Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coping with withdrawals, or: I finished watching The Walking Dead, now how do I carry on with my life?

For the past five or so weeks, I have received one question, over and over, from friends and family members, from facebook people I don't know, even from major media outlets:

"Are you watching The Walking Dead?"

Or, if you're my Grandma, "Are you watching that show on that channel that has people turning into some kind of creature? I think it's vampires? That doesn't look like anything I'd want to watch. They put the damndest things on tv these days, it's no wonder that kids are being violent."

Up until three days ago, I was wondering where all of this was coming from. At first I thought, "What the hell, guys? Do you even know me at all? I don't watch stuff like that. I watch Family Guy and reruns of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I like dumb, goofy stuff that is easy to understand while high. I don't watch "serious drama".

(Yes, that's kind of a lie, I have been watching and enjoying Boardwalk Empire this season, but my point stands)

I thought people were recommending The Walking Dead because I write about vampires and ghoulish stuff. Also, since 2006 I've been telling everyone that will listen about this awesome idea for a zombie book that no publisher wants to buy and that's too bad for them because it will go down in history as the best zombie book ever written. Everyone just wants funny zombie books, and this one is going to be scary beyond all belief, but maybe the tides are starting to turn, what with this new show and Romero getting back in the game. Did you guys know that Mister Rogers and George A. Romero were friends, and that Mister Rogers thought Night of The Living Dead was "a lot of fun"?

I got off track somewhere. Oh, The Walking Dead. Right. So, At first I was pretty sure that people were just assuming I would love The Walking Dead because I write gross-out stuff. The same way all my friends assumed I would like Firefly because I liked Buffy, and they were all wrong. I became resistant to the idea of watching it, just because people were hyping it up so much. I went to my friend Scott's house, and he convinced me to watch just the opening scene of the series (extremely graphic, so be warned):

Yes, that's the opening. There's no wading in to see how the water is. This is where you dive right into the show. I was intrigued. More so when Scott explained that the show is adapted from a comic. So, at least I knew it was written by someone passionate about telling a good story, because let's face it, comic writers are the best storytellers we have in our culture right now. I promptly went home and obtained episodes of the show through entirely legal means that do not in any way involve a word that rhymes with "warrant", and started watching. I thought, "I'll [totally not download] the whole series, in case it hooks me, and I'll give the pilot a chance." I watched all five episodes in one day, only to learn that the season finale would air the next day. Once I got the chance to watch the finale, I thought to myself, "Okay. Great. Now what?"

That's the state I have been operating in for the past twenty-four hours. "Okay. Great. Now what?" Because this was a pilot season, AMC only produced six episodes. They've already renewed the show for another season, but rumor has it that one won't release until Halloween of 2011. That's a long time for me. I need to know what happens next. It's bad enough that Harry Dresden left me hanging this year, I can't take another cliffhanger.

If you, like myself, are working through this strangely grief-like state, I recommend the following:

1. Stay calm and put a cold washcloth over your eyes.
2. Take up smoking. I don't care what. Cigarettes, grass, insulation. You gotta do something to take the edge off.
3. Write fan fiction, but only good stuff. I'm not kidding, I really don't need to stumble across any The Walking Dead MPREG or "Everyone is in high school and also Twilight is there".
4. Oh my god, what happened to Merle? They let the whole season finish and they never wrapped that up? I'm going to go shake and cry in a corner.
5. Shake and cry in a corner.
6. Panic. Just blindly panic.

I have no answers. We're all in this together, people who watched The Walking Dead. People who didn't watch it, I'm not going to tell you to watch it. Because then you'd be in this same predicament. What I'm going to suggest is that you wait. You wait until the new season starts. Then, you start watching season 1, one episode a week, until you are are always six weeks behind and your viewing pleasure can last longer, cutting your withdrawal time down by six weeks. You're welcome.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joss, you chubby ginger fuck.

I have cut Joss Whedon a lot of slack over the years. When he allowed the atrocity that was Buffy/Spike. When he couldn't stop whining about networks not giving him a chance while he had two successful cult franchises in his wake. When he mentioned Firefly's cancellation in every interview for two years. When I realized that no matter what show he wrote, he would always be leaving out non-white characters and making women into his ultimate strong-woman-helpless-emotionally jack off fantasy in which Eliza Dushku looks slightly shocked and saddened as she punches him in the throat while begging him for help in learning the ways of love.

Okay, that last one is admittedly me losing patience with him. But his latest transgression is far and away a hundred times worse than any dickbag move he's made so far. Buffy fans be warned, there will be comic spoilers from here out.

Joss Whedon killed Giles.

For reasons that I can only chalk up to just not giving a shit, in the January Buffy comic, Angel, who is evil again, kills Giles by breaking his neck. I remember something like that happening before. In season two. When killing a character actually meant something in the Buffy verse and before everyone expected Joyce to be back any minute.

Joss recycled Giles's girlfriend's death to kill Giles.

I can see what he was going for. For Giles to die by the hand of the vampire who killed the woman he loved, in the same manner as she died, years after reconciling with the man who killed her and coming to trust him enough to fight beside him, should have packed an emotional wallop. It would have been perfect, if he hadn't waited for the series to end before he did it. You can't do a "call-back" to an episode that aired over ten years ago and expect it to have the effect you intended. Instead, it looks like you've run out of ideas. And when that lack of creativity extends to a beloved character, fans are going to be pissed.

I know the Buffy comics are supposed to be canon, but as a fan, I cannot and will not accept any of the trainwreck that is the Buffy comics. No "Dawn loses her virginity and becomes a giant," no "Buffy is lesbian now because Joss can't function without the thought of girl parts touching and straight women who have bad enough luck with men will naturally become gay," no "Giles is dead, aren't I awesome at making you feeeeeel things?" The Buffy comics bear no resemblance at all to the show the I remember, and I can add that to my list of reasons why Joss Whedon is an overrated jackass.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I almost forgot!

I did an interview at Dark Angel Fiction Writing. Go check it out!

It's Always A Beautiful Day In My Neighborhood, Fred

Somehow, in the course of an argument over who is hotter, Amy Adams or Idina Menzel,

(It's Idina Menzel)

I somehow was reminded of how much I love Mister Rogers. Let me paint a picture of my childhood for you. I was raised by my loving family, most notably my maternal grandmother, who was my primary caregiver during my early childhood. My grandma Z is wonderful person, always ready to express love and able to talk to a child on their level. Especially about their fears.

Grandma Z used to do this thing that, in hindsight, is probably the reason for my enduring night terrors. She used to go in and take her bath at night, and every time she would yell, "Help, Jenny! Help!" I would come running and find the tub was empty of water, and my grandma was missing. "Grandma, where are you?" I would yell, and she would answer, from some far off place, "I went down the drain!" I would run over to the tub to peer down the drain (and now, since you've never seen what my grandparent's bathroom looked like in the 80's, you have no concept of how scary the tub was, but the walls were crumbling and the drain was all rusty and forbidding) and then, when I was frantically yelling, "Wait, I'll get help!" she would spring from her hiding spot and scare me.

I fell for it every time. Because I was four.

Anyway, one afternoon I was watching Mister Rogers on PBS. And he had this to share with me:

"See, Grandma!" I shouted triumphantly. "I can never go down the drain!" I can't remember what Grandma was doing at the time, but it was the kitchen. Actually, no, I do remember. She was making donuts for her dad for his birthday. And she said, "Mister Rogers is a liar." My aunt Mary, who was a teenager living at home at the time, said, "Mister Rogers is a pervert."

I didn't know what a pervert was, but I knew what a liar was. It meant I could still go down the drain.

Oddly enough, even though I had been assured that Mister Rogers had lied to me, I still loved him. And I still do. I learned about hanging chads from Mister Rogers:

I learned about being cool:

Most importantly, I learned about being kind. And for all my swearing and wishing that people would burn to death while exploding in the vacuum of space, I truly am a good person. Just the other day, when I was lamenting to my mother that my kids are missing out on Mister Rogers, she said, "I'm sure you could download it from the internet." And I said, "I couldn't do that. It would be stealing. Stealing from Mister Rogers. And he told me stealing was wrong."

Basically, the best piece of advice I can give anyone is, if you're in a situation where you don't know what to do, think, "What would Mister Rogers do?" and then do that. And remember that you can never go down the drain. No matter what my Grandma might tell you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What the Fuck, RWA?

See, I have a theme going. Dear Author pointed out today that RWA hasn't really done anything about sound rogering Dorchester has given some of its authors, but back when Harlequin was going to start up Harlequin Horizons, they called an emergency meeting and removed Harlequin from their list of approved publishers.

Okay, let's look at the facts here:

Harlequin Horizons

  • Harlequin announces that they are going to offer a self-publishing model.
  • Before the service can actually launch or generate any kind of revenue, RWA calls an emergency session and boots Harlequin.

Dorchester Publishing

  • Dorchester decides that for the next six months, all mass-market titles will be released digitally. Books scheduled for mass-market release will have their release dates moved to some nebulous time in the future, and they will be digital only. Authors who have taken out ads and otherwise spent money promoting their book are basically told to deal with it.
  • At this point, RWA has already smacked Dorchester's hand for not paying authors.
  • Dorchester reverts rights to work back to some authors, but continues selling (and making a profit on) those works that are no longer legally owned by them.
  • RWA still hasn't made a decision.

It boggles my mind that Harlequin got straight up spanked by RWA because they were going to do something that possibly would hurt authors. It was a big enough emergency that RWA national had to hold an emergency session to make a decision. But Dorchester is and has repeatedly harmed authors and it's no big deal?

Inconsistent leadership and spotty protection for authors is one of the reasons I no longer belong to RWA. Unfortunately, there really isn't an organization out there that compares with them in terms of helping someone become a writer. So, if you're considering joining RWA, I would say approach it the way a person who just wants a discount on makeup approaches starting a Mary Kay business: Get in, pay for what you need, get out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I don't know why someone felt the need to post Maura Kelly's address in the comments to my last post, but KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF. Maura Kelly is an idiot, but at least she's not a fucking creepy stalker.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maura Kelly, I Will Kick Your Boney Ass.

Recently, the enormous pile of fail that is Marie Claire magazine ran an op-ed piece by one vapid freelancer who took the opportunity to spew, like so much monkey diarrhea spraying the walls of a zoo enclosure, helpful advice for fat people.

The article is, if you want to treat your eyeballs to a feast of idiocy and self-importance heretofore unimaginable by people with souls, Should Fatties Get A Room (Even On Tv)?.

Okay, let's just grapple with that title there. Should fatties get a room? No. No, if I have to watch people of culturally acceptable body sizes pawing over each other in the supermarket check out line because the very sight of broccoli sends their libidos into overdrive, then I am allowed to kiss my husband in public. See, it's the "(Even on TV)?" part that gets me. It's like she's saying, "Of course, we all know it's unacceptable for fat people to touch each other in public. What decent human would even question that. No, no, what we are discussing is the probability of fat sex assaulting you in your very living room!"

That is, in fact, what the article is about. Or supposed to be about:

The other day, my editor asked me, "Think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"

Her editor was talking about Mike and Molly a sitcom that has drawn criticism for it's portrayal of two overweight people in a relationship.

But because she can't get over her own hatred of fat people, she can't write an article about that. Instead, she needs to warn us all about the dangers of being fat:

Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it's at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.

Now, let me address these comments one by one, because otherwise I'm going to just start screaming DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE and end by throwing my laptop on the floor and stomping it to dust with my rhino-like body weight.

First of all, you cannot say something like "And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy," and then jump right to using fucking fashion models as an example of health. If you believe you can equate the fashion industry with healthy body image, you are high. You are high on all the drugs in the world.

Second, "No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy," is a statement that I'm sure you, as a physician, are completely qualified to make. What? You're a not a doctor? I'm sure I saw it in your byline... hang on...

Maura Kelly is a freelance writer who is working on a novel. She rides her vintage Raleigh as often as possible — usually wearing heels, and always wearing her helmet. (She will not be a fashion victim!) Follow her on Twitter.

Oh, that's right. YOU ARE NOT A DOCTOR. You have no idea how to evaluate the health of any individual, let alone many, many individuals throughout the world. Either you're too busy picking out which high heels to wear on your bike or you don't wear your helmet as often as you claim you do.

As for your claims that obesity is costing our country epic amounts of money in health care costs... where's your data? "And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer." That's a fine statement to make, but on October 18 of this year, USA Today reported that obesity is responsible for 17% of our national health care spending. Seventeen. Percent. The article states $168 billion. The American Cancer society cites cancer ("even cancer.") at costing $228 billion last year. So... I'm guess you're not a mathematician either, then, Ms. Kelly?

She goes on to say:

yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

You heard it, fat people of America. Maura Kelly and the editors of Marie Claire find it "aesthetically displeasing" to watch fat people do anything. I don't know, I can imagine quite an aesthetically pleasing scene, almost poetic, in fact, involving a person with rolls and rolls of fat bodily shaking a clueless and rude freelance writer right out of her heels and helmet. Seriously, what kind of a fucked up, completely backward human being do you have to be to look at an expression of love between two people and decide it that it's gross, simply because those people look different than you do? Pretty fucked up, I think. I'm just being brutally honest here.

Now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk.

Actually, "size-ist jerk" isn't what I would call you at all. I would call you a vain, body-obsessed asshole who is far too invested in what other people do with their bodies. You didn't give me the wrong impression when you compared me walking across a room to a stumbling drunk or a heroin addict. You gave me a very clear picture of what a pathetic person you must truly be in real life, if your own fear of fatness manifests itself in actual discomfort from having to just see a fat person walk.

But ... I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It's something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.

Perhaps some of us have better things to do with our minds, Ms. Kelly, than obsessing over everything we put in our mouths, or what the overweight maintenence man at the gym is doing about his body. This might surprise you, because I'm sure you've never experienced this, but the second you stop worrying about what everyone else on the planet is weighing, you start to do other things, like think and enjoy your life.

(I'm happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it's cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you're getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there's plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you'll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can't afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)

Thank you so much for you completely unsolicited weightloss advice! As you are probably aware, all obese people ever eat is processed American cheese by the fistful, and we only ever get off our fat asses to lumber about distressingly in front of non-size-ist non-jerks like yourself, because we get our rocks off disgusting you.

Maura Kelly, you should be ashamed. But you won't be. I'm sure you'll look at yourself in the mirror and pick over your every flaw, just like you picked over the flaws of so many anonymous fat people in your article. You'll surround yourself with beautiful people who are similarly repelled by the very existence of fat people like me, and you'll all live in fear until the very day you die that someday, you might wake up fat. It won't happen, but you'll always be afraid of it. So, I feel sorry for you. Because all the advice you "helpfully" try to dispense, all the times you go to the gym, all the times you you hang out with your "plump" friends to try and feel better about your own weight, that will never alleviate the hatred you have for your own body.

Don't pity me, I'll just keep on pitying you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day

Years ago, I worked at Meijer, which is like Walmart but bigger and Michigan based. I worked on the "cheese wall" which meant I spent my entire shift putting cheese products up in the big refrigerated case near the grocery section.

One day, a guy from the grocery department approached me. We occasionally said hello to each other, but cheese mongering is a lonely road, so it's not like we were BFFs. He came up to me and said, "Hey. I have something I want to tell you. I'm gay."

We were in the middle of a huge Kraft sale, and I was really busy. So I said, "So?"

He explained to me then that I was the first person he had ever come out to. He wanted to practice before telling his parents that night. He was twenty-one years old. Imagine that for twenty-one years, you knew that there was something about you that people didn't like. And that in order to make everyone happy, you just had to deny that this part of you existed.

National Coming Out Day is a wonderful idea, but it's a sad one, as well. It's sad that every day isn't a good day to come out. It's sad that kids are still being mocked for their sexuality, resulting in the tragic consequences of the past weeks.

No kid should ever have to worry that their parents will stop loving them for being who they are. No one should ever be bullied into suicide over the way they were born or the way they weren't born, in the case of Transgendered individuals.

If you are a closeted gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queergendered individual reading this, I hope that one day the world changes enough that you don't have to hide anymore.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

True Tales of Horror: My Laundry Room

Today, gentle readers, I am cleaning out my laundry room. I'm sure many of you are aware that writers are not renown for their housekeeping skills. You know that scene in that horrible Stepford Wives remake where they all go to Bette Midler's house and she's a writer and the entire place is like a trash heap? That's what my house is like. I know several authors will own up to that level of filth, as well. And if someone is a writer and their house is perfectly clean, they've either got outside help or a low word count. I'm sticking to that.

Anyway, my laundry room has gotten... out of hand. I'm going to show it to you now. I advise anyone with heart trouble or a nervous condition not look at the following picture:

Yup. That is what my laziness has wrought. A solid mass of dirty clothing at least two feet deep. I have to be straight up with you, there are clothes in there my kids have worn once and grown out of in the time since I last did a massive laundry room cleaning. It comes down the landry shoot chute (I are a writer) and straight into the pile, ne'er to be seen again.

So, today I'm sitting down here, perched atop the deep freezer, alternating between working on edits for Abigail's January book (IN THE BLOOD, Samhain publishing, January 2011) and feeding the machines their due. I've got appropriately morose music playing (Tori Amos's utterly depressing Boys for Pele) and a two litre of Diet Coke to see me through. I just have to be sure to appease the Old Gods of laundry, so as not to be consumed by the pile myself.

If I don't return, be sure to buy up all my backlist so that I look more successful than I actually was.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Everything I Think, In Chronological Order

When I was in 8th grade, and later, when I was a sophomore in high school, I kept these journals. They were Mead brand, one-subject "neatbooks", the kind that didn't have any wire or anything, just perforated pages. I filled these with pointless, free-form thoughts for the entire school year. In hindsight, I wish I had done this every year of school.

The reason I'm remembering them now is that my son has started keeping a journal in a notebook. I dug through all my old crap and unearthed these relics of the past because I thought he might be interested in knowing what his mother was like in her childhood years.

He said, "Wow, those are really old," and went back to his own journal. Jerk.

Anyway, I thought, "Maybe people who read my blog would be interested." So, if you're not interested in meeting Jenny at thirteen and fifteen, then get interested, friend.

I named these veritable tomes "Everything I Think In Chronological Order," and "Everything I Think In Chronological Order II: Birth of An Alternateen". Really. That is what I called them.

Here's the May 21, 1996 entry from "Everything I Think In Chronological Order II":
I have to go see Margret today. (ed.-- Margret was my counselor. You'll see why I needed one as you keep reading) I'm stressed out. I hate how people always eat during class. It's like they think they are totally different and don't have to follow the rules. That makes me angry.
Niki Davenport moved to Grand Haven. She's going to be a paramedic.
I found this book, R.E.M. REMarks. It has cool pictures in it of Michael Stipe before he was in the band, like, when he was in high school. He was gorgeous. He still is cute, but he's old now.
(ed.-- Michael Stipe was like, thirty-six at the time.) Oh well. You know, I have no idea how old Dave Matthews is.
There was a poster of a guy parachuting on the bulletin board by the office that said, "A mind is like a parachute; it works best when opened." And Jill took a big black magic marker and wrote, "Hopefully certain facist members of the administration will come to realize this," and drew an arrow and the next day they took it down and put up a "Happy Graduation" bulletin board.
I hunted all over hell and high water last night for the May 3 Entertainment Weekly because it has a thing about the new Dave Matthews album. I want that album. It's like, cool that he can dance around all crazy and play the guitar at the same time.
The beginning of this book is like, an REM concert journal. Thanks for reading through it. It's like, somedays I think, "Wait a minute, who's going to want to read what I wrote?" And I get very upset. But then I think, "Wait, lots of people are interested in what other people wrote."
One of these days I'm going to be saying something bad about Natalie Merchant, and she's going to be right behind me and I'll feel really stoopid
[sic]. Wait, what if she reads this? What if Tori Amos reads this? I'M SORRY, TORI! I LOVE YOU! I WISH I HADN'T CALLED YOU A TALENTLESS SLUT!
Now that I prostrated myself at her feet, I feel better. Hey, maybe Michael Stipe will read this. Whoa, maybe Christian Slater will read this. Hey, Christian Slater, my number is
[ommitted] Dial (616) first. Michael, Tori, Dave M. and Courtney (Love, not Cox) can all call me. Hell, if anyone wants to call me they can. I'm cool. Especially when I went through the ice. Bad joke.
REM rules. Maybe one day my kids will say, "Mom, REM is so old," and I will say, "Shut up, asswipes, REM rules."
Maybe when this gets published, I'll have them put in scratch n' sniff pages.
I'm in driver's training @ Sears. My teacher is such a nut.
Writing on your hands is cool. I like writing on my hands.
I'm directing a short film with the girl scouts from St. Monica's, and this little girl reminds me of Julia Ormond. She's from England and has long hair like Julia Ormond had in Legends of The Fall.
I have auditions for Lil' Abner tonight @ Comstock. I was in Kiss Me, Kate last year. It was cool. I really want to be in Lil' Abner. It would rock more than two thousand popscicles.
I wish the bell would ring.

The weird thing is, I don't remember actually wanting to be a writer, but it's clear from these journals that I planned on getting long, repetitious thoughts about REM published some day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stuck at the airport: the five stages of grief

The unfortunate downside of being dyslexic is that I have a really hard time keeping things like dates and days in order. This lead to me being trapped at the Newark New Jersey airport for twenty-four hours this weekend.

Realizing that you are trapped in an airport comes in stages. After spending several good hours on the phone with Delta airlines customer "service", I finally gave up and headed the airport to try and speak with someone in person. The mistake I made was in assuming that airline ticket counter representatives are human beings with souls aren't constantly beset upon by weary, excuse laden travelers. And thus, our odyssey of grief begins...

Stage One: Denial Though my hotel had very graciously offered to let me stay in the room until 2pm and then hold my bags until late that night so that I could go into the city to do some sight-seeing or something, I was pretty sure that I didn't need to take them up on that offer. Because how hard could it possibly be to get standby on a last minute flight out of New Jersey?

Stage Two: Bargaining Okay, so it's pretty difficult to get a last minute flight out of New Jersey. But there has to be something that can be done. No, I don't have $287.00 for a new ticket. I'm sure we can work something out for a lesser price. Hey, I could push the drink cart!

Stage Three: Anger You know what? FUCK YOU, DELTA. If I get stabbed in my sleep, it's going to be all your fault.

Stage Four: Depression Actual transcript of conversation I had with my husband on payphone in concourse B: "I'm just so lonely and it's so nice to hear your voice. Stay on the phone with me until you go to work, okay? Promise?"

Stage Five: Acceptance I'm going to live at this airport forever. I will never go home. The airport is my home now. Let's make the best of it by building a tend with the ballgown from the masquerade party and barricade the door of the handicapped stall with luggage and a sweatshirt used as a rope so I don't get raped.

Now that I'm home, I'm actually afraid that I'm going to suddenly wake up and be back at the airport, like John Cusack in that movie where he's trapped in the haunted hotel room.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Open Letter...

Over the weekend, I attended Jaquelyn Frank's Authors After Dark conference in Secaucus, NJ. Overall, it was an amazing, enjoyable weekend. There were plenty of good friends, some I had met before, some I met for the first time. There were readers and authors, both sides fangurling over each other, fun giveaways and free books. Tons of fun was had by all.

Keeping that in mind, what I'm about to say is not a reflection on the conference. It is a reflection on one particular individual, and it should in no way turn readers or authors off from attending the conference the future. It's fun, affordable, and everyone goes home happy.

Unless they spend the weekend having their body weight relentlessly mocked by someone who should fucking know better.

I'm a large woman. I make no apologies or excuses. If I wanted to be thinner, I could be. I could work out more, eat less, I'm large enough that surgery is an option. But I don't pursue any of those options, because I'm happy with my life. It never occurred to me that anyone would feel that they had the right to be unhappy with my size on my behalf.

This weekend, one particular individual, and author who I used to greatly admire and looked forward to spending time at the conference with, took it upon herself to make comments leveled specifically at me, to my face and in front of other attendees in an attempt to shame me about my size. Comments like, "There's nothing worse than a fat woman wearing flowers," in regards to my love of Hawaiian shirts. "Don't eat that, that's why you're fat," when I grabbed a snack (this in front of a horrified group of readers attending a party in the con suite). Other fat-hate comments about "feeling sorry" for large people who wear sweatpants in public, and "knowing what that's like," that assume all fat people secretly long to be thin and are miserable because they are not.

When the straw finally broke my big, fat back (the "that's why you're fat" comment), I started off feeling enraged. How dare someone police my body? How dare someone feel they had the right to pity me for the way I dress or what I eat or how much I weigh? I have given no one permission to pity me, because I don't pity myself. I like myself, at any size or shape, and I love my awesome, awesome life. I live for every moment, and I try to make sure that I feel everything in my life with enthusiasm for living. Okay, maybe not as enthusiastic when I'm stuck in a plane on a runway in Allentown, PA because God decided to smite New York with a crazy huge thunderstorm, but most of the time I really do love every second of my life. The thought of someone pitying me, making a judgment that because I'm fat I must also be unhappy with my lot, made me see absolute red.

Then, it made me even more mad to realize that if she'd said these same comments to someone who has a problem accepting their weight, they might have thought, "She's right." A friend who roomed with me said, "If she had said that to me, it would have destroyed me." I thought about how low my self-esteem was after I gave birth to my first child and gained the first seventy-five pounds of what would ultimately be an over one-hundred pound weight gain. If someone had said to me then, "This is why you're fat" or made a comment about feeling sorry for people like me, I would have been crushed. I struggled with binge eating back then, out of hatred for myself and my body. I crash dieted, desperately counted my "points" and kept a "thinspiration" journal of svelte bodies that I wanted so badly to have for my own. If I had met this author back then, when my career was first starting and I hated myself for getting fat, I would have given up. I would have given up writing, starved myself, missed out on friends and acquaintances that I met in this business who I hold very dear. A single snide comment about my weight, back then, would have literally ruined my life. Did she make a remark that hurt someone else that badly at this event?

But as I considered all this, I also realized that this woman was not making these comments to me. She used to fat, and makes no attempt to hide the fact that she has lost the weight. She shouldn't, either. She was unhappy with something in her life, so she changed it, at great personal sacrifice. She worked hard for a dream, and she deserves credit for that, just as anyone who is brave enough to make a huge sacrifice for what they want deserves recognition. But for some reason, it's not enough for her to have attained her goal. She needs to punish her old self for not living up to her new standards.

She wasn't talking to me. She was talking to herself before she lost the weight.

So, to this individual, who I hope reads this post, I say: Let go of the hatred you have for yourself. Who you are is not about what you used to weigh. The people in your life who loved you then and now will never stop loving you because of a number on the scale. Your readers, who devour your books, don't care what you look like. They love you and your stories because you have a gift that transcends physical standards of beauty.

I know, because I used to be one of those readers. I'm not anymore. I will probably never forgive you for the hateful way you treated me this weekend. I know I damned sure won't be reading your books in the future, because every time I pick one up I will be reminded that you don't feel I'm worthy to shake the ground with my lumbering steps. But I do truly want you to forgive yourself for being fat in the past. You were a lovely person then, inside and out. You've made the outside lovelier. Now work on fixing the ugliness you grew on the inside.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wanna check out Ravenous for free?

If you're looking to win a copy of Abigail Barnette's (yes, that is me) Ravenous, Bronwyn Green is giving away one free copy to a lucky commenter.

As for Abigail, her/myself? I spent last night in the ER with a crippling headache. Thankfully, they did not listen to my pleas to euthanize me. But I'm all better now, and both my (fully integrated) personalities are hard at work writing today!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Internet Powers of Colin Firth

Okay, either blogger has just added stats to the dashboard, or I've just never noticed them. I love attention, so I jumped at the chance to see how many people notice me. The results are... surprising.

First of all, I need to do some revamping of this blog. Put some pictures of my books on it and stuff. Because otherwise, people might think this blog is about Colin Firth. According to stats, until I wrote my rebuttal to Laurel K. Hamilton, my most viewed entry was one that I wrote about Colin Firth. More specifically, it was a post made up of lies about Mr. Firth.

Now, the simple fact of the matter is, while Colin Firth is a great actor and generally under-recognized for his contributions to film and indeed, even literature (because everyone knows by now that Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones books and columns is based entirely off of Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the flawless miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), I don't really have much more I can say about the man. I'm not what you would call a huge fan. If he's in a movie I was otherwise uninterested in, I'm not likely to go see that movie based on his presence alone. In fact, when I hear the name "Firth", I don't even think about Colin.

I think about his brother, Jonathan.

In the 1990's, there was a television series called Covington Cross. You probably don't remember it, because it was only on for like, six episodes in the United States. Time and detective work uncovered the rest of the season for me, and I've enjoyed it for years, despite the fact that the series ended on something of a cliffhanger (Do Richard and Charlotte get married or something? What about Eleanor's new found love of all things feminine? Does John Mullens pursue Lady Elizabeth romantically? Because that was hinting at pretty hard in one of the last scenes). Imagine, if you will, the show Bonanza (Or, if you're familiar with it, The Big Valley), only in Robin Hood times. It was super awesome.

Jonathan Firth, Colin's younger brother, played Richard Grey, the middle son who was always struggling for his father's love and trying to make a name for himself despite being dealt the shitty medieval hand of being the second son and not the one who stands to inherit all the titles and land and stuff.

I have no idea what has happened to Jonathan Firth, because I'm bad at keeping up with actors that I like. All I care about is that I still have my copies of Covington Cross, and that the inclusion of the name Firth will bring me some kind of blog traffic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A sensitive subject.

I am aware that not everyone sees eye-to-eye with me on the subject of the war in Iraq, or our president. I try not to be too overtly political, but I'm an opinionated person and my family's motto is kind of like, "He who is loudest wins" but in Latin, probably.

However, I can't let the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom pass without comment. I never agreed with the war, and I supported the troops in that I didn't want them all blown to tiny pieces by roadside bombs. I have nothing but good feelings for the men and women in our Armed Forces. I have friends and family that are currently serving, some of whom served in Iraq. I have at least one family member set to go to Iraq, even though the war is officially over. I have no illusions that the true end of this conflict will come years from now. I mean, we still have soldiers at posts in South Korea, we're never truly "done" with the wars we're involved in.

Still, it's a relief to have one less war to worry about. Our country has been at war since both of my children were born. We'll probably still be involved with the war against terrorism when they go to college. But for today, this is all right. Not grab-a-nurse-and-kiss-her-in-Times-Square all right, but all right enough.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blogging as Abigail today...

Abigail has a bone to pick about fat women in the media. Since I just finished writing her November release, which features a big, beautiful heroine, I felt my rant was better suited for her blog.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thinking about Cyrus...

If I have learned one important lesson from this whole JLA vs. LKH blog dust up gossip fest (that still continues... Dear Author featured it in their link round up today), it's that people friggin love Cyrus.

I'm still not sure why.

Don't get me wrong, there are tons of "bad boys" that I love. I've even blogged about them before. But I don't really understand what's so appealing about Cyrus. Maybe because I've spent so much time writing him. And maybe because I had to call upon all my selfish, negative personality traits to cobble him together. Cyrus is the kind of person I would be if I had just a little bit less conscience. You know, minus the statutory rape and child murder.

But I must be crazy, because I miss the bastard. I would absolutely like to write him again. And from the messages I've gotten from some of you, I think you'd like me to write him again, as well. Unfortunately, I can't just write him, because he doesn't belong to me anymore, and the people he does belong to don't feel there would be a readership for him. So, I'm starting a grassroots thing right now.

If you love Cyrus, if you want to read about him again, leave a comment here to that effect. Have your friends who don't read my blog but like Cyrus come do it, as well. I want to see if I'm right, that there are people out there who would send my publisher some dollars for another few hundred pages of Cyrus.

I've already found out how powerful word of mouth can be when I open my mouth wide enough. Let's see if the same goes for Cyrus. Leave your comments. Honk if you love Cyrus. And if there are no honks, then I can put him to his final rest on my "to do" list.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Battle Royale: Armintrout vs. Twain

I received a tip from an anonymous commenter that my Laurel K. Hamilton blog was burning up the intertubes over at an forum, so I stopped in to check it out. Somewhere in the discussion, famous author feuds were mentioned. Including Mark Twain and James Fenimore Cooper. To which an astute commenter mentioned that I am, in fact, no Mark Twain.

You won't hear any argument here. Mark Twain is probably the greatest American author of all time (okay, third greatest, after Herman Melville and Nora Roberts). But I am pretty sure I can take Mark Twain in a fight. You know, if the alien race he returned to upon his "death" when he hitched a ride on Haley's Comet hasn't created some devastating combat technology or done away with violence all together. But let's see what happens if we put me up against Mark Twain in a Battle Royale.

Now, if you're unfamiliar with how these little throw-downs go on my blog, you can check out Jen vs. The Hoff and Daleks vs. The Borg. That should make the rules pretty clear.

Dust off your old timey mustache, Twain, it's show time.

Me vs. Mark Twain: The Battle For Endor

  • Name
    Me: Jennifer Armintrout Difficult to pronounce and google.
    Mark Twain: Mark Twain Pleasant, ethnically neutral, not at all scary and German.
    Advantage: Twain

  • Body of work
    Me: Four novels about vampires fucking, three faery books everyone hated.
    Mark Twain: You have to use the scroll bar on his wikipedia bibliography.
    Advantage: Twain

  • Racial slurs?
    Me: No, those don't really go over well.
    Mark Twain: His name was what Jim? Dude, not cool.
    Advantage: Armintrout

  • Hair Height

    Advantage: I got this, dude.

  • Presidential connections
    Me: Had my Obama lawn sign stolen twice; hold out hope of one day boning President Clinton.
    Mark Twain: William Howard Taft released a statement upon Twain's death.
    Advantage: Twain

Okay, so I didn't beat him. But he is an alien, and I do have bigger hair. Only time will tell, friends. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Phone Book: A Tale of Terror

I hate phone books. Once upon a time, they had a useful place in life. If you needed to know a phone number or look for a business, the phone book was your go-to guy. You probably had a few different phone books, all of varying usefulness. I lived out in the country, so we had our little local phone book that was about as thick as a people magazine, but if you wanted to go to a movie in town, you got out the Kalamazoo phone book, which was substantially larger.

Then, a strange thing happened. That thing was the internet. Now, if I want to go to the movies, I get on my computer and in less than a minute I can know what the times are at every movie theatre in Kalamazoo. But still, the phone books come.

I don't know when my friendship with and reliance upon the phone book soured. Probably when I realized I was getting four or five of them a year. And they were heavy. And also, I didn't use them.

At first, I diligently kept them. But I never used them, and more kept coming. And coming. And then, something strange happened.

When we moved into our new house, we got a phone book within days. It was hanging from our mailbox like a little "Welcome Home" present. So, I left it out there. "Maybe whoever left it will get the hint. They won't want to waste the phone book." It stayed out there, hanging from my mailbox like a rotting head on a pike during Tudor times. But instead of sending the message, "Please don't fuck the queen," it apparently sent the message, "Bring me more phone books." Because that's just what happened. In a few weeks, our rain-swollen phone book and dirty, torn bag had been replaced by a brand new phone book wrapped in shiny plastic. I still wouldn't allow it into the house. My neglect of the phone book and its subsequent replacement became a sick pattern. It was as though the phone book deliverer was saying, "Here, have a second and third and fourth chance to make things right."

One day, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Taking a sharpie marker, I sat in the driveway and wrote a perfectly lovely note on the plastic bag holding the phone book. Something like, "Thank you, but I don't use the phone book." There may or may not have been expletives in it. The next day, the phone book was gone. It seemed like my troubles were over.

A few days later, someone knocked on the door. I figured she was a Jehovah's Witness, because we have a lot of those who come around. But she didn't look like my normal crew of spiritual visitors. And she wasn't holding a bible. She was holding a phone book. With a smile that reminded me quite a bit of Tom Cruise pretending to be normal and friendly on a talk show, she thrust the phone book at me. "I noticed that yours was ruined by the rain."

"Are you the phone book person?" I asked, my hands behind my back. "I don't want any trouble. I just don't want a phone book."

She bent down and placed the phone book in the center of my welcome mat. "I'll just leave this here for you."

For the rest of the day, I avoided going outside. I was sure I would find phone books in my driveway, perhaps arranged in a circle around a honey dew melon with a knife sticking out of it with a little note that said "beware." A friend stopped by to visit. "Hey, this was on your step," he said, and for a minute I thought he might hold up a severed head. It was the phone book. Somehow, that was worse. I grabbed it out of his hand and threw it out the door.

Time has passed. My husband burns the phone books when they come. And they keep coming, like some zombie plague. My son started school, and he's made a lot of friends. Like the family up the road. Now that he's old enough to cross our little low-traffic street, I let him visit on his own. Yesterday he returned home with an orange plastic bag and handed it to me. "What's this?" I asked, reaching inside.

It was a phone book.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Oh no! Abuela es muerte! We need to go into the underworld to save her! Can you say Underworld? SAY UNDERWORLD!"

"Who do we ask for help when we don't know which way to go? The map! Say map! LOUDER!"

"When there's a place you gotta go, I'm the one you need to know, I'm the map. If there's a place you gotta get, I can get you there I bet, I'm the map! What's my name? Say it again!

Dora and Boots need to rescue Abuela from the underworld. She'll need to go across the river Styx..."

"...past Cerberus the three-headed guard dog..."

"...and into the mouth of Hades!"

"Tell Dora: Styx, Guard Dog, Mouth of Hades! Styx, Guard Dog, Mouth of Hades! Styx, Guard Dog, Mouth of Hades!"

"Come on, vamanos! Everybody let's go! Come on, let's get to it, I know that we can do it!"

"We need to pay the boatman to cross the river Styx. I think I have something in my backpack that will help. Can you say backpack? Say it LOUDER!"

"Backpack Backpack! Backpack Backpack! Yay! Dora needs something to pay the boatman, so she can cross the river Styx! Can you see something she can use to pay the boatman?"

"Yum yum yum yum yum! Delicioso!"

"We made it all the way to Hades! Now, we just have to lead Abuela out! You have to look straight ahead and not look back! Can you look straight ahead and not look back?"

"Oh no, it's that sneaky fox, Swiper! To keep Swiper from looking back and thus condemning Abuela to the City of the Damned for all eternity, say 'Swiper, no looking back!' Swiper, no looking back! Swiper, no looking back! Swiper no--"

"Awwww man!"



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barfing On My Keyboard

I've written before about the tendency of authors to always "play nice" and never say anything negative about another author. Not one who is more famous than you, because you could hurt your career. Not one who is less famous than you, because you'll look threatened, and god knows no one wants to look threatened. And no one can say anything about someone who is just as well known as they are, because writers tend to be a self-conscious bunch and we always think everyone is doing ten times better than we are (although, in my case, that's pretty much true right now).

However, I think those rules are bullshit. If I didn't name names, what would be the point of calling another out on their jackassery?

So, once again, I'm calling out Laurell K. Hamilton.

You may be saying to yourself, "Jen, what are you doing? Why do you bother reading about her if she drives you so incredibly insane?" Well, I'll tell you: I don't know. Maybe it's masochism. Maybe it's schadenfreude. Maybe I'm just mean and bored. Actually, it's probably that last one. But when I see shit like her recent blogpost, "Bleeding On My Keyboard", which openly insults other writers in the genre, I can't be quiet. And I shouldn't be. If the person who considers herself the creator of the vampire novel can't say anything nice, well, neither can I, and I'm comfortable with that.

"Bleeding On My Keyboard" begins innocently enough with Laurell lamenting how difficult it's been for her to work on her latest manuscript. Fair enough, I've been there. I can get on board with feeling like your own writing is trying to straight up murder you. In fact, I would wager that pretty much every writer has felt that way now and again.

Laurell disagrees with me:
Some very successful writers don’t seem to feel that emotional connection to their work, or at least not to the degree I do. I used to envy them until I realized the price of that cool distance. They write like they feel with less depth, less of themselves on the page. It is a safer way to write, less frightening, less hurtful, less pain for the writer, but the writing shows that.

This is where it all starts to go a little wrong. As a writer, I resent the implication that unless "I’ve screamed at my computer, cursed other characters, fought and lost to them," I haven't managed to make a connection to my work. I love my job. I wouldn't love it if it constantly frightened and hurt me, and I don't think it needs to.

Laurell continues:
I can read most other writers and tell you within a few pages which of them “feels” strongly when they write and which do not. Now, some can fake it better than others, but in the end it is a fake. They don’t believe in their own work, their own world, their own characters. They know that the skin of let’s pretend is there, always, they never let themselves sink past a certain point, or perhaps their world, their muse, their imagination is more shallow than mine. Maybe there are no painful depths to explore and they just spend their careers wading through the shallows because no matter how wide the water looks, it’s just a wading pool with no unexpected holes to swallow the writer up, and drown them in the dark water of their own minds.

Now, wait just a fucking minute. First of all, "the skin of let's pretend" should be there. It has nothing to do with anyone being less tortured than her. It has nothing to do with the depths of anyone's imagination. It's always there because it's fiction. No matter how real the characters might be in her mind, they're always just pretend. It doesn't matter if she's the darkest, most tortured soul ever to write, if she's writing fiction, it is always pretend.

Which brings me to point #2. For an author who strenuously objects (or at least makes a big show of objecting) to being asked if aspects of her writing are influenced by her real life, it takes some major balls to assume that she can know anything about another author's life from "a few pages". How arrogant does someone have to be to claim that they can tell whether or not an author has "painful depths" from a few pages of fiction? It's insulting to authors who do have "painful depths" but keep them private or don't wish to express them in their work.

Laurell continues:
The way I write is not for everyone, God knows, but for me it’s the only way I know. It’s the way I’ve always written.

So, you heard it, kiddies. The way she writes is not for everyone, but if you don't write exactly the way she does, you're shallow and have no imagination

I, for one, am going to continue being shallow and without imagination. Not because of the dark holes that can swallow me up, but because I write fucking vampire books. They're supposed to be fun and entertaining and disposable. The day I forget that is the day I become an arrogant, insulting person who takes to their blog to lament the pain I feel from being the only author who really writes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I don't know why, but today seems like it's gonna be a great day.

I've narrowly escaped Lilith Fair. My baby is drinking a cup of coffee. My husband starts a new job. It feels like today is going to hold a lot of awesome stuff in it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ten Things...

Bronwyn Green won a blogging award, and now we're all going to be punished. She got to pick some people who have to tell ten little-known things about themselves. I see this as a lot like being crowned Queen in Tudor England. You get the honor and stuff, and you get to pick some ladies-in-waiting and make them do some stuff, but it doesn't last forever. Look, I'm not saying that someone should cut off Bronwyn's head and put it on a pike or something, God forbid. I'm just saying that maybe she's going to be declared the blog award's sister and put away to molder in an estate somewhere. I'm just looking out for my friend. I want to make sure this blog award isn't going to kill off its other recipients and expect Bronwyn to care for its children, you know?

Wait, what was I supposed to be doing?

Oh right. Ten things that are not well-known about me. That's kind of hard, because I generally just vomit forth copious amounts of "about me" in my daily existence. Some of you readers out there might have copies of your books signed with, "I could really use a cupcake right now" or "I've never been to a P.F. Chang's." But I'm gonna give it a try. I'm gonna do eight because I'm bucking convention and I don't feel like that blog award should be able to just barge into my house and start bossing me around because I am an American.

teneight things in no particular order of importance

  1. If it would end up with me in some kind of group home, I would wear various period costumes as my regular clothing. Mostly Tudor, maybe some medieval or pre-revolutionary France thrown in to break it up. Regency just for cleaning the house. I've also considered the same scenario but with Disney costumes, and I would dearly love having Cinderella's peasant dress for cleaning days. I would probably be more into cleaning my house if I could pretend to have cartoon mice assisting me.
  2. The first car I ever owned was a Ford Escort XL. It was red, with a green hood because a tree fell on it before it became "my" car. It had a stain in the backseat that we all called "The Mystery Stain" because no one could remember how it got there. My friends and I used to hang our bras on the antenna, and once my mother left to go pick up pizza in the car with all of our bras still attached.
  3. When I was in middle school, I didn't like taking group showers after gym class, so one week out of every month I would claim to be on my period so that the gym teacher wouldn't make me showever. Things were going okay for a while, until I actually got my period for the first time during, you guessed it, gym class. I had to go to my teacher's aerobic's class for like a week as punishment for lying about my period.
  4. I'm a full-time believer in reincarnation, and I've had several past-life regressions. I've almost always been a peasant who died horribly. I'm really hoping to avoid that in this life. However, I have a pretty good outlook on dying since I've come to the realization that it's not permanent.
  5. When I was born, my mother was single and in college, so I was raised by my grandparents in their haunted house. Despite putting me to bed every night with stories about who died in the room I was sleeping in, my family can't understand what would drive me to write stories about vampires. Many family members have expressed a desire that I write historical romances or something "nice" for Steeple Hill.
  6. Recently, I've discovered nail polish blogs. I'm addicted to pictures and descriptions of nail polish. I don't know why, but it relaxes me, and I'm a big fan of being relaxed. Because of my new obsession, I've gotten into the habit of painting my nails every day. Sometimes twice a day. And then I decided I didn't like them square anymore, so I filed them round, then I didn't like them as ovals so I filed them down to nubs to start over again.
  7. I have a genetic disorder that makes me too bendy for my own good. To combat this, I lift weights, but I'm still a huge wimp who can barely lift a gallon of milk. I could probably crush a man to death with my thighs like that James Bond villain from the 90's, though. The opportunity hasn't really come up.
  8. I have this delusional blind-spot in my reason wherein I think, "I can do that," to almost anything. This once extended to playing the piano. I was surrounded by a group of about thirty high schoolers, all looking at me expectantly, and I asked, "Okay, can someone show me which one of these thingies is C?" I saw thirty young faces fall, and one of them meekly asked, "You know how to play piano, right?" I shook my head, very confident still, at this point, and said, "No. But lots of people do it. It can't be hard." I was wrong. However, their musical was a success, so there wasn't any harm done. In fact, I think I taught them a lesson about courage or music or something.

Blogged with the Flock Browser
Which is why it was all effed up and I had to go through it line by line fixing it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turning 30, the Yahoo! messenger epic. Also starring Bronwyn Green

I just slept for 14 hours.
Am I dying?

Are you sick? Also, I'm jealous

I don't feel sick.
Maybe I'm getting sick.
But if I'm not getting sick, WTF.
Is this what happens when you turn 30? You go into a coma?

Maybe your body recognized it was coming down with something and decided to sleep it off. [name omitted] does that all the time

That would be awesome, if somehow my body realized it should do something good for itself.
Most of the time, when I start to get sick, I also stop sleeping and being hungry.
Like my body is saying, "Bootstraps, young man!"
Why are you awake so early?


Fuck that. Burn down your house, collect the insurance money, move to the bahamas, profit.

Oh, how I want to.

I think I'm having a mental break down.


No, not really.
I had a dream that I had to get my high school boyfriend to sign some paper having to do with my kids.

I'm sorry you're cranky. I'm feeling pretty bitchtastic myself.

Is this what it's going to be like every time I go into a new decade of age?
I'm googling old classmates.
I have wasted the last ten years of my life.
This is it. It's a midlife crisis.

That's pretty much how it works. Just be prepared to rage insanely every ten years - sometimes it starts early and lasts longer.

Which means I'm only going to live to be sixty.
That is not good news, Bronwyn.
I am disappoint.
Deeply, deeply disappoint.

You did not waste your life - you made two amazing kids, you write books, you have fantastic friends - this is not a waste.

I had one, long dream during my fourteen hours of sleep. All of it came down to trying to clean things by setting them on fire or running from people younger than me who had guns.
This is not a good sign.

This is your paranoia and freakout about turning 30.

I'm actually surprised that it waited this long.
This whole week should have been like this, knowing me.
I'm going to go wake up Joe and share these thoughts with him.

I'm not sure if it'll make you feel any better, but I've kinda been waiting for this.

Oh, good. I'm glad someone was anticipating my mania.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


See these little guys? I want one of them SO much. I guess they work off the light or something. But watch this video and just see if it doesn't relax the hell out of you.

Also, I put the following video in my favorites. I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking. I do know I was probably "medicated" at the time:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Analysis Thinger

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This online thing said I write like James Joyce. So, you know, watch out for AMERICAN VAMPIRE by James Joyce, coming out March, 2011.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Uncharacteristic ruminating on fatness

Usually, I don't have a problem with my body. In fact, I like it. I have to, because I have no intention of changing it, other than punching a few holes here and there and inking up my skin. This weekend, however, I was confronted by something that threatened to destroy the self-confidence I take such pride in. This weekend, I found an old duffle bag full of clothes from my high school days.

As any of you who have met me in person know, I'm fat. Rubenesque, if you're into flowery language. I wasn't always fat. In high school, i was teensy. I never realized how teensy until I held up a t-shirt that would fit a four-year-old and realize it was a size 2 from GAP. Now, I have this policy in life. My policy is, "Do what feels good." Dieting doesn't feel good. No one can convince me that a Snickers don't taste as good as thin feels. Because I've been thin, and it didn't taste like Snickers. But in that moment, as I held up that tiny shirt, I thought, "My God. How did I get this fat? I need to go on a diet."

That feeling passed as soon as we started roasting marshmallows over the campfire. But I did take stock. How did I get to this weight?

  1. I had two wonderful babies who are growing every day into wonderful kids and, eventually and against my wishes, into wonderful teenagers and then wonderful adults.
  2. I have plenty of food to eat. Some people don't.
  3. I have the genetic code of my family, the women of which tend to be on the heft side. Also, on the awesome side.
  4. My husband doesn't care how much I weigh or what I look like, and I don't have to be afraid that he's going to leave me for a younger, thinner woman because I'm not physically perfect.
  5. I express my love for my friends and family through food. And I love them a lot. My family and friends share this same ideal, and they also love me a lot.

So, in the end, I guess the leap from a size 2 to a size 20 wasn't a downward slide generously greased with ice cream cake and cheese fries. Every pound I've gained has been the result of love and good fortune. And I'm not about to wish that away.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things I Have Learned Online

Okay, so, according to the internet, there are thousands upon thousands of dollars to be made just sitting on my ass. Like, I know, internet. It's called "writing". However, that hasn't been paying the bills as well lately, what with being between contracts and all. I'm staring to feel the pinch. So, maybe my good friend the internet has a point.

The internet wouldn't lie to me, right?

I've decided to make it my personal project this summer to "make money online from your own home" by doing all the crazy things people do to make money. First of all, I've signed up with AdSense to put ads on my blog. I almost accidentally typed "ass" there. To put ass on my blog. Anyway, AdSense promises that the ass put on my blog will with unobtrusive, and won't do anything to my readers unless they click on them. After that, I'm not sure what happens, and I won't be able to find out because I've already had to sign a contract in blood stating that I will not, under any circumstances, click on those ads even if my house is on fire.

The other thing I'm going to do is write articles and make how-to videos for Associated Content. Of all the money-making schemes online, this one seems to be the most promising. Why? Because it only partly relies on me tricking people into clicking links, and the other part is something I do really good, writing. And talking on a video. Okay, so anyone who listened to my short-lived and ill-conceived podcast knows that I'm not very good at the talking part. But I'm good at spamming my twitter and social networking sites with content, so just, you know, gird your loins and such.

The most exciting and yet least likely to pay off avenue to monetary gain on the internet has to be the online survey phenomenon. I've already signed up with a (legitimate and free) survey site and have taken some surveys. I'll be honest, I made six dollars in an hour, which is less than minimum wage in my state. But I got to click things and it makes me feel important to know that someone, somewhere, might use my opinions on iced coffee to market something to my fellow consumers.

If I've missed any opportunities to waste my time trying to get free, easy money, let me know. I'm game for anything on this virtual road trip to unbelievable riches.

I'll provide you all with updates from my awesome internet money adventure. According to all the promises these sites make, I'll be updating you via wrist-watch computer from my private helicopter over my recently purchased island off the coast of Fiji. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

First of all, if you did miss the fact that Lady Gaga has a new video, you don't spend enough time on the internet. But I'm here to recap it for you.

I'm not sure what commercial you'll guys get, but for me Vevo selected an add for Caress body wash that implied my salsa dancing might not be up to par because my skin isn't sexy enough. Then the video started.

First, we're treated to a shot of a hot guy in fishnet tights lazing in a chair while the words "Gaga" and "Klein" and "Alejandro" are displayed in bold text. I know who Gaga is and I know the song is "Alejandro" but I'm not sure what "Klein" means. Maybe she's going for a pseudo German vibe, because the next thing we see is a bunch of men in Nazi-esque uniforms sitting at tables. Sweet, maybe this is going to be a Cabaret themed video!

The song should be starting any minute now. I mean, the Nazi guys are shirtless and dancing now, so they're going to need music to groove to. This is where Gaga pops out and starts singing, right?

There's Gaga! Wearing steampunk goggles! Awesome! And there's... bloody meat full of glitter and pins. And, uh, a casket. Okay, let's go with this. There's a cheering crowd, too. From the uniforms and Gaga's bleached eyebrows I'm expecting them to start chanting "Peron! Peron!" but it doesn't materialize.

Instead, Gaga is now leading a funeral procession for that casket we just saw a minute ago. Oh, and she's the one carrying the glitter meat. Wait, I thought she was watching that from the window. I've officially lost the narrative thread of this video and the song hasn't even started yet. Is 10:00 am too early to have a drink?

At least I have incredibly phallic shirtless gun-holding puppet man to soothe me. Gaga usually has women or flamboyantly arrayed men in her videos. I'm not complaining about the buff underwear models in this one, Lord knows I am not. But it's two minutes into this video and the song hasn't even started yet.

At about 2:04, funeral ballerina Gaga starts talking in a really muddled accent that can only be described as "vaguely European". Something about being in love with Alejandro, but not being able to be with him. Then it cuts to a shot of incredibly phallic shirtless gun-holding puppet man. So, that must be Alejandro. At least, that's the perception I'm going to continue to watch under.

So, Madonna is sitting watching some shirtless guys-- oops, my bad, that's Gaga. The cruel laughter and throne of nightmares made me mix the two up. But this is definitely still Gaga. I can tell by the goggles. The Gagagles. The shirtless Nazi boys dance for Magana's pleasure, and then the camera cuts to what can only be described as the 32nd Annual Needlessly Buff Moe Howard Impersonators' Synchronized Dance Competition. This is possibly the most disturbing part of the video for me, and by that I mean their haircuts. The haircuts, dear God, the haircuts. All I can think of are the Three Stooges, but their bodies, and the dancing, and men touching and simulated sex with each other and--

GAH! Gaga is dressed as a nun, probably praying for my immortal soul because her stupid Nazi Moes gave me a girl boner. Look, lady, you can't just put shirtless guys grinding on each other in your video and not expect a straight woman to stay dry as the Sahara, okay? No matter how ridiculous their haircuts are.

Now, I'm not going to describe the next scene. Because I have a pen name that gets paid to write about that kind of stuff. But this is definitely starting to win the prize for Best Gaga Video Yet in my mind. After the porn, Gaga dances around in Sally Bowle's underthings with her Moe clones behind her. And then there's more simulated intercourse with men in high heels. Seriously, has she been reading my dream journal?

Okay, now I'm starting to understand the plot of this video. The white latex cape she's wearing shows that's clearly a Knight Templar, and these are the devoted pilgrims following her. Right? Is there some kind of story here? There's always a story, Gaga! Sometimes it's hard to figure out, but there's always a story. Just let me know what it is!

The next part is honestly my favorite part of the video. I know, I know, you thought it would be hard to top the sex dancing. It's actually pretty tame, with Gaga sporting a Carol Channing bowl cut and actually wearing pants while she dances by herself and with jackbooted thugs. But she's so sexy and awesome in this part, it makes me wish she'd thrown the creepy Catholicism and Facism references out and done the whole video like this little bit right here. But if she'd done that, the inevitable comparisons to Madonna wouldn't have been as forthcoming, so she fucks it up by putting on a machine gun bra and dancing.

At this point I have yet to compare her to Annie Lennox, which happens at least once per video. Gaga hasn't forgotten about my love of pointing out which artists have visibly influenced her. She slicks back her hair and puts on a leather jacket, sunglasses and panties and gets behind a microphone to sing to her distopic future Fascism world while having fond flashbacks to the simulated sex she just had in the middle of the video. And there's some rioting and group sex and I still don't know what's going on. At the truly horrifying conclusion, Gaga's face melts like a film negative.

I have no idea what I just watched, but I'm terrified and aroused.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My son's first grade teacher is awesome. There's no way of getting around it. She's totally focused on reading and writing, and runs her classroom like an all day writing workshop at RWA national. Today, to celebrate these dwindling days of this school year, I'm going to share the fruits of her labors through the prose created by my son:

Kiersten, by Christian Armintrout
copyright February 2010 ed. note: There is actually a copyright page.

Kiersten is my best friend in the world!
But one day Kiersten ran out of our fort so...
I went in.
I saw snowball, it was as heavy as a TREE!
So-- I rolled it out.
But another kid came in and he hit me!
When Kiersten wasn't around.
Kiersten is a great friend.

Christmas Tree, by Christian Armintrout
copyright January 2010

I had to get the Christmas tree out of the closet, it was heavy.
Then, I had to get the ornament box out.
We has lots!
Next I had to take everything down the stairs.
Grandpa and Steve helped me build it.
After we put up the tree we decorated it with ornaments.
My favorite ornament is a robot. But it got broken.
My new favorite is a bear in a car and mom put it up high because it is delicate.

The Boy Who Used to Be Naughty II, by Christian Armintrout
Dedicated to Mom and Dad and Wednesday
copyright October 2009
ed. note: This is the sequel to The Boy Who Used to Be Naughty, which tells the story of the time Christian got into my office and broke a bunch of glass globes for fun.

Now I am 6 1/2
Sometimes mom still says, "GO to your room,"
When I do naught stuff.
The last naughty thing was giving money to AJ.
I should have given the money to the lunch lady.
I learned my lesson.
Well, I ran out of paper so thats... the end.

ed. note: This next one is my total favorite. It's the only fiction one he's written, and I think he shows a real knack for it.
Grandpa's Car is Cool!, by Christian Armintrout
copyright November 2009

Grandpa's car is cool!
It has a face on it. The eyes are headlights, the bumper is the mouth.
"Hooo," I said.
It transforms into a red and blue robot.
The tires are lazers. It uses sign language to talk.
It can also make a mean face. I copy it.
"That car is cool," I said.
He said, "Thanks!"
"Cool," I said it again.

Look, I know I'm his mom, but I don't think it would be bragging or premature to announce that he's going to be the next Faulkner.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bronwyn Green's mutilation of romance authors continues unchecked.

Last night, I got a hole punched in me. It was done by Rudis at The Tattoo and Piercing Studio in Grand Rapids, MI. Yes, the name of the place really is, "The Tattoo and Piercing Studio". No frills, no jackassery. I like that.

Anyway, Bronwyn Green went with me to man the camera and fulfill her goal of getting as many authors mutilated as she possibly could in one month. That sentence isn't right, but I can't figure out how to fix it. Too bad I had to skip critique group this morning to stay home with a cranky toddler. Anyway, she already got to Mia Watts. How many more authors have to be pierced before her bloodthirsty vengeance is assuaged?

Digression aside, here is the video of the actual piercing being done. I cut out all the unwrapping of tools and marking of dots on my lip and discussion of how I'm going to get pink eye from taking my laptop into the bathroom with me. What you'll see is just the positioning of the tongs and the actual needle going through my face. There isn't any finished shot of it on the video, because the immediate swelling that seemed to concentrate on just one side of my lip made it appear as though the piercing was really, really off-centered. But here's a picture of what it looks like the morning after, still slightly swollen but no where near as crooked looking as a result:

The jewelry he used was actually longer that needed, to accomodate for swelling. As you can see, it looks a bit snug right now. Keep in mind, that picture is after the swelling went down.

On to the video. This is not for the faint of heart, kids. Bronwyn has an eye for the graphic, and her lens does not shy away from stuff that looks painful.

And is painful. Very, very painful. This hurt like crazy.

Everyone have a good holiday weekend. I'm gonna spend mine drinking beer through a straw.