My name’s Lilly Hawkins. I’m a shooter—slang for a TV news photographer—at KJAY in Bakersfield, Calif. When I started in this job a lot of people thought I wasn’t up to it. I’m short—petite, if you want to make it sound nice—with big green eyes and long curly hair. That’s not a description of a typical shooter. It’s a physically demanding job traditionally done by men. In recent years, equipment has gotten lighter, but even before that, I more than held my own with the boys. The best way to silence naysayers is to roll up your sleeves and outdo them.

Most people think working in TV is glamorous, and maybe it is in big television markets, but I work at a small station in a small town. Bakersfield is surrounded on all sides by farmland and oil fields, and although we’ve got plenty of colorful characters and fine country music, we’re a little bit short on glamour.

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably heard about a few of my so-called adventures, but they’re all exaggerations. Yes, I’ve been kidnapped, almost drowned, shot at, wanted for murder—I was totally cleared, by the way—and almost burnt alive, but these were all isolated incidents. And even if they weren’t, even if I was some kind of determined newshound who chased after stories and brought killers to justice, it still wouldn’t be glamorous. Most of the incidents I just listed involved sleep deprivation, hunger pains, and questionable odors.

The video I shoot on a normal day is a mix of crime, traffic accidents, local politics, and sweet human interest stuff. A dream story would be a spelling-bee champ who got robbed after being in a car accident with the mayor. I frequently work without a reporter when we’re short staffed—which is always—and then bring my material back to the station for better dressed reporters and anchors to front on TV. That’s how I like it. You’ll never get me in front of a camera. I know everything there is to know about composing a shot, but eye shadow is a mystery to me.
You can read more about Lilly in Hot, Shot, and Bothered, the second book in the “Lilly Hawkins” mystery series.

The life and times of Lilly Hawkins is written by Nora McFarland who has worked for CNN and is a former community relations manager for Barnes & Noble. She has an MFA from the University of Southern California’s school of cinema and television. Nora lives in Macon, Georgia.

Visit Nora’s website at

Nora has generously offered to giveaway two copies of her first book in the “Lilly Hawkins” series, A Bad Day’s Work. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address so that we may contact you.  One entry per person and the giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.  Contest ends August 14, 2011 at midnight EST.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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