Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yeah, it's probably mean and bad for my karma, but what the hell...

Writers, those curious about writers, editors, sadists, whomever...check this out:

Damn, damn funny. Thanks, Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary for posting this on her blog today. Omigod, my stomach hurts from laughing. All evil laughs, of course. And I feel mildly better about my query letters because of it.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010 summer?

Second to the last week of school, one of the kindergartners shows up hacking his brains out. As often happens with the younger crowds, the communicability was, shall we say, considerable. Everyone got sick. Lucifer brought it home, shared it with Bueno, who shared it with Princess. By proxy, Dad got it, and because we breathe the same air for eight hours every night, I got it. Which is weird, 'cuz I rarely get it. I think this time I was the biggest baby, though, believe it or not, flat on my back for two whole days last week feeling super sorry for myself. But that was soooooome headache, dude, seriously.

Back in the saddle here, though, and catching up on all the crap I didn't pay attention to while I was whining away the hours. Watched The Eclipse (Ciaran Hinds, Aidan Quinn) as promised, and while it was good, it didn't make it for review this week. Wrote and submitted A Single Man for the ChicMom column (should be up sometime in the next few days), with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. I'll keep you in suspense and send you to the review itself before telling you if I loved it or not.

I've been watching so many friggin' movies lately--I do that when I'm stumped on a writing project, hoping it will provide inspiration. Managed to get hold of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo--terrific film, if you can handle the subtitles. I <3 Lisbeth Salander! Caught up with an oldie from 2002--Sam Rockwell in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind--if you haven't seen this, it's definitely worth picking up. Sam Rockwell is THE most underutilized actor in Hollywood, and certainly in the top three BEST actors out there. Dude is a chameleon. Coincidentally, we watched Moon last week, too, another Rockwell flick (we're on a Rockwell kick around here), and while the premise was a little weak, his acting is grade A.

I'm embarrassed to admit we watched Hot Tub Time Machine and laughed our asses off, but don't watch it with the kiddos around. LOTS of swearing and sex. I found myself blushing with my 16-year-old on the couch next to me. "Cover your ears, Princess!" If you were at all a John Cusack fan wayyyyy back in the '80s, you will get a chuckle out of HTTM. Ridiculous but good for a laugh.

Took the kiddos to see Despicable Me on Sunday. Great film. Tight writing, awesome comedy, even some terrific subliminal stuff tucked in for adult enjoyment. (Gru, the super-villain, played by Steve Carell, is walking into the Bank of Evil for a loan. The sign reads: BANK OF EVIL / Formerly Lehman Brothers. I laughed out LOUD and embarrassed my whole family. Seems I was the only one who caught it, which is understandable considering the average age in the theatre was probably, like, nine, but Lehman Bros., as you will recall, was the banking and investment firm that initiated the most recent global economic meltdown. Bank of Evil is right!) Fun film, adorable little kids to yank at those heart strings. We loved it.

For this week, there are so many titles to choose from (it IS DVD Tuesday today!) -- Chloe (Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried), The Greatest (Pierce Brosnan, Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon), Greenberg (Ben Stiller), 8: The Mormon Proposition (award-winning documentary I will NOT be missing!), and Our Family Wedding (America Ferrera, Forest Whitaker -- looks cute). I'm definitely going to need a bigger column. I should talk to my editor about that...

Again am entrenched in the waiting game, waiting to hear back from queries sent to agents. Had some bad news last week--these two messages literally arrived within 30 seconds of one another, no shit--a hard-core rejection from an agent I thought may have liked me, and news from my oldest child that he will be deploying to Afghanistan in Feb 2011. THAT was a rotten day. But move forward, I must, and the feedback I've had from a few early readers has been really positive. Really the only thing that has kept me going on this project at all. I love it so much, but what if no one else does? What if it ends up in the round file like so many other projects have? I've long passed that million-word benchmark the veterans tell us we have to write. I'm not a newbie. I just haven't ever tried to publish anything because I've been too...scared. Now I want into the game, but the game is being fickle. As hell.

That's the thing that people don't get--if you're a writer, it's expected that you just...write. That you have an endless supply of words. Perhaps for some writers, that's true, but for me, a raging perfectionist with OCD tendencies, every word has to be perfect. I obsess over every combination of letters I choose--too many adverbs (I HATE adverbs!)? Is that adjective necessary? Should that be past perfect or just past tense? What would Hemingway do here? Obviously the obsessive tendencies do not extend to the blog (lucky you!)--this is a different beast altogether. But when I look at recently published titles that have hit the Big Time with Great Fanfare and Giant Movie Deals, some of the writing is...subpar. I don't want to be that writer.

And don't feed me your line of BS that you write because it makes your heart sing. If you don't want to make money doing this, you're a fool. Or maybe your bank vault is already bursting its seams. Mine? Not so much. I write because it's like a cancer. I can't excise it from my body. It's just there, always has been. No matter how much I've ignored it in the past, it rears its ugly head and somehow makes me feel better. Like built-in heroin (though, I must admit, I've never tried heroin. Maybe like built-in Prozac?).

The heroes exist among us, in all genres of writing. And there are so many I love, I cannot even begin to bow low enough to present myself with adequate humility. Maybe if I crawled under the top layer of soil and groveled at their feet... For YA, JK Rowling is phenomenal, as is Meg Rosoff, old-school Judy Blume, my fave up-and-comer Hannah Moskowitz, Suzanne Collins. In fact, Collins' third book in the Hunger Games series (book 3 is called Mockingjay) comes out in August--I cannot WAIT. The Hunger Games is a raw piece of work, brilliantly crafted, genius idea. Lions Gate has optioned the film rights and a screenplay is in the works with novelist Collins at the helm. Fabulous! Yeah, get your hands on it if you haven't. It's pretty hard core stuff for a YA title.

But I digress. (Imagine that.) Bottom line is, if I don't have words, I ain't got nothin'. I want the words to lead to publication, to readership, to strong out-of-the-gate numbers, to consistency, to more work, to more books, to more built-in Prozac. I don't want to be a one-hit wonder, a one-trick pony. What's wrong with wanting it all?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eclipse x 2, The Passage, Remember Me - I love good stories!

(The sun is out. It's actually shining. On the ground and through the trees. There is a soft breeze, and I'm NOT wearing wool socks or a turtleneck sweater. It is June 29. I don't want to speak too loudly or else the weather might unexpectedly change, but thanks, Weather Gods. We do appreciate the reprieve from the oppressive cloud cover. Just in time. I think that last call may have overfilled my shrink's voicemail.)

SO--today is it. The countdown. The one my daughter, Princess, has been ticking off on her calendar for months. No, it's not due to final report card day, or yearbook day. She is going to the movie theatre at 12:30 pm to wait in line for six-point-five hours to get into an auditorium with 400 other screaming teenagers (and a few moms) to watch seven-point-five hours of vampire/werewolf carnage and mayhem (well, sort of mayhem--dude, the vampires sparkle???). Yeah, I'm going. But I'm in a diversionary state right now, so I'd pretty much clean moss off the side of the house with tweezers and my toothbrush to get out of doing what I know I should be doing. And I don't want my sweet little thing to be in a movie theatre for that long without her mommy. She may be 16 but she's a good 16, not the snotty, booze-guzzling, authority-questioning little shit some of her Facebook "friends" are. Holy. Cow. You wanna feel old? Look at your teenager's Facebook account. Half the time I don't even know what the hell they're saying. (I think it's English. Scary, frightening English, but English nonetheless. I think.) Some real geniuses on there, I tell ya.

Anyway, watch for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse review this week on I'll probably do a DVD review on another delicious-looking film, ironically called The Eclipse, about a widower whose dead wife may be stalking him from beyond. It looks incredibly sinister, brilliantly acted by a cast of Irish actors (and Irish-American Aidan Quinn). Check out the trailer at It comes out today on DVD, so watch for the review, either here or on ChicMom, over the next week or so. OH, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is out on DVD today. I think Bueno's head is going to explode. My little Greek mythology nerd...! Princess gets seven hours of Twilight, Bueno gets Percy Jackson. Yeah, movie freaks. The cool thing is, these movies started out as books. And my kids have read them. Which means they're using their brains. I like.

The good word this week:

MOVIE: Remember Me, Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan, Emilie de Ravin = pretty good. Kick-in-the-ass, grab-you-by-the-throat ending. Wow. I sort of saw it coming but thought...nahhhhh. Yeah, I was right. But it was good. RPattz is so good at the brooding thing, and FINALLY, we get to see him gettin' it on with a hottie with some spunk. Sorry, Bella and Edward, but come on, already! Some of us want to see the Deed! Tyler and Allie...yes, they deed it. It's pretty good. Oh, and the acting--yes, the acting. Good. Thumbs up. Again, more brooding, but the real story is between Tyler and his little sister (Caroline, played by Ruby Jerins--she looks like an Osment kid--I had to check IMDB to make sure she wasn't Haley Joel and Emily's little sister). Heartbreaking. Like Lauren said, it'll make you wanna hug your kids a little extra today.

BOOK: The Passage, Justin Cronin. Suspense, suspense, suspense! This guy obviously scores in the higher echelons of IQ-dom. Dude's a genius. I tried to put aside my green-with-envy attitude (I wish I could write like he does) as I chewed through this weighty novel in just under five days. Cronin integrated post-apocalypse and vampires, and though it had an I Am Legend feel to it, he does a noteworthy job bringing the characters to life throughout the story. No details are spared, and the histories he has woven for his people are vast and rich. This is not light reading, however; though Cronin's prose is tight and descriptive, it's heady. Like I said, he's a smart guy. If you like supermarket bodice-rippers, I'm thinking The Passage ain't for you. And if you tend to obsess about the end of the world (like I do), maybe you should hold off, especially if you've watched The Road and Book of Eli back to back like I have. I seem to be on an apocalyptic bender right now... I can tell you, I don't have nearly enough canned beans in the cupboard, no propane, and I have no idea where my pocketknife is. All good things to have when the end befalls us. Oh, and Band-Aids. And some Neosporin. LOTS of Neosporin. Maybe a flame thrower, too.

Overall, good read. Worth the cover price of the book (even if I did buy it at Costco).

I have to go put makeup on and be wonderful. If this post is disjointed, it's because school is out, and I've been interrupted about 14 times. Please forgive me for sounding lost. Then again, I always sound lost, don't I?

Yak soon...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book review - terrific book by young Hannah Moskowitz

The review for teen phenom Hannah Moskowitz's first book, Break, is up! Check it out at Terrific book from an incredible talent. The girl will become a household name.

Enjoy! (And go buy the book!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Memo for Planet Jenn inhabitants: my personal shopping days

On Planet Jenn, when I decide it is my shopping/errand day, the only other souls who will be allowed on the road are the people who need to be at their respective places of employment to serve ME. Yeah, this is narcissistic, selfish, egocentric, blah blah blah. Whatever. It's my planet.

Dude, seriously? Yesterday--I make the trek out into the Big Bad Current World and there are people. Everywhere. I'm not an agoraphobe (at least I don't think I am), but c'mon, either I'm getting old or the world is getting more stupid. (BTW, the comparative/superlative of "stupid" is correct as either more/most stupid and stupider/stupidest. Personally, I choose more/most stupid. Today. That could change tomorrow.) We, as in me, the Princess, Bueno, and Baby Luci, were on a mission. We have a birthday party to prepare for, and as such, we have stuff like cake, party favors, balloons...all that shit. And I am a kick-ass goody-bag maker, so this is not something to be brushed off by a quick trip to the dollar store.

We ordered the cake--a Wall-E themed cupcake cake (brilliant design, by the way--everyone gets a piece but there are no knives, forks, or plates--just cupcakes!) for Baby Luci's FIRST official birthday party. Poor thing--we call him the Satellite Baby because everyone forgets about him. Every year we promise him a birthday party once we get to California, but it never happens. And no one ever buys him birthday presents, except us. It's pathetic. So, for this year, turning 6 (which actually doesn't happen until July), we're having a bowling blow-out with five of his closest buddies from school. Yay, Luci!

Anyway, I digress. The cake deal was fine. In, order, out, whatever. Despite the drizzling, stupid weather, we fared okay. But then it was on to the mall where we did make a stop at the dollar store to buy gift bags and balloons. And the place is crammed with shit. CRAMMED. Shit and people. People with stupid-big strollers, some with asses the size of all three of my kids standing shoulder to shoulder, teenagers who don't care that you're standing there (SO glad my teenager isn't an insolent ass!), people of cultures who don't understand the concept of DANCE SPACE (please don't stand where I can smell what you had for lunch oozing out of your pores), indecisive housewives who don't know if they want blue or yellow napkins for their Father's Day brunch...seriously??? There are OTHER PEOPLE here!

As the four of us huddled together trying to be as considerate as possible for our fellow customers, it seemed that no one else had gotten the memo about etiquette for shopping in crowded dollar stores. It didn't get any better at Zeller's (Canada's answer to Target...their lame answer...) or Michael's--I was standing in front of a mesh rack looking at some small thing and this woman, again with a huge butt, walks right in front of me, stands there, oblivious. I wanted to hit her in the head with one of the plastic champagne flutes on the wedding display behind me.

Yeah, so I have a mean streak. But I wouldn't if people paid each other the same consideration that I grant to total strangers when I walk out the door. (Exception: I am a holy terror when I'm driving. In this neighborhood, you have to be. These people are freakin' IDIOTS who know little beyond the gas pedal is on the right, brake is in the middle. And don't get me started on the turnaround at the elementary school. Yesterday, it was a Dodge. Today, it was a Hummer. Your kids have legs--they can walk--which means you pull all the way to the end, not stop at the very earliest spot on the turnaround and block the driveway for the rest of us so your precious princess can climb out and not soil her Keds in the puddles. And you, in the Dodge, please--for the love of Christ almighty--can you PLEASE pull down the street to text your ugly friends about coffee? Please? I'm asking nicely. No, really, this is nice for me.)

I told you not to get me started on the look what you've done. I've lost my train of thought. (Lucky for you.)

Bottom line: When you leave your house, whether it's to go to your shrink, get your Botox, have your tummy tucked, buy your children food, pick up crickets for the chameleon, meet your lover for an illicit affair in the parking lot of Tim Horton's (I've SEEN this!), buy yourself a case of beer, WHATEVER--please, be courteous of the people around you. Don't flip anyone off in traffic, don't fart and then walk away in the cereal aisle at Safeway, don't take up the entire aisle directly in front of me, especially if your ass is the size of Rhode Island. Let's remember that little thing our first grade teachers taught us (thank you, Mrs. Ripper!): "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." I hear that little rule has interesting applications in the bedroom, too, but I'm so not going there.

Friday, June 11, 2010

About the missing-in-action sunshine...

(Repost from Facebook. Apologies for duplicating, but I don't have good funny very often.)

We were supposed to have sun this morning. After, like, 22 consecutive days of rain with one break:

This morning, I was standing in my yard with my bathing suit on, my beach umbrella, a drink with yet another tinier umbrella in it, some sunblock, some '80s tunes on my boom box, just waiting for the cabana boy to show up and shower me with attention. But because the sun hasn't appeared yet, I'm soaked to the bone and risking hypothermia, my umbrella fell over under the weight of the mist in the air, my drink is watered down, the sunblock washed off, my boom box shorted out, and I think the cabana boy must've overslept due to the dark skies and missed his bus 'cuz the only thing I've been showered in so far this morning is shame. All of the soccer moms driving by in their minivans are staring and pointing and laughing at me. Damn you, rain!!!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

About movie reviews...

It's been raining here. A lot. The area's reservoirs are at 100 percent capacity, a rarity even in the sopping Pacific Northwest.

But all this rain has been good for one thing--I have seen LOTS of movies lately and in turn can spread the word about what's hit and what's miss. Yay for you!

Be sure to check out movie reviews weekly at Chic Mom Magazine (.com!). This week's new releases (DVD) include Shutter Island and The Wolfman, as well as theatrical release Get Him to the Greek

And if you haven't seen Invictus, about the South African rugby team fighting against insurmountable odds in the tinderbox of a post-apartheid country, you MUST. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are effing AMAZING.

For the kiddos: 

Shrek the Final Chapter is worth the price of admission--another of those "don't know what you got until it's gone" stories, but a fun romp nonetheless. Who doesn't love that big green ogre?

How to Train Your Dragon -- adorable! Loved it! I might be partial because I'm a closet dragon nerd, but whatever. It was clever, quick, and funny. And my 5-year-old sat through the whole thing without begging to go home. That's an impressive endorsement. 

Alice in Wonderland -- Not sure if this is really a kids' film, but my kids loved it. Then again, my kids are pretty sophisticated movie watchers. Favorite movies for them before age five included Lord of the Rings and Nightmare Before Christmas. So...Johnny Depp is terrific, as usual, and the visuals are stunning. This is one film I wished I would've seen in the theatre, simply to see all those colors on that ginormous screen.

Here are a few QUICKIE REVIEWS that didn't make it into last week's posted review online (these titles are DVD new releases from the last few weeks):

Uncertainty—Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lynn Collins: Strange little film. The story of a young couple faced with a major decision: she’s pregnant, they’re young and broke, just starting their lives in the Big Apple. The approach taken by the filmmaker was unique. You are presented with two scenarios—Yellow and Green—and the story details what would happen to Kate (Collins) and Bobby (Levitt) depending on which path they chose. The paths are divergent: green is safe, a day spent with Kate’s family at a 4th of July barbeque. Yellow, however, is a whole different ball game after the couple finds themselves in possession of a cellphone that some very angry, very well-armed men want back. (This path is really the one that gives the film its legs—green is flat and sort of boring. Something is missing.) If you’re a film purist, you will enjoy this movie for what it is—a film lover’s film. There was no scripted dialogue; the actors were given a scene and they worked it out between themselves. From that perspective, it is an impressive piece of work as Levitt is a sublimely talented actor, and Collins is great as his opposite. But if you’re less prone to watching avant-garde practice on screen, you might find the premise a little too much, a little too off-putting. It’s not your typical date-night fare, for sure, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s worth a shot.

Dear John—Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum: The truth? Boring, cliché. Even though this story is from the same guy who wrote The Notebook, at least that film had some oomph to it. Noah and Allie had killer chemistry, and their characters were larger than life (as was the real off-screen romance between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling). But Dear John’s romantic couple, John and Savannah, lack the same powerful connection, the same urgency in their relationship. Yeah, it’s a war story—they meet, fall madly in love after just two weeks, but he’s got to do his tour of duty as an Army guy.  The two of them agree to stay together over John’s year of playing GI Joe and Savannah’s year at university. But when his tour is just about up, 9/11 hits, and all bets are off. John’s unit re-ups their commitment, which means he has to do the same (it’s an honor thing among soldiers), and Savannah is left on the homefront to sit with her candle in the window and hope he survives. They write back and forth constantly, but when the stream of letters from home begins to wane, John suspects the inevitable. Savannah has moved on. The only saving grace with this film is the unexpected twist toward the end. And of course, happy endings are never in short supply with a Nicholas Sparks’ lovefest. Enjoy, but don’t expect the searing intensity of The Notebook.

Daybreakers—Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan: More vampire fare? Noooo! But wait—it’s okay—this isn’t a romantic tour of adolescence, no one sparkles, and human blood is always on the menu. Fast forward to 2019: the world has flipped on its head. A plague has turned everyone vampire, and if you’re not a vampire, then you’re among the dwindling 5 percent of remaining humans who is likely hanging from a scary tower of medical tubes while they drain the last drops of precious hemoglobin from your still-living body. Ethan Hawke plays human-sympathizing hematologist Dr. Edward Dalton who’s been charged with finding a blood substitute to deal with an impending global blood-shortage crisis: the humans are running out, and running dry. And if a vampire does not get a minimum daily intake of human blood, creepy things start happening to their bodies, and eventually they morph into sadistic, unrecognizable monsters. But when Dr. Dalton comes across a small group of human survivalists, including Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and Audrey (Claudia Karvan), they embark on a mission to reverse the vampirism and save the world from imploding on itself. This is a taut, suspenseful film, the evil pharmaceutical head played by the always-charming Sam Neill, that will give the horror lovers plenty to nosh on. Early buzz about this film touted it as an allegory for modern society’s voracious appetite for natural resources, and it may have served that purpose if it weren’t for the ending. Note to directors Michael and Peter Spierig: less is more. There was one point where I thought perhaps they had production assistants standing off camera just throwing buckets of fake blood onto the melee happening in the shot. Pretty silly. Overall, this is an okay film with a cool premise and a strong cast. It was worth the cost of the rental.

And as a final note…I tried, really tried, to watch Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, especially since I, like many others, love(d) Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Firth, but I couldn’t get through it. Too weird. And for kids’ fare, Tooth Fairy (Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, and Ashley Judd) should’ve been a TV movie instead of a theatrical release. Gave me a toothache.

There are a number of really amazing films coming out in the next few months, but if you want the drop on what's on the cinematic horizon, Apple's Web site has trailers galore and is one of my favorites. Check it out at, and of course, check back at for my latest reviews!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

Nelson Mandela spent TWENTY-SEVEN years as a political prisoner held by the apartheid-era government of South Africa, most of that time on Robben Island, 7 km off the coast of Cape Town, SA. Mandela found the strength every single incarcerated day to keep the flame alive, and upon his release forgave the people who persecuted and punished him, going on to become "the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election."

And according to the story told in the poem's namesake movie (Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, as well as Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood), Henley's poem played a significant role in keeping Mandela alive.

If he can do it in a 6x6 cell, for twenty-seven effing years, I can too. No matter what they say.

If you haven't seen this film, do it. Soon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Demotivation for a Saturday morning

To get things started off with a chuckle, check out Shit's funny. And considering I always try to write positive crap on my Facebook status (inspirational quotes, etc.), I figured a little swing in the opposite direction was necessary. Keepin' it real. I'm not an idealist; I'm a realist. Or something like that.

I wanted to apologize to all the drivers in the local area/into Burnaby last Thursday for giving you a fright when you drove past the gold Dodge van with a crazy woman wearing a Santa hat. Princess is in an acting class, and as part of it, they're doing a film. A 34-minute undertaking, no small feat, written by the guy who runs the Young Actors Project ( Cool program. Princess has had a ton of fun and she's enjoying the role as the film's lead, Caroline. All in all, it's been a terrific experience. I recommend. (If you click on the link, that's Princess, front and center, in the movie poster for Thirteen. Yeah, she's cute. Doesn't look a thing like her mom.)

In my desire to recapture the glory of my youthful, medication-free twenties, I volunteered to help out with the class film (Thirteen) because, as you likely don't realize, I am a trained ack-tor. Yes, I spent a lot of money and time in the '90s trying to be the next Meg Ryan. Goes without saying that my big dreams didn't quite work out. (That's where the realist thing comes in.) So, the director, believing that I'm not a liar and that maybe I have had some training that would make me more credible than, perhaps, a depressed, bored housewife trying to seize some of that lost glory, said, Okay, sure, yeah, you can play the role of Mom. 

We shot my amazing scenes a few months ago when the weather was sucky--after all, the scene is supposed to happen at Christmastime--but due to a problem with a wide-angle lens adapter (or something), the scenes didn't work. We had to reshoot. In May. Not Christmasy at all. We chased patches of shade like addicts looking for heroin on Thursday,  in the director's minivan, me at the wheel with my ridiculously embarrassing Christmas sweater (thanks, Mom!) and a red and white furry Santa hat, and we drove around, trying to shoot this scene with my ONE line.

You do realize that when people are driving in the movies, they're not really driving. They're on a flatbed truck so they can concentrate on their line(s) and not on the road, not worrying about wrecking someone else's family car. (Just for the record, I navigated home, van intact, the gas tank a little lighter but sans scratches, dents, or damaged drive trains.)

So, I'm thinking this will likely be one of those decisions I live to regret, me and my big mouth, in my big screen debut where the HD camera will show all the lines and flaws in my skin. In my twenties, those lines and flaws were fewer, and the camera technology was more forgiving. But none of that changes the fact that I can't act for shit...and that is why the Meg Ryan thing never worked out.

Reality sucks.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Shout out to all of you who gave up the pristine, unstretched condition of your most intimate parts to grant passage to the next generation. Thanks, Ma. 

Tomorrow is also Day 30. She said to wait thirty days before contacting her again (via email), but when I sent the rewrite, did that start the clock over? Man, I need a vacation from the tempest raging in my brain.

If you're looking for a fun rom-com, check out my review for Leap Day at Yeah, it was mushy. Yeah, it was predictable. But that doesn't mean it wasn't fun. And Matthew Goode is hot. I heart Ireland.

Sun's out. Finally. Time to pull weeds.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No mercy for the wretched Evil who slither among us

I'm seething.

I heard on news radio last night that a substitute teacher in our district was arrested and charged with nine sex crimes against 7- and 8-year-old girls. THIRD graders. I have a third grader. On their Web site, the radio station was kind enough to publish a complete list of the schools where the "alleged offender" taught--and included is all three schools in my immediate area, all of which I either have a child at or have had a child attend in the past. Right away this morning, I asked my third and tenth graders if they recognized this guy, hereafter referred to as Evil; thankfully, they said no. 

But there are three sets of parents in my local community whose children would have to say that yes, they recognized that chubby, child-molesting face. I don't know how these parents live day to day, knowing that someone hurt their child in that way. In any way. I don't know how people go on after something like this, how they don't go out and arm themselves and wait outside the courtroom for Evil to show up for his court date.

On Planet Jenn, if you touch a kid inappropriately, you will be executed. There will, of course, be days of torture where my minions will remove parts of your body (the parts you're most obsessed with, naturally) while you are conscious, the number of body parts equivalent to the number of egregious acts committed against innocents. You molest five kids, you lose five body parts. Or smaller, more painful pieces of those body parts.

To err is human. To forgive is divine. Perhaps. But on Planet Jenn, there is no forgiveness for doing something heinous to a kid. Ever. Save me your soap box diatribes on offender rights, innocent until proven guilty. STOP. 

There is no forgiveness for crimes against children. None. I hope this guy rots in hell. I hope that the local magistrate (notoriously soft on criminals--must protect the offender, re-victimize the innocent!) throws the book at him. But before he does, in that book I'm going to embed razor blades laced with the neurotoxin of the world's most venomous arachnid, so that when the book nails Evil in the face, Evil is cut to shreds and then suffers the fallout from the poison seeping into his pores.

Because from the day of commission forward, those poor little girls will feel his poison every time they breathe in.

Friday, April 23, 2010

There is greatness among us, in the next generation...

So...I came across this young writer by the name of Hannah Moskowitz. And when I say young, I mean 19. Half my age. She's published her first novel, Break (Simon & Schuster Children's imprint, Simon Pulse), and the second, Invincible Summer, is due out next year.

HOW a then-17-year-old girl wrote this book...she's nothing short of a prodigy.

Break is the story of a teenage boy ...well, let's let the back of the book tell you much better than I can: 

Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. Jonah wants to be stronger--needs to be stronger--because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is the only way he can cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders.

When Jonah's self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?

I came across this lovely writer and immediately ran out to buy this book. Then I spent two hours devouring it. Delicious. Frightening, raw, visceral, but delicious.

You should run, not walk, to Chapters/Barnes & Noble, and get your copy. 

I will be publishing a thorough review on Chic Mom Magazine ( in the coming week to two weeks, so stay tuned!

Yay, Hannah! 

Happy birthday, Will Shakespeare!

Four hundred forty-six years ago, a child was born whose words would change the face of literature. And I lurve him. If you think he's a hack, take your evil elsewhere. There's no room for it here. The first photo is the traditional representation of the Bard; the second  is the newly discovered Cobbe Portrait, allegedly the only painting ever done of Shakespeare from real life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rejection sucks, like a leech, bleeding me out...

Rejection means rewrites. Rewrites mean reworking. Dismantling. Reconstruction. Confusion. Despair. A day lost hiding under my pillow, in my room, questioning my existence, wishing I were Faulkner or Hemingway or Parker or Salinger, someone who wrote important crap and stayed drunk the entire time to make it even more meaningful.

I've been told that the story takes too long to get started. I constructed it with the framework of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" as underlayment. Familiar with it? It's a slow, romantic, heartbreaking build until the ultimate climax two-thirds of the way through the piece, at 6:08 or so in the 9:03 version. I'm going to stand by that slow build. The payoff is too rich to make it happen any sooner.

But alas, rewrites will continue. Never say die.

Shakespeare's 446th birthday -- Friday, April 23

Get your quills ready, kids. Dust off those doublets. Clean out those codpieces and de-wrinkle those ruffs! Friday is Will's 446th birthday, and it's the perfect excuse for chocolate as the main course!

Send me your plans for your Bard party. Make it good! Now I must be off to steam my chemise and fluff my petticoats. Oh, what I would give for a time machine.

(In truth, I have to go duct tape my sons to the fridge because they're watching Robot Chicken excerpts on YouTube. Damn you, Seth Green, damn youuuuuuu!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday...and the sun is out!

Here we go, Friday morning, and oh, what to post, what to post! Coffee is brewing--the fact I'm even awake before 9 am on a school professional day is just weird. The small people in my house are all still asleep, so other than the cat, who is having a total freak attack in the hallway right now because something is itching his back where he can't reach to bite (no, it's not fleas--too cold, too early--he has this skin thing, like, nerve damage or something), it's quiet. Niiiiice. So I should be able to get lots of work done, write amazing things, extricate adverbs, and solve the problems facing whatever line in the Canucks offense/defense that made them go into a dangerous overtime period last night against the LA Kings. (Princess and I watched Vampire Diaries, so we only heard the hoots and hollers coming from the basement where Husband was watching the game. I guess it was a close one.)

Now I've spoken too soon. My Best Work, otherwise known as Bueno, has emerged from the bedroom. One down, two to go. But he's a good boy, so he'll find something quiet and perfect to do while I finish rambling. But first, coffee! 

I started reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--bought it last year, the movie comes out today, no time like the present to start nibbling on it. Did you know the author died, though? Dude, that sucks! That totally freaks me out! What if I see my book(s) through to the end of edits and then die before the first one hits the shelves? That would blow. And I worry about stuff like that. In fact, I obsess about it. Do other people do this? Do you obsess about dying too young? My doctor laughs at me. I go in to see her and ask a million questions--and I know way too much about medical stuff from years of being in the medical field--and she giggles. She says I'm not overweight, my cardiac risk factors are low, I don't eat a lot of red meat, I don't drink or do drugs... But I also despise exercise. And vegetables. Ewwww. If someone held a gun to my head while I sat in front of a plate of broccoli and gave me the choice, "Eat or die," I'd tell them to pull the effing trigger. Not. Gonna. Eat. It. I had an evil stepmother once who force-fed me cold stew and broccoli, and I thanked her by promptly puking it all over her kitchen sink. :o)

But back to the dying stuff--I go through the (dead) people in my family and try to figure out when and how they died, how old they made it to before kissing the ring of fate. And it's a crapshoot. Who knows, dude... I try to do that "live for today" garbage, but it makes falling asleep at night really hard. I get panicky with worry. I don't want to get old. I don't want gray hair and wrinkles or saggy boobs. It's super hard. Does anyone else do this? Am I just getting old? I think I need to get a new tattoo or something.

What I really need to do is the dishes in the kitchen sink so that I don't feel guilty when Princess comes up and sees them--I told her I'd do 'em last night but I didn't, being the lazy cow I was embodying--and then I need to get back to reworking the third draft so I can move onto putting more pages down for Book Two. I miss my old schedule: kids to bed, Husband to bed, leave the house for my favorite coffee shop parking lot, write (long-hand...horrors!) for a few hours, watch the periphery of the car through the electric side mirrors to make sure the Resident Schizophrenic isn't coming too close to ask me for money (again), watch the young Persian guys with their souped-up cars and slicked back hair (it seems around here that the Persian kids are like the Guidos/Guidettes of "Jersey Shore"), watch the Korean kids in their all-nighter study sessions, some with tutors, all with mothers asleep in their leased cars in the parking lot while waiting for their kids to finish up, watch the naughty Korean kids (girls usually) sneak around the side of the building and power-puff their way through a cigarette, turn on the car to warm up the interior (remember, I'm in Canada--it's COLD at night), write a few more words/scenes, blush if it's a scene with a smooch in it, make some notes for later research, swallow the last of my now-cold tea, drive home with a smile of satisfaction and a feeling of warm-and-fuzzy in my belly (which has nothing to do with the peppermint tea and occasional doughnut I consume while in said parking lot), and fall right to sleep. Maybe that's why I'm an insomniac now. Maybe not putting down fresh words is making me crazy, like my brain is constipated or something. My brain needs an enema. Eureka! 

I like this: "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."  ~E.L. Doctorow 

Wow, that makes me feel so much better. Now my voices and I can go do the dishes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If it were easy...

...everyone would be doing it, right? That's what they say.

But when I walk into Chapters/Barnes & Noble/etc., it feels like everyone IS doing it. Are they? So many stories, so few publishers. Yeah. I know. There are assloads of books and shitloads of writers, and only a lifeboat-sized space left on the shelf. I know.

I was listening to the Terry Brooks interview again today (see the link to the interview transcript in the sidebar). Fun guy, he is (and no, I'm not calling him a mushroom, although mushrooms did come up in our conversation, right around the time that we (Terry, his amazing wife Judine, and I) were joking about buying children from gypsies and selling the naughty ones on eBay). The interview is pretty unconventional. We ended up gabbing about politics and corn syrup, and I was an idiot, asking idiot writer questions about a genre I knew far too little about--HIS genre, I might add. But he was really quite gracious and affable. Of course, if I had to do it over again, yeah, I'd be smarter. I'd ask smarter questions. I'd talk less about myself and listen more. I'd stop trying to channel Baba Wawa and stop trying to sound more intelligent than I am. I'd break down and buy the book and read it waaaaayyyyy in advance of the interview instead of relying on the comp copy to arrive and rather than using press handouts and IMDB to get me through. I'd get a clip for a mic so I could hear him better.

But I managed to get some good stuff in the 96 minutes. He said something that struck me as particularly poignant, especially at this stage in my life--nearing 40, obsessing about wrinkles and cholesterol levels and dying too young and missing my shot at the "big time." I'm actually 38.7 years old, and I still have people in my life who don't believe I'm capable of doing anything really important. It's like they get off on projecting their own failures onto me, and they're realllllly good at it. "Oh, yeah, Jenn writes. It's a little hobby." What I've discovered in the last little while is that those people suck. Hard core. Maybe it's a test to see if my Emergency Broadcast System is working. You think I'm just a little hobbyist, writing lusty supermarket bodice rippers or canned mysteries or vampire knock-offs? 'Cause when you tell people you're a writer, that's what they think. And then they ask what your preferred shift is at McDonald's.

Terry said, "You need to be in your forties before you can really enjoy things. That's my theory. The first twenty years are kind of a warm-up." I'm gonna cling to those words like a life raft. And I'm going to continue to write, even if it doesn't see the light of day or the ink of the press, simply because I don't know how to do anything else. I don't! What am I going to do if this big lifelong dream doesn't pan out?

They say that when you've done something that garners attention, you're not supposed to give thanks to those people who've been asses to you; you're only supposed to thank those people who were good to you, who supported you, who believed in you. Otherwise, you give the mean people your energy. It's like my mother says--if you itch the mosquito bite, the mosquito wins. Sounds a little New Agey to me, but I suppose it makes sense. Right? And yet, I can't help but fantasize about an Acknowledgments page that would include a comprehensive list of the people who've made sure I knew my place in the social hierarchy. I'll admit it. I was (am?) a nerd. I made the kids on "Glee" look cool (and they ARE because they can sing!). I got the highest grades in the highest English classes because I was just that big of a dork (well, that, and I'm a Virgo, so everything had to be as close to perfect as possible). I'm a kick-ass speller, I hate adverbs, I have a six-inch version of William Shakespeare's signature tattooed on my right forearm, and I worship the Chicago Manual of Style. NERD!

So higher road be damned: all of the girls who made my life hell in junior high and high school, all of the boys who told me I was as flat as the highway between Dallas and Fort Worth (Is it really flat? Does anyone know this?), the people who said I had good childbearing hips and no common sense, the people who told me I should just go home and have babies, and those who've ridiculed my unorthodox lifestyle and career know who you are. Stop being so mean. And know, if I have any modicum of success, you have a small part in it. You told me I couldn't, that I wouldn't, that I'd fail, and I've proved you wrong. I wonder what my shrink is going to have to say about that... It's probably not healthy or good for my karma to be vindictive, but it sure is succulent.

Parting quote from Terry, about the writing life: "You really have to have a lot of belief in yourself, because there are going to be a lot of people prepared to tell you why you can't do this, and what the odds are, and you have to ignore all that. If you think you can't do it, you probably can't." 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blast(s) from the past

I spent 2006 interviewing authors who had books hitting the market and were thus on publicity junkets. A few of the interviews made it into the tiny publications I was writing for, but for the most part, they went unread, unnoticed, and unappreciated. But because the interviewees were so brilliant, I think it's high time I put the words out there so that anyone who cares can have a look-see. My interviews are not conventional--I don't just ask the boring, crappy questions--I like to just chat, feel 'em up (well, not really--there was no physical contact involved)

I lunched with Terry Brooks, Marian Keyes, Anne Perry, Mark Billingham, Steven Galloway (yeah, him again), Guy Gavriel Kay, Kevin Patterson, William Bell, and others. Note: I'm supposed to be unbiased, but Terry Brooks is my favorite. He was awesome. We had a delightful human conversation about everything from buying our children from gypsies, the evils of corn, and oh, yeah, some stuff about writing and the book he was promoting at the time, Armageddon's Children.

Tied for first fave is Marian Keyes, Irish writer--LOVE her!--she's had two more books come out since I interviewed her in Victoria, BC, for Anybody Out There? (This Charming Man in 2008, and The Brightest Star in the Sky in 2009). It's chick lit, not for everyone, but she's adorable. And oh so tiny! Dude, she wears a size 3 shoe! And, after our interview, she sent me a DVD of her favorite show: Father Ted. I kind of understood the British/Irish humor. Then again, I'm sorta dense. Humor for me means farting and Family Guy. Hey, I live with three boys.

Second fave: Mark Billingham. IF YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE THIS GUY, you must. He's a horror writer--scary shit, seriously--but he was a stand-up comic in London for years and years, and the dude is effing hilarious, and his reading was like an excerpt from one of his stand-up shows. What a contrast. Billingham is a perfect coin: comedy on one side, tragedy on the other.

I will post these interviews, once a week or so, over the subsequent however many weeks until I run out of material. Perhaps one of these days, I will get enough guts to get in touch with the publicist again (I pissed her off when I was late for the most disastrous author interview I've ever done--Canadian writer, goes by the name McLean--let's just say I'm not a huge fan of vinyl or cafes and leave it at my defense, however, I was given the name of the WRONG hotel, so, yeah, I was late!). Anyway, Generous Publicist Diva took me off her list. Then I did the Writer's Studio at SFU in '07, so I didn't have time to interview anyone, anyway. I was too busy spewing out crappy, shock-value fiction and avoiding submitting stuff to my critique group because I was afraid to hear their opinions. (I have a delicate ego.)

The weird thing is, when I was writing that crappy fiction in 2007, I never imagined I'd ever do anything fantasy. And the project I'm working on (Book One is done; Book Two is in progress) is, from a purist standpoint, classified as urban fantasy. (Just for the record: there are NO vampires, werewolves, fairies, shapeshifters, or new world orders. Just sayin'...) I didn't mean for that to happen; it sort of just did. Fast forward a few years--in listening to the interview recording with Terry Brooks, so much of what he said really makes much more sense to me now. I was an idiot, a rube, an un-initiate.  And he was remarkably patient with me.

Watch for Terry Brooks. He'll be first up. Coming soon to Planet Jenn. And he, and his amazing wife Judine, are definitely going to be invited to take their places in the Planet Jenn governing body, the Cool Kids' Cabinet. They're too bloody cool not to.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm not your bitch, Mr. Adverb, sir...

I can't say anything funny because I'm sitting here with a clarifying mask on, feeling it suck the life out of the pores of my skin, and if I laugh or smile, the mask will crack. Is this what Botox feels like? (How can people inject that crap into their face? Don't they realize that Clostridium botulinum is, uh, super scary shit?)

I should be editing. I'm so stuck on adverbs--what is this hate/hate thing I've got going on with those little words that modify verbs? Why so much hate? Why do I tell anyone who will listen that one of *the* most popular contemporary writers in the world today loves her adverbs like she loves her three children? I mean, c'mon, who am I to judge when her books, stuffed with more adverbs than there are pine beetles in BC forests, have sold over 20 million copies worldwide? Why must I be stalked by nightmares of adverbs chasing me through dark alleys, their "-ly" endings threatening to undo the last shreds of my sanity?

Because adverbs = shoddy writing. A few are okay, but there are purists in this realm of books & such (and not just any folks but those with impressive writing creds and published books on shelves) who have cast adverbs out of their vocabularies and who argue "real" writers should endeavor to do the same.

But it's soooooo hard! Seriously! <---See what I mean?

I'm not trying to be a grammar nazi, although I sort of am. I just want to construct, and read, cohesive sentences that aren't entangled by unnecessary crap. Is that asking for too much?

And yet, as I sit here editing, the same 467 pages again, I am underlining too many adverbs. I feel less than worthy, like Steven Galloway would shake his head for spending all that time trying to make us better writers, and for me to run out and inject more "suddenly," "immediately," and "softly" into the work.

I made the mistake of getting too cheeky in a recent email exchange with a potential agent--I challenged her to find more than two typos in my entire manuscript (she asked for the MS; I didn't just willy-nilly send it to her, folks). I'm a copy editor--I'm good at finding boo-boos--though perhaps not. I've begun anew the process of trying to remove 35,000 words or so (not gonna happen) to make the first book more aligned with industry norms, and I've found more than two errors. Not typos, per se, but grammatical missteps. I'm so ashamed.

I have to go wash the mask off my face. It's bringing too much clarity.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Counting calories?

I walked to the school to pick up the kid. Calories burned = 45 (maybe).

Then I came home and promptly ate a donut. Calories consumed = 220.

Once again, I'm in the red.