Friday, December 25, 2009

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins

I have only one word to describe this book:


Run. Buy it. Enjoy.

I'm riding in my seat, waiting for the next book. O.M.G.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Love Me Some Christmas Music!

If I'm completely honest, I could listen to it all year long. I can never understand why people say they get sick and tired of it...*shrug* LOL.

It's become a tradition for me to add to my Christmas music collection every or two CD's. I like listening to the different takes on old favorites. This year I've added The Brian Setzer Orchestra (Rock-a-billy Christmas, anyone?) and MoTown Favorites. Fantastic, both.

That said, here's one of my favorite versions of Merry Christmas, Baby by Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown. Hope the video turned out okay. This is really my first time fiddling with Movie Maker. (Not sure the random pics are the right size/pixels/whatnot...OH WELL. (g)) It's aaaaallll about the song, anyway. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I totally ripped this off from Between Fact and Fiction, but it's so good, I have to share! :)

A Dramatic Reading of a Break-Up Letter

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Moon Parody


--Thanks to Tara for sending me this link!

And yes, I still enjoy the books, yada yada yada. This parody is just really funny. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

*Smacks Forehead*

My adventures continued into yesterday morning. I came outside, carrying my borrowed shovel along with a smaller one for my car. There's this rather attractive fellow standing across the street, car parked in front of the alley entrance that is blocked by a snow drift. I assume he was waiting for someone...a snow plow...someone with shovels perhaps?

Well, I'm sure he noticed the two shovels I was carrying...and well, he tracked me down the walk... Okay...

I get to the curb, step off....and POOOMPH! The snow is a lot deeper than I expected...or perhaps the curb moved overnite.. Either way, my foot found nothing but powdery snow and DOWN Jen went.


ROFL! Needless to say I turned tail quick and got the hell out of there. If he thought I was his shovel savior, he was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


What a night!

Remember that snow I was gushing about? Well, it's wreaking havoc in this town. I just spent the funniest/most tiring evening I've ever had here. First, I had NO problems getting to work this morning. Snow drifts? HA! No match for Jen and her Explorer. I bulldozed my way through them.. and once I was on the main roads, TOTAL cinch getting to work. I wasn't even late, and due to some extra ZZZZ's this morning, I left at right about the usual time. Go figure. But with people afraid to brave the roads, it was smooth sailing for me and my snow wrecker.

Got to work which was running at about 1/4 of a tank -- meaning almost the entire work force stayed home. I thought to myself...what's the big deal? I had no problem getting here. Of course, *ahem* I didn't have a driveway I had to shovel out... and I live pretty close to a main road. (Pretty close being one house away. LOL!) Plus, Explorer spells doom to all snow drifts. Again -- what's the big deal??

Management was so dang gobsmacked by the employees who DID make it in, they bought us lunch. Whoot whoo for free lunch.

After work, off to my aunt's house to visit with my cousin and her hubby and her newborn babe, who is a DOLL. She loves her Auntie Jen -- a lot. While she'd fuss for everyone else, she was an absolute angel for me. I have the touch. *shrug* Kids love me at that age. Now when they get older...and yanno, can run away...*cough* That's another story. But no, kids like me. I'm the aunt that gets them in trouble because I let them play all the games their parents tell them not to. Yes, I'm THAT aunt. :)

Nice evening...everything is going great until it's time to go home. My aunt (a different one) takes off in her big ass Ford and decides to go offroading through the snowdrifts. Okay, maybe not...but she did seem to think she was in an all terrain vehicle. She basically high-centered herself on a VERY large snowdrift. You'd think if she saw it coming she would've stopped and turned around. Not MY aunt. LOL. Anyway, took four of us to dig her out and push. Fun times.

Then...then I came home (with borrowed snow shovel) and shoveled my very first sidewalk. LMAO. Yeah, it's suprising I've never done this, eh? Remember, I'm a California girl and a renter to boot. Usually I have a landlord to do this for me. (g) That said...I'm SO embarrassed by my efforts.

I couldn't find the sidewalk. ROFL!

There's a rather large patch of grass that's getting a big gulp of the chilly air, tho..... Heh. Oops. I just know the neighbors--the ones I can't stand--were at their windows watching, laughing at the stupid Cali girl who felt the need to shovel the grass. But hey... there's a path where there wasn't one before. Maybe tomorrow they'll be just this *pinches her fingers together* nicer to me when they don't have to trudge through a foot of snow to get to their car. Maybe.

I'm spent! Time for something hot to drink. Schnapps, anyone?

Madison's Christmas Carol, The Grand Finale!

Thanks for coming along with me on this walk down memory lane. Umm, is anyone still here?? :)

Where we left off:

“I’m guessing you wanted company that couldn’t run away. Look at that hair! Scary.”

I flipped him off at that and booked it out of the room. “Take me back!”


Grumpy grimaced. “Just look at you. What a loser.”

I’d like to say I was offended, and deep down, I guess I was. But even I had to admit he was right.

We stood at the foot of my couch, looking down at my sleeping self. Resigned to spending Christmas alone, I hadn’t bothered to get dressed. I wore old sweats and a t-shirt with an ice cream stain over my right boob. My hair was plastered to my forehead, and with a grunt, I turned onto my side and began to snore.

“You got two men looking like that?” Grumpy gave me a critical survey and shook his head in disbelief. “It’s a fucking Christmas miracle.”

“Stuff it,” I said, smacking him on the back of the head.

“Ouch. Should’ve known you’d be violent, too.”

I ignored him and studied my sleeping form again. What the hell was I doing? Gabe and Drew were both alone that night, and if I weren’t so stubborn, I could be with one of them. But of course, there was the rub. Which one would I choose?

Panic rippled through me. If I didn’t choose, would I end up the poker hound of the retirement world? Bad hair and all?

“You’re right,” I said, sliding to the floor. “I’m a loser. I know I need to choose between them, but I don’t know how to do it.”

I sat there, legs crossed, waiting for the elf to say something. After a few minutes, I stole a peek up at him. He rolled his eyes at my expectant face.

“If you think I’m gonna get all Dr. Phil on your ass, you’re out of your mind. Solve your own damn problems.”

With that, he snagged a couple more beers from the fridge and made for the door. “Later.”

“I thought you were supposed to help me!” I yelled after him.

“Help this,” he said, flipping me off. “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this shit. You’ve seen it all, figure things out for yourself.” The door slammed in his wake and I blinked after him, dumbfounded.

“Jesus. What a grump.”

I stopped. A slight fizzy sensation started at the top of my head and spread down into my body. Then I was falling.


I sat up with a start, blinking into the dark room. I flicked on the lamp beside me and let my eyes adjust to the sudden light. I was back in my living room—the sweats, the stained T-shirt, the sad tree in the corner —everything was back to normal. Hand clapped to my forehead, I lay back and closed my eyes, willing the memory of all I had seen to go away. But it wouldn’t.

I knew what I had to do.

I threw back the covers and got dressed.


It took a while to find him, but I did. At a corner pub around the corner from his home.

He sat at the bar, his broad back to me. He had changed into jeans and a T-shirt, an untucked flannel shirt finishing the look. He was nursing a beer, and had a couple of empties in front of him.

A pang of guilt hit me in the chest. Would he even want me here? I nearly turned around then, but forced my feet to keep moving forward.

The bar was mostly empty, but there were a few people around the pool tables at his back. One of the women kept throwing him sidelong glances, and I felt a surge of relief that her attentions went unnoticed.

I could do this.

Without a word, I slid onto the stool beside him. He glanced at me, surprise and something else warring for control of his features. But then he smiled, and I took that as a good sign.

“Hey,” he said, motioning to the bartender to bring me a beer. A bottle landed in front of me with a clink, and I took a tentative sip, my throat having gone dry.

He watched me for a long moment, finally breaking the silence with a jerk of his chin toward the item in my other hand. “What’s that?”

I twirled the sprig in my fingers and met his eyes. “Mistletoe.”

His brow quirked up at that, but he said nothing. Waiting.

“It’s for you,” I blurted out, feeling as foolish as a school girl on her first date.

The corner of his mouth turned up, but his eyes were serious on mine. “That’s a serious flower you’ve got there.”

So many things went unspoken in that moment.

Was this what I really wanted? Yes.

What about Him? I’m here with you.

For how long? For as long as you want me.

And just like that, the moment passed. He dropped his eyes and took a long pull from his beer. I felt my heart sink a little and prepared to beat a hasty retreat.

I was such a fool.

“Well, then…” he said smoothly, straightening the collar of his shirt and swiveling our seats so that we faced one another. “I accept.”

I met his eyes and felt some of the pressure in my chest loosen. Hands at my waist, he pulled me toward him as I lifted the sprig above our heads.

“Merry Christmas,” I whispered, a moment before our lips met.

His mouth curled against mine. “It is now.”

Then he kissed me again.

Umm, you didn't really think I'd tell you WHO the guy is, did you? :)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It's snowing like crazy here. We're under a severe weather warning, and some have predicted up to a foot of snow. All I know is that we've had NO snow up until now, so in some ways it feels like Mother Nature is finally unleashing her full glory upon us.

Yeah, the roads are crap. I saw a lot of people out there fishtailing and/or stuck in the snow. It's not a night to be out driving.

That said, it's beautiful. Really beautiful. I walked downtown a few blocks to my parking garage and it was so quiet, and the snow was falling straight down with very little wind between the buildings. I felt like I was the only person out there getting to see how wonderful the world is when it's all snow-covered and white.

Ahhhh, snow. :)

Ghosts of Madison's Past...Part Deux!

And so continues our story..

A brief reminder of where we left off:

When my flaming cheeks cooled at last, I frowned, puzzled. “What the hell was I supposed to learn from that?”

Grumpy smirked. “Nothing. I just thought that shit was funny.”


In a flash, the scene shifted and I found myself in an old-fashioned theatre. The kind with an ornate red curtain and upholstered seats. Grumpy sat beside me, a large tub of popcorn in his lap.

“What are we doing here?” I asked.

He groaned at me and pulled out an extra large remote control. “It’s time to look at your Christmas present. This is where your real problems begin.”

I scratched my head. “I don’t mean to be rude—but shouldn’t I get a different ghost for this part?”

“I’m it.” He shrugged. “Blame it on the economy.”

With that, he flicked a button on the remote and the curtains pulled back with a soft rustle. An image filled the screen, out of focus at first, but quickly sharpening into a clear picture.

A lone man sat at a desk, a small lamp creating a circle of light around him. Long past regular work hours, he had loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves to expose muscular forearms. Numerous piles of paper cluttered the desk and he rifled through them quickly, making notations on several pages before moving on to the next stack.

I frowned, surprised to see Drew working so late on Christmas Eve.

There were circles under his eyes and his dark hair stood up at odd angles. As if on cue, he rifled a hand through the strands, muttering something under his breath in the process.

Grumpy leaned forward. “What’d he say?”

My heart thudded against my chest. “My name.”

Grumpy turned up the volume and sat back. “This should be good.”

Drew threw his pen down on the desk and eyed his phone, indecision clear on his features. I suspected he had been doing this for some time now. He picked up the handset, but replaced it without dialing. This process repeated several times, and finally he managed to punch in a number.

Grumpy switched the channel and now the picture changed to a split-screen—Drew, and me, asleep on my couch. The phone rang in the background, but I simply mumbled something in my sleep and turned over onto my stomach.

“Idiot,” Grumpy said.

“You said it,” I agreed, willing myself to wake up. I didn’t and Drew hung-up, flicking off his light to sit in the dark.

I watched his silhouette, my heart inching into my throat. If only I had picked up. What would he have said? What would I have said? I turned away. “I don’t want to watch him anymore.”

Grumpy flipped to another channel and I forced myself to look up.

Gabe was alone in his house. Dressed in running clothes, his forehead still bore a sheen of sweat from a recent workout. Feet propped up on the coffee table, he flipped on his TV and searched for something to watch. After surfing for a couple of minutes, he turned it off and tossed the remote onto the table.

He stood suddenly and roamed his house—first picking up a book, then another, then discarding them both with disinterest. Next he rifled through his fridge looking for something to eat. Nothing seemed to catch his eye and he left the kitchen empty-handed.

He was agitated, restless. I knew the feeling well, and my heart ached to know that I might have played even the smallest part in putting him in such a state. I hadn’t called him as I had intended. I hadn’t been able to make myself do it. Not after everything that had happened between us, and not with Drew’s face looming in the back of my mind. Instead of choosing between them, I had bowed out and hidden myself away in my apartment. Avoidance played a big part in my psyche.

Or cowardice.

Puh-tay-toe, Puh-tah-toe.

Gabe moved into his living room and turned on the Christmas tree he had set up in one corner. The soft lights began to twinkle on and off, throwing patches of color across his face as he stood watching it. His face was unguarded in the quiet, and I could sense a deep sense of loneliness coming off him in waves. I swallowed the lump in my throat.

“I’ve seen enough,” I said.

Grumpy flicked another switch and the lights came up in the theatre. He munched on his popcorn, leaving me to my thoughts for a few minutes.

“Okay, so I get it already. I’m making all of our lives miserable.”

“Yaph,” he mumbled around a mouthful of corn. He swallowed and coughed up a couple of unpopped kernels. “Nothing gets past you, does it?”

I threw him a dirty look. “You’re a disgusting pig.”

“Bite me.”

“You’d fit in my oven – I’d be careful what you ask for if I was you.”

He rolled his eyes and tossed his bucket onto the seat beside him. “Come on. We’ve got one more stop.”


This time when the mist cleared, we were in front of a colonial style building. It had two stories and sat in the middle of a packed parking lot. I had a very bad feeling and reluctantly trailed behind the elf as he passed through the front glass doors.

It opened into a lobby, all brass fixtures and wood paneling. Not a hotel from the looks of it, but what it was exactly, I had no idea. There were several bulletin boards lining the walls, and I chanced a peek at them as we passed. There were event sign-up sheets. Notices of various types. Was it a dorm of some sort?

“Where are we?”

As soon as I said it, my eyes landed on an elderly gentleman scuttling past the front desk with his walker.

“Oh hell,” I said. “Is this a retirement home?”

“Assisted living,” Grumpy said, following the man down a long corridor.

I let out a disgusted sound and reluctantly kept pace. “Say it ain’t so.”

Just then I heard the sound of a familiar voice—my own. It was slightly distorted—aged, but it was me.

We turned the corner and entered a large recreational room. I didn’t want to look, but like a person drawn to a train wreck, I couldn’t help myself.

I sat in the middle of a mosh pit of walkers and wheelchairs, my frizzed hair streaked with grey and pulled up behind a green poker visor. I was dealing cards, egging the other residents into a game of Texas Hold ‘em.

I had thought my Barbie outfit bad, but this one took the cake. I wore over-sized polyester stretch pants, with a t-shirt with a large Poinsetta design, complete with glitter and sequins. I groaned and covered my face with my hands. “Make it go away!”

Grumpy chuckled, and I peeked through my fingers at my older self. I looked ridiculous—all red lipstick and tacky clothing.

“What the hell am I doing in this place? I’m not even that old!”

And I wasn’t. I couldn’t have been more than fifty, much too young for this joint.

“I’m guessing you wanted company that couldn’t run away. Look at that hair! Scary.”
I flipped him off at that and booked it out of the room. “Take me back!”

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this riveting tale. (snrk) :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

'Tis The Season

Just Three weeks until Christmas! Wait, scratch that! Make that 18 days! Holy heck. I am quite happy to say that at this particular point in time, most of my Christmas shopping is complete. I just have a couple of small items to buy and a whole heckuvalotta wrapping to do. That I can handle. Thing is, I have to get most of this in the mail this I better get a move on.

So, it's Christmas and I stumbled across a little "story" I wrote last year for an exercise I ran over at compu. The general idea was to write a story of Christmas past, present, future a la' Dickens, in which you show your characters at age 7, present day, and age 50. Ghosts had to be included in some form and there had to be some sort of "lesson" learned... I think. Anyway, think A Christmas Carol and you'll be on the right track.

I thought it might be fun to dust this one off and post it here. I'll do it over probably 2-3 days. It's a long one. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I swear, with all of the exercises I write using my characters from FI, I sometimes feel like I'm writing fanfiction of my own book. LOL. S'okay, tho. It all helps stir the batter...and sometimes I discover things I didn't know about my characters. we go.

(c) Jennifer Hendren 2009

I jerked awake at the sound of the doorbell. With a grunt in the general direction of the door, I whipped one of the throw pillows over my head, flopped onto my stomach, and tucked back into the couch.

It rang again.

I popped one eye open and studied the grains in the fabric.

Ten beats and nothing happened. I sighed and snuggled my face into the cushion.


This time the person went to town on the ringer. The continuous peal of sound practically made my ears bleed. I let loose a few choice words, shook off the blanket tangled around my legs, and threw the door open. “What?”

I blinked and lowered my gaze a couple of feet. Was the circus in town?

An elf was on my doorstep. I’m talking pointy ears, green hat, lots of little person cuteness.

“Took you long enough,” he said, barreling past me into the apartment. His voice was a complete contradiction to his appearance. He sounded like a well-seasoned smoker.

I bapped my forehead a few times with the heel of my hand, opened my eyes and he was gone. Whew. Must’ve been a dream.

I retrieved my blanket from the floor and that’s when I heard sounds coming from the kitchen.

Oh man!

I crept around the corner and found the elf rifling through my refrigerator. He was half inside the thing, reaching for the beer I kept stored on the top shelf.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled. In the scramble to get to my beer, he had managed to wedge his little slipper into the cheesecake I had thawed for dinner. He ignored my protests, kicked off his soiled bootie and clamored off to the living room, beers in tow. Too stunned to react, I followed behind, mute.

“Oh God, not my pillow!” I whined. He had planted himself on my couch and had his toes curled into the thick fabric. Even from a distance I could see the wiry hair sprouting out all over his feet.

“What a day,” he declared on a happy sigh. He downed a beer in one shot and let out a loud belch. Then he opened a second and fixed me in his sights. “I’m not gonna pussyfoot around this. You’re a fucking mess.”

My head snapped backward and I flicked my eyes around the room, looking for the hidden camera. “Excuse me?”

“Don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I’m here to help.”

“But who the hell are you?” I said.

He burped again and pushed off the couch. With a roll of his eyes, he cleared his throat and spoke in a falsetto. “I’m the ghost of Christmas past. I’ve come because you’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.”

He coughed for a full minute after this little performance, whacking himself in the chest with a tiny fist. “Come with me,” he said, finally, eyes bugged out, face red.

“Where are we going?” I said, trying to figure out which would be the safer bet—the door or the bottle of pepper spray in my purse.

He stopped, hands on hips, and glared at me. “Don’t play stupid. You’ve probably seen this goddamn movie a million times. You know how this shit works.”

He had a point. And this was just a dream after all. What did I have to lose?

He disappeared through the door and I followed a few seconds later. Mist surrounded me, and soon I was falling down into a black void.


The mist slowly dissipated. When at last I had my senses back, I realized we were standing outside a two-story Victorian I hadn’t stepped foot inside for several years. My parents’ house.

“Aww hell,” I muttered.

The elf made a guttural noise in the back of his throat and motioned for me to follow behind him.

The yard was covered in thick snow drifts, but my stocking-covered feet seemed to hover atop them, impervious to the cold. Patches of light played across the vast whiteness, and in the front picture window, a huge Christmas tree blinked brilliant blues and reds and greens.

The elf was right. I’d seen this movie and I knew how these things worked. The only question was what year we had returned to. And what stupid event from my past would I be forced to relive.

The possibilities were endless.

There had been the time my brothers tied me to the track of their train set, always failing to save the damsel in distress before the engine rammed into my side. I’d been four, and the “whoo-whoo” of a mini chu-chu still made me tense.

Or there was the time when I was six. I’d received one of those dolls that peed when you fed her. My very funny brothers decided to put food coloring in her mouth and the resulting plume of blue dye on my mother’s new area rug had caused an uproar I wouldn’t soon forget.

Okay, if you haven’t guessed by now, my brothers were the bane of my existence when I was a child. A significant problem when I, junior to the youngest by five years, wanted nothing more than to be a boy so I could tag along and be in on all their jokes. It had topped my Christmas list for several years running.

With a sigh, I stepped up beside Grumpy, who stood peeking through the front window. He tugged on my sweats and with a soft whoosh, we walked through the wall together.

“Cool,” I said. “Wish I could do that trick in real life.”

He rolled his eyes, and I glared down at him. “You need to work on your people skills, you little f—.”

Voices from above interrupted my next words, and a moment later two dark-haired boys came pounding down the stairs. They had an “up to no good” aura surrounding them—as they always did—and I grimaced. Wherever they were going, you can bet I wouldn’t be far behind.

Sure enough, not thirty seconds later, I came trouncing down the stairs in full whig-out mode, the idea of being left behind too much for my little self to handle. Mini-Madison practically thrummed with pent up frustration.

I guessed my age to be around seven or eight. It was the Barbie jammies that gave it away. Not to mention the pigtails done up with pink cotton ribbons.

Oh hell. I looked like a girlie-girl. The kind I always felt an irrational need to choke.

Grumpy snorted beside me. “Nice outfit.”

I ignored him and followed behind mini-me. I had a sudden flood of remembrance and saw the rest of this scene play out in my memory. Oh hell.

We passed through the swinging door leading to the kitchen and the boys almost immediately exited, me hot on their heels. They were loaded down with a bunch of random items—some tools, rope, a few pieces of wood from the stockpile in the kitchen.

“What are ya doin?” Small Madison squealed, trying to keep up with their longer strides.

“Shutup, Sonny,” Ian growled, drawing back his fist in warning. My parents were in the living room watching TV, just a few feet away. I flinched backwards, but immediately gathered my wits to follow them upstairs. They slammed their bedroom door behind them, but I squeezed inside and quietly climbed into their bottom bunk.

I sat very still, and they ignored me as they arranged the hodge podge of items before them on the floor.

Grumpy and I stood near the window, watching the boys hard at work.

“Whatcha doin?” I had inched forward on the bed, curiosity finally getting the better of me.

Paul rolled his eyes and exchanged a look with Ian. “Get lost, squirt.”

Being the older of the two, Paul had always shown me a little more patience. But even he had his limits.

I had my finger in my mouth. At first glance it looked like I was sucking on it, but I recognized the gesture at once. Born with a deep dimple in my right cheek, I had been cursed with always being told how cute I was—followed by painful pinches to my cheeks. At an early age, I had determined that my dimple was to blame and had begun a campaign to rid myself of the dang thing. I’d spent hours, finger or tongue planted firmly on the inside of my cheek, hoping I could pop the sucker back out.

I grinned at the memory, and ran my tongue along the familiar spot. I’d been so determined, and sometimes found myself unconsciously repeating the action.

“Stop doing that,” Ian said, glaring at me. “You look like a baby.”

My brows knit together in a frown, but I resolutely kept my finger where it was.

They continued working, and eventually even my younger self figured out what they were making.

“I wanna play!” I squealed, climbing off the bed to stand above them, hands on hips.

“It’s too cold outside, dumbass,” Ian grumbled. “Besides, it’s our swing.”

My face crumbled, tears close to the surface. Paul stole a glance at me and frowned. Seeing this chink in his armor, I stuck out my lower lip a little further.

Ian rolled his eyes at this exchange and threw himself on his back with a groan. “God. Can’t we do anything without the little freak?”

“I’m not a freak,” I moaned, a few real tears squeaking through my lashes.

Ian sat back up, fuming and glaring at Paul. Then his expression changed, a slow smile creeping across his face. “Hey, Sonny. You can play.”

I perked up at his words, my tears drying up quickly. “I can?”

“Sure,” he said, standing and moving over to the window to glance out at the snow. “You wanna test our swing?”

“What are you doing?” Paul began, but then stopped, light dawning. He grinned then.

Boys should never be left to their own devices for too long. Seriously.

I groaned beside Grumpy, and the elf chuckled. “What a dumbass.”

“Hey!” I said. “I was seven!”

He smirked. “Even three year olds are smart enough to see this one coming.”

I ignored him and watched as Paul and Ian tied the swing to the bunk bed they had wheeled over to the window. I stood behind them, a look of self-importance on my face. They were letting me play for a change, and I glowed with excitement.

“Do you think it will hold,” Ian asked Paul, pulling on the ropes, testing their strength.

“Oh yeah.” Paul paused, doubts flickering behind his eyes. “We’re gonna be so busted if Mom catches us.”

“Sonny won’t tell, will you, Sonny?”

I shook my head vehemently and stepped forward to take my place on the swing. They opened their window and hoisted the wood—with me sitting atop it—onto the windowsill. My hands clung to the ends of the swing, scared, but determined to please them.

It was cold outside, and the wind bit at my hands and face. My feet dangled over the edge, the ground looking so far away. I could remember the way my heart had pounded in my chest, racing so fast that I could barely breathe as I looked down at the indistinguishable snow-covered lumps in the yard below. They seemed so menacing, but had been nothing more than the small bushes and flowerbeds that my mother pruned relentlessly during the summer months.

“You ready, Sonny?” Paul shouted above the swirling snow.

“Yes!” I answered, teeth chattering from the cold.

The boys exchanged a glance. “On the count of three, lower her down slowly,” Paul said.


The door opened behind them. “Madison!”

My parents, probably thinking they would find us playing quietly in our rooms, stood with their mouths agape at the sight before them.

The boys wore matching guilty expressions, their hands wrapped tightly around the rope attached to their makeshift swing. And I—dressed in my Pepto Bismol outfit, teetering stupidly on the window ledge. Gullible to the last.


We were back in the mist.

When my flaming cheeks cooled at last, I frowned, puzzled. “What the hell was I supposed to learn from that?”

Grumpy smirked. “Nothing. I just thought that shit was funny.”

Stay tuned for the next installment...Christmas PRESENT. Muhahahaha. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

And Finished!

Comments and suggestions on Manuscript #2 are written and sent, flying through the web ethers as I type this message. YAY. Excellent excellent week (or two) of reading.

Now...NOW, I am ready to jump back in the FI fray.


Too Much Time On My Hands...

...OBVIOUSLY. But I just can't resist these JibJab numbers. I thought I would make my images of Ty and Makenna dance around with the kids from TWILIGHT. Aren't Makenna and Ty prettier?? Well, maybe not quite as pretty as Edward...but alas, not much you can do there. At least they're not pale.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

P.S. I love how Ty reels in Makenna only to go promenading by (is that the correct term?) with Jacob a couple of shots later.

P.P.S. Does making videos of characters who only exist in my head, with pictures of people I think they look like..make me officially weird? Yeah, I think so too. First step is admitting it...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting Close!

Almost done with manuscript #2! When that's done (and MUM is all I will say about it at this point -- big grin to Amanda!), I will be hitting FI with a vengenance. I'm feeling rather inspired at the moment.

If you haven't heard...Rachel Walsh finished her SFD of her first novel yesterday!!! Go Rachel!! This woman seriously deserves a medal for doing this amidst the chaos that is her life. Makes me realize how poor my excuses are sometimes. (g)

Be sure to stop by and congratulate her!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Step Behind...Or Two

Well, I had the best of intentions to finish both MS's from my peeps...not to mention other reading...and plotting out that screenplay, etc. Ummm...yeah.

Didn't quite happen the way I had planned.

Why? Two Words: FOOD COMA.

I was in one for most of the weekend. I swear... Turkey Day is a diabetic nightmare! I'm lucky to have survived not one, not two, but THREE different kinds of pie. My family can eat, y'all. I kid you not. That, coupled with a bit of a family emergency -- well, a rather BIG family emergency that thankfully turned out okay, and my weekend was shot.

That said, I DID manage to finish one of the manuscripts and will hopefully get started on the second tonight. After that, I'm afraid the screenplay will have to will other books. I will be back at work on FI and hopefully gutting my way to the end. I'm feeling rather energized. :)

Hope you all had a lovely holiday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wouldn't You Know It...

As soon as I decide to take a week off to do some reading, lightning strikes. That's right.

On my way to work...DING DING DING DING.

It hit me. THE idea for a screenplay. The one I've been waiting for. The one that I THINK will work. And man, it's a MAJOR way. I've already got ideas about the big bad black moment...the stakes...the characters.. even the witty sidekicks. (It's a romantic comedy.)

I've been wanting to try it looks like maybe I'll get the chance.

So, add this to the list for the week -- plotting out the major moments/plot points for this sucker. Yes, I'm pre-planning...sorta. That said, I'm excited to to get started! One good thing? A screenplay is about 90 pages...MAX. And most of that is dialogue. Whoot whoot.

Okay...simmering, simmering.

A Reading Kinda Week...

Well, it's Thanksgiving week...which means some legit time off for Jen. OMG. I'm really looking forward to it! Even these first few days have been scaled way in a way, I'm already on vacation. :)

At any rate, I've declared this a reading week. I know, I know. I should be working on my book...and part of me feels guilty that I'm not. The other part says to heck with it! Take a dang break and regroup. The latter part won out.

I'm reading two manuscripts for my peeps. For Peep 1, I'm trying to find places for her to cut. It's a different kind of reading because I really just want to get lost in the story. Here I am, analyzing every scene...IS THIS NECESSARY?? LOL. The first day was pretty successful, though who's to say whether Peep 1 will take my advice. The second day, not so much. LOL. Must remember to put my analytical cap firmly in place tonight, when I hope to finish.

For Peep2, I'm doing a cold, first time reading of her manuscript. It's next after the slice and dice, so hopefully I can get back into "broad strokes" mode.

Other things on the agenda....OH EGADS. I have to write our next installment for the serial over at ATWOP. I'm fuh-reaking. No clue what I'm doing yet and I probably need to write it tonight due to the fact I'll be out of town until Friday. And well, my grandpa doesn't really get an internet connection. I HAVE finked from one of his neighbors before -- but who's to say if the connection will come through again. THAT said, yeah...I need to write it tonight. Which of course may push back my entire schedule as I sit here for hours, staring at a blank screen -- wondering wth to write. Dude, it's so gonna happen. LOL.

I'm also part way through a Maureen Johnson book -- THE KEY TO THE GOLDEN FIREBIRD.

I'd also like to get started on Stephen King's new one -- UNDER THE DOME. I hear it's reaaaaaallly good. Not that I have a shot in hell of finishing it this weekend. LOL.

What plans do you all have? Turkey day plans? :)

If I don't have time later....HAPPY TURKEY DAY!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In Case You Hadn't Heard..

There's a movie coming out tomorrow that's been kept on the complete DL. In fact, I'd be surprised if any of you have even heard about it. Here's a little sneak peek:

Yes...New Moon. Out tomorrow, well...for those of you willing to trudge out at midnight to see it. Umm, I'm willing. (g) I bought my tickets WELL in advance--about two months ago--and will be jockeying with tweens to get the best seat in the house.

I'm preparing myself now for the squealing and sighing...and the overall teen angst. To be honest, the atmosphere is what I'm going for. The movie may or may not be worth it, but listening to 300 girls go all fangirl over Patterson is going to be well worth my ten duckets.

No, I won't be picking a team cuz I can't back either of these boys. I'm all about:

TEAM TY!! he's worth backing!

I will be sure to report in on all of the Tweens Gone Wild. Let's see if I can get popcorn thrown at me again for giggling inappropriately (i.e. during the "serious" parts). (g) Anyone else trudging out to see it tomorrow night?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This Sicilian thing between YA authors MUST end. At least before I crash the YA mansion. :)

Maureen Johnson...facing her It's more like she's dragging her heels and whining all the way to doing something she absolutely does not want to do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

PAPER TOWNS by John Green

Well, it's been a while since I've done any reviews--mostly because I have very little time to read these days. I DO listen to a ton of audio books, as you all know, but somehow I feel like that's cheating on the whole reading experience. But, you do what you gotta do. Since I can't read, I listen. (Erm, I CAN read, of course...but you know what I mean. lol)

Anywho...I'm back with a quick and dirty review of PAPER TOWNS by John Green.

PAPER TOWNS, Young Adult

Brief Summary: Quentin Jacobson is slightly obsessed with his childhood friend, Margo Roth Spiegelman. They're seniors in high school now, and run in completely different circles. That hasn't stopped his fascination with her--if anything it's made her more untouchable and perfect in his mind. Then one night, she knocks on his window and takes him out for a wild night of pranks--and then, disappears. He sets out to find her. Mayhem ensues.

I'd go further, but I really don't want to spoil it.

What I will say can be summed up in two words:


Of course, that's not all I'm going to say! You know me better than that.

Again, John Green has totally delivered. His characters are so well-drawn, his writing spot on and funny, and the premise just so dang good. It kept me turning the pages, wanting to, NEEDING to know what would happen next. Again, my favorite characters were his hilarious sidekicks with their funny repartee. No one, and I mean NO ONE does better sidekicks. I giggled throughout and just really enjoyed everything about this book. He has such a talent for capturing the life of teenagers...gah, I want that!

If I'm 100% honest with you, I didn't _love_ the ending, but yanno...I'm okay with that. LOL. It's only because I wanted things to turn out another way. That said, the journey to get there was so fantastically fun--and tense. Overall, a really great ride.

Buy or Rent? Buy!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Been a LONG week and it's only Monday! I think this happens because I don't really get a weekend. (g)

That said, I'm trying to push through revisions of FI. I got a good chunk written today -- trying to tie some scenes together. Slow and steady wins the race, right? That's my new motto. :)

Exciting things happening over at ATWOP. Namely, it's Rachel's turn to give away a book -- contest ends THIS Friday. And this is it, folks. No more giveaways for now. Next week, we'll see what else we come up with for Friday's posts. :) So get your name in now -- she has three really kickass books to choose from. I kinda want them all. Have a feeling I'll be buying some of the books Kristen, Claire, and Rachel offered up. OH NO. What's a girl to do?

I have a new blogpost going up tomorrow -- on endings. Be sure to check it out. I have a few things I want to touch on over here, namely some book reviews. YES. I'm going to try to actually review some books one of these days. Have ya missed my reviews?? (g) Well, if not, too bad. LOL. I'm bringing them back.

That's all for now...long day. Need sleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random, but....

...if I could make my books into movies, this would be the "roll credits" song at the end of one of them. Not telling which. :)

Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson


Just finished a lovely worship session.

I'll be honest, I told myself I would go into church to get ONE book, and ONE book only. Namely LOOKING FOR ALASKA for Deniz (she won my book giveaway last Friday over at All The World's Our Page). Ummm, so yeah, I DID buy LFA for Deniz...only I picked up a few other books I wasn't planning on buying. Heh.

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins -- COME ON. I had to get this one. HUNGER GAMES was fab-u-lous. Had to. Moral imperative on this one. I'm surprised it took me this long to pick it up.

SOULLESS by Gail Carriger -- Cool cover and I heard it's really good. Vamps, Weres, and parasols. What's not to love?

THIRST by Christopher Pike -- I HAD to get this one. HAD to. Loved me some CP when I was a teenager. It's about vampires, too. Hopefully they don't sparkle.

THE ITALIAN SECRETARY by Caleb Carr -- O.M.G. I loved THE ALIENEST and THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS. This is a _Sherlock Holmes_ story. Okay, so I'm really into the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King (a series featuring an alternative Sherlock Holmes timeline/story -- after he retires), and I'm definitely in the SH mindframe right now. PLUS -- there's a Sherlock Holmes movie coming out soon. Talk about timing on this one! LOL. Anyway, I'm SO looking forward to this one...I do believe it's actually going ahead of CATCHING FIRE in the TBR pile.

BUT...they all must wait. I'm putting on my writing cap now. Off to work.

A Lightbulb Moment

I'm doing this and I may regret it later, but...

I'm officially declaring the First Draft of FAKING IT COMPLETE. Yes, yes I am.

Nothing has really changed since yesterday, but I realized I've been thinking of the book in terms of rewrites/revisions for a very long time now. But with the new completed outline/synopsis (YAY), there's been a switch in my head. I'm not rewriting/revising the original book...I'm rewriting/revising THIS draft. My first draft. Dang it, it's a DRAFT*, even if all the little holes aren't neatly filled, or if there are whole scenes that need to be changed. It's 85K (probably more...I'm not really sure anymore) of First Draft.

And to go along with my post over at ATWOP today, it DOESN'T ALL SUCK. Some of it does...some of it will be tossed...but it's DONE.


I feel better.

*You must remember that I haven't really been in this place before. I queried my first draft of the original Faking It. And when I "revised" I added....didn't do much of that subtracting business...and polished, polished, polished. Drafts??

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Productive Weekend

So, I'm super busy right now, but I vowed I would keep working as much as I can. And dangit, one of these days, I'm going to announce that FI is finished. Whether that will be SOON is another thing. I'm literally scraping the bottom of the time barrel to get any work accomplished, but it is moving FORWARD. At a glacial pace, yes, but forward nonetheless.

I spent a good chunk of this weekend going through and figuring out any changes I want to make to the MS. Yes, I did a summary of sorts...not really an outline, but a verbatim telling of the story as I see it at this point. It's running close to 10 pages right now, will probably end up with 2-3 more by time I'm finished. It's been a good exercise, though much hair loss has occurred at regular intervals. Especially when I'm at a loss for what should/would come next...or when I realize that a very large chunk of the book doesn't quite make sense with my "new vision." That said, it's all coming together regardless. I may lose a few things if I can't pound them in, but that's okay. Gotta do what's best for the book. The good news is that there are VERY large chunks that will stay pretty much as they are...with minor tweaks. For that I'm very grateful.

So...progress. YAY. Now if I could just find more time... LOL.

Happy writing, all. And good luck to any Nano participants!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One More Thing...

You -- YES YOU -- need to head over to All The World's Our Page and sign up for MY book giveaway. That's right..MY book giveaway. If you're peeking in and not commenting, be forewarned...I SEE you. I KNOW you're there. Comment. How long does it take? And if you do, you'll be put in the drawing to win one of these fabulous books:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
It by Stephen King
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

OR...if none of those tickle your fancy, I'm willing to send you a book I've commented on/reviewed/mentioned in passing anywhere on THIS blog. Dudes and dudettes, that's A LOT of books to choose from.

Hurry! Deadline to comment is THIS Friday at Noon EST. Go HERE...NOW and sign up!


I don't really have much to blog about right now. Working a lot...sleeping when I can...doing VERY LITTLE writing. It's a huge bummer, but I seriously don't have any energy right now. That said, I'm trying to get into the right frame of mind per Cindy's post tonight. HERE.

Everything she says in this post is right on the money. We're all busy people. We all have a dozen balls we're trying to juggle all at once and whenever we even think we might--or heaven forbid actually DO--drop one of them, we start playing the blame game with ourselves. The "should have" game:

I should've tried harder. I should've slept less. I should've been done with this blasted book By Now. I SUCK!!

Well, folks. We don't suck. We're just letting negativity have a little too much say in our lives. The truth of the matter is...yeah, we could've done a few things differently, but what the heck good is it going to do to keep dwelling on the past? The only thing you can worry about is what you're doing Right Now. That said, I'm with Cindy. BABY steps. Forward motion. That's all I'm going to worry about. The end is there -- someday. I just have to reach out to meet it and stop expecting to jump to the front of the line without working for it.

Okay...who's with us? :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I still have tears in my eyes, and I don't think it's because I felt the spirit!

Edited to add: You MUST watch up until the 2...2 min, 15 sec mark. It gets SO good. The big finish, iow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

All's Quiet..

I know I've been quiet this week -- I apologize! It's been...well....CRAZY. I'm working a ton of hours and have had very little time for anything else. Can't believe I'm even awake at this point. (g)

That said, hope everyone is doing well!

Remember that big news I was gushing about a while ago? Well, it's finally out in the open! Kristen Callihan signed with Kristin Nelson!!!!! WHOOT!!!!! How awesome is that? I expect BIG things to be coming Kristen's way...very very soon! (Wow, too many Kristen's in this paragraph!) I'll admit I'm a wee bit jealous, but honestly, I couldn't be happier for both of them! What a match! :) Now I'm all a' flutter waiting for the day I can hold Kristen's book in my hands!

In other news -- snips, snips, and MORE snips over at All The World's Our Page! Be sure to check 'em out. I'm, as always, humbled by the company I'm keeping over there.

I do promise I will be blogging more over here. I have a few books I want to talk about. Namely, I'm in the middle of the Gunslinger series by Stephen King. I've heard mixed reviews of it -- some love it, some hate it. I have to say that overall, I'm enjoying it. I'm currently on WIZARDS & GLASS. I really dig the narrator and so far I'm really loving the book. Anyone else have any comments on this series? I know it's a little weird in spots, but you have to admit he knows his world building. (g)

Oh...and I just finished Tamora Pierce's TRICKSTER'S QUEEN. I have to admit I walk away from these books a trifle confused by what happened, but knowing that I LOVED what happened. LOL. I think it's the names. I have the first book in paperback -- may have to read it next time 'round. Perhaps all the names, etc. will stick with me a little better. I don't know how you even spell his name, but I ADORE Nawat (I looked it up). He has to be one of the most original love interests I've ever discovered. I'll give you some hints -- he's a crow turned man...and he likes to preen and try to feed bugs/worms to Aly (the MC). Makes me giggle all the time. He's very sweet and oh so different.

I've also started book 4 in the Vampire Academy series. Can't recall the name at the moment, but I'm so excited to get started!

What books are y'all reading? Anything new out that's causing a stir? I haven't been to church in a while, so if you know of anything, let me know! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In case you didn't know -- Claire is giving away a free book this week. You can take your pick of three -- Be sure to check it out!

We're talking about what we write and posting excerpts this week. Intimidating group of ladies to be amongst, let me tell you. :)

My iPod Hates Me

There's something wrong with it, I'm tellin' ya. And it's reducing me to monkey mentality. All I want to do is pound it on the nearest table and beat it into submission. Beat it until it works properly.

I keep restoring it to factory settings because I can't upload anything on to it by simply...yanno...PLUGGING IT INTO MY FLIPPIN' COMPUTER. NOOOOOOOOO. That would be too easy. Why make it easy on poor Jen?!?

I'm sitting here watching it upload 3300 songs I DID NOT CHOOSE. If it does not let me choose after this little caper, I am going to hurdle it out the nearest window.

I'm LATE FOR WORK, you little machine! I need MUSIC!! I need audio books in their entirety--not random tracks of each!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Have You Read These YA's?

I stole this from a blog I ran across tonight...Teen Book Review.

The following list of books teens love, books teens should read, and books adults who serve teens should know about was compiled IN ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC MANNER and should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Put an “X” next to the books you’ve read
Put a “+” next to the books you LOVE
Put a “#” next to the books you plan on reading
Tally your “X”s at the bottom
Share with your friends!

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams #
2. Kit’s Wilderness / David Almond
3. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian / Sherman Alexie #
4. Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson #(Started it but
5. Feed / M.T. Anderson
6. Flowers in the Attic / V.C. Andrews X
7. 13 Reasons Why / Jay Asher X
8. Am I Blue? / Marion Dane Bauer (editor)
9. Audrey Wait! / Robin Benway
10. Weetzie Bat / Francesca Lia Block
11. Tangerine / Edward Bloor
12. Forever / Judy Blume
13. What I Saw and How I Lied / Judy Blundell
14. Tyrell / Coe Booth
15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants / Ann Brashares #
16. A Great and Terrible Beauty / Libba Bray +
17. The Princess Diaries / Meg Cabot #
18. The Stranger / Albert Camus X
19. Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card #
20. Postcards from No Man’s Land / Aidan Chambers
21. Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky
22. And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie +
23. Gingerbread / Rachel Cohn
24. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist / Rachel Cohn and David Levithan #
25. Artemis Fowl (series) / Eoin Colfer
26. The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins +
27. The Midwife’s Apprentice / Karen Cushman
28. The Truth About Forever / Sarah Dessen
29. Little Brother / Cory Doctorow
30. A Northern Light / Jennifer Donnelly
31. Tears of a Tiger / Sharon Draper
32. The House of the Scorpion / Nancy Farmer
33. Breathing Underwater / Alex Flinn
34. Stardust / Neil Gaiman
35. Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden
36. What Happened to Cass McBride / Gail Giles
37. Fat Kid Rules the World / K.L. Going
38. Lord of the Flies / William Golding X
39. Looking for Alaska / John Green +
40. Bronx Masquerade / Nikki Grimes
41. Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse
42. Hoot / Carl Hiaasen
43. The Outsiders / S.E. Hinton
44. Crank / Ellen Hopkins
45 The First Part Last / Angela Johnson
46. Blood and Chocolate / Annette Curtis Klause X
47. Arrow’s Flight / Mercedes Lackey
48. Hattie Big Sky / Kirby Larson
49. To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee # (Again, started it...)
50. Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan
51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks / E. Lockhart
52. The Giver / Lois Lowry
53. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry
54. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie / David Lubar
55. Inexcusable / Chris Lynch
56. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things / Carolyn Mackler
57. Dragonsong / Anne McCaffrey
58. White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean
59. Sold / Patricia McCormick
60. Jellicoe Road / Melina Marchetta
61. Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr X
62. Twilight / Stephenie Meyer X
63. Dairy Queen / Catherine Murdock
64. Fallen Angels / Walter Dean Myers
65. Monster / Walter Dean Myers
66. Step From Heaven / An Na
67. Mama Day / Gloria Naylor
68. The Keys to the Kingdom (series) / Garth Nix
69. Sabriel / Garth Nix
70. Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
71. Eragon / Christopher Paolini X
72. Hatchet / Gary Paulsen
73. Life As We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer
74. The Golden Compass / Phillip Pullman #
75. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging / Louise Rennison
76. The Lightning Thief / Rick Riordan
77. Always Running: La Vida Loca / Luis Rodriguez
78. how i live now / Meg Rosoff
79. Harry Potter (series) / J.K. Rowling +
80. Holes / Louis Sachar #
81. Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger X
82. Push / Sapphire
83. Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi
84. Unwind / Neil Shusterman
85. Coldest Winter Ever / Sister Souljah
86. Stargirl / Jerry Spinelli
87. Chanda’s Secrets / Allan Stratton
88. Tale of One Bad Rat / Brian Talbot
89. Rats Saw God / Rob Thomas
90. Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien X
91. Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman
92. Gossip Girl / Cecily Von Ziegesar
93. Uglies / Scott Westerfeld +
94. Every Time a Rainbow Dies / Rita Williams-Garcia
95. Pedro and Me / Judd Winick
96. Hard Love / Ellen Wittlinger
97. American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang
98. Elsewhere / Gabrielle Zevin
99. I am the Messenger / Markus Zusak #
100. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak +

Wow...apparently I'm reading all the wrong YA's. (g) I only counted 17 on this list. (29 if you count all the books in the series I've read) I need to get crackin'!

How'd you guys fair?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Very Long Week!

It's been an unbelieveably busy week. Work is hopping--and I've put in a lot of OT. EXHAUSTING.

And, frankly, I've been paying WAY too much attention to everything going on over at All The World's Our Page. It's been so super exciting to launch, tho...and all of us (Kristen, Rachel, Claire, and I) are SO thrilled to have had so many people turn out to wish us good luck, etc. If you haven't dropped by, what are you waiting for? We're giving away free books for the love of Pete! (g)

You still have time to enter for a chance to win Donald Maass's new book FIRE IN FICTION. I've read a good chunk of it, and trust me, You Want It. All you have to do is leave a comment with your name. The entries close tomorrow (Friday) at 12PM EST.

And in the next few weeks, we'll be giving away some of our personal faves. Can't wait for that, lemme tell you! I still haven't decided which book/s to give away. TOUGH CALL!

Oh, and next week we'll be talking about our various works in progress, etc. WITH excerpts. *eeeee* SCARY! I swear, I've been blogging for close to three years now and I've never been THIS nervous. We all are! Weird. (g)

Hope all of you are having a great week! The weekend is almost upon us! YAY.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Grand Opening!

I can now reveal the Super-Exciting-Secret Project!!!

I--along with Claire Gregory, Rachel Walsh, and Kristen Callihan--will now be group blogging at

Please stop by and see us!

We will be giving away several books over the coming weeks, and all you have to do to enter the drawings is leave a comment with your name. Easy Peasy, right? We'd also love it if you spread the word, link our blog on your blog, etc. The more who know, the better!

This week, we're giving away FIRE IN FICTION by Donald Maass. (!!!) How cool is that? It's a kick-arse book.

Other giveaways will be announced, so stay tuned!

We'll be blogging about all aspects of writing. The day-to-day's, craft, querying agents, conferences, working with agents, being on submission--anything and everything we go through on our paths to publication. We're also planning some interactive serial stories that will let YOU control where the stories go. It's going to be a lot of fun. I can't wait to get started!

And in case you're wondering, I will still be blogging here. ATWOP will just be a little more...organized. (g)

Come sign up for FIRE IN FICTION -- The drawing is THIS Friday!! Don't wait, do it now! :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SHADOW KISS by Richelle Mead

Just finished reading SHADOW KISS by Richelle Mead and boy am I SO glad I waited to read it until the fourth book was out. Let me tell you, it has one of those endings that leaves you screaming for more.

Actually, I think my reaction was something like this:

*Jen reading, knowing the pages are dwindling...two more pages...*aaargh* page...oh shiite, only a paragraph..last sentence...*


Yes, I am a'clamoring for more. In fact, did I not have the fourth novel in my hot little hands, I might've staked out Mead's front yard, refusing to leave until she let me peer over her shoulder while she wrote it. I think all of us should be extremely thankful this is NOT the situation. I do indeed have the book, and I will not go all stalker on anyone. Small miracle.

That said, I have no idea if I should read the next book because I have a gut feeling my reaction to the end of book 4 will only be...more intense. (g)

Okay -- I haven't reviewed any of the books in this series, so let me give you a quick overview of Mead's world.

Rose Hathaway is what's known as a dhamphir. A half-human, half-vampire. This makeup leaves her stronger and more resilient than full-vampires, the Moroi. Because of this difference, dhamphirs pretty much serve two purposes in life. They either go into intense training and become guardians to the physically inferior Moroi, or they become...hmmm, how shall we put this? Blood whores. *heh* Because the ONLY way for Moroi to reproduce is to do it with a dhamphir. (Is this twisted or what?) Dhamphir's are basically the second class citizens of the vampire world. Their motto: They come first. Meaning the Moroi.

But there are evil forces also at work in this world! The Stirgoi. Stirgoi are the BAD vampires. They're sort of a combination of the vampires we all love to lust after, and brainless zombies intent on eating brains. Only they want blood. They're evil, destructive, and hell-bent on taking out all the Moroi. Hence the need for Guardians (the trained arse-kicking dhampirs).

The Moroi DO have one advantage, tho. Magic. Only problem is that they've sort of lost it over the years. And those in power believe all the fighting should be left up to the Guardians.

This is a problem for Lissa Dragomir, who has the power of spirit. Rose and Lissa grew up together, and when in a tragic car accident that wiped out Lissa's entire family, it was Rose she came to the rescue of, saving her with her magic and creating a link between them known as being Shadow Kissed. You with me?

This shadow kiss allows Rose to feel Lissa's emotions--to even "become" her in order to see through her eyes, etc. This link is very strong, and of course, makes Rose the perfect guardian-in-training to protect Lissa. They attend the St. Vladimir's Academy -- a school for vamps and training dhamphirs.

They get into a lot of trouble. They chase after a lot of boys. Most importantly, they, or rather, Rose, chases Dmitri, the guardian assigned to train her for her future guardian role. Still with me?


I'm not going to go into the specifics about THIS book. Way too much to explain, and I'd spoil everything for you. What I will say is this:


Book 4: BLOOD PROMISE (just released this year)
Book 5: SPIRIT BOUND (Slated to drop May 2010)
Book 6: TBA (sob--I believe it's the final one -- Slated to drop 2010)

If you've read BTPM and enjoyed it -- get these books. They will show what a truly talentless hack I am. But that's okay.

State Of Emergency!




It's too early. I'm not ready for this!!!


Just got home from a midnight viewing of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. This movie is very scary. I may have to sleep with a night light for a while. (g) That said, the ending was fairly lame. LOLOL. Not gonna lie to you. But the rest was pretty intense and nail-biting kinda scary. I screamed a lot. My friends laughed at me. I screamed some more cuz it was hella scary.

Oh, and wanna know what's even scarier? It's snowing outside right now. We are barely into October, and It's Snowing. This has to be some sort of cosmic joke. WHERE IS FALL?? It's like we skipped it altogether. Bah. The ground Had Better Not be white when I wake up. I want reds and oranges and yellows and crunching leaves beneath my feet.

Stay back, winter!

Off to "sleep." Not sure I'll be able to. Mwhahaha.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some Early-Morning Random Thoughts

It's Friday. TG. But it's cold, and icky, and I don't want to get out of bed and go to work. But alas, that is life. The unfortunate part is that it's an ALL DAY work day for me. I'll be leaving in about 45 min and won't get home until probably 1am. Tell me that doesn't suck? lol


To compound the looooonnng day, we had to make a late night emergency vet run with Bailey last night. It's still not clear what's wrong with her. Well, we know it's her throat. The big sign--other than the fact she's had her tail down and is walking around all sick-like--is that when we tried to feed her some soft food last night, she cried the entire time she ate it. One exam and two x-rays later (with many, many high-pitched, squeals--even when no one was touching her. Such a drama queen), and they couldn't really find anything in her soft palate, etc. Prognosis? Possible puppy sore throat. *smacks forehead* Well, it could be something bigger, but it's all a wait and see game at this point. Her cries were horrible, though, so you couldn't have kept us away from the vet. My guess is that she scraped up her throat scarfing down something. Possibly something we gave her. Possibly a stick. Possibly a rock. She's not the brightest bulb, but we love her.


I'm still bursting with good news this morning. Yaaaaaay.


Did a bit of work on FI between vet and Husker game. (YAY, way to make a comeback, boys!) The thing I always find funny about writing? It's always sooo much easier figuring things out than it is actually executing them (and it's NEVER easy for me to figure things out in advance). LOL. But I'm working on it, and that's the important thing. The new motivational thread I'm weaving into the story will change some things, but suprisingly not as much as I thought. The thing is, the major scenes that involved "the big reveals", etc. were the ones I've been stuck on for so long. So I'm not really losing that much because I couldn't complete them to begin with. LOL. So yay. That said, the more I think about the changes, the more I love them. They add this great layer to the story that was always sort of there, but now is clearly defined. And boy -- it's a doozy. :)

My goal, of course, is to make it as seamless as possible. Natural to the point that when you guys read it someday, you'll wonder to yourself -- what the heck was Jen blathering on about for so long? This COULDN'T have been that hard to write. lololol. Ah, the dream. :) But if it reads that way someday, realize the journey to get it there was NEVER easy. Fun, yes. Easy? No. Ah, nothing else like writing in the whole world.


Super-exciting-secret project is still in the works. Big reveal on Monday -- Promise!


It's official. I'm in the Halloween mood. I'm busy as all get-out, tired, and more than a little cranky most days. But dang it, those inflatable pumpkins and ghosts I'm seeing everywhere have brought me back around to Happy Jen. I love this season. LOVE IT. I'll even take the cold, dreary weather as part of the package. Can't wait to get to a haunted house or pumpkin patch this year. I'm a screamer, guaranteed to splinter all ear drums within a quarter mile radius. I'm told this makes it quite fun to tour one of these places with me. (g)

That said -- I may have to sneak a few moments to work on BTPM here and there. Or maybe even on WALKING IN SHADOW--the sequel. Werewolvews -- just the thing to put me in a good mood. :)


Okay -- I've procrastinated, but it really is time to head to work now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This Is For...Well, You KNOW Who You Are!!!

Is It Really Thursday?


Where did this week go?

Oh yeah, I spent it at work. :P

Which is where I'm heading now.

Can you hear the happiness in my fingers?

It's there -- listen closely.

I miss Evergreen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rough Waters

Okay, after regrouping to work on FI again, I had to face the fact that I had one very serious plot point that was throwing the whole works topsy-turvy. One little piece that could sent my sad little house of cards a tumblin' down. I had to fix it. I had to brainstorm. I had to come up with SOMETHING to explain why certain events go down the way they do. Cuz, frankly, if I couldn't, I wasn't sure I could make the book believable in the end. And let's face it, I've had a hard time doing that to begin with! LOL.

I digress.

Anyway, I've known about this particular issue for a LOOOOOOONG time. And I've switched this or that...tried to look at things from different character POV's...squinted really hard at the screen and jumped up and down like a kangaroo on crack.. I've done it all to try and figure some way around this roadblock. And I've continuously hit the same brick wall. Over and over and over and over again.

Eventually I just kinda said to heck with it. It will work itself out eventually. HA. It never did. :)

But....EUREKA!! I've had a breakthrough. And I owe it all to Tricia and her inquisitive nature. :) Seriously, all it took was for her to ask just the right question at the right time and my little synapses were firing like mad. She seriously solved a problem that has plagued me for months on end! How awesome is that?

Now, I'm not guaranteeing it will be smooth sailing from here on out, but things are definitely going in the right direction.

So, thank you, Tricia! You rock! (And you have MORE than redeemed yourself!) Thanks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It's Saturday. It's cold outside. I have to work all day. MEH.

There isn't even a Husker game on to break up that day o' fun.

In FUN news, tho....and let's face it, we all need a little fun. We're having a snip thread over at compu...HERE.

Stop by and check it out -- or post something for us all to enjoy! Snip threads are my most favoritest things in the whole wide world. :):):)

Hi ho, I go. Have a good day! May it be warm where you are. (g)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh Man!

I don't know about you, but I'm excited to read it!!!

The Attitude I'm Trying To Adopt!

Man, could they make videos back then, or what??

Changing Of The Hat!

In Superman fashion, Jen ducks into the closet, emerging a moment later wearing her FI cap.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


One of my peeps has super exciting—super secret news that I can't really share. But I will say this:


Okay, that is all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm gonna have to try this "Stop, Drop & Roll" method the next time I walk Chloe & Bailey!

*Rubs Hands Together*

BTPM is coming along! I've decided to keep this really kick arse fight scene I wrote and trashed a while back. It's a little too much at present, but I think with a few tweaks to tone down the tone, I should be good to go. :) I have to say, it reads REALLY well, probably the best stuff in the book, if I'm honest. I just can't let it go! But it can't really work the way it is now, either. Me and my little minions will go to work on it and pound it into something usable.

Oh, and I'm devising a very clever plan with some friends. We shall be revealing it very, very soon. *muhahahaha*

And I'm blogging/emailing at seven in the morning. Someone do an intervention. Quick!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Funniest Thing I've Read In A Looooong Time

Maureen Johnson, YA author extraordinaire, is doing a chapter by chapter reader's "guide" to Dan Brown's new novel, THE LOST SYMBOL.

It is seriously...da bomb.

I haven't laughed this hard in quite some time.

You must, must, must, MUST check it out. (Or avoid if you actually WANT to read the book. And admittedly, I kinda do!)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3...

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Oh, Evergreen! How I Miss Thee

After the Colorado Gold conference, the gnomies got together for a little writer's retreat. We did this last March -- in Myrtle Beach, SC. So beach and the mountains so far... I can't wait to see where we go next time!

(And I just read on an agent's blog that a writer's life DOES NOT consist of spending quiet afternoons in a mountain retreat...or seaside in a cottage. Shame on us. We're doing it ALL wrong.)

Anyway...some pics. (Be forewarned, amateur here!)

Our House. This is what you call roughing it in the wilderness. I'll tell ya. It's a tough job, but we gnomies are up to the challenge!

It was HUGE...had an indoor pool and everything! Yeah, it was pretty much made of awesome, even if the decor was stuck somewhere in the 80's.

Our patio. Check out that blue sky! We had PERFECT weather while we were there. Lucky. A week later, they had snow!

The view FROM our patio. Are you feeling sorry for us now?? I mean, goodness. To wake up that view takes a certain kind of human strength and endurance. We are all very brave women.

More view from the patio -- obviously a different time of day. Did I mention this house was gated on acres and acres of private land? I'll tell you what. If you ever vacation, you WANT Beth Shope booking the rental. She always finds the greatest places to stay!

The view during a hike we took. I can't remember the exact name of the location. Something with bears in it...Beautiful.

A HUGE beaver's dam. Holey moley they've been hard at work!

Cool cloud shapes. I think this is a sign that Beth Shope needs to finish her book. Can't be a coincidence that we saw this. :)

This little guy decided to pop and say hello to me when I was out on a walk on the rental property. We watched each other for a long time, and he/she actually ended up following me for a little while. There was a whole family of deer living under some brush near the property gate.


Our final morning in Evergreen. I didn't want to leave. Sigh. Can you blame me?

Friday, September 25, 2009


3 chapters down...only to go.

I can SO do this.

RMFW Workshops – Screenwriting, Presented by Eldon Thompson

I wanted to post some of my notes from the RMFW conference. You'll have to excuse me if these are a little sparse in certain spots. The only real point that I can criticize Eldon Thompson on as a presenter is that he spoke EXTREMELY fast. I'm a quick note-taker (law school, hello), but even I couldn't keep up at times.

So, you might be wondering – why take a screenwriting class, Jen?

What can I say? I love movies. Love, love, love, LOVE me some movies. You might say I'm slightly obsessed with them, though I haven't seen a new one in ages. And one comment I've heard over the years is that some of my scenes are "very cinematic." I'm not sure that's always a good thing in writing – guess it depends on who you're talking to. That said, I really didn't know much about screenwriting before taking this class. Even now, I'm not sure it's something I could do – well. I definitely want to try, though. Especially after taking this class.


Eldon started off by talking about some of the differences between novels and screenwriting.

  1. For one, novels have more freedom while screenwriting is much more structured. For a two hour film, you'll need 120 pages. It's 1 page per minute. Therefore, if you're writing for TV, you'd be shooting for 40 pages, etc. No going crazy on the word counts, people!
  2. Certain events HAVE TO happen on certain page numbers. This all helps to provide a tempo and/or the beats that are expected in films. In novels, we can pretty much do just about anything and get away with it. Within reason, of course.
  3. While writing a novel is a solo venture, writing a screenplay is very collaborative. Eldon made a point of saying you'll get opinions from every direction – the actors, the director, the boys in the office, etc. Actually, he made this part of screenwriting sound very tiresome. In novels, specificity is the key. You can go on and on about using a certain dog breed in a scene, while in screenplays you simply have to say "there's a dog." Why? Because you're not the only one working on the project. Someone else might come along and see a different breed. (Jen's aside: Are you getting the sense that while you're giving a lot of creative input into a project, you're not allowed to go hog wild on details? Cuz I sure am.)
  4. Films/TV shows are dictated by cost. Obviously in novels you can place your characters in the wildest, most extravagant setting you can imagine. In film, things come back to the Benjamins. Can you really afford to shoot at the top of the Eiffel Tower or would the backyard of your mother's house be more reasonable? (I think we all know the answer to that one.)

Eldon finished this section by reminding us of The Golden Rule: Every rule is made to be broken. But, Eldon pointed out, understanding why the rules exist is always a good idea.

So, some tips on writing a screenplay:

  1. You want a major event to occur every ten pages. At the 30 page mark, you want a culmination of the previous two events. AKA – The Payoff.
  2. Conflict (as in novels) is the key element. You want two characters with opposing objectives in every scene.
  3. Avoid dinner scenes!
  4. One of the big mistakes first-time screenwriters make is that they want to add direction. (i.e. try to dictate camera angles, how emphasis should be placed on certain lines of dialogue, etc.) Basically, they want to be the directors. They want their screenplays to play out in their minds just like a novel would. Well, folks, Eldon said to NOT do this. You'll step on peoples' toes. Big time. I mean, just imagine if I wrote a screenplay that eventually starred Jack Nicholson. Do you think Jack would want me to tell him he has to say his line like a little girl? Yeah, don't think so.
  5. There's a lot less time in film, so you need to keep your writing lean and mean. Central character focus is very, very important. You'll want to focus mostly on your primary characters, a little less on your secondary, and leave out your third altogether.
  6. Scenes should build on the previous one. NO tangents.
  7. You don't need to describe setting with a lot of detail. (Goes back to the Benjamins and stepping on peoples' toes again.) You pretty much want to stick with whether the scene takes place indoors or outdoors; whether it's day or night; and the location (once again, bearing in mind that this is subject to change. Ah, you just know most of it will be shot at your mom's house.) Remember Eldon's BIG RULE: SIFYN – SAVE IT FOR YOUR NOVEL.
  8. Everything in a script has to be seen on the screen. You can have someone frown, but you can't say WHY they're frowning. EVERYTHING is visual rather than internal. If it can't be seen on the screen, take it out.
  9. Do not let reality cloud your story. Hollywood could care less if the scene you're describing really happened. A movie has to be the most dramatic version of an event possible.


How can you get started?

  1. Try to adapt an established story. You'll need permission if you want to shop it around (an option from the writer), but it's a good way to get practice.
  2. Eldon warns it's difficult to adapt your own work. In order to adapt a novel to a screenplay, you must be ruthless. You have to yank out entire threads/subplots, delete characters you love, etc. You must be ruthless if you attempt this. Go into it open-minded, and DO NOT be afraid to KILL your darlings!

Software options for screenwriting:

  1. Movie Magic
  2. CeltX (free download)
  3. Final Draft (industry standard)

Okay…now we're going to get into the nitty-gritty of writing a screenplay. The "set-up" so to speak.

Three things you should always keep in mind: Character, Desire, and Conflict. Repeat after me. Character, Desire, and Conflict. Got it? K.

For this section, he used Michael Hauge's Six Stage Plot Structure, seen here:

I'll go through because Eldon listed some great examples for each stage/turning point, etc.

Stage 1 – Setup. (0-10%)

  1. Basically, you introduce your hero doing what he/she does.
  2. You should draw the reader/viewer into the setting, establish identification with your character, etc.


  • Erin Brockovich – We see Erin is a broke, single mother who has fallen onto hard times.
  • Castaway – Fedex guy who has to leave the love of his life to go on an impromptu business trip.
  • Gladiator – What's his bucket – Russell Crow – leads his troops to victory.

Turning Point #1: Opportunity (approx. 10% of the way in)

  1. The new opportunity. A new, visible desire develops that will start a character on his/her new journey.
  2. The character goes in WILLINGLY.


  • The Empire Strikes Back – Luke goes off alone to find Yoda.

Stage 2 – New Situation (10-25%)

  1. Hero reacts to his/her new situation.
  2. Formulates a specific plan to tackle new problem/journey.
  3. Will often see a geographical shift (i.e. the character moves)
  4. The characters go into the situation willingly. They're excited and believe the obstacle can be solved easily.


  • Mrs. Doubtfire – Robin Williams devises a plan to see his children. (Becoming a female housekeeper)

Turning Point #2: Change of Plans (Approx. 25% of the way in)

  1. Something happens that makes it clear things won't be as easy as they first thought.
  2. Audience should be cheering them on.
  3. Character's inner journey may be different, invisible. But you must develop a visible desire that the audience can see on the screen.


  • The Empire Strikes Back – Leia and Han Solo escape Hoth, thinking they are well onto their destination when their light speed doesn't work.
  • Working Girl – Tess realizes her boss has stolen her idea and is determined to sell it herself.

Stage 3 – Progress (25-50%)

  1. The hero's plan seems to be working.
  2. He/she has avoided all obstacles for now


  • Erin Brockovich – Erin gets Ed to represent the Hinkley residents. She also establishes her relationship with biker boy.
  • The Empire Strikes Back – Luke finds Yoda and begins his training.

Turning Point #3: Point of No Return (Approx. the 50% mark)

  • The character must fully commit to his plan
  • There is no way out but forward


  • The Truman Show – Truman crosses the bridge.
  • Titanic – Rose sleeps with Jack.
  • Erin Brockovich – Ed's firm hires the new, bigger firm.

Stage IV – Complications and Higher Stakes (50-75%)

This should be fairly self-explanatory. IOW, I have a hole in my notes. (g) If you need help, read one of Donald Maass's books. J

Turning Point #4: Major Setback (75% point)

  1. Should take place around page 90 in a two hour movie
  2. This is the hero's darkest moment. All hope seems lost.
  3. If the hero is pulling off some great deception, this is when he/she is revealed.
  4. Couples break up.


  • The Matrix – Morpheus is captured.
  • Titanic – It's clear the ship is going to go down.
  • Working Girl – Tess is caught by her boss and gets canned.

Stage V – The Final Push (75 to 90-99%)

  1. Hero must gather resources to achieve goals.
  2. The conflict is overwhelming, nothing is working.

Examples: (these are my own – more holes)

  • Titanic – Jack and Rose try to save themselves; get to a boat.
  • The Matrix – Keanu Reeves is fighting the matrix guys, but he isn't strong enough.
  • Gladiator – Crow's escape/coup attempt fails and his men are killed.

Turning Point #5: The Climax (90-99% point)

  1. The hero must determine his/her own fate.
  2. He/she cannot rely on someone else to save them.


  • Gladiator – Final battle scene in the coliseum
  • The Empire Strikes Back – Luke fights Darth Vader and discovers DV is his father. (Jen's aside: Luuuuke… I am your faaaather. Umm, sorry if I spoiled that for any of you.)

Stage VI – The Aftermath (90-100% point)

  1. The hero's challenge has been overcome.
  2. This gives a look at where the hero is NOW.


  • Erin Brockovich – Erin receives her bonus check and is now working on a new case.
  • Gladiator – Russell is reunited with his family. I remember there was a lot of wheat.


And that's it, folks. You've just got the lowdown on how to write a screenplay. Anyone dying to give it a try?

Oh…just a few last notes.

Genre standards:

Comedy/Rom. Comedy – 90 min/pages

Action – 120 min – pages will likely be less because of the big action scenes.

Historical Drama/Epic – 120 min/pages

NOTHING goes under 85 minutes.


Eldon's final tips:

  1. Create balance. White space is very important!
  2. Less is more for dialogue.
  3. Flashback/dream sequences: As a rule, don't use them. (But what was it Eldon said earlier…what was THE GOLDEN RULE?? Ah yes, all rules are made to be broken.)
  • When using a flashback, use headers – end/begin flashback.
  • Patterns CAN work well, but don't use them as a crutch to get backstory in.
  • Use them very carefully. Most people consider them a cheat. (Jen's Aside: There must be a lot of people REALLY mad about the show Lost.)


And Eldon's one last piece of advice. This is important. I'm putting it in big bold letters:


Jen: Wha? When did floors come into it? I mean, I know there has to BE a floor, but I DIDN'T specify whether it was hardwood, marble, or parquet. SWEAR!!

No, no, no. That's not what he meant.

He simply meant you can't fixate on/polish one section of your screenplay forever. Move on. Push through to the end. Go, team, Go!


Hope this was useful! Thanks Eldon – great class!