About Me

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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. J's first novel is a YA fantasy horror, regarding a siren who must choose between the haunting life and humanity. J draws on occasion, reads quite often, and is a founding member of the critique group 'Thoughtical Verbosity.'

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Hey internet!

Alright, so I promised I'd get a post up before my birthday. It is now my birthday-eve, so I'm writing this out quick-like, and I hope you enjoy it.

I'll be 24 tomorrow, and this year has been one of massive change for me. I've stopped doing some things that I realized weren't really important to me. I've started devoting a lot more time to things that I realized are. I've approached scary stuff and put some of it to bed, and I've really come to terms with who I am, who I should be, and who I want to be.

Go me!

But I'm not just writing this to give myself a pat on the back. No, I pat my own back on my own time. When people can see me do it in person.

All of this change and age-upgrading has got me thinking a lot about the past. Let me start with a little story:

Colorado was a beautiful place to live; it had four REAL seasons, none of this Winter, winter, (winter), SUMMER, WINTER, crap that we get in Montana. There were mountains, which I could see as a tiny sliver of blue on the horizon if I climbed up onto the cart park at Albertsons. It was the closest to the wild I'd ever lived.

When we moved there, it was also a return to what some would call normalcy. My family was a robust one, teeming with children from teenage to fetus years. Before moving to Colorado, my brother and I were home-taught. Which meant we skipped to the back of the book, copied down some answers, and then ran wild and crazy in the dirt with the other kids in the neighborhood until it was time to sneak a peek in the back of the books again. Colorado meant going back to public school. I slipped in at the very beginning of second grade, raring to monkey around on playground sets with slides high enough that jumping off of them made you a daredevil.

I did. I was. It was awesome.

And all of the moving around that I'd already done meant I was pretty good at making new friends. I could slip in and out of a pack of kids, jump off a slide, and be ready to go again the next day.

One day, during the lunch break, I was hanging out with a bunch of girls. They, like me, were slide-jumpers. Foot racers. Tough girls who had holes ripped in the knees of their jeans that were punctuated by grass stains. Aw, yeah.

The topic of favorite colors came up. Blah, mine is green. Blah, mine is yellow. Blah, mine is orange.

I distinctly remember that I was laying on the grass, my hands tucked under my head, staring up at the painfully blue sky. "Mine is pink."

Silence. Snorts.

I looked up and saw one of my friends, her mouth melting into an open hole of scorn. "What are you, five?"

No. I was not five. I was seven. My honor had been dashed to pieces with four venomous words. I didn't even know what to say! Pink had been my favorite color forEVer. Since before colors existed!

My friend took pity on my dumfoundedness and explained that to be a cool tomboy, I had to have a different favorite color. She said hers was blue. I looked back up at the sky, pointed next to a cloud, and said "That's my favorite color, right there."

Things spiraled out from there.

I'd been a Barney maniac when I was little, but it was now important that I laugh at keychains that pictured him blowing up.

First I was going to find that keychain, but then I was like, "Oh yeah! Birthday tomorrow!"

I used to play with Barbies AND Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but now I had to make up stories about how I just used the Barbies for mangling.

I loved Batman AND My Little Pony, but now if I was going to draw them, it had to be together, and you don't want to know what the Batarang had to be doing.


I HAD to change who I was, what I liked, what my favorite things were. I simply could not have a girly side. Not if I wanted to be cool. And I did! I couldn't stand the girls who ONLY played with Barbies and wore pink everything, and I didn't want to seem like I was one of them. Or, worse, be stuck with no one else to spend the twenty-minute lunch break with.

There are more and more similar stories from my life, but that's really where it started. I didn't care at all what anyone thought until that one moment. Do you know how long it took for me to admit that pink was maybe okay again?

A very long time. As in, the last couple of years.

And how silly is that? How many things have I given up or hidden because I cared what other people thought? Dozens. I've altered my tastes and interests so many times since that anti-pink event, I surprise myself sometimes when I stop and realize that I don't ACTUALLY feel such-and-such a way about so-and-so a thing.

I've stopped doing that, now. It's such a waste of brain power and embarrassment. As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I'm sure I'll figure out other things that I've picked up and attached to myself for reasons other than "I really do feel passionate about this." And I will deal with that accordingly.

How about you guys? Have you ever made changes to yourself for reasons other than...yourself?

Are you going to change that?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Still Alive

That's what I've been up to for the past month+!

Moving, book finishing, and so on and such and such.

Sorry I have been a bad bloggeress, but I'm back!

I do have a (to me) interesting topic I want to write about, but I think I'll save that for tomorrow if only because I think it needs a post all on its own, without the obligatory "Herp, derp, it's been a while!" nonsense that's going into this one.

So: December!

Undoubtedly, you have encountered the Holiday music. The snow, if you live in the right area. The insane sales. The insane traffic that results from all of the above.

I actually love the holiday season. And I'm not being sardonic! Possibly my favorite thing in the world--aside from storytelling--is gift-giving. I just love picking out the most perfect thing I can find for each person, wrapping it up, and then fidgeting in my seat until they finally open the darn thing. It's just fantastic. This year, I am not exactly flush with cash, so the gift-giving from my corner is being done a little more carefully. Harder searches and a tighter budget. When I'm used to giving each person several gifts, this kind of limitation is a combination package of frustrating and excitingly challenging.

You know what? I'll do a full-blown Christmas post sometime soon here. Between now and my birthday. Which is the 14th of this month. I'll be 24. Holy crap. That's old.

For now, though, I just wanted to let you all know that I am still alive and kicking things. And now that I'm all set up in the new Larkin Lair, I'll get back to posting faithfully. For real!

Best wishes and sparkle drops,


Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Is This Okay?

Hey Internet;

I've just caught up with my goal for spit-and-polishing Ze Book. It will be ready for Beta readers come November--which is in just a few days--which gives me great joy. And apparently the title and theme of my last blog post suggested to a  few readers that I was ENNNNNDING le blog. Well, I'm not. To prove it, and because I need a little break from reading material I've already read 5,000 times: here's another post.

Normally, I try to infuse some chuckles and jests into le blog. I can't guarantee it's going to be that way in this one, but we'll just see what happens.

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of ugly things in the world. Hatred and ignorance and cruelty are being spread around like free razor-blade candy out of a stranger's van. Who is the stranger? Why is he driving a van? There may be no true answer to these questions, regardless of their relevance.

And speaking of pointless questions, what is the most fair-minded response to all that idiocy?

"Why is this okay?"

I've read and heard people asking this question many times. I've even seen it on one of my favorite sources for news: The Stephen Colbert Report. Let me clarify that this isn't aimed at Mr. Colbert, whom I adore, but seeing such a hard hitter whip out that tippy-toe line gave me pause.
This is not a man with tippy toes. He may not have toes at all. Just further extensions of his feet, covered with a tattoo of the Statue of Liberty wearing the Constitution like Princess Leah's golden bikini.

To me, that question is weak-sauce, especially when the answer is obvious ("It isn't. Dur."). But what especially makes that question watered-down-leftover-oatmeal-instead-of-Szechuan sauce is the direction it is tossed. More often than not, "Why is this okay?" is asked of the victims of ignorance.

"Hey, Billy, why is it okay that that guy just beat your teeth into your eardrums and everyone just stood around watching?"

"Hey, Joan, why is it okay that everyone is ganging up on your beliefs and nobody else has the balls to stand up for you?"

I could stage more hypothetical scenarios, but I imagine we all get the picture (and have probably seen it played out in real life enough times, anyway).

It's not okay to abuse or attack or insult another person just because they believe or behave differently than you do! That's not even a secret of the universe. It's just a bald-faced fact that is blatantly ignored by a frightening number of people. Asking 'Why is this okay?' implies ignorance of the obvious answer.

But the real reason I'm annoyed by the activity of 'Why is this okay?' is not based in self-evident facts that everyone old enough to sling their biased crap at other people should know. 'Why is this okay?' could actually play a role in fixing the problems. If it was being asked to the right people.

"Hey Jeff, why is it okay for you to break the teeth of that kid who's never done anything to you?"

"Hey Gina, why is it okay for you to spread blatant lies about something you couldn't be bothered to fully research?"

And so on, and so forth.

I have never, in my entire life, encountered a bully (real, fictional, living or dead) who impressed me. No matter who they are bullying, they are wrong. You can disagree with someone. You can even hate them for disagreeing with you. But I believe that in the end, it does not matter what you say, what you donate to, who you support, or what clothes you did or did not wear. All that matters is how you have treated others.

Why is it okay for me to say that? Because it's true.

-J Larkin

Now, I'm going to get back to work on Ze Book and enjoy some Americone Dream. Because Stephen Colbert told me to.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Hey internet!

Very brief updates about Ze J Larkin:

I will be moving into my own studio apartment. WOO! Possibly soon. Probably I will be sleeping on my mom's couch for a little while if it takes the apartment complex's people a while to process my paperwork.

I am rewriting the entire climax of Ze Book. After I added a new arc, which put me 10 days behind schedule, I got to the climax and realized it made. Zero. Sense. But after much rage-at-self for being enemy-of-self, I have figured all that out and just need to really crush myself against the grind stone and make it happen. Ze Book is much better for it. Trust me.

Ze Book will be in the hands of official Beta readers in November. Woo! Excited! Concerned! Excited! Woo!

And Now Onto Le Blog!!

Let's talk endings.

As I said above, I'm currently reworking the climax of Ze Book. The final chapter remains more or less the same, but the big BAM! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED! moment is completely different. And I have spent a lot of time thinking lately about novel endings.

I've heard it said (okay, read it written) that it is the ending, more than any other part, that a reader will walk away thinking about. It is the ending of a book that determines what a reader will say to their friends about the book. The characters can be awesome, the prose can be ridoncidonculous, but the ending is the thing that weighs on their mind.

This makes sense, of course. If the punchline of a joke is lame, are you going to walk away praising how well it was told? If the climax of a film is the weakest of weak sauces, are you going to walk away talking about how sweet the filmography was?

Maybe. If you're one of those people.

But then, what makes a good ending?

Personally, I like to see the characters struggle. I don't want to read "AHA! And then we won." I want to get concerned. I want to not be able to stop turning pages, even if I'm pretty sure I know how things are going to go down.

I also like to be surprised. As many novels as I've read, it's not often that that happens any more. I've become tragically genre-savvy. Even the books I've loved lately, I knew pretty much exactly what each person was going to do and what role they were going to play before their introductory paragraph was over. But--and oh boy, here is where I get choosy--the surprise can't be the kind of thing you'd only know if you were, say, the author. So I want an 'Aha!' moment, but not a 'Duh!' moment, but not a 'Yeah, whatever' moment.

Picky picky.

What else? I like bookend endings. Themes that tie the ending back to something that happened way at the beginning. It makes me giggle. I don't know.

I like endings that are concise. Boom! BAM! Whammo! Brief conversation. The End.

I saw a movie recently that had the climax about thirty minutes before the ending. It also had thirty minutes of introduction before the movie started. I was screaming at the screen (the theater housed only my sister and I) "END!! EEEEEEEENNNNNND!!!"

On the other hand, a story shouldn't just...end. Boom! BAM! WHAtheend.


Also? I like bittersweet endings. Heavy on the sweet. But it's hard for me to buy a story where EVERYthing is wrapped up neat and pretty with zero loss or quarter given. Life is compromise. A good story is a peek into someone else's life.

One of the best endings I've ever seen?

Granted, this clip skips a great deal of the other issues that are closed up beautifully (until the second movie rips everything all up to shreds for no reason other than to create some pointless drama AAAARGGH WHY DISNEY WHY) but this film, which happens to be on my top five list of all-time favorites, hits all of the points I listed above.

So what about you guys? What do you like in endings? What do you hate? What's an example of one of your favorite endings evar?

Peace out!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do Parents Make Babies?

Hey internet!

Haha. I bet that title caught your attention.

I had this thought a little while ago about a word I've seen floating around lately: 'Appropriate.' It's so ominous! If you throw a 'Not' in front of that bad boy, you've lost scores of eyes that might have otherwise been devouring whatever it is that's being judged. This is especially true of films and novels. And it is especially especially true of children's films and novels.

My aim is to be a Young Adult novelist, and in all honesty not a very racy one at that. There's murder, theft, betrayal, alcohol, law breaking, racism, sexism, kidnapping and a lot of white lies in my book. But it's all very light-hearted and fun. So I'm not worried about 'Appropriate' being waved over my head.

And let's be honest: teenagers (who will, if I ever get published, probably be my biggest readers) can get hold of stuff their parents don't want them to have. Especially stuff their parents don't want them to have. It's just a fact! And being told a book is 'Not Appropriate' is not going to stop teens from reading it.

So let's just leave that one alone.

What I'm actually interested in is children's movies and books that are deemed 'Not Appropriate.' In particular, media which are deemed too scary for kids.

I will admit, there have been a few times in the past when I've seen the premise of some 'children's' entertainment and just had to stare at it for a while, slowly shaking my head. Kids are naturally afraid of certain things...monsters in their closet. The dark. When I was a wee one, I was concerned that there were monsters that lived literally in the shadows, which were in fact doorways to their shadow realm, and if I took my eyes off the shadows for even a second the monsters would come up, wrap me up in my blankets like a squirmy pig in a gunny sack, and haul me off to roast and eat at some monster kid's birthday party.

I have yet to see cold hard proof that this is not the case. Also, I may turn that into a book some day.

So children do have some scaredy-cat tendencies that don't make complete sense to the adult mind.

My nephew went through a 'closet monster' phase. A few times I tried to help with this by going into the closet with a pillow, shutting the door, and then banging the pillow around and making grunting noises. Then I would come back out and inform him that any monsters around were thoroughly snot-beaten-out-of'ed and he would laugh and, sometimes, go to sleep.

So children also have the ability to understand--or believe--that something is just pretend.

My question, then, is this: is something too scary for kids because kids are babies, or because their parents baby them?

I've seen a lot of parents take their children to the side at a theater or a book store and explain to them that something they wanted to see or read or have read to them was "So scary!" The parents explain that there are monsters, that the child won't be able to handle it, that it is just not possible for someone the kid's age to actually enjoy the spookiness. And what happens?

I know it may seem odd, but perhaps the solution to your children's night terrors is to...y'know...talk rational to them. I have tried talking rational to children before. It doesn't always work. But sometimes it does. And creepy, spooky, eerie stories can be fun! Just ask Coraline Jones. Or Jack Skellington.

After all, is it not the job of parents to prepare their children for the world? That includes teaching them to brush their teeth in the morning AND teaching them how to deal with fear. Showing them how to play well with others AND showing them that life is not all peach flowers and sprinkly charms.

I could go on...but perhaps I won't. Because it is 2 in the morning and I have to work tomorrow/today and I'm not sure I'm getting my point across very well.

So, take care, internet! And enjoy this most spooky of months :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Color Outside Ze Lines

So hilarious, sasstastic author Jaime Reed recently wrote in her blog about race issues. Her post is here: Color Outside the Lines.

I started writing a reply to her awesome post, then realized my reply was working up to be roughly blog-sized and I didn't want to take up too much of her personal internets. So here we go: my first official unrequested blog post that is strictly a response to something someone else blogged about.

Give me some time and maybe I'll think of a title with a cool acronym. But probably not.

Now: about coloring outside the lines.

I've had a lot of thoughts similar to Jaime's in the process of working on Ze Book.

I'm Caucasian, but spent a good chunk of my childhood in Maryland. My brother and I were the only white kids (and I the only girl) past tooth-sprouting age within hang-out distance. A few kids tried to pick on us for being the odd ones out, but for the most part we had no issue making friends and having regular life-threatening, poorly-supervised childhood adventures.

So that racial barrier is not as much an issue for me as I imagine it would be for those who grew up in a more monochromatic world. During my formative years I ran wild with my brother and a handful of kids who happened to have skin darker than my own. They were my best friends. They were awesome. One of them (super lifetime secret!) was my first kiss. We were five. Five-year-olds do that if you're not watching.

My first thought when I see someone who is African American is of my childhood friends, and not about the differences between us. I'm not colorblind. Nobody is, no matter how sweet and kind and open minded they may be. But I feel that the differences between the many billions of people on this rock called earth are awesome. The differences are what make everyone beautiful in gloriously unique ways.

Still, I'm very aware of the walls that go up around every unique culture.

There aren't many MCs that break the cookie-cutter mold or, as Jaime Reed said, color outside the lines. And that sucks. A lot. What sucks even more is that most--certainly not all, but the ones that get the most attention--of the MCs that ARE from a different culture or physical appearance mostly star in novels that deal solely with how The Man comes down on them for being different.


I remember being a young female reader trying to find awesome books where other young females go out, kick balls, save the day, bring home nondescript booty, and settle back in front of the fire preparing for their next adventure. Instead I found a lot of books about quivery-lipped gals being tragically put in their place by the menfolk. Maybe they'd bust free from the crapsack society. Maybe they'd just sort of waffle along and end the way they began. Lamely.

How this plays into Ze Book:

My MC is a biracial young man. He has a white mother, while the world would identify him as black. It affects his life, obviously, but it is not his key characteristic. Nor is it even remotely what the novel is about. His ethnicity is mentioned, because the novel takes place in the 30's and nobody would believe it if not a single character commented on the fact.

Part of what I want to do with Thomas Kaiser, apprentice sorcerer-detective extraordinaire, is add a drop in the great bucket of minority characters just going out and doing awesome things that don't have anything to do with being minority characters.

And in the end, Thomas is Thomas is Thomas. He would still be Thomas if he was white, Chinese, Eskimo, or a purple-polka-dot-platypus. Anyone, regardless of background or race or gender or taste in music, should, could and hopefully will eventually star in a story that is just about twisting life's fingers until it cries uncle.

That's my opinion, anyhow. It came out rather wordy and I'm afraid a bit preachy, but those are the facts.

Now I need to get off of this blog and log in some more Thomas-time. Ze Book is not going to finish itself.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ze J Larkin Vlog

Did I mention that I was starting a vlog? No?

Well, I am/did and it's more or less me talking into a camera about stuff. Mostly author-type-stuff. The recordings are generally done at stupid o'clock in the morning, so there might could be some real gems in there!

Here are the latest three existing episodes:

This one has a hat in it:

This one has more those loopy bang things:

This is the first one to feature a non-black shirt:

And there will be another one up tonight! Featuring discussion of what I like to call a 'genre buster.' Ooooh.

Well, take care everyone!

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Thanks

Updating the blog a mere three days after the last post?

But here we are.

I would still like to hear your responses to the last post. I just wanted to share a little story with you, people of the internet, that has been spreading a grin across my face all day.

I warn you now, it is entirely about me. Turn back now if you were hoping for something far-reaching or directly applicable to your own lives. Or, if you feel like charging on, I promise to include a tooth-rottingly cute picture of my favorite animal at the end of the post.


So, as I mentioned on the other 'You Can't Possibly Get Too Much Of Me' social media sites I'm on, the other day I sent out a bunch of queries for a children's story I wrote. The story would be a picture book, but I'm not interested in doing the pictures myself. I just envision the story going with a sort of sparkly, girly, cutesy art style that is...well, miles away from my own.
Yeah, I don't...I don't draw like this.

And the story took me about an hour to write, so I don't have the tooth-and-nail devotion to it that I do for, say, Ze Book.

Anyhow, I sent out the queries. I in no way expect to have seven agents battling for the right to represent Going to be a Unicorn, partially because my ego is not quite that out of control, and partially because I realize that very few people are actually interested in picture book texts right now. The market is just not leaning in that direction; if anything, most agents who represent picture books at all say (on their sites) that they're interested in author-illustrators. Or previously established authors.

But actually, actively querying and bracing myself for rejection seemed like a good idea. Because, hey, the worst thing that could happen is one agent reads the story, is repulsed, and tells his or her compatriots to avoid the name of J Larkin as though it were a disease you would never discuss in polite conversation. Which is not very likely. And once I am ready to start querying for Ze Book, I know there will be a lot of people who respond with 'Not my thing.' And I want to make sure I'm ready for that sting, beyond knowing how silly it would be to expect everyone to love what I've written.

This morning, at approximately stupid o'clock, my phone made that sound. The sound. The sound that is assigned to sound when my authorial email address is breached.
(The sound, for all those who are curious, can be heard in the clip below).

I rolled over, conked my head on the bedside shelf-thing, and maneuvered my way to the new email before I was fully awake.

Once I was awake, I read two words. The title of this blog post.

No thanks.

I shrugged, hit 'delete,' and rolled back over to catch a couple more hours of sleep. It wasn't until my face was pressed back into the pillow that I realized I'd just received my first rejection letter. Then I grinned.

I'm still grinning now, just thinking about it. I got rejected, and I was cool with it. Of course I care, and I think that if I felt absolute apathy then I'd be headed in the wrong direction. But there was no punch in the gut, no need to stiffen my upper lip, and no consoling necessary.

It's a baby step. Heck, it's not even that. It's more like the baby has finally managed to roll over on its own. Whoopdi-flippin'-do! But still, I feel a little ironic nudge coming from somewhere. I can handle rejection just fine, and get right back to the drawing board to work some more. Maybe I'm cut out for this writing thing after all!

Now, as promised...


Friday, September 9, 2011

Writing Ze Book You Want to Read

Hey internet;

I believe I mentioned that I was working on another rant. That was true, and I liked the idea of it before I started. Then I got about three sentences in and got bored.

"I can't stand rules that are--SQUIRREL!"

The idea still lingers in my mind and maybe one day I'll return to it (the rant was about silly rules) but for now there's something else stuck in my craw that I would like to discuss.

I say discuss because I hope others will take the baton and run with it, either on their own blogs or on this one...just let me know, I'd love to hear your opinions :)

So, over at YAtopia (love the name, it's right up there with Libratopia) there is an easy-to-enter contest, open to everyone and with fabulous prizes. Free book? Possibility of a kindle? Squeee pick me pick me! I already have a stack of books without shelves to call home, let's make the pile truly outrageous!!

Well, in order to enter the contest you have to just say what book you are most looking forward to in 2012. Easy enough; that's a whole year of fresh publishing to choose from.

I've been following publishing news a lot, lately, but hadn't gone beyond this year. So I popped around on the mighty interwebz and found a few lists. I spent some time searching. And searching. A perusing. And searching.

And my face got longer. And longer. And frownier. And frownier.

Let me start by saying that I, like thousands of other faceless someones out there, have been putting a considerable amount of blood, sweat and tears into writing my own book. Ze Book. I love it. The characters are my friends, I care about them and want other people to care about them. The plot is exiting to me and the wordplay is my pride and joy. At the same time, all of the above can be excruciating to make happen. I know this.

Now that he's compiled all the drafts of Chapter 01, he can scrap them all and start over with what he's learned!
And I'm not even querying yet. So I give mad props to any and all who have reached that stage, found their agents, got their deals, and are now gleefully awaiting the due date of their hardcover honeys*.

So I'm not trying to be snide or flippant or disparaging. That's the last thing I'd do to someone who I know has worked their brains into mush and achieved THE DREAM.

But pretty much all of the 2012 books sound exactly. The. Same.
This book cookie-cutter illustrates my point AND makes me want little book cookies.

Here's the basic format:

Sad Underage Estrogenbot (we'll call her 'SUE' from here on out) has something tragic in her past. Then BOOM something happens that ushers Some Totally Uninteresting Dude (we'll call him 'STUD' from here on out) into her life. There's some sort of mystery or problem going on, the solution to which is painfully obvious to any reader with basic thinking skills but WILL be dragged on until the last chapter. SUE and STUD make painfully unappealing googly eyes at each other despite hating each other for legitimate reasons and/or already being so TOTALLY in love because the author says so.

SUE will be determined to fix the aforementioned problem/mystery, but will in fact end up doing little more than riding on the coattails of her supporting cast while loudly bemoaning her fate. She will get all the credit in the end because...well, because she's SUE.

There is some variation, of course. But not much. SUE is always super-sad or angry about something. If the world is a dystopian future (it probably is, because that's what's hot right now) SUE will approach everything with the morally justified eyes of someone from our time, even if it makes absolutely no sense for her to do so because she's known nothing but the dystopian world her entire life.

Oh, and the cover will be a picture of SUE in one of those floaty-puffy-dreamy dresses, just sort of...floating. Looking dramatic. Probably against a gray, watery, misty, or ashy background. I thought about making a collage of all the covers I've seen like that, but that would feel too much like I'm going after specific people, which I am definitely not.

But come on...I'd like to see some variety on the 'new arrivals' shelf.

To make matters worse (better? I don't even know) I think I understand what's going on. It's not exactly a secret that books (especially YA books, I believe) have a tendency to play follow-the-leader. One novel will come out, get a lot of people excited, and then for the next few years we see an increasing number of books in that style until there seems to be nothing but watered-down versions of it available.

Harry Potter --------------> thousands of fantasy, magicky adventures.

Twilight -------------------> thousands of vampire/human romances.

The Hunger Games -------> thousands of dystopian worlds with female leads.

Well, I believe/hope we are at the point where the schtick has run out. It's about time for a new genre boost. I'm rooting for something with more humor in it.

But what do you guys think? What's the next big 'thing?' Or, you can say I'm completely off my rocker. That's okay, too. Working on Ze Book may have made me hyper-critical of what others write, especially when I feel like I've read it dozens of time...or if the SUEs and STUDs are just so mind-numbingly boring, annoying, and unlikable that I find myself screaming at the book to "END. END."

My solution is to write Ze Book I want to read, as writers have been encouraged to do since shortly before Methuselah was born. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

Guess what I finally finished?

That's right. Episode 01 of the Phil Innis Adventures: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.

When I first decided I wanted to make an audio drama, I had no idea how much work was ahead of me. Writing the scrips takes time. Tightening up the scripts takes even more time. Casting is surprisingly difficult--finding people who not only can but will do the readings for you is just nuts. Getting them to read the lines the way you want without coming off as a shrieking stage mom and scaring them away is even worse. And then there's the editing, and the sound effects hunt...

But after months of work I have an almost 40 minute long product! And now I sort of know what I'm doing, and the process might take even less time in the future!

And there is absolutely no way I could have gotten this far on my own. I had some very patient, very enthusiastic help from certain family members and friends. Allow me to take this moment to say that you guys rock. So hard. And I love you and promise that in the future something something sap sap sap. You're awesome.

Now, this first episode is complete, save for the introduction and credits which I'd like to add in a cool announced voice (I've got the music picked out and everything), but that will all be done and added before the show actually goes live. Which...will not be for a while. I don't want to start officially releasing PIA until I have the first season all tied up in bows and presentable. As a reader of webcomics and a listener of podcasts and the like, I know how frustrating it can be to hear/see/smell something awesome, and then be denied another taste of it for many moons.

I will not do such a thing to my imaginary fans!!

But for those of you who are interested, here, in three parts, is Episode 01: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda! With built in intermission.

EDIT: Or, if you just want to download the mp3 file and carry it around in your pocket, you can go here!

Part 01:

Part 02:

Part 03:

So what do you guys think? Now that I've scratched that itch, I really must get back to my beloved 4th Leaf (Ze Book). I have begun to miss it terribly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Romance.

Hey internet!

Today, I wanted to talk about romance in Young Adult novels.

In preparation for the official beginning of Libratopia, I have been gorging myself on Young Adult novels. Mostly Dystopian novels, because that is what's hot--and therefore most readily available--on the market right now. Harry Potter came out, and it was all orphans with big destinies. Twilight came out, and we saw nothing but vampire romance novels for a long time. The Hunger Games came out, and now it's Dystopian futures, almost exclusively with female leads.

The thing is, something else has lingered from the 'Twilight' era. Female leads are prevalent in the YA shelves right now, and it seems as if every female lead has to find herself stuck in the middle of a love triangle. I personally do not care much for (see also: loathe) love triangles, because they just don't make much sense to me. If you really, truly, deeply care about someone, and are presumably a good person...are you really going to turn around and play suck-face with their rival at the first opportunity?

If your first thought is "You go, girl," we have nothing further to discuss.

It's not something that gets me rooting for the schmuck who's playing the herp-a-derp-tango with two people's hearts. So that bothers me right off the bat--especially when it is painfully obvious which of the attention-vyers is going to win.

Girl has been with Herp for years, but mysterious and shady Derp keeps catching her eye? Derp wins.

Boy always thought he wanted hot Derpette, and has been in love with her since grade school, whilst Herpina has only ever been a blip on the radar? Just wait 'til Herpina takes her glasses off.

Girl is in some way forced to be with Derp, and bumps into Herp in the woods outside her home...

Basically, it boils down to X wants/has Y, until X meets Z. There is no chance whatsoever that X will remain/choose Y. It's to the point that I wonder why any preview or snippet even bothers posing the question of "What will he/she do when he/she meets him/her?" Um, dur.

So those are my thoughts on love triangles.
Boo! Boo! BOOOOOO!!
But what about romance in general? Given the rant above, you may be expecting a rant below. You will not be disappointed.

As previously stated, most lead characters these days are females. And most of their love interests are dudes. And again, since a certain sparkly-moody-possessive male lead made his appearance, things have changed in the YA world. Almost every male romantic interest I've come across recently has been just like that: mean. Possessive. Pushy. Jealous. Troubled. Self-destructive. Selfish. But oh--so--HAWT.

There have, of course, been characters like this in the past. But they were rounded out by having actual soft sides, or self doubts, or figuring out their issues in the end, or at least getting their just desserts. They were HAWT, of course, but in no way portrayed as being the ideal man.
There may have been a reason I posted a picture of James Dean in this section. But I sort of got lost staring at him and forget what it was.
So somehow, things have changed. What were previously red flags for an abusive relationship are now major turn-ons. And the characters who don't fall under that category? Strawmen. No personalities, no hopes or dreams beyond the hopes and dreams of their designated love, no real...anything except for the proper plumbing and possibly some wimpy tendencies for the hero/ine to save them from.


Obviously, with these weak-sauce characters, the romance that follows is unbelievable and unenjoyable. We're rarely given an actual 'falling in love' story, or any bonding moments. It's just, "Oh! What a HAWT guy/girl/shrub! We are now so totally in love because the author says we are!"

I'm going to let you folks in on a little secret. I'm a romantic at heart. True, it's buried deep under prickly layers of snark and sarcasm and a dislike of idiocy, but it's there. If there's going to be twu wuv in the story I'm reading, I want it to make me feel gooey and sweet on the inside, like a partially melted gumball. I want it to make me sigh and giggle and quietly cheer for the couple when they finally come to terms with each other. I want to be given a reason to read the book when no one is around to hear me do any of those things because it would damage my street cred.

I want real romance! Something organic, earned, and believable. I want to watch someone fall in love...I don't want to just be told that they have.

I want a couple I can cheer for. How about you?
Granted, those are some real deep feelings, which are not things that are often associated with teenagers. But that's what YA is; an acknowledgement and celebration of the depth and abilities of the future masters of the universe.

There's just such an opportunity in the YA world that is being wasted. Granted, there are a few good relationships portrayed in a few good books out there...just as back in the day, there were a few good strong female characters around. Time brings change, and this is a change I'd love to see.

What about you guys? How do you feel about romance in general, or the state of it in today's YA novels?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Hi internet!

So, as mentioned before, there is a new book review blog opening up. It officially has a name (and a website): Libratopia!

The name was the invention of the Broinlaw, and the criteria was a joint effort. I'm almost finished with my first criview (see Libratopia to find out what a criview is) which has been a lot of fun to write.

Hopefully as time goes by this little project with gather some interest and do some good for the reading world. Hopefully it will be compelling, taut, rivetting, rollicking, and yet never actually use those words in a criview because they mean nothing to the average reader.

In other news, yesterday was my older brother's birthday. He is an extremely cool dude to whom I owe a lot, and I am extremely grateful that he is a part of my life. Respect and love, Bro :)

And as for Ze Book? Still chipping away at it, full steam. I had some dizzy daydream about having it finished before school started up again, but I'm pretty sure that's just crazy talk. A more realistic goal is having it done by November, so I can participate in NaNoWriMo again. I didn't participate last year because I was working hard on the second draft of 'First Time's a Charm,' and while the rules explicitly state that your NaNo should be a new work, I didn't want to leave Ze Book alone for a month.

If I'm ready for November, I would be glad to participate in the insanity again :) The project, of course, would be the Ze Sequel!

Have you guys ever heard of/participated in NaNoWriMo? If you're not into writing, what sort of stuff do you do, and how do you manage your time?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Bad!

Hey internet!

It was brought to my attention that the link I put up, which was supposed to open a video of the Phil Innis teaser, was made private rather than public. Apparently youtube DOES take privacy seriously, because even the creator of the video can't share it outside of the site!

Or maybe there was some other technological glitch. Whatever the case, I have re-uploaded and here is a video that should actually...you know...work.

For your entertainment:

As I may have said, I have begun re-recording the lines that I previously recorded by myself. This time around, I'm having my Broinlaw (and my nephew, for one scene) stand there are listen. I don't know why, but having a live audience to ham it up in front of just makes it feel more 'real.' The difference is apparent even to the naked ear. I don't know if I'm going to re-record the monologues, though...what do you guys think? Does it need some livening up?

Let me know!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Phil Innis Teaser!

Hey Internet!

Well, after much head-to-desk action and quite a few "Can't believe I'm standing here talking to myself and recording it" jitter-giggles, I have finished recording--completely--for the very first Phil Innis episode!

I listened to a lot of the lines I recorded by myself, and am pretty sure I'm going to go back and re-record them with someone actually listening. It's pretty obvious I'm just talking to myself. Or...maybe it's just obvious to me. Anyhow, editing has officially begun and it is exciting and a little mentally painful! Like the SATs. Or having a brain-child, Athena-style (hi, Rick Riordan fans!).

A while back I said I wanted to put up a clip for you guys to listen to. As I said, I'm thinking about going back and re-recording some lines, but I think the monologues might be okay.

Have a listen, and tell me what you think!

And I would just like to point out that it is far more frustrating getting a video on youtube than it should be. Far, far more frustrating.

Also, book review blog ideas are passing back and forth between my Broinlaw and I like a tennis ball at a...tennis ball game. A professional one. I'm rather excited, and already working on my first review!

Well, ta ta for now :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review Blog?

Hey internet!

So, recently, I have been contemplating starting up a book review blog.

This is what my room would look like if I had more time and less bookshelves.

For reviewing books.

I would mostly review Young Adult books, Children's books, and maybe a few of the 'adult' books that don't involve two boring people throwing their naughty bits at each other.

I think this would be a fun endeavor. I've been known to turn a semi-witty phrase here and there, if the weather and timing and willing, so it could be an interesting read. I have a long-held passion for reading, so getting through a book every other week or so shouldn't be a problem.

And I like the idea of providing a non-artsy-fartsy, hoitie-toitie review on a book. The sort of review that the average reader actually wants. None of that obnoxious reviewerspeak ('rollicking' comedies, 'nuanced' tragedies, 'moving,' 'haunting,' 'compelling,' blah blah blah. I would use real-person words to the same degree that I ever do, and actually talk about the books, what happens in them, and who I think should read them, if anyone.

I would also refrain from personal attacks on the authors, publishers, agents, and fans. This seems like a 'duh' goal, but have you checked out some of the customer reviews on Amazon? Or anywhere that allows customer reviews? For all of the many problems I've seen in the 'Twilight' series, the most common thing I've read in a customer review is that the author is 'fat.'

Yeah, wish I was that 'fat.'

A. No, she is not.

B. Even if she was, so what? Isn't it a worn cliche that plumpy people have less active social lives? I would think that would lead to more time spent on the computer perfecting the craft.

Anyway, I think a book review blog would be fun. I would sort of like to rook a couple of my friends into it, though. That way there could definitely be at least one review a week--maybe even two!--without the whole thing hinging on how fast I can read between school, work, and making Ze Book happen.

So what do you guys think? What sort of questions would you want answered in a book review? What sort of books would you most want to read reviews about?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Killer Bees!

Hey Internet!

I've been holding off on a new post because there is a lot of media I wanted to share with you that is taking a while to get finished off. The very first Phil Innis monologue, some drawings, some photos--including a gorgeous necklace my best friend Kayla made for me--and a bit of writing, of course. I know, it's my own fault for expecting to get all of that done whilst also keeping my thumbs stuck in pies labeled 'work' and 'school.' So, I'll apologize for the unintentional hiatus and we'll just move on with our online relationship.

Well, I still don't have any of those cool things above ready to post. So I thought I'd center this one on music.

Music is a big part of what I do (meaning, in my mind, writing). For each project I undertake, there is a song that cements the feel of it into my mind. I call this the 'Coffin Song' because it signals the end of the mushy-gushy-sculptable phase of the project, and the beginning of the actual work on it. I may have blogged about this before. If so...well, repetition is the mother of...something, I forget.

The Coffin Song for Ze Book is Chambermaid Swing, by Parov Stelar:

Listen to that beauty and you'll get a good feel for Ze Book's world. Or maybe you'll get a completely different feel for something else. That's fine, too.

The Coffin Song for The Phil Innis Adventures is Film Noir, by Venus Throw. Sadly, I cannot find a link to this epic song, but let me put this into perspective for you...hearing it for the first time affected me so much, I made a previously run-of-the-mill hardboiled detective Southern. Yes, the entire reason PIA has a Southern edge to it at all is because of Venus Throw. They describe themselves as noirbilly! There's nothing better I can say for them than that. Hop onto iTunes and buy their stuff.

End advert.

Going from that vein, though, the entire reason I was inspired to make a post about music is because I discovered a new wonderful addition to my 'Phil Innis' playlist. They fit in perfectly well with Venus Throw and Imelda May. I would like to share them with you: Kim D and the Killer Bees!

A sample of their great old timey, jazzy, rocky sound can be found in "Hot Blooded Woman":

They're not available on iTunes, but their music can be purchased on the ReverbNation link provided above. It's worth all 596-or-so pennies, in my humble opinion.

And that's about all I have to say for now. Give me a little more time and I'll get another post up with all those cool pictures and sound files that I promised. Until then, take care!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Painting and Philing Again

Hey Internet :)

So, those of you who follow me on Twitter (which is, at least inadvertently, all of you that read my blog) may have seen this, but I thought I'd share it here:

Finished painting! Gift for Mom: picture of the bunny she was... on Twitpic
I painted a tiny picture on a tiny easel.
It is a bunny. The bunny's name was Bunny.

The painting was a birthday gift for my Mom, who was very fond of the bunny. There are a few other of her 'favorites' in the painting, but I won't go into that right now :) For those wondering: she seemed to really like it, in spite of the fact that due to scheduling issues it didn't reach her until about a week after The Day.

But the mini-bunny has got me all geared up for more painting. I'll post pictures of whatever else comes up in the near future, but the next two I have planned are also gifts, so I won't post them until they've reached their targets ;)

Some more art, which I don't think I've posted yet:

Left to Right: Celia Reese, Edgar Rhodes, Phil Innis, Detective Sloane, Jasper South, and Agatha Helmsley
This lovely banner (it's rather small to fit on the blog, but believe me, it is lovely) work includes all of the finished vector portraits for The Phil Innis Adventures. It was printed out onto a super cool mug which I now own; I have another mug with only Edgar, Phil, Jasper and Agatha. I consider one of them to be the Season 1 main cast, and the other to be the Season 2 cast. Which is which will, hopefully, be made clear as time goes on.

I've spent a lot of time recording my own vocal talents for Phil's monologues (of which there are many in each episodes), which has been fun. There have been a few people who expressed interest in letting me steal their voices Ursula-style, so the dream of having at least one complete episode before I go gray seems kinda-sorta possible! Yay!

Maybe I should post a snippet...who wants to hear a Phil Innis monologue? If I get at couple 'aye's that would be hugely encouraging :P

Well, I'm off to do that thing I do! Cheers!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Out of Sight

Yes indeed, I have been rather out of sight of late...sorry!

You may recall that I was approaching my self-appointed deadline for completing my manuscript. Well, mission accomplished! It was absurdly early/late in the morning, but I reached my goal and for the first time in my life completed a novel. I then awarded myself a couple weeks of writer's vacation so that when I went back in to do the polishing, I was going at it with fresh eyes.

This is why no one on the mighty internets have really heard from me. I was on a media binge (many, many movies and TV shows), dabbled with the idea of getting more Phil Innis work done (I did, a little) and separated myself as best I could from my big triumph.

Now, I'm back in the saddle, and I feel fantastic. It's so nice to be in this final leg of the solo-journey, I can't even tell you! I handed out the polished version of Chapter 1 to the lovely ladies in my writer's group last night, and began work on Chapter 2 this morning.

The 'polishing' stage is so...fulfilling. Why? Here's the way I see the whole process:

Creating: The most fun part. For me, this involves listening to inspiration and a whole lot of day dreaming and pages and pages of notes and preparation. Who are the characters? Where are they from? How good are their manners? What colors exist in this world? And so on. It's guilt-free, commitment-free, limitless and giddy.

Writing: This is where the first taste of 'work' comes in. Writing is so fun for me--it's making all of those ideas and feelings from the 'creating' stage exist in the real world. Granted, it's just on paper, but now you can truly share it with other people! But the knowledge that there's no easy take-backs puts a little stress into the mix. This is the craft part; it's where you realize whether or not you have the talent/drive/pure-mean-spirited-gumption to even make the whole 'writing' thing work.

Editing: Blarg. This is the real, nasty, nitty, gritty, why-am-I-doing-this-to-myself work part. I have a strong dislike for editing. Everyone has that internal editor who is so often condemned by the cheer squad, but this is where you have to let the little demon loose. You see all of your mistakes--in plot, in grammar, in form--and have to scour them from the soul of your baby with a red-hot scrub brush. Obviously, there are some people who enjoy this task. Equally obviously, I am not one of them.

Polishing: This is where I am now. And it's the first time when I've felt that I'm not just tapping out some silly story for my own sake. It's the real deal. I have a product which I am perfecting so that it can be sent out! Oddly enough, this was the part of the process I was truly not looking forward to. It just seemed so unnecessary--why would I pour my heart and soul over something when I'm inevitably going to have to watch some other editor scrape it off? But now I see it differently. This is the stage where I reacquaint myself with my little world. I've worked hard to get this far; this is the last stop where it's just me, the story, and everything that's been built up between us. Like a last chat with a dear friend before they go off into the world.

And that's where I am now! I'm incredibly happy with the situation. Heel clicks and flower necklaces all around!

And just in case anyone needs a boost, enjoy this darling little cartoon that absolutely requires two watch-throughs:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Short Story

Hello :)

So, things are still going well with the book writing adventure. I have a solid, actual deadline of having a complete working first draft finished within the next ten days: so by the 15th! Then the heavy editing begins, and glimpsing back at some of the first chapters, I can tell you it is going to be heavy. But I'm rather looking forward to it.

 Hint: I am not the dumbbell in this analogy.

In all honesty, being as far as I am came very close to not happening. I had a really easy time getting the book started; I went through the NaNoWriMo program, and if you don't know what that is I suggest you look it up! It's rigorous, and a great way to leap off the safe end of the writer's dock and plunge into the icy pool of productivity.

When NaNo was finished, I took a little break. Then I sat myself down with the idea that I was going to be serious about this, finish my novel, and leap into stardom sometime before lunch.Then I found out that my friend Amber was into writing, too, and we gleefully set up a writer's group.

Well, the first meeting came and went. The second meeting came and went. And the fourth, and the fifth, and I was beginning to notice a pattern about the reviews I was getting.

A photocopy of my notes, with quotes from readers.
 I went through about a bajillion edits, rewrites, and pity-parties, trying to figure out where I was going wrong. One of the few things I'd ever been consistently told that I do well is write. If I couldn't get the ideas in my head out in an appealing, much less understandable, manner, then what did that mean about my dream? Or me, as a person?

My spirits sank lower and lower as I simply could not hammer out the problem. Then one night, I had a (sort of) chance encounter with my sister, Sandi. That conversation scooped me up from my sunken sanctum of the soul and in a huge way guided me onto the path where I have taken Ze Book. Immediately after, I wrote down the conversation just so I could go back to it if I ever needed to. Well, that need arose the other day, and while I was reading it I thought it might interest a few others to scope out.

So, if you are at all interesting, here is a short nonfiction story (which I honestly never thought I would ever be presenting):

                She was exactly where I had left her that morning.
                “Hey,” I greeted from my position at the counter. I didn’t expect her to lift her head; according to my mother, the patterns she was working on were due on Friday. I set down the grocery bag and put away the bagels. By putting away, I mean set them relatively close to the kitchen wall. “How was your day?”
                “Hey,” She returned. Her eyes didn’t stray from the screen, covered in neat letters and lovely shades of strawberry. “It was…good. How was yours?”
                I repeated her words verbatim, with the same uncertain pause.
                “What’s the matter?” She asked. She didn’t need to and I didn’t expect her to, but I think we both knew she would.
                “Well,” I decided without hesitation to skip over the boring details of the day job. There was something much greater at stake. “I have an almost complete copy of the new Chapter One finished, implementing all of the advice that you guys gave me.”
                “All of the advice you didn’t want.” She had lifted her head now, and was shooting me that amused smile that came from a teasing truth. It was one that was often flashed in this house.
                “No, I wanted it, I just didn’t like it.” I smiled back. I leaned against the counter, feeling sorry for myself and knowing it showed. But my chest had not yet lifted from the heavy weight that was settling over it. A weight that came from knowing you’re licked. “Anyway, I had Zach read it. And it still sucked.”
                “What do you mean?”
                “He said basically the same thing that you guys did. It was all over the place, he couldn’t catch onto it, but it’s a good idea.” In other words, unreadable. Which was a big problem when you were writing a novel. She stared at me. I stared back, feeling that feint urge to cry and not wanting to be a big baby about the whole thing.
                “It is a good idea. You’re a great writer, it’s just, for some reason-“ She interrupted herself abruptly. “I mean, I was talking with someone on the phone today, and she said, ‘You know, I read that blog your sister wrote,’ and I kind of laughed and said, ‘Oh, very funny,’ and she said, ‘No, the other one, the one you posted. I asked my daughter if she read it, and she’s just very good.’”
I hesitated. I wanted to believe the words. I wanted to believe that someone out there who had no reason to care about me or my writing hobby really enjoyed whatever I typed out. “Really?”
“Yeah.  So you’re a really good writer. It’s just—the book, for some reason—I just don’t get it. I get everything else you’ve written—the podcasts, the blog, the short stories—but I just don’t get the book. In the blog and the podcasts and everything, you’ve still got that snarky humor, but I GET them. There’s just something wrong with the book.” There was no malice in her words. Just that brutal honesty that I had asked for since the beginning.
Of all things, I couldn’t help but smile. It made sense. My sister had always been honest with me about what she thought about my writing, and other than safeguarding my feelings (something I had always appreciated her not doing) she had no reason to lie now. And she was right. There was something different I was doing when writing the book. Something I was trying to shoehorn into my regular style and failing at.
“So I just need to research myself a bit.” I smiled some more. Nirvana was melting that ache in my chest.
“Yeah.” She smiled briefly, and turned back towards her own work. “Which is better than saying you need to research someone else.”
“And better than saying, ‘hey, you might want to reconsider the ‘dream’ a bit.’” I added.
We laughed. We exchanged a bit of small talk. Rather than hugging her, I commented like I liked the strawberry color on her pattern. She thanked me, and I trekked downstairs.
Whatever tension it was I was trying to add to the book, I realized I needed to let that go. I needed to write the way I write everything else; changing my style so that I fit in with my contemporaries was stupid in many, many ways. I needed to just write the darn thing. And starting tonight, that’s exactly what I was going to do.