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Author: JennyTrout

Writing in my Vampire Diaries at Twilight.

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I’ve mentioned it before, and I thought I would be remiss not to blog about it. There are some stunning similarities between Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries. Now, I’m not using the P-word here, because that’s a serious accusation, and I truly think that a lot of these similarities stem from the fact that teen love stories always have the same elements, and vampire books always have the same elements, and so it was just going to happen at some point that someone was going to combine them in the same ways.

The Vampire Diaries vs. Twilight: A Battle Of The Similarities!
The Heroine:

  • Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries: Elena is beautiful, tan, and popular. Every boy wants her, every girl wants to be her, yadda yadda. Often accused of being a “Mary Sue,” a character so sickeningly perfect that she simply must be an avatar of the author’s idealized self.
  • Bella Swan, Twilight: Although Bella doesn’t recognize that she is beautiful, she is, but in a pale, brunette, tragic sort of way. Every boy wants her. Often accused of being a “Mary Sue,” because she’s sickeningly perfect aside from one token flaw, so she simply must be an avatar of the author’s idealized self.

The similarities between Elena and Bella aren’t that many. Sure, the book opens with Bella “losing” a parent, but her move to Forks is far different than Elena’s loss of both her parents in a car accident. And where Elena is living with her loving aunt, with whom she has a great relationship, Bella is going to live in a strained domestic situation with her father, who she hardly knows. Elena is popular, and Bella drives the people who inexplicably want to be her friends away with her single-minded obsession with Edward and her basic iciness. Elena has a younger sibling, Bella is an only child. But there are similarities. Both of them start out the school year with a pretty bleak opinion of how this whole thing is going to go down:

Elena: Dear Diary, Something awful is going to happen today.

Bella: He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted.

They also both have run-ins with vampires on their first day of school. Naturally, these are:

The Heroes

  • Stefan Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Stefan is very European and mysterious, with dark, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He’ll have none of them, though, even feigning disinterest in Elena, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn’t want to be a monster, Stefan feeds only on wild animals.
  • Edward Cullen, Twilight. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Edward is very old-fashioned and mysterious, with copper-colored, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He’ll have none of them, though, even feigning disgust at Bella, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn’t want to be a monster, Edward feeds only on wild animals.

Sure, Edward is about four centuries younger than Stefan, and they hail from difference countries, but they’re basically the same guy, different baggage. For example, Edward wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his maker is a nice, vegetarian vampire. Stefan wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his brother, Damon, is a full-time psychopath who burns through teenagers like they’re walking cans of Pringles. Stefan is sullen and morose because the only woman he ever loved died horribly. Edwards is sullen and morose because he’s never been loved, and doesn’t feel he’s worthy of love. Both are going to high school for ridiculous, badly explained reasons. They both pretend not to be interested in the heroine, until they can rescue her after an unfortunate decision puts their virtue in danger (Elena goes to a cemetery with her prom date, Bella goes out wandering in town at night after shopping for prom dresses):

And the something picked Tyler up and threw him against his grandfather’s headstone… Something moved in the darkness, and she saw the person who had plucked Tyler off her. Stefan Salvatore. But it was a Stefan she had never seen before: that fine-featured face was white and cold with fury, and there was a killing light in those green eyes. Without even moving, Stefan emanated such anger and menace that Elena found herself more frightened of him than she had been of Tyler.

Headlights suddenly flew around the corner, the car almost hitting the stocky one, forcing him to jump back toward the sidewalk. I dove into the road– this car was going to stop, or have to hit me. But the silver car unexpectedly fishtailed around, skidding to a stop with the passenger door open just a few feet from me.
“Get in,” a furious voice commanded.

I’ll point out here that in the movie, the confrontation between Edward and Bella’s would-be rapists is much more like the scene from The Vampire Diaries than the same scene in the book was. I can only assume someone on the screen-writing team was a fan. But this isn’t the only scene the two books have in common:

Scenes With Similar Themes:
Scene with the high school secretary:

  • The Vampire Diaries: Elena watches as Stefan uses his hypno vampire powers on the school secretary in order to get a class schedule. It works.
  • Twilight: Bella watches as Edward uses his teenage whining powers on the school secretary in order to get his class schedule changed. It doesn’t work.

Scene in which the heroine wonders why the aloof vampire didn’t just leave her for dead:

  • The Vampire Diaries: “Why do you hate me?”
    He stared at her. For a moment he couldn’t seem to find words. then he said, “I don’t hate you.”
    “You do,” said Elena. “I know it’s not… not good manners to say it, but I don’t care. I know I should be grateful to you for saving me tonight, but I don’t care about that, either. I didn’t ask you to save me. I don’t know why you were even in the graveyard in the first place. And I certainly don’t understand why you did it, considering the way you feel about me.”
    He was shaking his head, but his voice was soft. “I don’t hate you.”
  • Twilight: “It’s too bad you didn’t figure that out earlier,” I hissed through my teeth. “You could have saved yourself all this regret.”
    “Regret?” The word, and my tone, obviously caught him off guard. “Regret for what?”
    “For not just letting that stupid van squish me.”
    He was astonished. He stared at me in disbelief.
    When he finally spoke, he almost sounded mad. “You think I regret saving your life?”

As I said before, there is always some element that vampire fiction for teens is going to recycle. There is always going to be school, there is always going to be a “new kid” element. There is always going to be repressed sexuality (although Smith really pushed the envelope in terms of steamy scenes with the blood drinking in The Vampire Diaries, in a way that Breaking Dawn never came close to). If Twilight had come out in 1991 and The Vampire Diaries had hit the way Twilight did today, fangurls would be watching Twilight on the CW and complaining that it was ripped off. But basically, they would still be idiots, and that’s what I’m really trying to say here.

Input required.

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I was thinking today about, and the reviews on their site. Now, I am all about product reviews before I buy something. There have definitely been books I’ve bought and then gone, “You know, I wish someone would have told me this sucked.” But I’ve been thinking about Amazon.

First of all, the reviews are sometimes either not that honest, or the people have really bad taste. I’m sorry, it’s true. I’ve read some incredibly lame books that are pretty much universally panned, but someone has always left one or two reviews that are five stars and say [AUTHOR’S NAME] HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!!! Well, who do I listen to? The seventy reviews that say this book should only be used as some kind of interrogation torture, or the two that say it’s the best book of the year?

Another thing that I noticed is that, out of all the genres, Paranormal Romance gets some really fervent fans. And those fans will go to other authors’ book pages and leave reviews either panning the books or giving lukewarm praise, then suggesting their favorite author. There was a review I saw on one author’s book lately where someone basically said, “This book was alright, but I like Kresley Cole better.” Okay, good for you, but what does that have to do with the book you’re reviewing? Is your suggestion that this author should be more like Kresley Cole? Or that the customer buy a Kresley Cole book instead? What is the point of your comment?!

One of the weirdest things I’ve found is that sometimes I have used Amazon to tell me what I think of a book that I’m reading. That’s weird, and I don’t know how I got into that habit, but it works like this: I start to read a book, and something about it isn’t quite right. I don’t know exactly how, I’m just not digging it as much as I think I should. So, I think, “hmmm, I wonder if this gets any better, or if someone else feels the same way I do?” I pull up Amazon and read the reviews, and sometimes the positive ones will make me go, “You know, I’m going to stick with this, they’re right, I do like x and y!” Other times, I’ll side with the negative ones and think, “They’re so right, this book sucks, I’m going to reread Twilight.”

What do you think about Amazon reviews? Are you more likely to buy a book if it has positive reviews? Have you ever left a review? Have you ever had an Amazon review sway the way you feel about a book you were reading/have read? I’m really curious, because I don’t know exactly what purpose the reviews are serving.

Not so much an “adaptation” as a clusterfuck of unending horror.

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First of all, I want to apologize for my atrocious grammar and the myriad typos I make on this blog. But it came to my attention recently that someone on the internet was mocking me for my typos and grammar, and the conclusion they came to was that my books obviously could not be any good, because I make grammar mistakes on the internet. So, nameless idiot, I feel like I need to school you about one of the little known facts of the writing world: the editor. I am sure you assume, based on your comments, that other authors must tirelessly revised every online posting, Christmas card, and grocery list they make out, because the grammar in their novels is so flawless, with nary a misspelled word, and from this you can infer that an author who does make the occasional mistake must also sort of pound their forehead against the keys while swearing and hope that what comes out is a book, and then that manuscript is transformed into a book without anyone double checking to make sure that it is readable. I can understand why someone with your limited critical thinking skills might make this leap, however, I can assure you that it is not true. Instead, writers simply write their novels, likely making many mistakes in the process, and then a specially trained (read: masochist with a BA in English) person called an editor reads it, makes notes on the sections that appear to have been written while the author was high, and then cheerfully sends it back to the author to make corrections. When that is done, the editor reads it again, and then another specially trained person (read: bleary-eyed golem chained in a publishing house basement) goes over the manuscript with the sole purpose of finding grammatical and typographical errors.

As you can imagine, this process requires the publishing company to pay their specially trained employees for their time, but that expense is recouped by sales of the books. The same cannot be said for blog posts and comments, so the author is left to fend for herself like every other mortal on the planet.

In other words, shut up.

Now, onto the real meat and two veg of this post. Every single interview I do, I get asked the same question: When did you first become interested in vampires? I always give the honest answer, that I don’t know how I became interested in vampires, and that I cannot remember a time that I was not aware of the idea of them. It’s not like the first time I hear about stuff, I make mental notes to remember the date or what I was wearing just in case I write a book about it later and someone wants to know, okay? But I can remember exactly what the first vampire book was that made me want to be a vampire, or have a vampire boyfriend, and that book was The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith. Of course, I read the follow ups, all three of them, which, owing to the fact that the publishers wrote “A trilogy” on the front cover, made me believe that a trilogy was four books instead of three until I was in college. When Twilight came out, I flipped my shit because it seemed like I was the only person in the world who noticed that Twilight had a lot of uncomfortable similarities to The Vampire Diaries.

That’s a blog post for another time, and that time will probably be Monday.

Anyway, I freaking lived that book in 1992, and now, some seventeen years later, holy shit, it’s a TV show. Look, I expected there would be changes. I mean, look at how many liberties HBO is taking with True Blood, and that’s still awesome, so why wouldn’t The Vampire Diaries be? I sat down and watched the first episode last night.

Have you ever watched a film or television adaptation of a book and gone, “Hmm, that’s just not how I imagined they would look?” I’m sure you have. I totally had that very, “Wait, who the hell is this?” moment when I watched the television movie of The Stand and Harold Lauder was skinny and nerdy instead of fat and just sort of socially awkward. But holy cow, is The Vampire Diaries a buffet of “What the fuck, didn’t they even read this?”

Elena Gilbert, cool and blond and slender, the fashion trendsetter, the high school senior, the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be.
Gives you a good idea of what Elena looks like, right?
And the dress was all right; the iced-violet color brought out the violet in her eyes. But even to herself she looked pale and steely, not softly flushed with excitement, but white and determined.
So, Elena looks like this:

Oh, wait, I’m sorry. That’s actually the actress who portrays Caroline, described in the book like this:
Caroline’s green eyes barely flickered toward Elena, and she pushed glossy auburn hair out of her face.
This is Elena, in the series:

Okay, so they got the two flipped around. That’s not that big a deal, compared to what they did to Bonnie:
Bonnie hadn’t grown at all, and her curly red head barely came up to Elena’s chin as she flung her arms around Elena.
and Meredith:
Meredith never wore any make-up, but then, with perfect olive skin and heavy black lashes, she didn’t need any.

Poor Bonnie and Meredith were clearly fused together in some terrible accident. In the ensuing struggle for dominance over the body they now must share, Bonnie’s personality has overcome Meredith, and the resultant MereBonnie is known on the series as simply “Bonnie.” Meredith is never mentioned in the first episode.

The worst casting was that of Elena’s four-year-old sister, Margaret:

Wait, what?

Maybe I’m being too hard on the casting. After all, there were so many other things I hated about the show. Like the fact that Stefan and Damon Salvatore are now Americans, born before the Civil War, and not transplants from the Italian Renaissance. Or the bizarre side story involving Elena’s brother, Jeremy (who replaced Margaret, as seen above) and his drug-dealing, and the seemingly unnecessary change to make Vicki and Matt brother and sister.

There were some things I liked about it. The cemetery where Elena’s parents are buried is exactly the way I imagined in the book, and Damon looks and acts like he just stepped off the page. There was a pretty cool Kate Bush cover on the soundtrack, as well, even if there were just a few too many musical moments in the whole thing. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to get past the many places where they changed or ignored things from the books. I love them with all of my heart, and to this day I still keep copies of them on my nightstand and will flip to my favorite parts. The Vampire Diaries was practically my Bible growing up… and The Passion of Elena Gilbert is not turning out to be the spiritual experience I thought it would be.

I mean, they even changed the name of the town from “Fell’s Church” to “Mystic Falls.” Mystic Falls? You gotta believe you’re gonna have a vampire problem in a town named Mystic Falls.

Five Characters That I’m Pretty Sure You Aren’t Supposed To Find Hot, But They Are, Anyway.

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I have a thing for bad boys. Not like, leather-jacket wearing, hard-outer-shell-gooey-emotional-center paranormal romance bad boys. I’m talking like, villains. Scary, slit your throat, problematic personal ideologies bad.

They have to be fictional, though. That’s the thing. I don’t want people like them to exist. I want the real world to be full of nice people. Nice people who are funny. And, preferably, beautiful.

Like those guys, right there. ROWR.

Still, there is something about a guy who is dangerous in a real way, not a motorcycle jacket way, and it’s safe, so long as he’s fictional.

I give you my list. My top five shameful, why-am-I-into-that, fictional guy crushes.

  • #5. Captain Barbossa, The Pirates of The Caribbean franchise

    Know why I like him? Because he’s not just evil. He’s honest about being evil. I mean, okay, Jack Sparrow was funny, and he was also Johnny Depp, so he wasn’t lacking in the looks department. But he was selfish and awful, and everyone seemed to forget that simply because he was cute and funny. Barbossa, now he’s not cute, and he’s not funny. He’s a bad guy. He doesn’t do anything that isn’t self-serving, he has no qualms about spilling blood to get what he wants, no matter who you are. He doesn’t seem to have any sort of attachment to any person, place, or thing, except for his pet monkey. And I’m pretty sure he’d drown him in a toilet if you paid him enough, and be pretty satisfied with his actions doing it.
    Still, there is something elegant about a villain like Barbossa. He might cut your throat, but he’ll probably apologize for the inconvenience right before he does it.
  • #4. Citizen Chauvelin, The Scarlet Pimpernel novels

    Ah, I do have a girl boner for French police inspectors, don’t I? But I’ve chosen Citizen Chauvelin for this list because he’s truly a total asshole, not just misguided about morality. He seems to know what morality is, and he’s moral when he feels like it. He wants to support the people’s revolution, but when he finds out that Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel, he doesn’t tell anyone because he wants to be the person who gets credit for catching him. That’s right. Screw the revolution, screw the people who are depending on me to help them reform their government, I need to appease my ego and make sure my career advances.
    Depending on which version of the story you’re familiar with, Chauvelin is either the former acquaintance or lover of Marguerite, who just happens to be married to the Scarlet Pimpernel. When Chauvelin gets tired of using her for information, he turns her over the convention to lure the Pimpernel into a trap. Basically, he’s totally okay with cutting his ex-girlfriend’s head off as a step toward his long-term goal.
    Why is he sexy? Because he’s ruthless. He knows what he wants, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. Kind of like those Greek Tycoons and Australian Billionaire Bosses in Harlequin novels, except he’d have no problem handing someone over to be guillotined.
  • #3. Dracula

    Really, are you surprised to see him show up here? Dracula is the single most bad-ass vampire of all time. Why? Because he doesn’t pretend to be evil and end up being a total pussy with a bunch of feelings and heartbreak (cough *CYRUS* cough cough). He just is evil. “Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t want to be my blood-enslaved minion? I’m going to go ahead and let my hell-bitches devour you. And just to show that it’s nothing personal, I’m going to turn your wife into a vampire and lead you on a merry chase as you try to destroy me.” Seriously, this guy is rich and powerful enough that he doesn’t have to use his paranormal powers to scare people, but he does anyway. Because he can. When Jonathan Harker goes to Transylvania to hammer out the details of the Carfax Abbey purchase, he does nothing to deserve being imprisoned and tortured, besides being the single most over-zealous real estate agent of all time. But– and I’m going to remind you that it’s just because he can— Dracula goes all Prince of Darkness on him and then brings the fight back to Harker’s home turf.
    The upside of Dracula? He’s rich, he’s handsome, and he does seem capable of forming romantic attachments, even if they’re only temporary. Plus, vampire, helloooooooo!
  • #2. Col. Landa, Inglourious Basterds

    Hey, you know what’s even worse than a French guy who’ll happily serve the Revolution but turn his back on it when he could stand to profit? A guy who has the same “Me First” code of honor, but also he’s a Nazi.
    The combination of taboo factor, elegance, plus the fact that he seems to delight in setting psychological traps for his victims, really cements his place on this list.
  • #1. Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s crime novels

    If this guy right here drove up to my house in a respectable car and said, “Get in,” I would do it. Why? Because even though he’s a homicidal cannibal, Hannibal Lecter is a gentleman. He genuinely likes the people who aren’t out to get him, and seems content only to murder those who intend to do him grievous harm. Of course, since he’s crazy, “grievous harm” could mean anything from unknowingly offending him with your poor playing in a symphony orchestra to getting a wee-bit too close to figuring out that he’s a murderer. Still, he passion and sensuality for the finer things in life really make my knees weak. You’re not going to see this guy eating someone’s face on a plate next to some Pringles or Cheetos. He’s first class all the way.
    Plus, he’s a doctor, and we all know that we’re supposed to snag one of those, am I right, ladies?

There is no Beyonce, only Zool.

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I have blogged in the past about Beyonce’s terrifying dance habits. A commenter recently reminded me of that post:

“I have to say, Beyonce is indeed frightening… I’m pretty sure all the thrashing she does would be fatal to anyone else. I don’t know how she does it, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.”

That wasn’t the whole thing, I’m rocking movie-poster review style. Anyway, it remembered me of the fact that Beyonce has a new video out. How could I not share it with you, and include commentary?

The beginning of the video gives us Beyonce floating, Dana Barret style, above her bed, while a creepy lullaby plays. The Holy Spirit makes an appearance, too, but he’s hauling ass to get out of there before the Prince-inspired guitars take over. Then, we’re into the song proper. Beyonce demands that someone “turn the lights on,” despite the fact that she’s standing in a desert, under a rainbow. Silly Beyonce, if the lights weren’t already on, how would that rainbow be there? Don’t you know that rainbows are the product of light refracting and reflecting off of moisture in the air? Rainbows are light!

For a few seconds, Beyonce dances solo and backward, and the effect almost makes me expect King Leonidas to show up and ask if he can has war now. Instead, a couple of the mannequins from the Robert Palmer video show up, and they join Beyonce in her orgy of spastic movement. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to accomplish. It seems like she’s trying to portray the lyrics through modern interpretive dance, but also finger spell things without quite knowing the alphabet.

Next up is the Beyonce fashion show. Capes are gonna be big this fall. Also, a word to America’s Next Top Model contestants: do as Beyonce and lead with your chest.

At this point, Beyonce delivers on her terrifying promise to begin violently dancing without warning. To my horror, this involves a lot of grabbing of private areas and demonstration of hip motion that she will probably not be able to do in five years without surgical intervention, if she keeps it up.

Another costume change appeases the hungry goddess Beyonce, and she seems almost cheerful during the next verse, waving at the camera and even, wait, no, it couldn’t be… is she… SHE IS! BEYONCE IS SMILING!

Now, Beyonce visits a hall of mirrors, which one can only assume she rented from Tyra Banks’s house. She grinds against herself and delivers a few lines to herself while directing sultry gazes at herself and wait, was this DIRECTED by Tyra Banks?

The mirrors shatter, and Beyonce dances as glass shards whip through the air. Which probably explains what happened to her shirt.

At the bridge, C-3PO’s hot sister takes over dancing duties, but unfortunately, she’s just as graceful as her big brother. Which is okay, because then Beyonce comes back from her coffee-and-get-glass-out-of-my-eyes break. She seems to have forgotten her pants, but that doesn’t stop her from flashing crotch in yet another, seemingly spontaneous, deviation from all sense and reason to rub her chest and thrust her hips. She also does a few dance moves that are fair game now that Michael Jackson is dead, and it’s back to She-3PO.

Remember that giant metal glove thing Beyonce was rocking in her video about how if you like it, then you should have put a giant, medieval gauntlet ring on it? Well, now she’s doing like, two of those, and chest armor, and I’m thinking that if she isn’t a robot already, she’s trying to become one.

Basically, what I’m saying is, don’t look into her eyes there at the end, because she’s probably using her robot hypno ray to enslave human kind, and I will not be forced into some kind of robot death camp where I’m forced to dance like that.

Everything I Need To Know, I Learned From Fantasy Movies

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It’s true. Everything I ever need to know about life, I have learned from fantasy movies. For example, without The Dark Crystal, I would never have known that birds are fucking evil. And without Labyrinth, I would have taken a lot longer to realize how awesome David Bowie is. So, without further ado, here is a list of things I have learned from Fantasy movies:

  • Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it, and then you’ll realize that you’re way too young to handle it and also it is probably just a tube sock. (Labyrinth>
  • Never run from from anything immortal; it only attracts its attention. (The Last Unicorn)
  • You know that guy you think is so hot? He’s going to grow up to be Tom Cruise crazy. (Legend)
  • Every situation can be fixed with a well-timed dance number and a chipper, upbeat song. (Enchanted)
  • Death is something you’re going to be able to pretty easily bargain your way out of.(Darby O’Gil and The Little People)
  • There is no way to make roller skating look cool. (Xanadu)
  • Evictions are a bitch. (The Secret of NIMH)
  • When all else fails, pretend to be Swedish. (Splash)
  • When that fails, pretend there is an imminent gas main explosion. (Ghostbusters 2)
  • Don’t worry, no matter what you do, you’ll probably never fuck up as bad at anything as Disney did at this. (The Black Cauldron)
  • Your English teacher CLEARLY did not watch this movie before she brought it to class. (Excalibur)
  • True love really can conquer all, but you have to have a whole team of people working on it. (Ladyhawke)
  • Wolves, lions, it really doesn’t matter because both of them will eat you. (Le Pact Des Loups)
  • Fucking rabbits. (Harvey/Donnie Darko)
  • No one will notice how racist your movies are if you make a Holocaust movie and a slave-mutiny movie back-to-back a few years later. (Any of the original Indiana Jones movies)
  • Wizards are just like bombs. They even have remote detonators (Dragonslayer)
  • What is this I don’t even… (Clash of The Titans)
  • Just because you imagine yourself as the hero of a really exciting book doesn’t mean you aren’t still a total nerd in real life. (The Neverending Story)
  • There can be only one. Until later. Then, there can be another one. Possibly three or four. (Highlander, the entire series and tv shows)
  • The afterlife is going to be a lot like the DMV, so be sure to die with a magazine in your hand. (Beetlejuice)
  • Cary Elwes is a badass mother fucker, even if he does have a girl’s name. (The Princess Bride)
  • Size doesn’t matter, little people are capable of great things, whatever, what is up with Sorcha’s hair? (Willow)

Feel free to add to this list, in the comments.

Stop that right now.

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I love making this kind of post, because three things happen:

  1. Someone agrees and reminds me of something I didn’t cover.
  2. Someone disagrees and accuses me of being jealous of Twilight.
  3. Someone points out where I have done exactly one of these things in my own books.

But, inspired by a conversation with an editor friend last night, I decided this post was necessary.


Okay, first of all, stop with the soul mates. I’m serious. No more fucking soul mates. Do you know what “soul mates” means in the book world? It means, “I, the author, am too lazy to let my hero or heroine get to know someone and build a lasting connection with them. Instead, I will mash them together like two dolls in the dreamhouse nightmare world of my story.” Is there anything wrong with instant attraction? Not at all. Should it be a mystical, binding force that is unbreakable and permanent? No. Why is a relationship that two characters choose to be in somehow inadequate? What is it about fate or destiny, in which your characters have no choice but to be together, that seems so appealing? How about this: would you rather know that your significant other was with you because they wanted to be, or because they had to be? You probably have your answer. SO STOP THAT RIGHT NOW.

This next one does not apply to any long running series that are out there. I’m thinking specifically of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires, but there are possibly others, they’re all exempt. But to anyone who is currently writing a vampire book set in New Orleans, stop it right now. Listen, we all know why you’re wanting to set your book there. Because there are a lot of vampires there, so says Anne Rice. Well, the reason Anne set up vampire shop in New Orleans is because it’s her home, and she knew the area well. Also, it has a lot of history and a vampire could live there for a long time. But there are a lot of other cities that have been around a long time, that vampires could have a good time living in. Boston. Philadelphia. New York. Lots of fun places in the United States where vampires can romp and play. The thing is, once you put your vampires in New Orleans, the next step is, you’re going to make them French. It just makes sense. Now, they’re French, and living in New Orleans. Then, you’re going to think, “Hmmm, the clothes that were around when New Orleans really started to blossom as a shipping port were awesome. I bet my vampire would retain some of that characteristic style, while incorporating some modern day pieces.” Now, they’re French, living in New Orleans, and dressed like prince. Then, you slap on some French name, and there you go, he’s Lestat. And with everything that New Orleans has gone through lately, maybe they don’t need your carbon-copy vampires running around the city they’re trying to rebuild, okay?

I’m sure someone will remember a time I had a book set in New Orleans, or a vampire who was French and just like Lestat, or a pair of soul mates, but whatever. Do what I say, not what I do, all right?

Colin Firth has special powers.

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You may know him as Mr. Darcy from the miniseries version of “Pride and Prejudice.” You may know him as… well, Mr. Darcy (okay, Mark Darcy, but really, you know it’s the same character) from “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” He was the hot painter dude who died of a broken heart or something, I got bored at the end and wandered away, in “The Girl With The Pearl Earring.” But what you may not know about Colin Firth are the lies I’m going to make up about him right now.

  • If the Easter Bunny is unable to carry out his appointed duties, the responsibilities of his position default back to Colin Firth.
  • Colin Firth is invulnerable to illness and most conventional weapons, but not sadness. He can be defeated with a single VHS copy of “Steel Magnolias.”
  • Colin Firth has special powers that allow him to read your mail through the envelope. Unless that envelope is lined with lead.
  • One time, Colin Firth punched out a mime. To be fair, the mime had it coming.
  • If you turn out all the lights in your bathroom and say his name three times while looking at the mirror, Colin Firth will come out of your shower dressed like Mr. Darcy. But not from the lake scene, so make sure your shower isn’t actually on when you try this.
  • Once, Colin Firth traveled on foot from a commune in Oregon to a farm in Paraguay, and he worked there for about four years.
  • If you throw salt over your shoulder, make sure none of it hits Colin Firth, because he is allergic.
  • There is a very specific kind of static electric charge created when a sweater and two stuffed animals are put in the dryer at the same time. This charge is known as “Colin Firth Electricity.” No one knows why.

Actual, career related shit.

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Okay, peep this: I have a really fantastic new website up.

Now, you might be saying, “Jen, where did the fanart go? Because I totally drew you some and it used to be on your site, but now it isn’t!” Well, I guess I’m not supposed to encourage people to infringe on my intellectual properties or something. So, it’s not up on the site anymore. But the good news is, I will still look at, save, and cherish every piece of fan mail I receive.

You might also be wondering, “Jen, WTF happened to your podcast?” It will be returning very soon. I’ve already got the first new installment recorded, so bully for that. Details will be posted here and on my website, when the time is right.