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Top Ten Signs A Work Of Fiction Was Written By Me

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This is a meme making the rounds of the super awesome writers who blog, so I thought I’d toss my hat into the ring.

Ten Signs A Work Of Fiction Was Written By Me


  1. A character you grow to love and root for is brutally killed midway through the book. It will be random and somewhat unexpected, and it will seem like I’m doing it just to be mean to you personally. In fact, you can often tell who is going to live and die in one my novels based on how nice un-screwed up they are. Only the flawed get to live.
  2. On the subject of flaws, I’d like to think that none of my characters are sickeningly perfect. I have a really hard time reading books where the characters never make a bad decision or do something selfish. If someone is 100% perfect all the time, they just look like a victim when inevitable plot happens to them.
  3. There will probably be some horrific description of either an injury or a rotting corpse.
  4. References to Broadway musicals. I’m a giant fan of musicals and I love sneaking little nods to them into my writing. If I can’t make the characters do it in character, I sneak it into a chapter title. For example, in book four of Blood Ties (All Soul’s Night, available June of 2008 plugity plug), there’s a chapter called “Ain’t No Party” because it was a good description for the chapter and also it’s a song from Dreamgirls and Dreamgirls is the bestest.
  5. Colloquial grammar. Even if I’m writing in third POV, I like to write the narrative the way the person would talk. If that means writing improper grammar now and then, I’m willing to do it.
  6. Cussing. I have the vocabulary of a sailor who grew up in Newark, so my books are peppered with obscenities. My grandfather gives me lectures about the profanity in my books (I notice it hasn’t stopped him reading them), but where the hell did he think I learned to talk that way?
  7. The main character is an orphan, or has a poor relationship with his or her parents. This is mainly for convenience on my part, so I don’t have to figure out a character’s relationship with his or her parents. Sometimes this backfires; I figured making Dr. Carrie Ames an orphan would explain why she’s so needy and yet emotionally distant with people. As it turns out, it wasn’t her parents’ death, but how they were when they were alive, that made her that way. Carrie’s father has all but bludgeoned his way into the books.
  8. Sex. I don’t think I’ll ever write a book that doesn’t have sex in it. Not because I’m a horn dog, but I think it’s where people are most vulnerable. It’s also a good way for characters to screw up their lives.
  9. Religion. I like to know what my characters believe, because it makes them easier for me to write. Since I don’t like to just write random stuff that isn’t going to make me money (except fanfic, but that’s addiction, not a hobby), it ends up in the books.
  10. No dialect. Even though characters in my books might have accents, I’ll never write them out. I don’t think I could have taken Nathan seriously up to this point if he sounded like Hagrid on the page. You’ll probably never, ever see a dialect in on of my books.

Bonus #11: Myself. I think I’ll always make a cameo appearance in some of my characters. Sure, they all get a little something from me, I think, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that I am a different person than my characters. However, there is always one character in each project that is more like me than any of the others. This is because I’m vain and I need to be involved.

If anyone else does this, please leave me a link! I have very much liked reading these!

God is trying to kill my car.

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Now, I’m not a big believer in signs. Okay, I am, but not when they apply to me. But seriously, I think God is trying to tell me to stop driving my Neon.

First of all, let me just say, I *heart* my Dodge Neon. I *heart* all Dodge Neons. The day they stopped producing them, I think I cried a little bit. I drove this car all over the place, put over 140k miles on it, and it never complained. There was an incident last year when a hose to the transmission blew and I got stranded on a lonely country back road, but besides that, it has never betrayed me.

So why would the Lord take out some personal vendetta against my beautiful car (affectionately nicknamed the S.S. Filthy Whore)?

Timeline:


  • Thanksgiving Day, 2007: A deer wanders into the darkened country lane we are traveling down. I swerve to avoid it but do not achieve my objective, smearing the deer all over the side of the vehicle, resulting in a huge, deer shaped dent, an ill-fitting hubcap full of bloody fur and a missing passenger side mirror.
  • Just Before Christmas, 2007: Something goes horribly wrong with my alternator. Something that the guys at the shop share stories about, because none of them have ever seen a coil fry and shoot out sparks like a Fourth of July fireworks spectacular the way mine does. Also, they have no idea why it has done this, because it is less than a year old. Before they send it home, they repair the transmission hose, which has begun to loosen up again.
  • Today, 2007: On the one day between insurance policies, my husband hydroplanes and slams into the back of a vehicle making a left-hand turn while on his way to take our son to school. The driver’s side door slips on the frame, making it impossible to open. The hood crumples and the front lights are blown out like they’d just been used to illuminate the climactic chord in a circa-1989 hair-metal music video or the final, triumphant home run of a baseball movie.

No problems for years. YEARS. I’ve been driving this car since August of 2001 and have had nothing at all happen. The check engine light has never even come on. And now, this string of bad and expensive happenings. This leads me to conclude that either:


  1. God is trying to kill me. This seems supported by the malicious act of his woodland henchman jumping gleefully to his death in a suicide attack on my car, but is unsupported by the lack of my presence at the scene of the most recent accident and the non-lethal alternator pyrotechnics display.
  2. God is trying to kill my car. The events are certainly things that could have happened without any supernatural help, but the chronological proximity of each incident to the next suggest otherworldly forces are at work.
  3. I accidentally kissed Lindsey Lohan without my knowledge and got her bad luck, a la that stupid movie of hers I can’t believe I watched all the way through. The main flaw in this theory is that I think I would have had some kind of cold sore outbreak at this point if this were really the culprit.
  4. All the forces in the universe are trying to tell me that it is time to buy a grown-up car. Perhaps one that doesn’t look like a toy and isn’t covered with stickers that say things like “My other ride is your mom” and “Kiss me, I’m a pirate”. This action may also have the added benefit of reducing the steely glares of the other moms at Jr.’s school.

I have to give this some serious thought. Maybe I stumbled onto an indian burial ground or something. Maybe there used to be a cemetery under my driveway and they didn’t move the bodies, they only moved the stones. I don’t have a clue. In any case, I have this sinking feeling that I will be suffering terminal lightness of wallet pretty soon.

A Plant Inspiried New Year’s Resolution

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First of all, this is all Lori from Plainwell’s fault. See, she told me a lovely story about Robert Plant in the comments section of my “Fourteen Men Over Fifty” post. She says:

“i met robert plant when he came to wings stadium in the 80’s. he was lying shirtless in blue jeans on the grass hill behind the stadium. he was so nice and oh so golden godlike”

My New Year’s Resolution this year is to find the hill Lori spaketh of and roll around on it like a cat trying to get its hair all over my nice clean laundry because, hey, I don’t have anything better to do than lint roll seventeen Hot Topic t-shirts IT’S NOT LIKE I HAVE A JOB OR ANYTHING!

Okay, where was I going with this? Ah, yes. My New Year’s Resolution is to find this hill. I may take some grass clippings from it and preserve them carefully. I may try to do some kind of mythological spell to create a golem in his image, I might not. Let’s not condemn me until I think this through and consult some Rabbis, okay?

My other New Years Resolutions are, in descending order of importance, excluding my Circa-1980-Robert-Plant-Golem one are:

1. Finish “Heavenly Sword” for the PS3, even if the final boss battle is so frustrating and boring that I want to lob the wireless controller through my tv.

2. Do some more VS. battles for my blog.

3. Stop being mean to my neighbor’s dog. It’s not its fault it keeps crapping in my yard. It’s its owner’s fault.

4. Drive away neighbors, convince Eric Estrada to move in next door.

5. Launch new reality show, “I Live Next Door To Eric Estrada”.

That’s my resolve, people. That tests the limits of my resolve, right there. What are your resolutions, if any?

All I Want For Christmas Is A Paralyzing Dose of Amnesiac Drugs.

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You know, sometimes, it’s fun to watch VH1 Classic. Occasionally, they play that creepy Tom Petty video where he’s the Mad Hatter that scared the crap out of me on Friday Night Videos as a child.

But today it was no fun. Because I saw this:

Okay, my first question is: Stevie Nicks, what did I ever do to make you so angry? Why are you staring me down, like I’m the one what done you wrong?

My television’s horizontal hold actually went out in the middle of this video, like the TV was either nobly sparing me from seeing it or, alternately, just couldn’t take anymore and decided to pass out for a while.

Secondly: Why was there a time on earth when this kind of video was okay? I take no responsibility for the 80’s. See, I was merely a babe in swaddling clothes when Regan took office, so I had no control over the craziness that was the 1980’s. 90’s, sure, I’ll take the rap for some of that. “Rico Suave”? Yeah, I bought that single. But not Snow’s “Informer”. Never “Informer”.

So, people who had a choice to live and purchase music and be the force your generation in the 1980’s, what the hell were you guys thinking? Who kept encouraging Stevie Nicks to make these kinds of videos? And wear those kinds of skirts?

Also, who is responsible for Van Halen at this time? I need to speak with them immediately.

I Have Discovered Industrial Grade Panty Remover!

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Okay, I can’t take credit for it. Especially since I didn’t buy this album until, you know, a year after it was popular. But holy damn, have you heard Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without U”? The substitution of “U” for “you” guarantees that he’s bringing the funk. But this might seriously be the sexiest song I’ve ever heard. I had to concentrate real hard to not swoon and drive off the road while I was listening to it in the car, and that was before I even knew what the guy looks like (a grade A certified fox, that’s what he looks like). LISTEN HERE. And then find yourself a cool drink. Or a man.

Speaking of men, today I’m going to share with you a very special list. A list that will go down in history as being the most pervy thing ever, except those ten pictures of people getting it on that Brynn Paulin put on her blog earlier this week. Today, I bring to you, the list of the top fourteen guys over fifty that I would totally get on. Yeah, I know it was supposed to be fifteen, but turns out Michael Stipe is actually 47. Who knew?


14. David Hasselhoff
Pro: Think of the blog entry that would make for, my friends.
Con: Crying into my pillow every night, ashamed to face what I had done.


13. Billy Connelly
Pro: Would most likely be the funniest sex ever.
Con: May be smothered in his trademark facial hair.


12. Simon Cowell
Pro: Looks pretty good for being older than my mom.
Con: Is the devil.


11. Roger Daltrey
Pro: Lead singer of The Who, world’s greatest rock band ever.
Con: One full inch shorter than me.


10. Martin Shaw
Pro: Was in that awesome “The Professionals” show from the UK.
Con: Vegan, into Yoga and being healthy, also spiritual. If I wanted to fuck Sting, I’d just fuck Sting, okay?


9. Bob Geldof
Pro: Cares about the children in Africa; knighted.
Con: Looks alarmingly like Bob Geldof; wrote annoyingly catchy, socially conscious “Do They Know It’s Christmastime” song.


8. Geoffrey Rush
Pro: Captain Barbossa!
Con: Probably wouldn’t pretend to be Barbossa to my Elizabeth Swann. BARBOSSABETH FOREVER! THIS SHIP WILL NEVER SINK!


7. Iggy Pop
Pro: Friend who slept with him swears he’s hung like a farm animal.
Con: Might walk away from night of passion with severe lacerations from his many sharp and protruding bones.


6. Anthony Bourdain
Pro: Poet warrior and world traveler; hates Rachel Ray.
Con: Can shut up about the Ramones for two freaking minutes.


5. David Bowie
Pro: Is David Bowie.
Con: Possibly a vampire.


4. Robert Plant
Pro: New album with Allison Kraus rocks.
Con: Facially resembles Cowardly Lion; loves Hobbits and has admitted to actually hugging trees.


3. Kôji Yakusho
Pro: Looks annoyed. All the time.
Con: Doesn’t have those awesome “Memoirs of a Geisha” scars for real.


2. Terrence Mann
Pro: Deep voice? Check. Sad, soulful eyes? Check. Inspector Javert once? Check and double check.
Con: Original Broadway Cast member of “Cats.”


1. Anthony Stewart Head
Pro: Earring signals midlife crisis.
Con: No cons. There is only love here.

That’s it. You can use this handy list for just about anything. Especially Christmas and Birthday shopping. For me. And remember, nylon ropes cut off circulation, so only wrap my presents in organic fibers that have some give.

But not too much, because then they’ll get away.

Mystery Chair

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And now, the story of the mystery chair:

As some of you know (and some don’t), the house I live in is the house I grew up in. After my mother and I moved out of it, onto our separate lives, the house stood empty. After six years, I purchased said home from my mother and my family and I moved in and promptly started taking down the ugly wallpaper and sponge painted borders that had tormented me through childhood (the faux-stone plastic paneling in the living room was particularly hideous).

Part of this remodel involved the basement, as I previously mentioned. And in this basement lies the Mystery Chair.

I don’t remember ever seeing the Mystery Chair in our home as I was growing up. My mother has no clear recollection of it, either. But, when we went into the house after it had stood empty for six years, we found the Mystery Chair sitting, alone and forlorn, in the basement.

The Mystery Chair is an arm chair that looks as though it originated in that “different colors of rough, waffle-woven, homespun yarn in pastel colors as upholstery is a glamorous idea for any living room furniture” phase of the nineties. The shape is squat and modern, the colors don’t match anything. It is too big to remove in one piece; it is wider than the only door to the basement.

I have three theories about this chair, and how it got into the basement without us knowing or having a hand in it:

 

  1. Someone broke into the vacant house, pulled up a section of floor, carefully lowered the chair down to the basement, then replaced the floorboards and relaid the carpet in such a way that their deed would not be noticed upon casual inspection of the floor, but would make a great impact when said hideous chair was found.
  2. The chair has always been there. Wrapped up in our own lives and every day drama, the chair stayed, neglected, unnoticed, until such a time as all of our crap was moved out and we were forced to confront the reality of the chair. Furthermore, the chair was placed in the basement prior to the construction of the house, which was built around the chair.
  3. Some point in our basement behaves in the same manner as the area around the event horizon of a black hole, and all the particles of the chair popped into our physical space when they disappeared from another location. For example, the chair may have been in our neighbor’s house before its particles winked out of our known dimension and rematerialized in an area with a greater attractive force, ie, our basement. This black hole theory would also explain the disappearance of my REM Monster Tour t-shirt with Michael Stipe looking romantically angsty and defeated on it that went suddenly missing in high school.

Any way you slice it, I don’t want to get rid of this chair. Is it ugly? Yes. Does its sudden appearance baffle me? Most certainly so. But it is the most comfortable chair ever to lovingly cradle my flat, white butt. Which opens up a world of paranoia all of its own:

  • Is the chair’s comfort a plot to ensnare me, helpless, before the television to watch episode after episode of E! True Hollywood Story? Is it actually a sophisticated hologram beamed into my family room by the television networks to guarantee that I will be watching?
  • Is the chair actually a demonic entity, lulling me into a false sense of security before one day successfully draining my soul and feasting up on it as I writhe in agony, tormented by visions of my misdeeds?
  • Could the chair have been placed here by aliens as a calming amnesiac device to remove all memory of the horrible experiments they subject me to nightly?

All I know is, I don’t want to get rid of this chair. It is a part of me, as I am a part of creation, all of the earth and sky.

So, Where’d The Line About Splitting Muff Go?

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Thanks to Brynn Paulin‘s husband, bless his awesome, awesome soul, I found myself last night squashed into a packed theatre beside Cheryl Sterling, Bronwyn Green and Brynn, watching Sweeney Todd two weeks before it hits the big screen.

I must, at this point, explain that this will not be a fair and objective review. This review will be handled by rabid Sondheim and Sweeney fan Jennifer “Green Bitch And Critical Bird” Armintrout, and not by a normal, sane human being who saw a movie.

[insert fire truck noises and running around the room in an endless loop]. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. After all the horror I experienced reading about the production of the movie– rumors that ranged everywhere from “they’re cutting the ballad” to “that dude from Oingo Boingo that Tim Burton likes so much is completely redoing the orchestrations”– I could not be more relieved at the end product.

First of all, yes. They did cut the ballad. Or, more accurately, they cut the lyrics. The music is still very much there, interspersed throughout the movie. Some other cuts they made, that, if I had known of them before going to the movie would have enraged me, were most of the beggar woman’s “Alms” refrains, “Kiss Me,” and a huge chunk of the Wigmaker Sequence, which basically boiled down to Sweeney telling Anthony to go pretend to be a wigmaker, which he does. A few lines and lyrics were changed here and there, and strangely the harmony and melody to the choruses of “A Little Priest” is changed up, but it all WORKS. It makes no sense at all, but the leads are clearly non-singers, the cuts made should be considered heresy, and the blood is orangey and fake. BUT IT WORKS.

Please, if you’re avoiding seeing this because you love the play, please, go and see it anyway. It truly was a worthy adaptation.

Hofftacular Spectacular Continues… JEN vs. THE HOFF!

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Today, my friends, is an epic day. Today, I engage The Hoff in figurative combat. Today, is Jen vs. The Hoff. Today, we see how I, a mere mortal, stack up against that shining beacon with wings of tenderness, David Hasselhoff.

Let’s start at the beginning. A very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A B C. When you prepare for imaginary battle with El Hoff, you begin with

The Basics
Names
Jennifer Armintrout. Fits perfectly in place of the words “Jesus Christ, Superstar” in the song “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” Has eighteen letters.
David Hasselhoff. Fits in place of the words “Jesus Christ, Superstar” if you stretch the first syllable of “David” out a bit. Has fifteen letters.
ADVANTAGE: Jen

Initials
Jen: JLA Also stands for Justice League Of America.
Hoff: DMH Stands for Hoffski.
ADVANTAGE: Hoff

Body
Jen: Flabby I don’t like fruit.
Hoff: Terrifically sculpted/cuts a dashing figure in lifeguarding trunks But slightly hairy.
ADVANTAGE: Hoff

Vocabulary
Jen: Has used “verisimilitude” in a sentence, successfully. No one knew what it meant.
Hoff: Coined the phrase “Hofftastic”. No one knows what it means, either.
ADVANTAGE: Draw

Personal Style
Author Photos
Jen: Brooding, in graveyard Also, taken by Jill Welch, coolest photographer on the planet.
Hoff: Grinch-who-stole-Christmas-style-sneer-over-sunglasses pose Not taken by Jill Welch.
ADVANTAGE: Jill Welch

Worst Outfit
Jen: Little House On The Prairie style dress. Wore it in Kindergarten. Never got over it.
Hoff: Piano key scarf and light up jacket. Wore it in Germany to sing above the Berlin Wall. Germans went crazy crazier.
ADVANTAGE: Hoff

Fly Ride
Jen: Your mom A green Dodge Neon, actually.
Hoff: KITT Effeminate talking car.
ADVANTAGE: Your Mom Hoff.

Career
Page Counts
Jen: Usually around 400. Above or below, depending.
Hoff: 270. Not counting bibliography, discography, television resume and other assorted end materials.
ADVANTAGE: Jen

Fight Scenes
Jen: Vampires getting killed in creative ways. In book four, Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies and Golems in a giant throw down.
Hoff: Transvestites chase him out of a New Zealand bar. I’m not joking, it’s in his book.
ADVANTAGE: Jen

Australia Thinks:
Jen: I’m okay. My book did pretty well there.
Hoff: is indispensable Prime Minister John Howard allegedly said “You’ve got to stay for the economy, the spirit and the soul of Australia.”
ADVANTAGE: Hoff. Also, Australia. Everyone wins!

Internet Presence
Jen: Hasn’t checked her MySpace in weeks. Has also forgotten her Facebook password.
Hoff: King Of The Interet. See videos below.
ADVANTAGE: Hoff

World Records Held
Jen: Unofficial record. For most times accidentally poking one’s self in the eye.
Hoff: Official Guinness World Record. For most watched television show ever (Baywatch).
ADVANTAGE: Hoff

Well, there you have it. The Hoff is cooler than me to the tune of 7 to 3. Jill Welch made an impressive showing in her absence.

I’m off to nurse my wounds– and by that I mean “miraculously heal them with the power of Hoffski”– and get some work done whilst waiting for the Crow’s Nest to open so I can get me some breakfast.

Keep it real, y’all.