the themes explored: the roles of men and women, what it means to be “good”, and most of all, it’s about forgiveness and the power of love. I like to say it’s “a realistic love story…

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ComingOfAge Sone Of A Preacher Man by @KarenMCox1932

Lovely review from Olga on Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team…

Rosie Amber

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Son Of A Preacher Man by Karen M Cox

It is the story, narrated in the first person, of Billy Ray Davenport, a young man with a tragedy in his past (he lost his mother to a terrible accident), whose father is a travelling preacher. He used to spend his summers travelling with him (he went to school and stayed at his aunt’s the rest of the year), but when we meet him, just before he goes to medical school, he is due to spend a few weeks with a doctor, friend of the family. He hopes to gain medical knowledge and get a taste of what his future will be like. This summer will prove momentous for Billy Ray, who will learn much more about the world, small-town society, girls, and himself than he…

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Son of a Preacher Man: An Outtake

Hi all! Have a listen to an outtake that came from my new book, Son of a Preacher Man, due out this weekend. It’s a little scene that didn’t make it into the final published version, but I still wanted to share it with readers. Enjoy…

I hope you enjoyed the outtake! Son of Preacher Man releases July 1st.

“I forget that you’re a fella sometimes.”

“Gee, thanks.”

I never forgot that she was a girl. Not for one second…

1959. The long, hot Southern summer bakes the sleepy town of Orchard Hill. Billy Ray Davenport, an aspiring physician and only son of an indomitable traveling minister, is a young man with a plan that starts with working in a small-town doctor’s office before he begins medical school in the fall.Handsome, principled, and keenly observant, he arrives in town to lodge with the Millers, the local doctor’s family. He never bargained for Lizzie Quinlan—a complex, kindred spirit who is beautiful and compassionate, yet scorned by the townsfolk. Could a girl with a reputation be different than she seems? With her quirky wisdom and a spine of steel hidden beneath an effortless sensuality, Lizzie is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.

A realistic look at first love, told by an idealistic young man, Son of a Preacher Man is a heartwarming coming of age tale set in a simpler time.

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General Tilney, the Ogre of Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey’s villain…

Sarah Emsley

“In an age when we are examining sexual predation and male power as never before, it may be revealing to cast a cold eye upon Jane Austen’s ogreish character, General Tilney,” writes Diana Birchall in today’s guest post for “Youth and Experience: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.” Diana recently retired from her career as a story analyst, reading novels for Warner Bros Studios. She is the author of several Jane Austen-related novels, including Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America, and of plays which have been performed at JASNA events as well as at Chawton House Library. She has also written a literary biography of the first Asian American novelist, Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), who was her grandmother. Originally from New York City, she lives in Santa Monica with her poet husband Peter, librarian son Paul, and their three cats Pindar, Martial, and Catullus.

Diana Birchall

A couple of years…

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