Monday, December 26, 2011

This is what happens to me every night.

Last night, I dreamt I was directing an episode of American Horror Story. I don't know how I got the job. I've never worked in film or television in my entire life. But there I was, trying to fake my way through directing an episode of a hugely popular tv show.

At this point, I should mention that in my dream, American Horror Story was more of a reality show, meaning it is filmed in that actual, haunted house, and all the characters, living and ghost, are real, not actors. So, there's an element of danger involved. The cast of characters from The Walking Dead are also involved, and the entire show is shot right on the very edge of the Israel-Palestine border, and we kept losing production assistants to border skirmishes. These skirmishes involved someone just stepping a foot over a big, black line painted on the ground, sitcom style, and the Israeli police would take them away for deportation back to America.

At one point, I realize I haven't been directing the actors at all. I've been setting up the scene and trying to get all the ghosts to cooperate, and I don't see anything wrong with the takes I'm rapidly putting away. In half a day we've filmed half the episode. And I know they're going to realize that I don't know what I'm doing. When Rick Grimes's crying is too "feminine", I tell my AD to make a note to dub it over in post. That sounds almost professional. I know what I'm doing!

I start talking to Jessica Lang, who is actually a crazy southern belle living in faded glory in the haunted house, and she's concerned that the cinematographer is filming things "too dark." I realize then that our cinematographer is the same guy who did The Godfather Part II. I realize we are fucked, no one will be able to see a damn thing on film. I go to talk to him, and am immediately attacked by the frankenbabycreature from American Horror Story.

There is no closure to this story.

Monday, December 12, 2011

At this Christmas season, a plea for sense and rationality to my fellow Christians...

It's that time of year again. The time of year when Facebook status updates turn from "Anyone want 2 naughty children?" and "My husband is my best friend. Repost if your husband is your best friend," to "Some dumb bitch at Target had the nerve to say Happy Holidays to me, like I'm a goddamned Satan worshipper or a Jew or something. HOW VERY DARE THEY! CHRIST IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!" and other such very, very tolerant Christian nonsense.

I'm a Catholic. Yes, I realize this means that to about 95% of the other Christian religions, I'm a godless Mary worshipper and not a Christian, but believe me, there is a lot of Jesus happening in our branch of Catholicism. So let me just make this plea, on behalf of all sane and rational Christians in the word. GUYS STOP ACTING LIKE WE'RE PERSECUTED.

From the annual "Happy Holidays is taking the Christ out of Christmas" explosion to the recent "Good for Lowe's for pulling ads from that show that makes Muslims appear to be fellow humans" nonsense, I've just had it. At least twice a day I get emails or I see status updates on facebook that urge me to copy/paste if I'm not ashamed of Jesus. You know what? I'm not ashamed of Jesus. I'm just worried that someone might think I'm full on Shirley from Community.


I think my fellow Christians and I are missing a really big point. We don't need our government to celebrate our holidays. We don't need to see only Christian material on television. We need to do what Jesus wants us to do. We need to treat our fellow humans with respect. Early Christians, the ones who had to hide for fear of their lives, the ones who were killed for their beliefs, would want to fucking smack us for calling our offense at a cashier giving us vague holiday wishes "persecution". Stop attaching Jesus's name to things he couldn't care less about, like whether or not a muslim family has a reality show or a nativity is on a courthouse lawn.

Also, Jesus wants us to save Community. And he wants The Talking Heads to start making music again. JESUS WANTS IT, DAVID BYRNE. JESUS WANTS IT.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Check me out, I'm an internet superstar!

I'm so excited and pleased to announce that I will be blogging every Wednesday over at threewickedwriters.blogspot.com. This is so exciting. I've always wanted to be a part of one of those group blogs, but never had the opportunity. It makes me feel like one of the cool kids.

In other news, I've been taking viewers on a guided tour of my Blood Ties series over on the youtube.


That's the first one. Visit my youtube channel (and subscribed!) to ride the rest of this train with flames on the side straight into Awesometown.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Half My Genes, 1000 Times Nicholas Sparks's Ego, The Mercenary Journalism Of W.R. Hearst

Let me share with you my son's newspaper, The Neighborhood Tattler (he isn't above lifting inspiration from Diary of A Wimpy Kid, okay? Besides, plagiarism is en vogue right now):

My son is going to be nine in like, twenty-nine days. He likes to write comic books, which, as noted above, usually borrow a lot in style and concept from Diary of A Wimpy Kid and Calvin and Hobbs. He's just written his seventh comic book, and he needed an avenue in which to publicize it. On the first page, pictured above, the text reads:

Opening
The new Bedroom Inc. comix book out!
Yes the Auther of the Bedroom Inc. has made his 7th comix book and is coming to you'r home Dec. 1st (if coming). "I just want to say that it take's pride and work to make comix book's" See comix, A3

Okay. So my kid? Is awesome. Not only has he written seven comic books, he's also created his own publishing house, Bedroom Inc. It has a logo and everything. And his newspaper, that he created to publicize his comic book, has a comic section that begins on A3, and he knew that newspapers have an A3. That's amazing.

The comic, "Captan Underpant's and the atackk of the Evil mom from outer space," is again, flavored with just a dash of borrowed work. The Evil Mom looks a bit like me, yells a bit like me, and was, I am certain, an original creation and not based on anyone, living or dead. There is a page with news about cub scouts and another about the school principal. Then, buried on the very back page, is what appears to be a book section:

The Neighborhood Tattler Daily New's
Jeff Kinney's 6th book is out oh I wonder if the 7th book is RIPPED PAGE'S hm. Well that's the new's for today! Tommaror's diffrint.

I am impressed on so many levels here. Not only does he take great pains to point out that Jeff Kinney only has six books published, while on the front page he makes it clear that he has written and published seven (and let's be honest, self-publishing is a booming market right now), he also relegates the story about Kinney's book to the very last page of the newspaper and writes a pretty scathing review, even though I happen to know he enjoyed the book.

This is my son. This is why my son must be respected and feared. And this is why my son will one day have royalty checks bigger than Stephen Kings'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Heil-oween

Very rarely do I share photos of my spawn on my blog. Not because I think someone might find them and kill them, but because I think some kiddie fiddling pervert out there might look at those pictures and masturbate to them. But I have to share the unintentional White Power odyssey of our Halloween.

When the kid were all costumed-up and ready to trick-or-treat, I implored my husband to take the children out to the front stoop and get a picture of them. I was imagining something like this:




See that? That is the classic Halloween photo. Joyless. Hands at their sides like they're in a police line up. The agony of being made to pose for a photo, while up and down the street children caper happily, collecting up all the treats. But not you, Chippy. You're going to stand on that stoop until we get a photo of you with your eyes open.

Confession time: this is from a second set of pictures. The first set...
This requires set up, in order to not look like a hate crime. If you are unfamiliar with Super Mario Bros. (or Aspergers, since that's a large component to blame for this), Mario is usually posed like so:
So, being an expert on all things Mario, and dedicated to realism in cosplay (see also: Aspergers), my son decided he should replicate this pose for the photos:



Perhaps if he'd not been standing so rigidly to attention... maybe, it's just the mustache. But it looked a lot less like this:

And a lot more like this:
Then, things got worse. You see, my daughter, who turns three today, is always looking to her older brother, perhaps misguidedly, to learn how to behave in crippling social situations, such as getting your photo taken.


So now, I have two children heil-ing on my front stoop, as my entire small town filters by, skipping our house, I might add, despite the fact that we were clearly giving out treats.

When my husband, my lazy, lazy, husband, thought, "Ah, fuck it," and brought them back inside, thank god I had the presence of mind to look at the pictures. There are eight of them. Eight photos in which, captured for posterity, my children are unintentionally giving a white power salute. Husband took the kids back outside and took pictures to my exact specifications: no hands in the air. No hands anywhere. Just keep your arms at your sides. Pretend you're being booked for embezzlement.

Hope you all had a safe, happy, Halloween, totally unmarred by any reminder of the existence of Adolf Hitler.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Faunae of Great Britain

If you follow me on YouTube (and if you'd like to, my YouTube username is JenniferArmintrout, so it's not terribly difficult to find me) you know that I often upload videos made with Xtranormal, an internet animation website. Today, I made an executive decision and switched up my style, so from here on out, my vids will look a little different. But the content, you'll find, is just as bizarre as ever:

Monday, October 10, 2011

I bet you're all like, "I didn't know this was a baking blog now."

No, I haven't stopped writing in order to start a bakery in the hopes of attracting an adorable police officer who thinks I make great cakes and has an equally adorable accent.

Not yet, Officer O'Dowd. But someday.

But I am doing an awful lot of baking lately. After my therapist was like, "You need a hobby, yo," and I was like, "Writing is my hobby and until I reach my entirely unobtainable goal of being the best, richest, most sexy writer in the universe, I cannot slow down," and she was all, "Do you realize you have gum in your hair?" I decided that maybe she was right, a change is in order. So, I bake. All the time. Like crazy.

From L-R: Baking, crazy.

Today, to celebrate the fact that my latest release, BRIDE OF THE WOLF, hit ARe this morning and is already rocking a shiny silver bestseller badge, I decided I would treat my family, and you guys, to some crazy baking of my own design. So, I present unto you:

Jenny's Bestselling Pumpkin Apple Cuppycakes.


For the cuppycakes:
1 box Jiffy Apple Cinnamon muffin mix
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 400f, you sexy bastard.

In your fancy schmancy electric mixer (or a plain old bowl, if you have arms like Canseco), combine your mix, egg, and pumpkin until it's blended. Then throw in the other two ingredients. Blend the hell out of 'em.

Fill your prepared (read: greased like whore during fleet week) muffin cups half-way with batter. I suppose you could also use paper or silicone baking cups, but I like my prostitution analogy, and that makes it harder to work it in (that's what she said).

Bake those delicious sonsofbitches for about thirteen minutes, or until the tops start to brown a little.

For the cream cheese frosting:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted. Sifted good.

In your magnificent mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until blended. Add the vanilla and blend. Add the sugar a little bit at a time. I did it about 1/4 a cup at a time, so you don't end up with lumpy horror or a face full of white powder ala Lindsey Lohan. Once all the sugar is incorporated, crank that mixer up to 11 (any high speed will work, so long as it doesn't whip frosting around everywhere) and let it mix, scraping the sides, for about five minutes.

Slap that beautiful monstrosity into a piping bag and go to town on the cooled cuppycakes.

Et voila.

If you haven't checked out BRIDE OF THE WOLF yet, you can get it from ARe, and read it while enjoying your delicious autumn treat.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"I'm Waving At Fat!"



As you might remember from my blog posts earlier this summer, I have taken up baking as a hobby. This might seem like the perfect activity for a severely overweight person– or not, now that I think about it– but in reality, this is less about "Ooh, cake!", because I don't really care for cake or actually, sweets in general, all that much. For me, it's about the challenge of making something and forcing other people to feign enjoyment of it, much like when my relatives read my writing.

Today, baking madness struck me, and I decided I would make some cupcakes. And while I was at it, I would make DOCTOR WHO cupcakes.

I sat and pondered my options. A giant, TARDIS shaped cake with carefully piped icing 'round all the windows? A wedding cake with all ten Doctors in "chibi" form, sculpted painstakingly from fondant?

No. Adipose. If cake makes you fat, and it most certainly seems to do that, shouldn't that fat just... walk away?

If you're unfamiliar with the Adipose, they're the friendly looking little critters up there. Or rather, their young are. See, in a Doctor Who episode titled "Partners in Crime", the Adipose babies, aliens from another world whose breeding planet has disappeared, hatch one by one from obese people who were taking a diet pill. Only, through a course of events that could only happen on Doctor Who, their breeding got sped up, converting all the obese person's body fat at once to these chubby little monsters. And their organs. And their bones.

At the end, of course, the Doctor saves everyone and the Adipose pick up their children, prompting Donna Noble to utter her most famous line:


Arguably the most adorable enemy the Doctor has ever faced, the Adipose babies lend themselves perfectly to the task of making cupcakes:

Perhaps fondant would have been a wiser choice, but who wants to eat a giant blob of fondant? Marzipan is way tastier, and the calories from them and the absolute PILE of homemade frosting on top means that I can make at least AT LEAST one more Adipose baby when Miss Foster bumps up the breeding program.

Assuming, of course, that we're in the alternate Donna Noble "There's something on your back" timeline.

I can think of worse ways to go.

If you're not into cupcakes, but you're more into free books, head on over to Bronwyn Green's Blog where she's giving away a copy of my latest release from Resplendence Publishing, BRIDE OF THE WOLF.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BRIDE OF THE WOLF Excerpt!


As promised, here's the excerpt from BRIDE OF THE WOLF, which comes out tomorrow from Resplendence Publishing!

* * * * * * *

It took Aurelia only seconds to assess that there was something dangerous in the way Jeoffrey approached her. The set of his mouth as he smiled, perhaps, or the slow way he came forward. She stayed very still as he came close to the back of the cart, a hand reaching to the knife at his belt.

“They’ve gone deeper to look for game,” he said in a reassuring tone. His hand fell on her shoulder.

She jerked away. “Don’t.”

His expression darkened. “Don’t? You aren’t the lady of the castle yet, apple. And things work a little differently there, don’t they then?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Aurelia admitted, breathing deep. “But if he is a man, my husband would not like you putting your hands on his property.”

“Ah, but that’s the trick of it, isn’t it?” Jeoffrey seized her by her arms. “He isn’t a man, and neither am I.”

His eyes. Jeoffrey’s eyes flashed warning orange, and Aurelia shook her head, backing slowly away. Of course, she’d known what they were. Her father had spoken of the wolf-men with disgust, but grudging respect for their prowess in battle. Yet something of a blindness, unintentional, perhaps, had come over her when she’d contemplated this journey. While her denial had made her feel safe, she now realized the folly of it. She was alone, in the forest, with wolves.

Jeoffrey’s body, made heavier by the mail he wore, pinned her to the hard ground in half a heartbeat. She gasped for air, then gave up and clawed at him, not breathing but making a hoarse, gulping sound as she pushed and slapped to no avail. His knee pressed between her legs, pinning her skirt to the ground, and as she flailed, she heard the fabric tear. One of the woolen mitts she wore on her hands slipped free, and she sank her fingernails into the skin of his cheek, raking down as hard as she could.

With a roar of pain, he reared back, but only for a moment. As she tried to drag herself backward, he struck her across the face with one metal-plated gauntlet, and blood exploded from her lips, matching the three bright red stripes she’d left on his face. But a second was all she had needed to gain her breath, and with it, her voice. She screamed, shrill terror ringing off every tree in the forest.

The rest of the party returned within seconds, even Raf, crippled as he was. It was he who lifted Jeoffrey from her, flinging him with impossible strength into the side of the cart. The knight crumpled with a sigh of collapsing mail, blood spattered across his tabard.

“Get up!” Raf shouted, dragging her to her feet ungently, by one arm. Aurelia’s head reeled, and she struggled to understand this rough treatment. Did he not see her struggle? She thought to plead with him to see reason, that she had not betrayed his brother, her betrothed, but then she saw the reason for the urgency in his tone. On the far side of the narrow road, Margaret Lackey and Sir Clement stood, brandishing spear and sword, their eyes glowing orange.

“You would harm one of your sworn brothers to protect this mewling cat?” Margaret spat in the dirt. “Your father was right to set you aside. You’re nothing but a coward!”

“She belongs to my brother!” Raf pushed Aurelia farther behind him. “He has bested you both in combat time after time, and you’ve never earned the right to his property.”

“She isn’t a proper woman,” Clement explained patiently, as though Raf were a child to be soothed. “She is a lower being.”

“She belongs to my brother,” Raf repeated. “If either of you wish to challenge him for her, you may do so at the wedding feast. But I am charged with her safety.”

“We could challenge you in your brother’s stead,” Margaret threatened. Aurelia peered past Raf, then regretted it. The fierce woman wore a cruel grin. “Clement, Jeoffrey and I. We could easily cut you down, crippled pup, and all three of us share her.”

Clement growled.

Suddenly, the world was upside down, and moving fast. Hanging as limp as a sack over Raf’s shoulder, Aurelia watched as, in a flurry of movement almost too fast to see, Margaret Lackey and Sir Clement shed their clothing and crouched, lean and terrifying, their naked skin rippling in waves of black. Two huge wolves sprang at her, jaws snapping. Another breath and they would be upon her, and Sir Raf, one-legged, limping Sir Raf, could not protect her.

He jostled her on his shoulder, and wind whipped her face as a thick branch snapped backward, knocking back one of the wolves, Clement, if she’d kept things right when the world turned upside down. The wolf Margaret jumped, and Raf whirled, Aurelia flying up and colliding with his back as the wolf yelped. Then, pulling Aurelia over his shoulder to cradle against his broad chest, Sir Raf dropped to the ground and they were sliding, in a cloud of dust and dead leaves, down a steep slope, the end of which disappeared into nothing. Raf did nothing to slow their descent, but held her to his chest tighter with one arm as they flew over the brink. With an arm above his head, he caught a thin ledge of stone from the face of the cliff.

Aurelia did not wish to look down. Far below, the river roiled, white frothing against the dark depths.

“Hold on to me!” Raf shouted over the rushing of the river.

She flung her arms around his neck, even as she begged him not to do what she was certain would come. That they had outrun the wolves was unbelievable; that they could survive the tossing waters was too much to ask.

She squeezed her eyes shut, but she could not ignore the plummeting feeling. It seemed forever before they touched the water’s surface, and then, as the frigid depths enveloped them, not enough time at all. She tried to keep hold of Raf’s neck, then just his cloak, her fingers fumbling on the wet edges of the fur, but the water drove them apart, tore her away in a rapid current that she struggled to climb above. This river ran past her home as but a trickling stream that she had sailed wooden boats on as a child. Now, it offered her no friendly quarter, sweeping her down the banks, farther and farther away from where Raf surfaced, looking about frantically. She gasped for air before the currents pulled down again. Her last glimpse of the world above the water was of the huge, black wolf standing at the cliff’s edge.


Monday, October 3, 2011

When things don't go exactly according to plan...


You may have heard me tell of a time, long, long ago, when The Turning was a book called Blood Ties, and was a paranormal romance that ended with Carrie and Nathan (paralyzed and in a wheelchair) driving off to Las Vegas to get married. The second book in the series was to be titled Penance, Ohio, and it would be about what happened when Max was accidentally trapped in a small Ohio town that was under a curse.

Yup. Without the careful edits of one Ms. Shannon Godwin, my original editor at Harlequin, I would have missed out on– and you would have missed out on– the entire Blood Ties series and American Vampire. I wouldn't have written about Bella, or Bill. Or Graf, for that matter.

The same weird turn of events happened when I beganwriting my latest book. This one really is meant to be a historical romance. But when I started it out, Aurelia was in a coach, on her way to meet her new husband Raf, a werewolf and lord of a castle full of his fellow werewolves. For days, I tried to write that book, and every word was a chore. Then, I realized what the problem was. Aurelia wasn't supposed to meet Raf at the castle and fall in love with him. She was supposed to have an adventure with him, and fall in love with him that way. And Raf wasn't the lord of the castle, he was a disinherited son of a lord. Oh, and he's only got one leg.


So, you see, then, how in the process of writing one book, you end up with a completely different one.

BRIDE OF THE WOLF comes out on Wednesday from Resplendence Publishing. It's a book I'm really proud of, and I can't wait to share it with all of you.


Commanded to marry the son of Lord Canis, a powerful ally of her father and King Edward, Aurelia knows she is about to venture into a den of wolves. For the men who live at Blackens Gate are no ordinary men, able to change at will into enormous, bloodthirsty beasts... and as a mere human, Aurelia is a reviled outsider.

When the wolves escorting his brother’s bride to Blackens Gate turn on her, Sir Raf Canis finds himself in the unlikely position of rescuer. After losing his leg– and his place in the pack– Raf refuses to bring himself further shame by failing to deliver the lovely Aureilia. But the innocent maiden proves to be a temptation even he cannot resist.

Within the dark, dangerous forest, a love begins that neither can deny. To protect Aurelia, Raf must betray everything he has come to believe about his life among wolves, and risk death to save the only woman ever to touch his wounded soul.

For a excerpt of this awesome, awesome book, check back here Tuesday. And on Wednesday, you'll get a chance to win a copy for your very own, from author Bronwyn Green, who is very gallantly hosting a giveaway!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What are you doing in October?

So, I'm trying to get on here to update my blog with news about a kick-ass writing opportunity coming up, and I kept failing and failing and failing on the security question. And as I'm failing, over and over again, I'm like, "Wait a minute? Why is there so much security?" Then, I started feeling kind of paranoid. "Is it because I'm doing something wrong? Like, without realizing it, am I doing something naughty, trying to sneak into my own blog? Oh god, am I doing it on purpose to sabotage myself, and I'm so deeply in denial about it that I don't realize I'm doing it? WILL THE POLICE BE CALLED IF I FAIL IT ONE MORE TIME?"

I'd forgotten to put the .com on my email address.

I just wanted you to know what i had to go through to tell you about this absolutely amazing conference opportunity. It's call "I've Always Wanted To Write A Book!", a one-day conference in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here's what's going down: The Grand Rapids Region Writer's Group is a professional organization that I belong to. I'm actually an original member of the group, serving on the first board when it formed as an RWA chapter. Eventually, the group broke away and became a career support group. We have an incredibly high number of published members, including author Bronwyn Green and Sidney Ayers, both who will speak at the conference. One of our goals when we started was to have a conference that would help people who always wanted to write, but never really did for one reason or another.

That's what you'll get at "I've Always Wanted To Write A Book!" 2011. You'll attend panels and workshops on specific genres, time and stress management, and industry tips from published authors, editors, and agent Michelle Grajkowski from Three Seas literary agency, who will also be taking a limited number of pitches.

Oh, and Jacqueline Carey. Yeah, she'll be there, too. She's the KEYNOTE SPEAKER! The woman who created Terre 'd Ange and Phedre and Kushiel and if you have not read her books, I'm sorry, FANGURL TANGENT AHEAD: If you have not read her books and are not currently reading them or planning to, I do not know what you are doing with your life. They are amazing fantasy books and she'll be at this conference, sharing her expertise and experience with you.

And guys. Guys, not to brag, but I'm going to– I, Jennifer Armintrout am going to– give a workshop on how to act professional. You'll have to see it to believe it.

Please, if you are serious about writing and have the dough to spare, check the link out and come party with us. It's going to be so much fun. Registration is limited to 100 attendees, so it's going to be a very intimate, very informative experience. There's an optional friday night GRRWG wine mixer, with some very friendly local writers who are committed to helping other writers.

I really hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where I was.

On September 10th, I went to an evening class, Modern Culture and The Arts, at my college. I talked to some people in my class about how awesome the Harry Potter movie, coming out that next summer, looked from the pictures in Vanity Fair, and resolved to read the books- all three of them- before it came out. I went to a friend's house. We made out while watching Evil Dead 2. I got home at three in the morning on September 11, 2001, and all I could think was "Thank god I don't have class until noon tomorrow."

At the time, I lived in my grandparent's spare bedroom, and they were early risers despite being retired. I made a little note and taped it to my door before I went to sleep. "DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, WAKE ME UP BEFORE 10 OR I WILL TURN INTO A PILLAR OF SALT." I knew they had to get up even earlier than usual, because they were going to drive to Indiana to visit relatives. But sure enough, my grandfather ignored the sign and called cheerfully up the stairs at 8:45 am (according to my alarm clock, that seemed to hate me), "Jenny, you want some pancakes?"

I yelled back, "No, I don't want any pancakes. I don't have to be to class until noon. I want to sleep in."

I pulled my blankets over my head and tried to will myself back to sleep, but less than five minutes later, I heard my grandfather's footsteps on the stairs again. "Jenny!"

"I told you I don't want any pancakes please let me sleep for the love of God!" I begged. They're used to my drama.

"Someone drove a plane into the World Trade Center!"

The first thing I thought was, "drove a plane? What an odd choice of words." The second thing I thought was, "I bet this is going to be weeks of congressional hearings about air traffic controller safety." I thought it would probably be something we'd cover in my American Government class.

There was no going back to sleep, so I got up. And this is the part I remember so vividly. I remember walking down the stairs, because that is the last thing I can remember before, as cliche as it is, everything changed. I went into the kitchen, where my grandmother was sitting at the table, watching on the little tv in there as the newscasters, and my grandparents and I, talked about what a horrible accident it was. And then we saw the second plane, and we tried to keep talking about it like an accident, like the people on television still were. But I think, at that time, we knew.

My grandparents called our relatives in Indiana and said they would be late, they were watching "what's happening in New York". We kept watching, and heard the report of the plane hitting the Pentagon. I started thinking of other buildings we would be hearing soon: the capitol, the Sears tower in Chicago, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty. It sounds silly now, knowing how things turned out, but at the time, it seemed like whatever was happening could wipe every city I could think of off the face of the Earth.

On the tv, a reporter stood in front of a fire truck, and behind him, fire fighters jogged together in a big group toward the towers. A few minutes later, the South tower appeared to partially collapse. Then, reports confirmed that it had completely collapsed. I looked at my grandfather and I said, "What happened to all those firemen?"

I watched tv all day that day, from the living room love seat where I would doze off, then wake up, the tv still on. My grandparents, devout Orthodox Christians, cancelled their trip and debated going to church. I don't remember if they went. I do know that in the evening, a neighbor came down and knocked on the door. He was inviting everyone in the neighborhood to come down to his lawn to pray together.

I didn't go pray. I stayed on the couch, watching television, for days. Thinking it was the end of the world. Wondering if we should start locking the doors at night, because the terrorists could come in and kill us in our sleep. The kind of thoughts a twenty-one year old shouldn't have, ones that are more suited for a four year old. I was reduced to a child by my anxiety.

I shook the news paralysis (eventually, I had to go to work). I never shook that fear. No, I'm not still afraid of terrorists coming into my house and killing me in my sleep, but, like many Americans, I don't feel safe anymore. Ten years later, I struggle to explain to my son that "terrorist" didn't used to be a word that got used every single day, and that things used to be different. I think of the fact that both of my children will never know what it was like to live in a time where it didn't seem like anything could touch us.

I don't engage in 9/11 conspiracy speculation, and I'm not interested in discussing how our foreign policy and lack of awareness about ourselves may have hurt us. I've never been interested, because none of it matters. It doesn't matter why, what matters is that it happened. And it is important, for people who witness the events, even just on television, to remember where they were and what they were doing. Not just on 9/11, but the day before. Everyone needs that snapshot of the last time things were okay, because ten years later, it's still hard to accept that it will never be that way again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Well of Inspiration

There has been a lot of negative press for the past, oh, thirty years or so, about how Michigan is a terrible place. The economy is bad. Everyone is on welfare. The winters are cold and the summers are humid. Too much crime and not enough jobs. Most of these things are true. Some of them are half true. But we also have something very special.

I came to this place last week, taken there by a friend who knew the way. I won't share the directions. There are people who know where to find it, and those people are just the right amount. Twice, I was blessed to enjoy this sacred space alone, and I would selfishly like the place to remain secluded for as long as possible. But if you are determined, you can find someone to drive you out there, on the dirt two-track with holes that will swallow your tires if you're unwary.



A part of the Pictured Rocks coast of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, it is a mishmash of sandstone cliffs and enormous boulders. The very glaciers that carved the Rocks now slap at the soft cliff faces in the form of the Great Lake herself, a perpetually frigid, temperamental beast that swallows men whole, never to release them.



The underwater boulders sift the currents in invisible patterns. One diver reported being pinned between two of the behemoths, captive to the pull of the waters. But on our first visit, we found only the gentle motion of a lake rolling over in slumber.



In the sunlight, the lazy currents rolled like gold silk, up from the crystalline blue depths. They split apart into sun-kissed lace gliding into a peaceful lagoon, or lapped half-heartedly at the rough cliffs. Where we stood could not be called a proper beach; all sandstone, with slick black algae making footing beneath the water perilous, the only loose sand one could find was in a single pocket beneath the water's edge:



...and on drier ground, where it held onto love tokens from other realms of nature.



Caves shelter birds, bats, people, from the sun that can be unrelenting, but chose that day to be merciful. In a place like this, one feels a true sense of the interweaving of the elements. Earth, air, and water tugging and pulling with each other in a beautiful war, creating each other from their own destruction.



I'd like to tell you that the peace of this scene was repeated on the second day of our visit. There are no photographs of that day; rather than try in vain to capture the scene, the second day I became a part of it. Waves taller than our heads battered us again and again. Always respectful of the force and deadliness of the lake herself, we dared to venture out of our golden lagoon, to step off the the underwater cliff where hip deep water gave way to fathomless depths.



When she'd had enough of us, Superior drove us from her shores with warnings only a fool would fail to heed. We stumbled away, intoxicated by the furious, alien beauty of the place.



These photos are a pale imitation of the true beauty of the place. It almost makes my heart hurt to look at them, because I know I can't share exactly what I felt those two amazing days. With a last look back, I returned to the mortal world, to live to my greatest potential until the time I return.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Open Letter To Bill Schuette, Michigan Attorney General

Warning: Hippie Political Raving Ahead



This is the text of a letter I sent to Bill Schuette's office today, Friday, August 26, 2011. For those outside the state of Michigan or in the state and not following the developments surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, Bill Schuette has made it his single-minded focus to undermine the will of the people of Michigan, who voted to legalize the medical use of marijuana in our state. Most recently, he declared the Michigan Court of Appeals decision to uphold the ruling in Michigan vs. McQueen, "a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches." The ruling means that medical dispensaries are made illegal, and patients would have to seek their medication from possibly illegal, dangerous sources.



Dear Mr. Schuette,

I just wanted to offer a hearty and sarcastic "job well done" on effectively obliterating legal marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Now, instead of getting my medicine from a secure, licensed facility, I can go to a drug dealer! And it will be so awesome when he tries to "up sell" me on illegally begotten Oxy, Vicodin, and Adderall! These dealers sometimes carry guns or other weapons (for their own protection only, I'm sure). These are definitely the kind of people I want to be involved with.



This is your "great victory" Mr. Schuette. Sick people, who are looking into alternatives to dangerous, sometimes off-label or untested drugs, will be immersed in drug culture. True drug culture, with all the dangers inherent when dealing in the illegal drug trade. These are operations that are happening near our "schools, homes, and churches." Just because they don't have a storefront doesn't mean the streets are completely absent of drug crime. Instead of a clean, licensed, safe facility, you are asking patients to monetarily support the illegal drug trade in the event that they cannot receive medication from a licensed caregiver. You, by taking such a hard stance against dispensaries and patients, are supporting the illegal drug trade.



I assume that since you stand firmly against dispensaries, you won't be buying your prescription medications from licensed facilities, either. If you need any kind of drug, from aspirin to Prozac, you'll be going to your friendly neighborhood drug dealer to obtain it. It's only fair, after all. I hope that we can soon also celebrate the removal of Walgreens, Rite Aid, and any other dealer of medications that can be abused from our neighborhoods.



Thanks for keeping us "safe".



Jennifer Armintrout

Registered voter, proud Michigander

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy 69th Birthday to the best three-fingered guitar player ever. Gone too soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Doobie doobie dah!

As I mentioned in an earlier post involving night cheese, one of my summer craft project is cross-stitching quotes from my favorite television show, Tina Fey's 30 Rock, which I will then attempt to hang about the house until my husband notices them and, wildly embarrassed that he married someone who clearly destined to die alone, her face eaten by the many, many housecats she would have amassed during her lonely middle years as an animal hoarding spinster, takes them down.

I've finished the second project, and I couldn't wait to show it to you. And by couldn't wait, I mean, "man, I better post this to the blog before I forget. Fuck the frame, I don't have an 8 x 10 frame just hanging around, and I know for damn sure and certain I'm going to forget to pick one up in town tomorrow. Fuck it, I'll just show it to them like this, all wrinkly and unmounted."

Hey, that's a funny joke. What do my cross-stitch and an ugly lady elephant have in common? THEY'RE BOTH WRINKLY AND UNMOUNTED.

I chose the wisdom of one Mr. Tracy Jordan, star of Who Dat Ninja? and Honky Grandma Be Trippin', Oscar winner for Hard To Watch, creator of the megahit pornographic videogame Goregasm: Legend of the Dongslayer:


This also gives you a heretofore unseen glimpse of my laptop keyboard, where I write all those amazing books y'all love so much.

Also, where I play Goregasm: Legend of The Dongslayer.

Or as I call it, World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blah I Vant To Suck Your Blaaaaaaad

My latest Fiverr.com experiment does exactly what it says on the tin. The listing, from AngeltheArtist, can be found here: I will make you a finger face character with my fingers:

"Using my own fingers (girl hand) I will dress them or draw them to the character of your liking with a cute face. Like a guy from Paris, or a Vampire, or a cute couple etc. whatever you think of will work! Just tell me what you please, I will send you the picture digitally on fiver and were done! Great as a gift for a friend!

Clearly, I needed her to whip me up a vampire. This is what I asked for:

"let's go with a vampire. As goth and tortured and darkity dark as you're willing."

I mean, if we're going to go vampire, we need something dark and horrid and scary, the stuff that will make a lesser writer (like me) go on antidepressants, according to some. Cheap shot of the day! I win a billion dollars!

What AngeltheArtist sent to me did not disappoint. I present to you, finger vampires:



You can't get much darker than that. I particularly enjoy the x'ed out eyes. Classic.

What I don't understand is how one would go about creating this type of scene on one's fingers. At some point wouldn't you need both hands to apply the fake blood and bushy vampire eyebrows? I commend you, AngeltheArtist, for doing what I could not, at least, not without accidentally gluing my fingers together and then gluing my fingers to my foot and my foot to the floor.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Insert Top Gear Theme Here

I've mentioned my love of fantasizing about hot hate sex with Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear before, I'm sure. In fact, if I'd never sat down and watched "that funny show with those guys who do things to cars" I would have never realized how awesome cars actually are. At first, cars were secondary to the antics of the hosts, but then as I continued watching, I developed a real enthusiasm for super cars. Because I always desperately love that which I cannot attain. I'm looking at you, James May.

Imagine my delight when I found GreenLambo, a seller on fiverr.com who, for five dollars, will write anything you want on a piece of paper, stick it somewhere on a green Lamborghini (to my untrained eye, it looks like one of the Gallardos), and send you a picture. Obviously, I needed to jump on this.

The only problem was, my plan for my fiverr.com adventure was to create disingenuous viral hype. How could I justify comparing myself to a lime green Lamborghini? While I'm awesome, I have to say, I've seen a Lamborghini in person before. It was in New York City. My husband, friend Jill and I were standing in front of the statue of Atlas outside of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (doobie doobie daaaah!) when I turned and saw an Astin Martin Vantage parked in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. As I raised my phone to snap a picture, a blinding white Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder wove through traffic that looked like it was standing still in comparison. The noise it made could only be described as the high, incessant whine of an electric guitar solo in an 80's hair band mixed with the growl of bedsprings as the lead singer of that band got down with his lady love in a frenzied, early-AIDS panic meshing of unprotected sex and the threat of death.

It was a transformative experience.

So, obviously, I couldn't say something in the picture like, "Jennifer Armintrout is cooler than this car." It wouldn't make sense. I mean, the experience I had seeing that car in action, just feet from me, was a religious vision. For a split second I actually had considered jumping into traffic, just for the story. "So you were in the hospital for how many weeks?" "It doesn't matter, it was worth it." I couldn't even say, "Jennifer Armintrout is exactly as awesome as this car," because if i had jumped into traffic and the wounds incurred were fatal, I would have whispered, "I... was... perfect!" like Natalie Portman at the end of Black Swan, that's how amazing this was. I can't live up to that. And I just couldn't stand to stain this guy's fine automobile with a lie.

So, this is what I came up with:



Worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let me explain to you about Fiverr.com

A few days ago, while perusing Regretsy.com I learned about a website called fiverr.com, where people list stuff they will do for you if you pay them five dollars.

Not that stuff.

I immediately saw the potential for advertising in this venture. I can pay people to say I'm awesome? That's so much easier than doing it by myself! So, from now on, expect to see a lot more random instances of people saying I'm badass, but keep in mind, I paid them to do so.

Like this handsome young chap here, who I paid five dollars to write a song extolling my many favorable qualities:



Okay, so clearly, this is the best thing ever. My thanks to "Thallett" for doing such a bang up job. If you're feeling blue or totally rad, either way, send him some business. You'd be amazed at how much more awesome your life sounds when set to catchy pop. You can find him Here

Two blog posts in one day? This is MADNESS!

Naomi Clark is my new hero

An Open Letter To Laurell K Hamilton

I agree with Ms. Clark. The tweet she references, in which Ms. Hamilton suggests that she welcomes the deep, gothic, darkity dark thoughts that she is plagued with and other people are just, I don't know, not artistic or gothic or deep or what the fuck ever enough to handle them, makes me sick and offended. I'm a writer. I have a mental illness. And I'm not going to go untreated so I can better pour my tortured soul into my stories about vampires and shifters poking each other.

There's another component to those words that suggest that if you're strong, if you're dedicated to your craft, you don't need help to overcome your mental illness. There is already enough stigma attached to mental illness. We don't need to be glorifying it as a gift from the Gods or something. What is this, ancient Rome? Okay, folks, Caesar had epilepsy, he wasn't "touched by Mars" and if he lived today, he would be on medication for it. (I realize that epilepsy isn't a mental illness, but I've been rewatching Rome lately and I can't get out of that mode right now, okay, Vorenus?)

If you're depressed, if you hear voices, if you live in constant fear and you know that it's irrational, please, I urge you, go get help. This isn't directed as Ms. Hamilton, but to anyone who might read this post and have these issues. Going untreated for a serious mental illness is not a badge of honor. It's not an artistic, deeply feeling thing to do. It's self-destructive and selfish, when it affects the people around you. I repeat: do not go untreated because some successful people feel that you can "create" better if you're struggling with these issues.

Please, do go read Naomi's letter, because she's much better at breaking through her rage and channeling it into constructive words, and she hardly uses fuck at all in there, which is why she's more professional than I am. You can read more reaction about this comment from a group known as the LKH_Lashout on LiveJournal: http://lkh-lashouts.livejournal.com/553179.html#cutid1 wherein people who live with mental illness react to those words and the hurt it caused them. It's not pretty.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

These are probably the worst cupcakes in London.

I let my two-year-old pick the next cupcake project from the book, and of course she had to pick one of the most complicated. So, here are the results:

First, I had to sculpt a realistic corpse finger from marzipan. The author of the book suggested ivory food coloring, but that looked a little too fresh, so I used a teensy bit of yellow and a teensy bit of brown. Then, using my own natural sculpting talents and a ton of willpower to not just start shoving marzipan into my mouth by the handful, I made those corpse fingers, damnit:

The nails got a brush with piping gel. As per the instructions, I set them aside in an airtight container while I whipped up a batch of chocolate cupcakes.

It took literally all my willpower not to leave this...
...on top of the trashcans at the funeral home down the street. But I managed.

After the cupcakes were cooled and vanilla frosted, it was time to make some marzipan pie lids. I finished construction while singing along to "The Worst Pies in London", "A Little Priest", "God That's Good" and "Joanna". The Patti LuPone/George Hearn version, of course. After a little experimentation with methods (though the book instructs you to put the entire thing together before decorating with luster dust, I found it was easier to brush them with gel food coloring for better contrast and then put the entire thing together) and thickness of marzipan, I they came out looking more or less all like this:

They were a hit with the kids, and bigger hit with me, since the kids didn't want to eat the marzipan fingers and gave them to me.

I am surprisingly enjoying the aesthetics of them sitting on my baking rack in little rows. It's like a bunch of cupcakes flipping me off every time I walk past.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"and every two years you take up knitting for... a week."

In my fevered attempts to keep myself from working, but also to not bake super complicated and work intensive cupcakes every single day, I've also decided to treat my work addiction with cross-stitch.
Counted cross-stitch is probably one of the easiest hobbies on the planet, unless you're my friend Bronwyn Green and you spend ten years working on a Theresa Wentzler project until your husband tells you that you can't cross-stitch anymore because he can't take the stress. There is just something soothing about mindlessly counting and stitching, counting and stitching. Until, you know, you fuck it up and you have to take a bunch of stitches out.

Keeping that last part in mind, I present my very simple first project of this whole "not working" experience:

I plan to cross-stitch several pieces with my favorite 30 Rock quotes on them, and then hang them in my office because my husband expressly forbids me from putting them up anywhere in the house, stating that, "Your nerdness must be contained to your own space. Don't make your nerdness everyone else's problem."

Sage advice. I hung it above the doors in my office, so that the view from my desk is something like this:


I have a lot of admiration for Liz Lemon, the fictionalized version of Tina Fey on the show. Although I always think of my friend Jill as being more Lemon-esque (and she has the coloring and glasses), I notice similarities between Liz and I. We're both trying to "have it all" and are obsessive perfectionists.

Also, this.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trading one addiction for another



Recently, with the help of my community's department of mental health services, I was informed that I am addicted to work. Apparently, "workaholic" is an actual thing. Usually, I feel as though if I work twelve hours a day, it's not enough, and I don't have enough time to get anything done.

As a result, I am now taking my first hiatus from writing in six years. I needn't tell you, gentle reader, that it blows real hard. All I want to do is write. Great ideas just keep popping up. But I'm forcing myself to ignore that urge, and, like a smoker who chews gum to quit smoking or a heroin addict who smokes cigarettes to quit heroin, I've found a parallel addiction to rule my time.

Crafts.

The glorious anniversary of my birth is tomorrow, and as a present, my friend Cheryl Sterling over at Writers, Like Me gave me this:

This is A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, a book full of some of the strangest, most pointlessly complicated cupcakes you will ever see. And I have made it my personal mission this summer to make them. All of them.

I started out with Lily Vanilli's Rainbow Cupcakes. Now, I'll be honest. She has a recipe for the actual cake in there. But cake and I... we don't get along. I'm not good at making cakes without a mix, so I will confess, I used a mix. But I did make her frosting recipe (I am amazing at making frosting). The cupcakes turned out like this (pre-frosting):


Mine turned out quite short, because I am new to this whole cupcake thing and I didn't fill the cups enough. As it turns out, that was a point in my favor, because once I had made twelve little cupcakes, I had enough left to make my own version of a rainbow cake. I made a tie-dye cake:


This fulfilled my life-long need to eat something that looked like the pretend food they ate in Neverland in Hook.

Once I got the cakes frosted, I decided to take a look at the inside, to see how the rainbow effect worked out:

Aww and yeah. Look at all that rainbow-y goodness. These cupcakes are magical. I don't know what it is about eating something that looks like you're having a mild hallucination, but it tasted delicious. As per Ms. Vanili's forward, I used fair-trade ingredients whenever possible. Farm fresh eggs and hand churned, organic butter from the hippie farm. I think it made the cake taste more psychedelic, even if it came out of a boxed mix.

I'm letting my daughter pick out the next cupcake design to try, though I'm a bit nervous she's going to want to jump right into the ones with sculpted marzipan fingers.

Stay tuned for further projects. Besides the cupcakes, I've also got some other things up my sleeve, crafts wise, this summer.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pirates aren't that bad, mkay?

So, as royalty statements went out this quarter, the near-deafening cry that went up from ebook authors was, "STUPID PIRATES". This is pretty much to be expected. If I do a google search of my pen name, Abigail Barnette (Abigail's latest steampunk story, BOUND IN BRASS is now available at All Romance Ebooks), illegal download requests and sites pop up on the very first page. It's enough to make an author gnash her teeth and rend her garments. Unless we start to look at it another way.

This man is not the enemy. This man gets us drunk.

First of all, we need to stop looking at every download as a sale lost. There's an old saying, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" I've never really understood that saying, because it usually has to do with women giving up sex for free, and the whole milk metaphor seems to work better in conjunction with semen, but that's a blog post for another time. While one could apply this to e-piracy of our books by saying, "If they couldn't get the books for free, they would purchase them," I think the opposite is true. If ebook pirates couldn't get the books (milk) for free, they wouldn't buy them (the cow), anyway. Because clearly, if you're getting it for free, it's not something you'd be willing to spend money on. The opportunity is there for these people. They can easily go find our books on any of the fine retail websites that carry them. But they don't. Instead, they go on message boards and say, "Looking for a torrent, plz," and wait. They wait for it for free, when they could easily drop the measly three or so bucks to have it immediately. To me, that kind of proves that they don't want that book that bad. They want it, but obviously not enough to pay for it.

So, instead of going, "I saw that my book was illegally downloaded twelve times from this site, that means twelve sales I lost," maybe we should look at it like, "My book was downloaded twelve times. That means twelve more people read it than would have otherwise." Sure, this doesn't have the same monetary value to us as authors, but it does have some value.

I'll fess up to something here: I've been known to download episodes of popular cable television shows because I'm too poor and too cheap to pay for cable. It is what it is, okay? Occasionally, I'll tell one of my friends, "You have got to watch this show, it's totally awesome." But she won't illegally download anything. Not a song, not a book, not a tv show, not a set of photoshop brushes, nothing. She is the anti-pirate. I can respect that. So, when I tell her, "You really need to see this show," she waits for the dvd, and either rents it or buys it through perfectly legal means.

Let's extrapolate that out, to the world of books, specifically, romance books, where our reputations as authors are based largely on word-of-mouth sales. Let's pretend our pirate's name is... I don't know, Sheila. We'll call her Sheila. For whatever reason, be it our current economy or just plain being a miser, Sheila doesn't spend much money on books. If she wants a paperback, she gets it from her library, if she wants an ebook, she downloads it from a pirate site. So, let's say Sheila downloads... oh, I don't know, GIANT by Abigail Barnette, and she likes it so much that she tells her friend, we'll call this friend... Harriet, about how great GIANT is, what with the sweet romance and super hot love scenes and all. Harriet, being morally opposed to piracy, goes and buys GIANT from ARe. And while she's there, she picks up the first book in the series, GLASS SLIPPER.

Obviously, this isn't going to happen every single time, so let's talk about a different scenario. Let's say Sheila reads the book, then goes to a review site, like Amazon or GoodReads, and leaves a glowing review. And, since she's such a book nut, her reviews are being followed by, I don't know, fifteen people. That's fifteen people who have just been told that GIANT is an amazing book, and fifteen people more likely to check it out.

Not to mention the fact that just having your name come up with more search results on google is a good thing. If I run a search for either of the names I write under, the last thing I would want is to have six results lead back to me and the fact that I write, and the rest of them pointing to a real estate agent in Kentucky who has more internet gravitas than I do. I'm grateful to pirates for the fact that when I search Abigail Barnette, google no longer asks me, "Did you mean Abigail Breslin?" That shit is disheartening. So, even if you google your name and all that comes up is your site and a thousand piracy sites, at least it's saying, "Hey, this person is out there, and they write books, and they're not Abigail Breslin."

Now, please understand that I'm not trying defend theft. But I'm consistently surprised at how many authors publicly bitch about piracy, when readers are quick to point out how obnoxious they find it. When my latest Jennifer Armintrout release, AMERICAN VAMPIRE came out, I joked to a reader on twitter, "Thanks for buying it instead of pirating it." I meant it as a joke, because I really don't give a shit what other people do with their computers. But the reader was clearly taken aback, judging from her response. I've probably lost that reader over my stupid joke, and it's not like I have so many readers that I can afford to lose them.

Let's take that example and extrapolate it out again. Let's say I love an author. Love, love, love this author, so much so that I follow her on facebook or twitter or some other form of social media that I don't know about because my youth is over and I'm relegated to some hellish limbo wherein I'm no longer "young" but not yet "middle-aged". But when she's tweeting or facebooking or yonking or whatever people do these days, she's always on and on about pirates. Pirates this, pirates that. It seems like her disdain for pirates has consumed her, so much so that everyone is a suspect, including me. Also, it's clear from these tweets and yonks or honks or franks or whatever that she's not really interested in crafting stories for me to enjoy. That's secondary to the real reason she's writing, which is money. And if she's not getting enough to be appeased, I'm going to have to listen to her complain about it.

So, I implore you, authors of the world. Let's just shut up about the book piracy thing. Yes, it sucks. But we're not losing as much money as we assume we are. If they're pirating our books, they're not buying. That doesn't mean they'd have bought them in the first place. And having our work in front of more readers is a good thing. And while we're only in it for the money, we can't tell readers that. It would destroy the illusion that we're all artsy, creative types who live for our work.

WHICH WE TOTALLY DO.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unexpected Benefits to New York Recognizing Gay Marriage

Like many people across the nation today, I'm thrilled as can be that last night, New York became the sixth state in the nation to allow folk who are homosexual to get married. I mean, there is that horrible, cynical side of me that is irked that only six states have done this so far, that goes, "Oh gee, you're going to let them get married, just like real people? That's mighty big of you," but even I can set that crotchety old-manness aside to be genuinely grateful for the brotherhood of man today.

(That wasn't an intentional reference to How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Musical references just kind of come out of me. I'm like the Seth McFarlane of not doing anything of value. So basically just Seth McFarlane.)

So, this decision has gotten me thinking of the unexpected effects this is going to have on the economy in New York state. This is what I've come up with, so far:

There's a 50% increase in job openings for wedding planners.
I'm not great at math or statistics or presenting factual information in a helpful way, so I figure that about half the people in New York are gay, and half are straight. Let's say half of those gay people and half of those straight people are engaged. We're going to need someone to plan these weddings, and I bet wedding planners in Manhattan alone are already swamped. Plus, we have to factor in all those "sensitive" guys who told their long term girlfriends that they would get married "When love is equal" or some other political shit they were hiding behind because they're really afraid of commitment. I'm looking at you, Brad Pitt, even though you do not live in New York that I am aware of. So, now we've got gay engaged people and commitment-phobic engaged people looking to get married. We're gonna need some more wedding planners.

So many more opportunities for cake.
This one saddens me a little bit, because most of the people I know who are my friends and also gay aren't dating anyone. Also, we live in Michigan, a state that does not recognize gay marriage. So, while the thought of this makes me super happy, it's bittersweet. See, there are going to be more weddings, and therefore more cake. And I'm not going to get any of it. But still, if you live in New York state, there is a fair chance the number of weddings you're required to attend will go up. I know, I know, that's a total bummer and you don't even want to spend every weekend at Crate and Barrel trying to find the cheapest thing on somebody's registry before dashing to the church, but I assure you: there will be cake. So, don't think of this legislation as another way your friends can suck the money right out of your bank account in a socially acceptable manner. Think of it as an increase in cake.

Divorce lawyers, expect to buy a boat in eight years.
Everyone is super happy right now, and I don't want to cast a pall on that, but the fact is, in the United States, it's estimated that most divorces occur around the eight year mark. This is fantastic news for divorce lawyers in New York, who just had their client base expanded for them by the state legislature. Doubled, if you use my faulty math.

Expect at least three gay-wedding themed reality shows on basic cable.
You know it's coming. Turn on any basic cable channel, they probably have a show about weddings. Planning weddings, buying dresses, family drama, people can't get enough of that shit. Now just imagine "Say Yes To The Dress" but with two brides arguing over what they should be wearing. I think it's safe to say that those creative liberal television types in New York City are going into development meetings as we speak: "It's called My Big Fat Gay Wedding. Write that down."

Okay, so it's fun to joke. And maybe some of these predictions will actually come true. But the bottom line is, I'm so, so happy for all our brothers and sisters in New York state who happen to love someone of the same gender and who are now, far, far too late, being recognized as our fellow Americans.

Now other forty-four states? Get your asses in gear, and stop your fucking whinging.

God bless New York, and God Bless America.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wherein I change the lines to Mean Girls to be about Billy Joel instead of Regina George

How do I even begin to explain Billy Joel?

Billy Joel is flawless. He has two Fendi purses and a silver Lexus.

I hear his hair's insured for ten-thousand dollars.

I hear he does car commercials. In Japan.

His favorite movie is Varsity blues.

One time, he met John Stamos on a plane. And he told him he was pretty.

One time, he punched me in the face. It was awesome.

He always looks fierce. He always wins Spring Fling Queen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No, I won't be posting about the Judy Mays controversy...

I'm just too damned mad about the whole thing, and any post I write about it will just end up filled with curse words.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A little Xtranormal laugh for Monday morning...

My friend Scott and I discuss the Ayn Rand dating site. I used the KALI MAAAAAA! guy from Indiana Jones to represent him, because that's how I roll.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We all remember that James Frey is an asshole, right?

Apparently, James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, the "memoir" famous for being a steaming pile of bullshit, is going back on Oprah to promote his new book.

If I sound a little bristly, it's because I think this guy is a fucking scam artist. But I'm apparently in the minority. If you go to CNN's entertainment blog, The Marquee Blog, you'll find a story about Jame's Frey's return to the Oprah show and lots of comments from readers who feel that it was Oprah, and not James Frey, in the wrong during his first appearance on the show. I feel it is my job, nay, my divine duty, to call it like I sees it and tackle one of these comments, a statement that hits every single one of my "Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me!" buttons.

Jan writes: whether the book was completely true or not, it was a compelling read. very intense. and it told a good story and demonstrated a good lesson. i bought several of them for addicts and they truly appreciated the books even if they were not 100% true. i don't know about his new book but i always felt that oprah went overboard in taking him to task on her show the way she did. it was pretty tough to watch. he did what he did, with the help and advice of very knowledgeable people in the business. i think he was more of a dupe that she was

What this comment tells me, Jan, is that you don't give a shit about truth or integrity, just as long as you're entertained. It doesn't matter if the book was appreciated by people struggling with addiction. It was a lie. And it was no one's fault but his own.

This is a sentiment that got thrown around a lot when the controversy first hit the news. a call-in on Larry King's show, Oprah herself blamed his publisher for the book being, well, full of lies and half-truths, saying it was the publisher's job to verify the facts. Of course, she changed her tune later, but it apparently stuck in the minds of a lot of readers, like Jan there, who feel that Frey was simply the sweet, unwitting pawn of an evil publisher.

I've got some experience in the publishing industry. Not in memoirs, mind you, but I do have eight fiction novels in print and five novellas in e-book format, and I'm currently working as an editor for a publishing house that will go unnamed for professional reasons. Whenever I have signed a contract, there's been this little section in it that says something to the effect of, "this is all my work, and if I'm lying it's totally on me." I would bet that James Frey signed a contract with a similar clause in it, something like, "If I'm lying and exploiting dead people for my own gain, it's nobody's fault but my own." And when I'm editing a book, I don't feel like the onus is on me to make sure that every historical fact the author includes is accurate. I assume they know what they're talking about, and I don't get paid enough or have the time to research how people cleaned their teeth in Victorian Britain. If the facts turn out to be inaccurate and readers complain, they're holding the author responsible. Blaming the publisher for James Frey's lies is like a five-year-old blaming his mom for his lies. "Yes, I lied, but you listened to me lying. Really, you're the one at fault."

Let's go back to that that "exploiting dead people for my own gain" thing. James Frey writes in A Million Little Pieces about a tragic car accident that caused the death of his only friend in high school. Of course, this turned out to be all lies, except for the part about the car/train accident that actually happened, and the girl's surviving family objected strongly to her portrayal and the inclusion of her death in the book, saying that she and Frey didn't know each other, were not friends, and that Frey was not involved in the accident or the aftermath in any way.

Now let's hop back to the statement that a lot of readers make: "It doesn't matter if it was fake, it helped my friend/my husband/my dad/my whoever, because they're an addict."

Drug addiction is a difficult dragon to slay. I've had my own problems with addiction in the past. You know what would have definitely not helped me during those times? Finding out that the thing that had inspired me to seek recovery was actually a gigantic, steaming pile of horseshit and failure. But setting that aside, whenever anyone says that James Frey's lies are admissible because they "helped people," what they're saying is, "I don't care about the emotional pain and stress this douchebag money grabber caused this dead teenager's family. Yes, they're real people, who have a real vested interest in this farce, but I choose to ignore that in order to still feel good about this wannabe hardass who goes on national tv with his big, sad eyes and cries about how life was so hard being a white suburban teen in the midwest."

Leaving aside his lies, which included turning a five-hour stay in jail into the life of a hardened criminal (a word he capitalized throughout the book, to really drive home what a hard-ass he is), there's the fact that he's created a sweatshop for people who want to write but don't want to make a living from it. You can read about that here .

So what we have here is a guy who lies, won't admit he's lying in the face of overwhelming evidence, exploits dead teenagers and living writers, and there are still people out there defending this curly haired fuck?

What kind of a world do we live in, that this guy is able to continue making a living and go out in public without everyone throwing rotten garbage at him? Is he not the definition of a super villain? James Frey is like Lex Luthor with half the brain, and we're funding his career by buying his books? Fantastic, this is exactly the world I want to be living in. Fuck integrity and honesty, as long as we're entertained.

"Are you not entertained?"

And now people are wondering if Oprah will apologize for her behavior during his last appearance on her show. Why should she? She read this guy's book, she believed it and trusted that he was telling the truth. Of course she believed him, he ran all over hell and high-water, telling everyone who would listen that his book was 100% fact and he is now and forever shall be the hardest motherfucker with the biggest balls ever, an ex-con so tough he survived a root canal with no anesthesia at the hands of a Nazi dentist and also he's Superman and he kicked his addiction to every drug ever while simultaneously rescuing babies and kittens from a burning meth house, and then he drove a bulldozer into a police car and stood in the middle of the street with his arms wide open, receiving their hate like Ed Norton in American History X only not a white supremacist. Only after he was caught did he start to offer up excuses for his lies, like he was Obi-wan telling Luke that the entire "hit a police car and faced an eight year prison sentence for felony mayhem" thing he told him about was true "from a certain point of view."

Stop defending this asshole, everybody. Seriously. Stop defending him, stop proselytizing about the power of A Million Little Pieces to heal even the most hardened of drug users. Stop insisting that James Frey was the victim while he continues to victimize others. And stop demanding that Oprah apologize. The person who needs to apologize is James Frey, but that's too much to hope for, so long as we continually reward whoever steals the title of "Most Audacious Liar".