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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency.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.'

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 :)