Living Vicariously

on May 27, 2013 in Misc

Today I’m turning this space over to the ever fabulous and very successful writer Hart Johnson, whom you can usually find naked and carrying on at her blog, Confessions of a Watery Tart.  Her latest cozy mystery, THE BEGONIA BRIBE (under her pen name Alyse Carlson), is out and I can tell you that it’s fun and witty and oh so entertaining.   You really must pick up a copy and enjoy this great read.  And now, without further ado, I give you Hart.


First I want to thank the divine Helena for having me here! We’ve been friends a couple years now, and she’s been one of the most fantastically supportive people I’ve met. (PLUS, The Compass Master is seriously the best book I read in 2012, so if you haven’t read it yet, get it). *cough*

Anyway… There are a lot of really cool things I would LOVE to do. I mean yes, I have my bucket list of things I really WILL do… but the things I probably will NOT actually do, that I’d LOVE to… at least in theory. I’d love to be some badass spy, speak a dozen languages, kick butt in fights (pacifist leanings aside), solve crime…

I think Helena is the only writer I know who actually committed to LEARNING all that stuff.

The reality is, I am slow, even when I’ve been a regular runner… I have pathetically poor upper body strength and a center of gravity at my butt, pulling me ever down and back, so climbing is out.  Once upon a time I have good balance and coordination, but those years are long past. I was not made for stealthy movement or hand-to-hand combat. I am lacking SKILLZ… spelled that way because the situation is really dire.

Now I DO have a tad more than the average intelligence. Not FBI intelligence or CIA intelligence… Not enough to write Sci-Fi or international espionage thrillers, but not too shabby, either. So there IS something I can do to PRETEND I can do all these things. I can write about them. I can live my bizarro-world fantasies out in words. I can imagine it and make it so.

Now I’m not inclined to write erotica, but one of the perks is definitely involving myself with a dreamy man or two. Cam and Annie, the main character and best friend in The Garden Society Mystery series, both have rather hot boyfriends… the reporter and the cop… useful, and oh-so-nice to look at.  I’ve given it a twist though.  You see, I am NO damsel in distress! (Never mind all the phone calls for my grandpa to rescue me from car mishaps as a teen.)  So I’ve made a point of my characters rescuing those boys more than the other way around.

And I’m not observant… other writers may recognize the inclination to tunnel-vision—tough to notice around us when we are busy with all the stuff inside our head… but my MC is sharp as a hawk—she misses NOTHING!  Oh, and is she organized!  (I am so disorganized I tell myself I don’t even WANT to be organized—how is that for delusion?)

I really love her people skills, though.  She can talk people into anything. (Me, not so much… mostly because I feel too awkward to even ask and hate confrontation, so if it’s uncomfortable? Forget it!)

I have other characters in other books with OTHER skills I’d like to have, too.  That’s the beauty of writing… no reason to limit our fantasy lives to just one awesome character!  And then there are the awe-inspiring ones I couldn’t even come up with on my own…

Just so long as I don’t forget Dumbledore’s advice:  “It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live,” this really makes life a lot more fun.

Anybody else living vicariously through characters they read or write?


Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgment …

A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a Roanoke park. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges row. There’s jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman—and known lothario—Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all.

But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is found dead, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flowerbed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a deadly green thumb.

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson who writes books from her bathtub and can be found at:  Confessions of a Watery Tart, on Facebook (author page, profile), Twitter, or Goodreads.

18 Responses to “Living Vicariously”

  1. I’m glad you said that not being observant is a writerly trait because my hubby teases me endlessly over my lack of observation. He reckons he could drive a truck through the house and I wouldn’t notice ;)
    Congrats on your success.

  2. Great post, Hart!

    I’m like you…I live vicariously through my characters. :) Do you get asked the question “do you write yourself into your books?” I’m asked that a lot, and it always surprises me. No, writing about myself would be boring! And bore my readers, too. Much more fun to write people who are my opposites!

  3. Old Kitty says:

    Oh wow!! I am in heaven and it’s only Monday cos here I am bathing in the glory of the amazing Helena and the most fabulous Tart!!! Awww but Tart!! Your characters may be utterly fabulously fantastic but none can hold a candle to your utter NAKEDness!!! Seriously!!! You are uniquely NAKED beyond all reasoning and that’s brilliant!! Take care

  4. I definitely think you are sharp enough, Hart.
    Byron is far more driven and determined than I will ever be. I’m more of the ambitiously lazy person.

  5. Jan Morrison says:

    Helena – so nice you got the Tartlette over for a visit. And yes, you know I lose myself in my plots and characters. Sometimes, when I visit a place that I’ve written about, I’ll look for the characters or tell my sweet patootie that we should be able to get fish and chips here because Tick(my mc’s brother) opened one up. He just looks at me and I realize I’ve dived into the other side. Ah well.

  6. Hart Johnson says:

    Lynda-HA! yeah, around here, too. Off in la la land most of the time!

    Elizabeth-I have characters with a bit in common with me, but sticking too closely to me WOULD be boring! And even the ones like me, definitely want to put them in situations I’ve never been in.

    Kitty-you’re so sweet! You know, Annie channels the naked tart quite a lot…

    Thank you, Alex! And you are NOT lazy!!! I have no idea how you do everything you do!

    Jan-HA! Too funny! There is clearly a need for that fish-n-chips place!!!

  7. Tina Downey says:

    What a fun post! I hadn’t thought of it this way before…but my WIP is sci-fi and my MC is wicked smart, and TALL, and sexy and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Reverse all those and there’s me. Well, I am somewhat smart, at least CSU said so when they gave me my degree…Leah has the balls to take on the good ole’ boys’ club of corruption in a government agency to avenge her brother’s death. Me? I’d lie whimpering in my bed begging for an IV of versed..
    By the way, I love that picture of you that’s been gracing all these blogs you’ve been visiting. (Um, yes, I’m stalking you…as long as you keep telling me where you are…:-)
    Tina @ Life is Good

  8. Hey, Hart! Fun to find you here. I see we’re alike in a lot of ways. I’m reading The Compass Master now and LOVING it! I live through my characters, too. And at the moment, I’m reclaiming my real life an inch at a time. And loving it!

    Waving to Layla … I mean Helena :)

  9. Helena says:

    Carol – Waving right back at ya, Carol! And thank you so much for reading my book.

  10. Hart Johnson says:

    Tina-HA! And a lovely stalker you are!!! Yeah… definitely have some MCs with some opposite physical traits!

    Carol-we DO have a lot in common! Fun to claim those things we want!

    Good crowd you got here, Helena!

  11. I hope Hart sells a ton of books. She is so smart and her book is so lovely.

  12. Helena says:

    Michael – I hope it does too, and I seriously believe she’s building a serious fan base with this series.

  13. Nas says:

    The book sound interesting! Congrats and all the best to Hart!

  14. Hart Johnson says:

    Awwww, thank you, Michael! You made me happy!

    And thank you Helena and Nas!

  15. Gina says:

    Writing about myself would be boring. I usually write about other people.

  16. Helena says:

    Gina – And Hart has created some exciting “other” people.

  17. I probably don’t have enough intelligence to write SF either — but I do anyway. Congratulations on the rlease of your book!

  18. Helena says:

    Milo – Yes you are smart! I started your science fiction story but things got so crazy I had to set it aside. But I’ll get back to it in the next couple days. Hell, the first few paragraphs really impressed me.