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Wherein I Lose Any Aura Of Mystery I Migh Have Had…

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You asked me your questions… okay, seven of you asked me your questions. But the seven of you asked a lot of questions, so here I am to fulfill your burning curiosity. Without further ado:

Cheryl asks:

  • What is your biggest OMGWTF fear? Well, aside from the usual fears people cite, like death and something happening to my kids, I would have to say that my biggest fear is being cut in half by an elevator. This can and does happen, folks, to about thirty people a year. I do not want to be one of those thirty. The worst part is, I used to really, really like Six Feet Under, and I had to stop watching it because I was behind a season, and someone was like, “Oh, don’t watch season 4, somebody gets cut in half by an elevator.” It was not Brenda, much to my disappointment, but I’m so afraid of accidentally seeing that scene that I stopped watching the show altogether.

    One of my eyes just kind of spontaneously falling out, but still being attached by a thread of nerves is runner up to the elevator fear. I knew this guy whose eye fell out from a pretty bad injury, but he was still conscious and the eye could still see, so he said he could see straight ahead out of one eye and down at the floor with the other. I never want to experience this.

  • If you could trade lives with anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? (living or dead, but the dead part would kinda suck) Could I trade places with a fictional character? Because there was this TV show on back in like, 1992, called Covington Cross, and I love, love, love this show. I would trade places with just about anyone on that show, except for the cook that gets killed by a falling rack of cast iron cookware. Or the lady who gets strangled to death. Or the guy who gets robbed by Daniel O’Shea, because his hat was ugly.

    If It has to be someone real, alive or dead, I would trade places with Dracula and if you try to tell me he’s not real I will give you a charlie horse you will never forget.

  • Did you ever find your orange sweater? I did, it was in the bottom drawer of my husband’s dresser. I forgot that I had annexed said drawer last spring, to store all my sweaters in for the summer.

  • Hey, was there a limit to the number of questions? I am aware that you technically did not include this in your list of questions, but I will answer it anyway, because I like to be thoroughly obnoxious. No, there was no limit to the questions.

Anonymous asks:

  • Can you give us an update on your new series “Lightworld/ Darkworld”? I suppose now is as good a time as any. There is not, at present, a reliable release date for the series. DO NOT PANIC. That doesn’t mean the series isn’t going to come out or something, it just means that the original release dates, for a variety of reasons, did not work out at the publisher, so it’s being shuffled around a bit so that it can hit the shelves with maximum marketing power behind it, and I can make heaps of money. And you want me to make heaps of money, don’t you? The series will still have back-to-back releases, so you won’t have to wait as long between books as you did with Blood Ties. Also, I’ve seen the cover art concepts, and if they stay the way they are, they’re going to be super cool.

    You know when a larger excerpt or blurb will be going up? Excerpts and blurbs are done at the discretion of the publisher, but let me see if I can get the go-ahead to put up my back cover copy yet. As soon as I am given permission to do so, you’ll see it here first.

Tez asks:

  • Word on the street is you can tell a lot about characters from the undies they wear, but does the same go for authors? That’s a good question, and requires much formal study. Let me get back to this one after the next big conference I go to. I’ll ask everyone about their undies and then form a hypothesis based on that.

    As for my own nickers, “usually clean” is a good descriptor of both them and myself, so, so far, so good.

Henry asks if it’s cool to call me J-Arm, like J-Lo, and I think this is a fine idea. Shame on everyone else for not thinking of it first. Anyway, Henry asks:

  • Since Twilight and the much better HBO True Blood (I read your review of Twilight, the movie, nuff said)– has given new blood to vamp genre — any book to movie thoughts? Well, I’ve always said that if they made a movie of my books, Nathan would have to be played by Gerard Butler, but he’s looking a bit rough around the edges lately, isn’t he? Maybe Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be a better choice at this point. Catherine Hiegle would make an good Carrie… but wait, wasn’t she already on that stupid sexy doctors show with ole’ Jeffy there? Oh well. I still think it would work. And Ryan Reynolds would have to be Max. No getting around that. And Asia Argento could be Bella. Or, wait, no, Rosario Dawson! Yeah, she’s hot! Wow, my casting rocks. I’m in the wrong business.

  • Would you ever consider writing screenplays? Yes. In fact, Mr. Jen and I are working on an untitled super hero spoof at the moment. Don’t know if it will ever sell, but Stephen Sondheim says it’s the little things you do together that make marriage a joy mmmm hmmmm, so we’re doing this. I think it falls under “hobbies you pursue together.”

  • One of the things that I love about the series — aside from the respect of the lore of the vampire world — is the complex relationships (i.e. Carrie and Nathan) — as in real life they have their ups and downs…and it gets messy. I love messy. Was that intentional? Are you a complex relationship type? — How much of that is autobiographical? That was definitely on purpose. When I started writing Blood Ties, the paranormal romance genre was starting to get kind of bogged down in the cutesy vampire books. There were like, two people who could do it well, at that point, but a lot of people were trying. The rest of the books were like, the ones where the vampire would see the heroine and there would be this instant, mystical connection and they loved each other immediately but spent the rest of the book trying to fight their forbidden urges. So, I did set out to try and make a vampire book that was different in a couple of ways, and one of those ways was to have realistically complicated human relationships in the book.

    I got a lot of flack for Carrie’s indecision from readers. People who were like, “Ugh, she should make up her mind already!” But really, how often do people make up their minds in real life very quickly and without a second thought? Especially if complications arise in the process?

    As for whether or not it was autobiographical, no, I’m not into complicated. That’s not to say that some of my relationships with people haven’t had complications, but I just cannot handle the day to day drama in a romantic relationship. Which is why I can never leave my husband, because we’re both non-drama people.

  • You might have written a blog on this before, what’s the nuts and bolts writing life — from morning to night? how many hours a day? rewrites? do you type or hand write …?? etc. don’t skimp on details for us wannabee writers. I don’t have a writing “routine” that I can really set out for you. Some days, I don’t start working until after 8pm. Other days, I get up at 6:30, get my kid to school, and write until it’s time to pick him up. Other days, I don’t write at all. Type or handwritten? I do both. I don’t like to transcribe what I’ve handwritten, so I try to avoid it if possible, but if I hit a block at the keyboard, then I switch to pen and paper. And for those of you interested, I use Moleskine notebooks and a Scrittura Multi-Hue ballpoint pen by Barnes and Noble for all my handwriting needs. My notebooks usually have only bits and pieces of scenes in them, sometimes a checklist of scenes that still need to be written, or brainstorming, so they’re no good to anyone but me, and when I die I will look totally crazy. I do not rewrite while on my first draft at all. I write straight through, from beginning to end, then hand it over to my editor, who I am sure appreciates that a whole bunch. But I feel that since I’m the one who wrote it, I can’t be trusted to edit it, so rewrites don’t happen until after Linda sees it and sends me her changes.

    Basically, I try to get ten pages out on my WIP per day. If I can do that, I’m happy.

  • What makes you smile? I honestly don’t know. A variety of muscles and nerves in my face, I imagine. But I smile pretty much all the time. It doesn’t take much.

  • If you were a tree…what kind of tree…um, scratch that one…what are some of your favorite authors that you are currently reading? Right now, I’m reading “What A Scoundrel Wants” by Carrie Lofty, and it’s basically the best historical romance novel I’ve ever read. It’s so good, I actually resent my family for intruding on my reading time.

  • What are you thoughts on Yoga as a way to get the juices flowing? Well, see, I’m fat, so I don’t really do anything that requires me to bend, because my various rolls and folds inhibit that movement. I heard it works, though. I tried to take Yoga in college and ended up dropping the class because I couldn’t figure out how to get the door to the fitness center open.

Anonymous asks:

  • I wrote an email some time ago and realized you can’t answer every single message. But do you read them all and respond to some when things are calm? First of all, sorry you didn’t receive a response. I get a lot more email than I ever anticipated getting in my entire life. But yes, I do read every single fan email I get. In fact, the come directly to my BlackBerry, so I read them just as soon as they hit my inbox. However, sometimes I’m not in a place where I can give a reply the attention it would need, so I set it aside for later. Other times, I can’t think of a reply beyond, “Thanks for reading!” which sounds fake and form lettery, and I try to not send that out, if I can help it.

    Also, if someone sends me a note about why they disliked my book, I usually email them back. I get some of the craziest things, like people emailing me to tell me that my books aren’t as good as some other writer’s books and here is what they didn’t like. I usually respond to those people to tell them to send email to the authors they do like and to leave me the hell alone.

Keysotosoto129 asks:

  • Fun facts about your Blood Ties characters. You know, the silly nonsensical crap that is somehow extremely hilarious! 😀 Well, technically, that is not a question, but I will answer it because you put a smiley face on it. I don’t know how hilarious these are, but they are unknown, or little-known, facts about the Blood Ties characters:
    • Nathan’s favorite music is classic rock, because it used to be “new” to him, and he’s a bit behind in the times. His favorite group is Pink Floyd, and his favorite song is “Comfortably Numb.”
    • I put a little bit of myself into every character, but the one that is most like me is Max.
    • The only character that doesn’t have a little bit of me is Anne, the receptionist at the VVEM. That’s because she was inspired by a real person, my cousin Kari. Anne got her name from Kari’s middle name, since there couldn’t be two Carrie/Karis in the book. When Max calls her Carebear, it’s because that what we called Kari when she was a kid. She has not, to my knowledge, ever tortured anyone with power tools before.
    • I was either writing or had just finished writing Possession when the season of American Idol that Taylor Hicks won was on the air. There was a girl named Kelly Pickler that season, and since Mouse’s name was Stacey Pickles, somehow my friend Bronwyn Green and I started joking about what would happen if Cyrus was trapped in a basement with Kelly Pickler. The answer was that she would say something incredibly stupid like “What’s a vampire?” in her cutesy southern accent (which I was CONVINCED was a put-on) and Cyrus would just snap and start stabbing her with the nearest available object. In our little fantasy, this was a ball point pen, and he kept stabbing her long after she was dead.
    • In the first draft of Ashes to Ashes, Carrie and Max have drunken sex, not just a drunken grope session. It was hot, too.
    • In their Happily Ever After, Nathan and Carrie have five kids, all girls.

  • Would kill, positively sacrifice someone to get a tidbit from your new Lightworld/Darkworld series! Human sacrifice won’t be necessary. Just keep checking back here, and I promise I will post my back cover copy as soon as I am allowed.

Well, that was quite the exercise in answering stuff. Now, my fingers are tired, my brain is dead, and I have the dumb. Hope your questions were well and fully answered, and if you have more, we might have to do this again some time!

It’s Been A While (Insert Nickelback Song Flashback Here– You’re Welcome).

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Well, the holidays. WTF were they about. Weeks of preparation, and suddenly, BAM they’re over. I feel like a prom dress, worn briefly and discarded on the Motel Six floor. It’s not even the Honeymoon Suite, for God’s sake.

So, things should be back to normal ’round these parts. In celebration of such, if you’re still reading, if you’re still out there, now is your chance to ask me anything. Anything at all. I doesn’t even have to be writing related. This is a standing offer to all people who listen to my podcast, but not everyone does, so I thought I would open the floor, just this once, to the folk who have always wanted to know what color my underpants are. Answers will be compiled in my next blog post, so don’t let me down. I don’t want to have to think of another idea for my next post.

I wish I had a coffee gun.

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So, I’m at Dino’s Lounge in Kalamazoo right now. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. They have beer now. Who the hell wants a beer at eight in the morning?

Well, this morning, I do.

Anyway, I’m doing the take Jen Jr. v1.0 to school and then go to the coffee shop thing again. Yeah, I know, that’s all supposed to be hyphenated. But I’m not doing it, because I’m too tired and my coffee hasn’t reached my heart yet.

Why am I running away from home, you ask? Because my husband has left his job in order to be a full time house husband, which means that in order for me to get anything done, I have to flee my home. So, here I am, at the coffee shop again.

What was the point of this entry? Oh, right. Coffee gun. So, the guy was getting me my coffee out of one of those thermal carafe things that you have to pump, and he goes, “I hate this one, it has no pressure, so it takes forever to get anything out of it. The other one is like a gun, but this one sucks.” And it got me to thinking… how awesome would it be to have a coffee gun? Like, you could just get out of bed and shoot yourself in the face with it and be good to go.

Sigh. I think this chair is going to break right underneath me, and the spot I picked to sit in, in hindsight, is not so great, because this tree/plant/fern thing keeps picking at my hair.

It’s going to be a long morning.

Sunday Breakfast With Jen

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If I said, “big, sloppy pile of eggs and cheese,” would that phrase excite you? If so, you have come to the right blog, dear readers.

I am going to share my recipe for the single greatest breakfast scramble of all time. It’s a bastardized version of the “Pig In The Garden” scramble from Food Dance in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their dish is much better, because it’s made from all these ingredients that have fancy names and also, I think they put scallions in them. But if you can’t get to Kalamzoo, Michigan, and you settle for my version, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 large eggs, prepped for scrambling via your preferred method (I don’t add water when I make this, because I feel it makes the eggs too runny. Your mileage may vary).
  • A decent sized handful of sliced, white mushrooms, fresh, not the button ones from the can.
  • Yellow, red and orange cherry tomatoes, for a total of about four or five itsy bitty tomatoes. Trust me, the different colors make it way more fun.
  • Two strips of bacon, fried and crumbled up.
  • 1 oz. swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter.

Okay, what you’re going to do is just lightly sweat the mushrooms in the butter over low to medium heat. You’re not going for a full saute, here. Just get them a little wet looking, like they’re starting to cook, but haven’t achieved full, translucent brownness. Then, add the tomatoes, giving them a little squeeze, just to bruise them up a little as you toss them in, but don’t crush them. Yup, you leave them whole. Don’t worry, it all works out. Immediately pour on the eggs and scramble, scramble as though your life depends upon it (if you haven’t upped to medium heat yet, take the plunge right now, so your eggs will cook). When the eggs have achieved their desired level of done-ness, throw in the bacon pieces and the cheese. Fold them in and let the cheese melt. Then, plate and eat the hell out of that big, sloppy pile of eggs and cheese. Goes well with toast.

This just in: British people can hear penis.

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Remember the whole Janet-Jackson’s-bewb-made-my-kids-gay debacle from the Superbowl a few years back? And remember how everyone was like, “OMG, only AMERICA would be that uptight about a naked body part?”

Today, the BBC issued an apology to any listeners who might have been offended when John Barrowman, star of “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood,” exposed himself during an interview on the radio.

On the radio.

On the radio.

On the radio

As a fervent, long-time proponent of public nudity for the sake of funny, I am torn on the issue. On one hand, this man:

should never have to apologize for exposing himself. In fact, I would wholeheartedly support any legal resolution that might be passed that would say something to the effect of him having to be starkers at all times.

On the other hand, the apology is far, far funnier than someone claiming to pull out their peen on the radio. In fact, the apology is the funny in this case. If someone said to you, “Oh my god, this guy just claimed to have pulled his dick out on the radio,” you’re not going to say, “Oh, that is hilarious! I must phone my friends immediately and tell them about this, it’s that funny.” But if someone said, “People in Great Britain were seriously offended by the very mention of a penis that they could not see, the BBC actually issued an apology for it and it’s this huge scandal,” you’d make a blog post about it.

On the other hand (in this scenario, I have three hands), it’s actually pretty sad that someone would be offended enough to call for an apology. Seriously, is radio somehow different in England, like how in America we say “Chips” and they say “Crisps” and we could accidentally order French Fries? Is radio really “tv” or “in person,” and I’m just not getting it because of the language barrier that somehow, incomprehensibly, exists between our two English speaking countries? Are the British afflicted with some horrible disease that makes them see out of their ears and also makes them allergic to genitalia? It’s not like this guy whipped his wang out during an elementary school spelling bee. The DJs brought it up, and he answered by… well, example.

If you want to read about it, Sky news has an article at their website. The title, TV Star Exposes Himself On Live Radio Show basically sums up the absurdity in a nutshell. No pun, or horrible offense, intended.

OMG, WTF? Twilight Edition.

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I have tried, oh lordy, how I have tried, to not express my feelings about the Twilight series. One, because I try really hard not to express negative thoughts about books, since they are written by authors, and I, being an author, feel a sort of loyalty to other authors, even ones I have never met. But that loyalty does not extend to the movies (or television shows– you’re lucky you redeemed yourself with that season finale, True Blood) made out of those books by those authors. Thus, our story unfolds.

So, Saturday night, my husband and I were looking for a movie to go to. We wanted to see Zack and Miri Make A Porno, but the showing didn’t start until too late, whittling our choices down to Role Models and Twilight.

I have a theory about movies. There are bad movies, and then there are bad vampire movies. Even the worst vampire movie (Vampire In Brooklyn) is not as bad as the worst movie that doesn’t have vampires in it (Across The Universe). Mr. Jen, knowing this, and thinking that Role Models “looks stupid” (isn’t that the point, Mr. Jen? I mean, really?), said, “Fuck it, let’s just go to Twilight.”

We decided to give it a fighting chance. Mr. Jen has never read the books, owing to the fact that he doesn’t read anything that isn’t about guns or Nazis or WWII or some other kind of historical boring stuff that he will later use to ruin a film I enjoy by saying, “That’s not really accurate.” So, he was going in as a blank slate. I, having read the books, had some pretty basic expectations (vampires, sparkling, etc.), but I pledged to have an open mind. Thousands upon thousands of shrieking fourteen-year-olds can’t be wrong, right?

So, you know how when you’re in a really serious situation, and everyone is being totally serious, and something serious happens that isn’t supposed to be funny, but you can’t help but laugh at it and you have to put your hand over your mouth and bite your cheek because you know that you’re not supposed to be laughing? That was Twilight, the movie, in a nutshell. And it started almost from the very beginning. When Bella stands in the desert, holding a potted cactus and a spade, looking introspective and slightly constipated. When the Cullens show up, looking like they just slathered on their white foundation to head off to a mime performance or Cure concert. When, upon seeing Bella for the first time, Edward looks like he’s about to totally barf all over the biology lab.

No, I’m not kidding. He really does look like he’s about to vomit.

The most ridiculous moments come at the expense of poor Edward, who, while slogging through his painfully lonely immortal life, makes pained expressions akin to someone trying to pass a kidney stone, because it is imperative that the viewer realize he is in pain. Beautiful, beautiful pain. Pain that causes him to act in such a way that a teen girl should think he’s a freak, not a lust object. But that’s the role he’s there to fulfill, and Robert Pattinson does an admirable job of it, even as he labors under a gravity-defying pile of hair and perfectly sculpted eyebrows that would make Peter Gallagher weep at their thickness. When he first stepped on screen, at least five teenaged squeals rent the silence of the theatre.

His vampire clan is just as laughably unsubtle. They glower at the humans and slink around with superiority complexes on par with super models prowling the dressing rooms at Lane Bryant. How has no one else in town figured out that they’re vampires? And how come no one calls CPS on these “foster parents” who allow their wards to get all humpy with each other?

But the deepest flaw in the movie is the fact that, despite breathless close-ups and a kissing scene hot enough to titillate the moms of the swooning fourteen-year-olds queuing up for repeat viewings, Bella and Edward never seem to achieve any sort of chemistry. And it isn’t the fault of the actors, but the screenplay. The characters behave like clumsy and beautifully tortured paper dolls, respectively, going through the motions as if they know they’re going to fall in love simply because the story calls for it.

There were good points about Twilight. I’m sure there were. I remember beautiful cinematography (if some of the close-up shots got occasionally dizzy and tilty like a college rock video), and really liking Kristen Stewart’s hair. But the rest of it was an utter disappointment. There were no fangs, unless you count Jacob Black’s bizarrely elongated canines, almost no blood, and no real sense of danger when the villains finally show up. Again, the characters act with no urgency, as if trusting the screenwriter to get them out of their predicament. By the time Bella and Edward were getting all necky on the dance floor at prom, I actually began to wonder if all vampires were this boring, and began making a list of movies I planned to watch when I got home. Movies where vampires have fangs, and drink blood, and have some kind of element of danger to them that is not limited to really fast games of baseball and walking in slow motion to a distortion-laden alternapop song.

Battle Of The Scary Sci-Fi Monsters

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Okay, first of all, who do you have to blow to get to write one of those licensed Doctor Who novels? Seriously?

Anyway, instead of lamenting about my lack of licensed properties I’m allowed to write about and still get paid, rather than just posting it to and waiting breathlessly for comments, here’s a versus battle for y’all.

Battle Of The Sci-Fi Monsters, Round One: Daleks vs. Borg

What They Are
Daleks Tentacled creatures resembling octopodes who motor around in heavily armored salt-and-pepper shakers whilst seeking to remove anything not Dalek from the universe.
Borg A cyborg race on a massive, intergalactic scavenger hunt to collect as many species as possible and “assimilate” them into their hive.
Advantage: Borg

Home Planet
Daleks Skaro, a planet devastated by nuclear war and inhabited by failed mutation experiments. Also, they have like a hundred Starbucks.
Borg Anywhere they feel like it; someplace in the Delta quadrant.
Advantage: Dalek

School Motto
Borg “Resistance is futile.”
Advantage: Borg

Multipurpose attachments and tools
Daleks An egg beater that can kill basically anything; plunger.
Borg Laser goggle that will never heal if you don’t stop picking at it; bionic arm.
Advantage: Daleks

Cool Club Name (No Girls Allowed)
Daleks Cult of Skaro, which sounds mysterious and cool.
Borg The Collective, which sounds like an art school project.
Advantage: Daleks

Arch enemy
Daleks The Doctor.
Borg The whole effing Federation.
Advantage: Borg

Double Dare Physical Challenge they would soooo fail
Daleks Stairs, but they totally fixed that problem.
Borg Running, because they’re in no particular hurry.
Advantage: Daleks

Daleks International Talk Like A Dalek Day, November 24.
Borg None.
Advantage: Daleks

Round One goes to: Daleks

The Borg put up a good fight, but let’s be honest… it’s not like they’re ever going to get you… they’re in the future, in space, and you can easily outrun them if you’re in modest shape. The Daleks, on the other hand, have come to Earth, can vaporize you with their egg beaters, and are basically unstoppable, now that they’ve overcome that pesky stairs situation.

On the other hand, the Borg are communists, so I suppose they’re enemies to our freedom or some similar empty rhetoric.

Tune in later for Round Two, Daleks vs. The Gentlemen (Buffy The Vampire Slayer).