Tag Archives: Writing

Top Ten Things People Say When I Tell Them I’m a Writer

4 Aug

It’s been very funny lately telling complete strangers that I am a writer. I haven’t really self-identified as a writer for very long. Instead, I simply say “I do PR and I also write sometimes.” But to boldly say “I am a writer!” seemed just plain weird. It’s like saying, “I am a cowboy” or “I am an astronaut.” I may as well say, “I am a superhero” because, strangely, the reactions I’m getting sure make me feel like one (well, sometimes they make me feel the opposite). I didn’t expect that. It seems to me that when the pharmacist or the lawn guy or the banker ask me, “So… what do you do for a living?” and I tell them that I am a writer, I do get different reactions, but they’re all more or less in the same ball park. Here are the top ten most typical reactions to telling people I’m a writer.

1) “Really? That’s amazing. Do you write romance novels? I love those. “

2) “A writer? A real writer? That’s so cool. You must be smart.”

3) “Can I find your stuff at the library or Barnes & Noble or on Amazon? Are you published?”

4) “Are you like J.K. Rowling? Do you know her?”

5) “That beats my job. I hate being cooped up all day.”

6) “How do you make up stories? That must be hard. I could never do that.”

7) “A writer? That’s a real job?”

8) “How fast can you type? You must type fast.”

9) “How’s business?”

10) “I have a story. It’s so crazy. If I tell you, can you write it for me?”

Here are my answers…

1) No, I don’t write romance novels. I’m not that romantic.

2) I’m smarter than some, way dumber than lots.

3) Yes. I just pressed the “publish” button on my WordPress blog. Oh, and I’ve also had a byline in some newspapers and magazines. But my books aren’t published yet. Two of them are ghost written and being edited, and one is actually about ghosts. The one about ghosts will have my name on it– the others won’t. If you give me your email address, I’ll let you know where to buy all of them. I hope you’re interested in women’s hormone health, religious pluralism and teen paranormal angst.

4) I’ve never met J.K Rowling and I’m probably at least seven inches shorter than her. Also, I am brunette and there are no wizards in any of my books.

5) That sucks. I am also cooped up all day, but mostly in places with delicious lattes and weird music. You should try it.

6) Stories are everywhere. Your life is full of them. Believe me, you’re probably more interesting than you think.

7) Yes. Being a writer is an actual job. We either can barely pay our bills, or we’re ridiculously well off. It all depends. Screenwriters make the most money for the fewest amount of words (excluding poets who are in a world all their own.)

8) Last I checked, I type 60 words per minute. But I never learned proper typing technique. However, I do hunt and peck with the best of them.

9) What does business have to do with writing?Oh, a lot. Well, business is currently slower than I’d like. I mean, the publishing process can be painfully slow. But when it picks up, I’m sure it will be a ride worth waiting for.

10) Um, no.

Two Experiences, One Body

20 Jun

Next weekend I am presenting with my dear friend and colleague, Nettie Hartsock, at the annual Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference. We’ll be talking about all things Web 2.0 as it relates to writers, and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to talk to colleagues and, of course, to attend the conference and expand my knowledge of the publishing industry. I went to this event last year and was so impressed not only by the quality, number and accessibility of the agents, but also at the incredible diversity and passion of the hundreds of writers in attendance. It was fuel for my creative spirit, and an enormous inspiration to my writing practice.

226amma03_FamilyHugBut truth be told, I was also looking forward to seeing Amma in Dallas next weekend. Each summer she tours the U.S. giving Darshan and hugging every last one of us dirty, anxious, helpless souls. It would have been glorious, but to be among writers and connecting with people in my community is my urgent call this year. I will see her next year, or perhaps make the sort of leaps and bounds in my life that will take me and my family to India to see her. Who knows? Go see Amma this summer… and give her big hugs from me. In the meantime, here’s a little pick-me-up with this idea of two experiences, one body! Have a great Saturday!

Pop Candy – Episode 2

27 Nov

It hadn’t always been this way. Once, he was one of the top three tennis players in his class. He had a good group of friends. About 43% of them, he had calculated one day, went away to college after high school– Brown, Duke, Stanford, Bryn Mawr, Vanderbilt. His two closest buddies, Johnny and Damien, told him that he was the smartest guy they knew. One of them ended up at Harvard Law. The other one was an adjunct professor of American Studies at some school in Paris. He forgot which one. Alex, however, still had four credits to go in his philosophy degree from the state university. Sure, he could’ve ended up in a think tank somewhere, but what was the point, really? He could breeze through “Notes from the Underground” in an afternoon, but he preferred playing a round of frisbee golf with a six pack and some valium at the course two blocks from his parent’s house. When Johnny and Damien would come home for the holidays, they happily slipped into Alex’s world which was a constant and true respit from adult life.

“Alex… take that $50 on the side table in the foyer and take the boys to El Patio for some margaritas,” Mrs. Whitney would say. Alex would stuff it into his neon orange and green velcro wallet and the three would head out to suck down some drinks and coat their stomachs with tortilla chips, salsa and piping hot queso. But the last time they hung out, there was no more talk about this or that chick. They stopped talking about the road trip to Belize or the t-shirt business/beer joint they would one day start together. Alex had worked up logos for it just before the guys had arrived. He took a whole night while he listened to Ben Lee on “Pop Candy” and made a business plan. It was two pages.

Since then, the trips to the outside world had become fewer and farther between. There was no phobia, then. Just a lack of motivation. He got an e-mail from Damien that he had met a French girl in Thailand. It just so happened that she lived only two miles from him. When they both returned to France, they got engaged. Johnny was steadily climbing the ranks of the law firm where he worked– was it tax law, or something sexy like being a prosecutor? He couldn’t remember, and he didn’t really care. He knew that his boys were sell outs. He knew that they really wanted to be entrepreneurs and bachelors just like him. They were pathetic. Maybe he could start the bar on his own. But his parents wouldn’t go for it. They were stingy and ridiculously frugal and they would never part from their money to feed his dream.

“Why don’t you support me?” he would ask them one night at dinner. Mrs. Whitney got hammered and decided that she was a chef and poured everything she could find into a crock pot. She used a bottle of wine from her wedding forty years earlier to make stew. It was terrible.

“We support you. You have a room. You have dinner. Everything else is up to you.”

Jana’s Ultimate Young Adult/Reader List

26 Nov

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My friend Jana Christy, an awesome and accomplished illustrator, is one the coolest, smartest ladies I know. She loves books and recently shared with me her ultimate Young Adult/Young Reader reading list. Either she or her wonderful twins, Harry and Hugo, have put their seal of approval on these reads. I’ve read some of the classics, but now I’m interested in plunging into some new worlds!

The Letter, The Witch and the Ring by John Bellairs

The Boggart by Susan Cooper 

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

I Was  A Rat by Philip Pullman 

Nicobobinus by Terry Jones

The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs

The 13th Floor by Sid Fleischman 

The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell 

Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman

Crispin, The Cross Of Lead by Avi

The Pool Of Fire by John Christopher

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Knight and The Squire by Terry Jones

The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman 

Strange Happenings by Avi

Skellig by David Almond

The Anybodies by N.E. Bode

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald 

Woods Walk by Henry W. Art and Michael Robbins 

Crispin at the Edge of the World by Avi 

Robots Rising by Carol Sonenklar and John Kaufmann

Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt 

Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Science Behind Superheroes by Bode 

The Sand Walk Adventures by Jay Hosler

The Scarecrow’s Servant by Phillip Pullman 

Clan Apis by Jay Hosler 

Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edward Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology by Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Shad Petosky, and Kevin Cannon

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Jack Plank by Natalie Babbitty.com

The Conversation: Dick Cheney

25 Nov

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Dick Cheney:  Hello?

Me: Dick?

DC: Yes, this is Dick.

Me: Hey Dick. It’s Jennifer.

DC: Oh! Hello Jennifer. How’s the weather in Austin?

Me: It’s cold and rainy.

DC: That’s too bad.

Me: No actually it’s good. It feels more like the holidays now. A few days ago it was pushing 90. Not very Thanksgiving-ish.

DC: That’s true. I hate unseasonably warm or cold weather.

Me: Yeah. Me too.

DC: It sucks.

Me: Yep. Anyway, just wanted to touch base. How’s it going up there in DC? Still dodging bullets? What’s the dealio?

DC: Well, just cutting loose a little.

Me: Really, how so?

DC: You know, just trying to keep things interesting these last few months. Have you ever had a really good Sea Bass?

Me: No, I’m not really a fish person.

DC: Really? I did not know that.

Me: Nope. I’m not big on pork or lamb either. I was thinking of going totally vegetarian.

DC: Don’t do that. That’s ridiculous. You need meat.

Me: I like tofu.

DC: You’re nuts. Anyway, so I’ve been doing this thing where I have my staff go all over the country trying to find the best Sea Bass, ’cause, you know, I really like it.

Me: Uh huh.

DC: And I sort of make them think ‘Oh God. If I don’t get the Vice President a decent plate of Sea Bass, I won’t get a good recommendation. I better find some good freakin’ Sea Bass.’ But what they don’t know is that it doesn’t matter where they get it, or who they get to prepare it. I’ll definitely eat it… cuz I LIKE it! You know?

Me: That seems mean.

DC: No, no, no. It’s not. It just pushes them to do their best and they get to travel to all the coastal states, and I think one of my interns has decided to go to culinary school which is a good decision because, you know, she giggled everytime someone would say “Hey Dick!” Very unprofessional.

Me: I don’t know. Shouldn’t you be working on your memoirs or gathering important papers or looking at home decorating magazines? You’ll be leaving soon.

DC: It’s all taken care of.

Me: Well, that’s good.

DC: Yes, everything will be just fine.

Me: Ok… um… sounds like you’re on top of…

DC: Everything is as it should be…

Me: You know what? You’re really creeping me out.

DC: Oh… sorry.

Me: Well, anyway, just wanted to let you know that we need to get out of Iraq ASAP and, of course, don’t forget to get yourself a good lawyer when all of this is over.

DC: You crack me up, Jennifer!

Me: Seriously.

DC: Do you think?

Me: Um, yeah.

DC: Hmmm… well, I’m getting a little hungry, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Me: Yep. Enjoy your Sea Bass.

DC: Thanks– and give Texas a big manly handshake for me.

Me: I’ll give it a nice, sweet hug.

DC: Whatever.

Me: Later, Dick.

DC: Later.

Pop Candy – Episode 1

19 Nov

About the time Alex was scheduled to pick up his parents at the airport, he realized that the girl he had been admiring from afar, Ava, would be starting her radio show, “Pop Candy” on the local co-op station. Before he could get going, he had to check that the tank was full, and the car did not smell of cigarettes or pot. Chrysler LeBarons were not hip cars, but Alex and his Dad had managed to put in a sweet stereo system— sort of a father/son project- last summer. During all hours he liked to sit in the car and read magazines or listen to music and drink a beer or two. Even if there were traces of trust-breaking evidence, his parents usually turned a blind eye to them. For the trip home, he would climb in the back seat and make sure everything was kosher, and no beer cans were left floating and banging under the seats. God forbid Dad would let Alex drive the family around, anyway.

He started slowly down the interstate at a reasonable clip and turned on the radio.

“I’ll be with you until 6 o’clock, and coming up we have Spoon with ‘I Turn My Camera On.’ Let’s check it out,” Ava announced.

Just what he wanted. Knowing that her voice could be instantly called up at the touch of his finger gave Alex an immense sense of joy. Long before Alex discovered “Pop Candy” and Ava, he really never had an interest in alternative pop music. Music was music, but he thought that the idea, even the whole genre of alternative pop was a ridiculous oxymoron. Naturally, he was most encouraged to give the show a chance when he heard Ava’s voice. On the radio, she sounded sweet, smart, passionate and mostly just very cool. Possibly, he would meet her one day at a café downtown, or maybe in the lobby of an old movie theater. Question was, wouldn’t that be sort of a stalker fantasy?

“Rolling along,” Ava said, “that was Spoon for everyone trying to find some decent tunes for that summer soundtrack. Speaking of summer, it is hot as hell which is good for me because apparently that keeps you guys indoors, or in your car, for your daily dose of alternative pop music. Today we have some Voxtrot, Beirut, The Rumours, followed by some of the bands that started it all like the Velvet Underground. You know Lou Reed has a special place in my heart– I got my first kiss from a guy named Ray when “Sweet Jane” was on the radio, but I always think of Lou.”

She sounded relaxed and happy today, Alex thought. Tonight, he would go to her website and see if she’s posted any new pictures. Unless, of course, his Dad hogged the computer again, which he probably would, because no access to e-mail for four days makes his Dad pretty anxious. Virtually every time his father came home, Alex was reduced to spending most of his time in his bedroom—the same bedroom he’s had for the last 31 years. When his mother comes in with the classifieds, or phone messages or mail, Alex usually asks for a tuna melt with Fritos, banana pudding, a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, and that’s about it.

Xenophobia, agoraphobia, even a brief stint with arachnophobia almost had gotten the best of Alex. Yards away from the driveway, then a street block, and now the straight ten minute bi-weekly car ride to the airport.

Bjork is coming up next,” Ava cooed. “And this one’s going out to Alex.”

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