I'm Just Saying…

April 24, 2016

The Meditation Cushion Provocation

A meditation cushion inspired this post.

Not meditation.  The cushion.

If I hadn’t been provoked, I wouldn’t have made the observation. Maybe I should have called the post, The Meditation Cushion Observation.

Too late now. I’ll come back to that in a minute…

Writers observe. Everything. It’s in the job description. That’s a good thing.

Or is it?

Instead of being in the moment, we’re standing outside it, watching.

I think we do this because our heads are filled with characters running amok, like a non-stop house party where your rude guests keep you up all night, and then ignore you anyway. Writers are captives to these pesky, yet much loved boarders. We would be lost without them, so we’re always looking for material for them.

Playwright and screenwriter Phoebe Ephron, mother of my idol, Nora Ephron, had a particular writing philosophy: Everything is copy.

I believe it.

I think I had been  observing for copy long before I realized I was doing it. Take, for example, my father’s funeral. I remember it well…

There we all are, sitting in solemn silence as the rabbi gives the eulogy.

And then the beeper goes off.

The rabbi’s beeper.

Twice.

At the time, in the middle of my shock and grief, I think… does this happen at other funerals? Do other families have the memorial service for their loved one interrupted by a beeper?

The beeper belonging to their chosen clergyman.

Twice.

I bet they don’t.

Nope. Just my family.

Later, when time had passed, I didn’t look back on this event with bitterness or indignation. No, I thought, “I need to use this in a story.”

Is that good? Not sure.

Even The Rodent Materialization Excitation of 2012 has been used for fiction fodder.

Sidebar: you will never find Disney’s Ratatouille on my DVR.

Ever.

So what can I do?  It’s futile to fight it. I’m wired this way. But I do wonder…is something greater at work here?

As soon as something untoward happens, my friend Rebecca automatically points the finger at “The Universe,” (when she’s not sighing, “Jesus take the wheel”). This “Universe,” this ethereal something or other, doing something or other in our lives, is seen as a culprit, up to no good. But I do wonder, could “The Universe” be helping me by sending the odd, the unusual, and the downright shitty my way?

After all, I do need material.

Is “The Universe” putting me in these situations, forcing me to examine human nature—and providing copy?

So back to The Meditation Cushion Provocation

I’m taking a certification course as a Meditation Instructor.

I order a meditation cushion for my practice. I use a delivery address other than my home.

I’ve used this address many times. No problemo.

I get a message from Amazon. They can’t deliver my meditation cushion to my chosen address.

I contact Amazon customer service (which is awesome, by the way) and speak to the rep (who is very nice).

We have a conference call with a rep for a  Carrier Who Shall Remain Nameless (Also nice. Not helpful, but nice).

I am waiting for my meditation cushion, I say. Deliveries have been made to the given address before, I say.

I get “the speech.” Do you know about the speech? It’s the one that tells you your customer satisfaction is about to nosedive right into the toilet.

“I don’t know why the driver made deliveries to that address in the past. He should not have done that.”

Yes, Yes he should have. He should have done it now. If he did, I would have my meditation cushion.

The Amazon rep is a trooper. Seriously.  She’s in there working for a win-win solution.

Thank you Amazon sales representative. Thank you for trying to help me get my meditation cushion.

“We can deliver the package to a holding center,” says the rep for the Carrier Who Shall Remain Nameless.

Awesome. I can get my meditation cushion.

“For pickup you need to present legal identification with an address matching the address on the package.”

And we’re a no-go on the meditation cushion.

I give it one last try.

“Can I give you a different address for delivery?”

“The sender has restrictions on the package.”

Impossible. This is a meditation cushion. Meditation leads to liberation. Restrictions are the antithesis of meditation cushions. Abhorrent. Anathema. No-No’s.

“I’m not allowed to accept changes of address,” says the rep for The Carrier Who Shall Remain Nameless.

That’s a  negative on the meditation cushion.

As my temper goes to boil, I have a thought…

Hmmm, what would happen if I went batshit crazy right now because I can’t get my meditation cushion?

Would my kickass Amazon customer service representative find it odd that I study meditation and go batshit crazy because of non-delivery of my meditation cushion?

Would she conclude meditation is ineffective and a waste of time if I scream, “I WANT MY MEDITATION CUSHION, BITCH!”

I don’t do that.

But hey, I think, what if I write a story where someone DOES go batshit over non-delivery of their meditation cushion?

I may not have my meditation cushion but I have a kickass scene idea for a story.

I may not have my meditation cushion but it’s been a great day, creatively speaking!

Yay for creativity! Way to go Universe!

I cancelled the order.

Someday I’ll tell you about the doctor’s office incident.

You can remind me. Just mention “The Octogenarian Xenophobe Encounter” and that should do it.

Someday I’ll use it in a story.

Yup.

Thank you, Universe.

I think.

 

January 25, 2016

Yes, I Want My Fictional Characters To Be Happy. You Got a Problem With That?

Greetings fellow Scribes and Bibliophiles!

Let’s get right to today’s topic, shall we?

As readers, we all have favorite characters we’re attached to:

Readers and characters.png

Whether it’s Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Homes, or Gandalf… there are quite a few fictional people we would line up to spend some quality time with. We admire them, we like them, we get them. And we’re pretty sure they would think we’re awesome too.

As we read their story, we are invested with a deep desire to see everything work out for them. We want them to be okay. We want them to be happy. No, really. They have to be happy.

But what about the writer? We create our characters, live with them, spend time with them, day in and day out. We become attached to them. We want them to be okay, too. And yet, we know they can’t be. So what happens when it gets to this…

Writer and character

See, this is a problem. You know why it’s a problem? Let me tell you why. Because as human beings we all want this –

Cinderella_-_So_This_Is_Love_-_1

Not this –

belle crying gif

We dream of living a happy, pleasant, problem free life of this –

cinderella and forest creatures

Not this –

cloverfield 2

Unfortunately, writers are screwed. We know that to write a really good story you have to have emotional, nail biting, gut wrenching, on the edge of your seat, down to the wire, zero seconds to spare… CONFLICT. If nothing is at stake for your character, you get this –

Karl Urban yawning

and then this –

chandler sleeping.gif

And that’s not good.

So, if you think about it, since all human beings want only to be happy and avoid suffering, then the goal of the writer is to make sure your character doesn’t get the first one, and can’t avoid the second one.

Bummer.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because I’m editing my second book of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind. And I started to notice that for all the problems I set up for my girl Katerina, they never really got in the way, they sort of went like this –

red sea.gif

And then I noticed her life was practically like this –

 

singing in the rain gif.gif

Not good. Not good at all.

But, I like Katerina. She’s a hard working, decent human being. She’s a good person caught up in bad situations. She should get what she wants. She should be happy.

Oh crap.

So I saw my problem. And I set to work fixing it. Katerina’s got a long, hard road ahead of her. But I’m hoping there’s going to be some happiness in the future for her. Seriously, seriously. We’ll see.

And now… for the shameless marketing portion of this blog:

The first book in the series, The Fixer: The Naked Man, is on sale now for 0.99 cents on Kindle , Nook , and Kobo

Catch up on what’s happened so far because this summer, Kat will be back….

Final Teaser _2 Killing Kind.jpg

Until next time….

J.

 

 

January 5, 2016

Shameless Marketing – Part Deux – The Teaser

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a very merry and a happy and healthy New Year!

Since it’s a brand new year I thought I would dive right in for more shameless marketing. Why not? Today’s topic of shameless promotion is the teaser poster. I am an incurable movie addict and I love movie posters. They run a close second to the movie trailer, which to me is almost as important as the movie itself. Seriously.

I think a good movie poster generates curiosity

spectre

or makes you laugh out loud

ron burgundy

or gives you the chills

the-dark-knight

or makes you smile as if you’re reconnecting with an old friend

indiana jones

or any combination of the above

thor

All right, I admit it. I just wanted to add a picture of Chris Hemsworth. No judgement people, okay?

But anyway…

So I decided for my next installment of shameless marketing, why shouldn’t book 2 of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind, have its own teaser? Something that says, “This is book is fun.” No, strike that. “This book is damn fun. But it’s not all fun. It can be a little dark and more than a little dangerous. But this is something you should check out. Seriously seriously.”

And it you haven’t read Book 1 yet, The Fixer: The Naked Man, then you should definitely click the link and head over to Amazon and pick up a copy for only $2.99 on Kindle! (Did you see how I did that? I slipped that right in there. Shameless!)

Anyway… here it is… the big reveal… the very first teaser poster for Book 2 of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind…

The Fixer The Killing Kind Teaser 1

Ta-da!!!🙂

I have to get back to working on edits now – and eating chocolate. It’s a package deal.  There will be more shameless marketing shortly but until then…

All the best,

J.

 

 

December 16, 2015

A Little Twisted Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of appreciating the good fortune and wonder of this life. It’s a happy time of festivities and joyous celebration. One is surrounded by friends and loved ones, feeling as if they belong and all is right with the world.

Yeah. Whatever.

For myself, the holiday has come to symbolize a very special moment; the moment I realized  that while not everything is wrong,  things aren’t quite — right. Something is always slightly askew, off kilter, out of place.

All the time.

And it’s gonna stay that way.

Let me explain what happened…

I am 19 years old, attending the yearly Christmas Cantata at our local church. The auditorium twinkles with a sense of gravitas and magic, the house of worship dotted with holly and ivy. Decorative iron stands with red ribbons are strategically placed on each side of the center aisle. At the top of each stand sits a single candle. The scene is set for a celebration of the babe in the manger, complete with live farm animals.

The church is packed. The parishioners are bedecked in their finest attire (something I don’t think the Holy Foundling concerns himself with but who am I to say? I know nothing).

An usher seats my mother and me at the end of the pew. I have the aisle seat. I glance around, taking in the elegant bacchanalia as the orchestra and choir file out As the conductor raises his baton and the chorus of melodious voices rises in unison, I exhale and slip out of my coat. I feel a rush of relief course through my body. The evening will take place without incident.

Silent night, Holy night…

And then…

Out of the corner of my eye, I see them. The usher manhandling a small, wizened man down the aisle. He’s a cross between Bilbo Baggins and Mr. Magoo; and he’s trouble. I can tell.

All is calm, All is bright…

“I don’t wanna sit here,” Bilbo says.

I direct my Jedi mind trick at the usher. That’s right, you don’t. I need to seat you somewhere else.

“Sure you do,” the usher responds, shoving the senior citizen into the pew, forcing me to scoot over. To this day I think he tripped the old man into the seat. Seriously.

I think to myself: Jedi mind trick my ass.

So there I am, sitting next to my little Medicare Man as he huddles in his coat, hat in hand, literally.

My participation in the celebration now consists of the following inner monologue: DO NOT LOOK AT HIM. DO NOT LOOK IN HIS DIRECTION.

Round yon virgin, mother and child…

I hear mumbling.

I feel him lean in.

What am I supposed to do? Ignore him?

What would Jesus do?

I turn. I look.

“My wife, oh my wife. I ‘d like to kill her, my wife.”

I nod. As the choir carries on in song, I do a recon of the sanctuary. Anyone else being terrorized at the yearly commemoration of the birth of our Lord and Savior?

Nope. Just me.

Holy infant, so tender and mild…

I spend the next two hours listening to the chorus on stage AND the chorus next to me.

“My wife, I want to kill her, you know. I just want to kill her.”

Sleep in heavenly peace…sleeep in heavenlyyyyy peeeeaaaace.

So I went to a simple celebration of the Christ Child and there I received a sign.  I’m on the wrong side. Of what you may ask?

Everything. Whatever it is, it’s NOT going to work out.

On the ride home I relate the ramblings of Bilbo to my mother. “And the only thing missing from his tirade was ‘It came to me…my love…my precious…'”.

“He was mentally ill,” she said.

“Yes,” I cried. “And he was sitting next to me! Why do these things always happen to me?”

My mother sighs.

Oh, oh I see. Yup. Second generation, carrying on the tradition.

Fa la la la la, la la, la, laaaaa.

December 10, 2015

Shameless Marketing

Filed under: Books,Funny,The Writing Life — jillamyrosenblatt @ 10:17 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Marketing. *sigh* This is a bold statement, but can I just go out on a limb and say marketing is the bane of the writer’s existence. It’s the “fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench” as John McClane would say.

Let me tell you what happens…

I finish my book, The Fixer: The Naked Man, and I tell a friend, “Hey, I published my book, The Fixer: The Naked Man” and my friend is like

elaine pushing jerry gif

And my friend is really happy for me! Good, right?

So my friend goes out and buys my book, The Fixer: The Naked Man (yay!!)

And this is great, right?

There’s only one problem. There’s over 7 billion people in the world, 742 million people in Europe, and almost 319 million people in the US (thank you Google Search). I kinda, sorta hoped my book would be read by a few more people than my friend.

I’m really excited about my book (no, I’m not mentioning the title again. That’s obnoxious). Seriously, seriously. I’ve been living with these characters in my head and I’m very attached to them. Actually, I love them all, even the bad ones (you have to love them the most). So how do I let people know about these characters that I love because I hope they’ll love them too? Marketing.

I write. Writers write. We don’t market. I don’t market. I don’t know how to market. Who markets? *sigh* I’m sensing a “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” thing happening here.

When I’m writing my story, and I’m in the process, I’m like this

wb frog dancing

Ask me to start talking up my book and now I’m like this

still frog.gif

Bummer.

In my defense it’s not that I haven’t been reading about marketing. I’m trying. I really am. First, I read that you don’t sell a product. You sell yourself. Great. I’m a quiet introvert with a lower belly pooch who spends every spare minute locked in my room staring at a computer screen while my eyesight fades and my hemorrhoids bloom.

Let the marketing magic begin!!

However, lack of ability is no excuse for not trying…

When I started in screenwriting I learned you should be able to pitch your story in a sentence. Okay, here goes:

The Fixer: The Naked Man

A desperate young woman takes a dangerous job fixing problems of wealthy, powerful men.

How was that? No? Okay, try this:

Young, sexy woman takes a dangerous job fixing the problems of wealthy, powerful men who want to get into her panties.

Better?

I also learned you can use other titles in your pitch to explain your story. Okay, here goes:

The Fixer: The Naked Man. Think Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum meets James Bond- ish.

Anything? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I think the Internet is amazing, opening up the possibility to reach readers everywhere. Even so, trying to spread the word about a book feels a little like this

man calling out yodel

Sorry, I couldn’t find a gif of a man calling out.

The point is, I’m trying. Really. I even joined Instagram. No, there will be no bikini selfies.

You’re welcome.

So, now I’m considering the alternative: Shameless Marketing. A marketing that says nothing is off limits. I believe in this book and I’ll stoop to any means necessary to convince people they should read it.

Are you ready?

puss n boots gif.gif

Please buy my book so I don’t end up a crazy cat lady, alone and destitute…

Anything?

No?

Damn.

I did learn that book branding is very important. Do I know what that means? Yes, yes I believe I do. I believe it means that it’s necessary to be consistent with the book series’ covers and color scheme. So, I made a decision that all of the book covers for this series will stay with the black/red color scheme, so The Fixer series will be easy to recognize (I’m probably going to keep the silhouette design too).

So, here’s the cover:

The Fixer The Naked Man for coupon referral

And I want 10 points for remembering to put the cover in the blog post.

Thank you.

I shouldn’t admit this but I was going to end this post when I realized I hadn’t put in the links to purchase the book (paperback and ebook). That’s a -5 points. Here they are:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Okay, I’m going to get back to working on Book 2 of The Fixer series. It’s called The Killing Kind and it’s a full length novel.

Oh, wait. Sharing. I forgot to ask about the sharing. Right. If you like this post, can you please share and retweet. I would appreciate it.

And if you have any marketing suggestions you’d like to share with me… thank you.

Seriously, I hope you’ll give the series a try. I think you’ll like it. I hope you’ll like it.  And it’s received some really good reviews from people who are not my relatives.

Okay, that does it. We covered a lot. Do you think I’m getting the hang of this marketing business?

Yeah, me neither.

Take care,

J.

October 18, 2015

The Fixer: The Naked Man – The Blog Tour

Hi Everyone!

Tomorrow begins another first for me on this self-publishing adventure – the virtual book blog tour. Luckily for me, I am working with BookBear. My thanks to Ailbhe, who has been terrific and has made this a very fun and enjoyable process! The questions have been great and I am excited to list all the stops on this week’s tour below and the early bird stop that just happened on the 15th:

15th OCTOBER

Woman On The Edge Of Reality- Author Interview

http://wp.me/p1jLP-77y

 

19TH OCTOBER

www.bookbear.info

Beauty, Books and Babble:  Book Review

www.beautybooksandbabble.blogspot.co.uk

 

This is a Book Review Blog- Book Review

https://thisisabookreviewblog.wordpress.com/

 

Blondie Marie- Guest Post

http://www.blondiemarie.com

 

Chapter Five- BookBear Q&A’s

www.Chapterfive.wix.com/chapter5

 

20th OCTOBER

 

Book Wormie Spot- BookBear Q&A’s

http://www.bookwormiespot.com

 

Karleigh Reads- BookBear Q&A’s

http://www.karleighreads.com/?m=1

 

21ST OCTOBER

 

Antill Book Reviews- Book Review

https://antillbookreviews.wordpress.com

 

Living The Dream- Book Review & BookBear Q&A’s

http://kellyallenwriter.weebly.com/

 

I Love Smart Books- Review

www.ilovesmartbooks.weebly.com

 

22ND OCTOBER

 

Birds That Love Words- Book Review

http://birdslovewords.com 

 

Nerd Girl Official- Book Review

http://nerdgirlofficial.com

 

23RD OCTOBER

 

Your Book Babe- Book Review

http://yourbookbabe.weebly.com

 

Authors & Read Book Corner

https://arbookcorner.wordpress.com

 

24TH OCTOBER

 

Book Hooked Blog- Promotions

http://helenaisbookhooked.blogspot.co.uk

 

25th OCTOBER

 

Alice And The Books- Book Review

https://aliceandthebooks.wordpress.com/contact/  

 

Judging More Than Just The Cover- BookBear Q&A’s/ Book Review

http://www.judgingmorethanjustthecover.blogspot.co.uk

 

Rach With Books- Book Review

https://rachwithbooks.wordpress.com

 

Lindsey Lewis Smitherson- Own Q&A’s/ Book Review

http://lindseylewissmithson.com/

 

Annies Home- Spotlight/ Social Media posts

shopannies.blogspot.com

I hope you’ll stop by some of these sites and take a look at the interviews/reviews.

I love to hear from readers! You can find me on Facebook (click link on the right of the page) or drop me a comment through my website.

Wishing everyone a good week!🙂

Jill

 

October 5, 2015

What I did on my Fall (Book Research) Vacation

I just came back from a vacation in Burlington, Vermont. I like Vermont. I’ve been there before. That’s one of the reasons I chose to use it for some scene settings for The Fixer series. I took day trips, finding places that will be useful for the books. For example, I visited a museum, and a farm. I saw sheep and goats and baby cows at the farm. I didn’t pet them, of course, because, you know, yuck. I think I’ve said all I need to. I took a boat ride, too.

Yes, my vacation/book research trip was a time to recharge the creative juices and come up with new ideas. I found it to be a pleasant, non-stressful, and relaxing experience.

Until my cell phone died.

No, I don’t mean the battery died and I needed to recharge the phone.

I mean, the cell phone died.

Think Monty Python and the Dead Parrot sketch. The cell phone was no more. It had ceased to be.

Shit.

There was a lot of this:

 

giphy

But, (and I want points for this), not this:

 

peter-finch-als-howard-beale

And definitely not this:

 

Okay, there was some of that but it was on the INSIDE.

Let me admit it now: I am not a technologically savvy person. At all. I use a computer because no one makes word processors anymore. I grew up with twelve channels on television, phone booths, and vinyl records. Vinyl. Does anyone remember vinyl????

Having said that…

While I don’t use 90% of what a cell phone can do, I am attached to my cell phone. I may not Instagram or Snapchat, but I do text, tweet, and Facebook post. I check my email, I take pictures AND text those pictures. I’m connected. My phone is never far from me, always within reach.

So, I’m in my hotel room when my phone wants to do a software update. My phone does what it wants without consulting me. I don’t like that.

So it updates.

And then everything goes to shit. How do I know something is wrong?

Because it keeps restarting itself over and over again.

And then there was some of this:

lily

NOT on the inside.

I tried to be reasonable about this. I wasn’t in a far off land, in the untamed wilds. I’m in Vermont. The state is classified as civilization. They have malls. I can verify this. I’ve been in one. Loss of my cell phone will not leave me wandering aimlessly, clothing shredded, hair disheveled, begging by the side of the road for some Good Samaritan to take pity on me. A few hours earlier, I had just eaten a breakfast of hot cakes (with real Vermont syrup), two eggs scrambled dry, and a fresh fruit plate.

Clearly, this industrialized nation, first-world problem does not qualify as a call to go to DEFCON 1.

But I don’t have my phone.

Listen to me: I’m not connected. Do you understand? The lines of communication have been severed. I’m cut off, do you hear me?

Cut. Off.

Just last week, I was driving into work, listening to the DJ’s conduct an experiment: they didn’t touch or even look at their phone for an hour.

Child’s play, people. Child’s play.

Now I’m sitting in the hotel room, bereft of my phone, flipping channels on the TV. I watch Dr. Oz instructing a woman to wrap up her phone and bury it in a container of rice (don’t ask me why, I turned it on in the middle of the segment). Then he gives the woman a cup of tea to ease her emotional anxiety because she doesn’t have her phone.

Cup of tea my ass. I started drinking. A lot.

But it wasn’t just the dying of the phone that made me pop a cork. Nope. It was what came after.

I need to contact my cell phone provider. No problem. I’m prepared. I have my laptop.

And that’s when the universe starts screwing with me.

  1. The wi-fi network is moving like it’s 1999.
  2. I get to the vendor website.
  3. The website refuses to load.
  4. I tap keys.
  5. Nothing happens.
  6. I hit keys with a vigorous, yet controlled force.
  7. Still nothing.
  8. Scripts are refusing to load.
  9. Websites are not responding.
  10. WTF?????
  11. I get a pop-up message.
  12. “Your browser is out of date.”

Of course it is.

Now, it was more like this:

meltdown-gif-lol

Still on the inside.

Why? Because I’m a babypants who wants the f&%@!g laptop to work so I can get my f$%@g phone fixed.

I decide to cool off and email a few people so they know why I’ve dropped off the grid.

  1. I open my email program.
  2. I tap to create an email message.
  3. I enter the recipient’s name.
  4. I can’t type the message because I can’t see the message box to write a message and the side bar to navigate to the message box is not there. It has gone bye-bye.
  5. I can’t email.

And then we moved on to this:

arnold_o_GIFSoupcom

Still on the inside.

I finally find a phone number for my cell phone service provider. I call. The representative is very nice. She speaks half to me and half to herself about what she’s trying to do to help me. I hear things like “Let me just see something else here,” and “Let me just check one more thing…”

I calmly thank her for her assistance and wait for her to finally come back on the line and explain to me there’s nothing she can do and the phone is crapped out and done.

Which she does.

She doesn’t use the phrase “crapped out.” That was me.

I give her the zip code where I’m staying.

There is no store in the area.

Of course not.

The rep explains that since I’ve been a good customer for twenty years (yes, you read that right) and my warranty only expired last month, they will send me a replacement phone, to my hotel, fedex delivery.

I thank her.

“What about my pictures?” I ask.

“Do you have a Google account to backup….”

tangled blah blah blah

I don’t understand a word she says. I translate what she says to mean this: You’re shit out of luck and you’ve just lost everything on your phone.

Why didn’t she just say that to begin with? That I understand.

I use the hotel phone and call my friend Rebecca to tell her, “No I’m not ignoring you or your texts,” and explain my predicament.

Rebecca asks, “Did you back up all your stuff on your phone?”

I explain that the rep tried to explain the backup process to me but she probably could have put her time to better use. Doing anything else.

Rebecca asks, “Do you have a Google account?”

“I think so.”

“Then what you do is….”

elaine%20yada%20yada

“I hear you speaking,” I say, “I know there are words coming out of your mouth but they’re not making any sense to me.”

She laughs.

I deserve it.

We hang up.

I decide to load the latest Internet Explorer version and attempt to send an email.

The universe decides to stand down from screwing with me and I get that done.

There is nothing to do but wait for the phone.

Day One: I feel lost and lonely, unsettled and anxious. I don’t even know what time it is. Who owns a watch? Who needs a watch? I have a phone. Sorry. I had a phone.

Day Two: My comfort level is slowly rising. I’m off the grid. I have no idea what’s going on with Facebook or Twitter. I’m okay with that.

Day Three: I am entering a phone free nirvana of centered calm. I am re-connecting to the human race and it’s a beautiful thing.

And now I was feeling like this:

happy dance

I feel the power. I feel the FREEDOM! I, like so many others, am too connected to electronics. We spend our lives looking down at our phones instead of looking up, looking our friends and loved ones in the eye, making contact and truly engaging in real dialogue and conversation.

This could be a turning point for me, a moment of true change and transformation, a moment of –

The hotel room phone rings.

It’s the front desk calling.

“Miss Rosenblatt, we have a package here for you…”

My phone. MY PHONE!!!!

 

What was I saying?

 

 

 

July 1, 2015

A Strong Female Protagonist Walks Into A Bar…

I love writing dialogue. It’s probably because my first love was screenwriting. I’m still a cinephile. In my younger years, we didn’t have the money for a VHS player so I would take a tape recorder and a microphone and record movies when they played on television so I could listen to them. Again and again, I would listen to the dialogue, the rhythm, the patterns of speech, how it flowed.  One of my favorite writers is Robert B. Parker and as every Parker fan knows, the man had a gift for a character’s gab.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love narrative. I enjoy that moment when I come up with a sentence that flows, that works.  Usually it happens when I’m relaxed and not worrying over it too much.

So what does this have to do with the title of this blog post??? Because the next line after “[somebody] walks into a bar” is… “and says…” The opening sentence can be modified anyway you like but the ending never changes. Somebody has to say something.

“This guy bumps into a girl at a ski resort…” Here is one of my favorite examples of dialogue from one of my all time, top 5 favorite films ever, Charade:

Another big favorite is “This guy shares a ride from Chicago to New York with a girl…” When Harry Met Sally

In 20 days, my first book in 6 years (Oh my God where did the time go???… but I digress) will drop on Amazon Kindle.  Below is a sneak peek of Chapter 2 of the first book in The Fixer series, The Naked Man. I think Katerina Mills is a strong female protagonist even as she tries (and fails) at dealing with her ex-boyfriend. Sometimes the strongest person is a weak person who never gives up and never stops trying; somehow they make it through, in spite of the hardships and mistakes.

So here’s a taste of what I came up with for dialogue and I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you will visit the Amazon page for The Fixer: The Naked Man and pre-order to give it a try.

CHAPTER 2

 

Someone is in here. Kat froze in the dark entranceway of her apartment. A rush of adrenalin shot through her. Her mind raced. Get out. Leave. Call the cops. She saw something on the floor. Ignoring her instincts, she stepped in further, knelt down, and picked it up; a tie. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark and she stood up, placing a hand on a chair; a jacket was draped over the corners. The tension leeched out of her body. She didn’t know too many burglars who broke into nondescript, low-rent apartments to strip. The bathroom door opened and a slash of light cut through the darkness.

Philip emerged,  naked except for a towel around his waist. Seeing Kat standing with his tie draped over her fingers, he smirked.

“Hi, beautiful,” he said, “going to show that on QVC?”

“I hope your apartment is out of hot water,” she said, ignoring his remark.

His eyebrows quirked. “No, why?”

“How did you find me, Philip?”

He closed the gap between them. “I’m just back from Boston,” he said, caressing her cheek with a feather light touch of his fingers. “And I do have the skills to locate people.”

The heat radiating from him made her breath catch in her throat. He was wearing his usual “come hither” smile. Kat knew what that smile meant: a lot of enjoyable moaning and groaning in the night followed by regret and self-loathing in the morning.

“You should’ve called,” she said, walking past him into the bedroom.

The bed had already been turned down. A bottle of wine and two glasses were sitting on the corner of her low dresser.

“We won’t be needing those,” she said.

“No love for a friend?” he asked, dropping onto the bed.

“No love for an ex-boss.”

“But we’re still friends, right?”

“You have lots of friends. You won’t miss one.”

“But you’re my best friend.” He gave her a slow smile. “Aren’t you going to get undressed?”

Kat’s lips tightened. She hadn’t seen Philip in months. It didn’t matter. The college frat boy good looks never changed, the shock of dark hair, the body, lean and fit.

“You don’t mind if I do then, do you?” he asked and the towel was off.

He lay on the bed, exposed without shame and she allowed herself to examine him openly. The ripple of muscle across his stomach, his broad shoulders, were an open invitation for exploration with hands, lips, and tongue.

“I would ask how goes the temp gal Friday gigs,” he said, “but I can see by your new digs, not well.”

“I’m fine.”

“Yes, you are. I bet they all tell you how much they love you.”

“I’m used to hearing that line,” she said. “I don’t believe them either.”

“You didn’t ask how things are for me,” Philip said, glossing over her comment.

“You don’t look unhappy,” she said.

Phil stretched his arms back, lacing his fingers behind his head. “Things are great but I screwed up, you know? I made a big mistake… letting you get away.”

“Not interested,” she said, but the words had no bite.

She caught the soft expression on his face, the eyes narrowing to dark slits. All she had to do was say the word. His face said he knew she would. So did she. Already, her body was preparing, against her mind, her will, and her reason. The adrenalin of the evening’s activities was still pulsing through her veins, every nerve heightened, down to the tingling of her skin. She needed to take the pressure off.

“I don’t suppose you’d like to forgive me,” he said.

“Naked requests for forgiveness are a little tacky, don’t you think?”

Philip rose from the bed and came to her. His eyes held hers as he slowly slid his hands from her shoulders to her waist. He undid the zipper on her jeans, peeling them down, revealing her black bikini panties. Kneeling down, he brushed his lips across her belly. She wanted to run her fingers through his hair, dig in, and hold on for what was coming next. He glanced up with a sly smile. When he stood he caught her sweatshirt within his fingers and slid it over her head, leaving her black lace demi bra in place.

He spent a long moment taking her in with his eyes. “I wasn’t a bad boss, was I?”

“I thought lawyers never ask a question they don’t have the answer to.”

“Who says I don’t have the answer?”

“You slept with someone else.”

“Hearsay.”

“While you were sleeping with me.”

“Conjecture.”

“I found her panties.”

“Circumstantial evidence.”

“In your apartment. In your bed.”

Reaching around, he pulled the elastic band off the end of her braid. He slid his fingers through her thick chestnut hair, untangling the soft waves.

He let out a sigh. “Okay, I was an asshole.”

“Your point being?”

“Look at you,” Philip said, his lips brushing her neck. “Barely two years ago you were a wide-eyed innocent, a mere foundling. Look how far you’ve come. But you’re not there yet, kid. Not by a long shot. You need me to finish your education.”

His arms tightened around her and his lips closed over hers. She could feel her resolve melting as her body heat rose. She would not let him get away with this.

“You know,” she said when she was sure her voice would be steady, “I really appreciate this “seduce the secretary” bit but I’m not moved.”

He snapped the clasp of her bra, exposing her full, rounded breasts and began slowly caressing her. Involuntarily, she shifted closer to him; a small sigh escaped her lips. Taking one nipple between his thumb and forefinger, he squeezed. She gave a small gasp and shuddered.

“I’m sure you are,” he murmured with a wicked smile. He slid his hand between her legs.

“Forget it,” she said. “I’m ready.”

  • ••

The relentless buzz of the alarm woke her. The early morning sun cutting through the cheap, flimsy curtains cast a rectangular pattern on the tangle of blankets. She lay still for a moment, trying to orient herself, listening to Philip’s soft, rhythmic breathing.

She stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. Flipping the light switch, she turned her face away from the glare of the bulbs. After a moment she moved to the sink. She took a long look in the mirror, running her hands through her hair. Her cheeks had a soft, rosy glow. Making a sound of disgust, she bent over the sink, splashing water on her face. But she could still feel last night’s warm, languid sensations permeating her body.

“Snap out of it,” she muttered.

Reaching into the shower and pulling the top knob, she recited her daily, silent prayer that it wouldn’t come off in her hand. She waited for the gurgle and click that would signal a half-hearted spray of water was ready to begin. She hovered under the warm stream, wishing it could wash everything away.

  • ••

Twenty minutes later, Katerina rushed around the cramped bedroom, dampness still clinging to her body.

“Good morning,” Philip said in a lazy voice.

She glanced over to find him propping himself up with both pillows. She continued to rifle through the closet searching for a suitable outfit.

“Wow, now that I get the full view in daylight, you are even more amazing than when I first met you,” he said. “Are you into yoga?”

“We are not having sex this morning,” she said, pulling out a blouse.

He gave a light chuckle.

She came to the night table and grabbed her earrings. He latched on to her arm and pulled her close.

“Good morning, gorgeous,” he said, his voice soft and low.

“What do you want, Philip?”

“What I’ve wanted since the day you left. Come back to work for me.”

She pushed away from him.

Philip swung his legs over the side of the bed and got up; he began pulling on his clothes. “You’re gonna drop dead working these crappy temp jobs, Katerina.” He glanced around. “This place is barely livable. The only thing you’re missing is a colony of roaches you could charge a sublet fee. You’re never gonna make rent typing and filing and your father obviously can’t pick up the slack.”

Kat didn’t answer. He’s  right. Every day, things are getting tighter. Little by little, I’m going under.  Her parents hadn’t sent money in weeks. She couldn’t reach them by phone, no answer to her texts or emails; and her father hadn’t paid the balance on this semester’s tuition. Kat had done the math. To survive, she needed fourteen thousand dollars in two weeks.

“You want to be a lawyer, you need to work for a lawyer,” Philip said.

“I won’t be practicing your kind of law.”

He finished buttoning his shirt. “That’s cold, Kitty Kat.”

He approached her and gave her a light kiss on the lips and then moved his lips close to her ear. “Can we just take a moment to recognize that you were incredible last night?”

The soft lull of his voice made her close her eyes; the nagging voice in her head kept saying she loved him. I’m supposed to love him. Her mindset of deluded innocence had been produced by a small town childhood where the message was unspoken but understood: sex means love. Love. What is that, exactly? What do twenty-three-year-old girls know about love anyway?

They stood so close she felt sure that he could hear her heart beating. His fingers sifted through her hair; a small sigh escaped his lips. For a split second he seemed like someone else entirely and then…“I wonder if you could hold on to something for me…”

Kat gave him a shove. Same old Philip.

“It’s not dangerous,” he said, tightening his hold on her.

“Then you keep it.”

“We’ve done this before.”

“That doesn’t mean we should do it again. There are lots of things we should never do again. Where’s the new secretary?”

Philip gave her his classic bad boy smile. “You were never the secretary. You’re someone I trust.”  Pulling a letter-size envelope from his jacket pocket, he held it out to her.  “I’ll pick it up in a week or two.”

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll put it in the drawer.”

She reached for it and he snapped it back.

He picked up her purse and opened it, slipping the envelope inside. “I’ll feel better if it’s with you at all times.”

Katerina opened her mouth to answer but Philip was already walking out of the bedroom, shrugging into his jacket.

She caught him at the front door.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

He turned to her. “I meant everything I said to you, kid, everything. Think about coming back. It’s a big, bad world out there. You’re not ready yet.” He winked at her and was gone.

She stared at her purse. He was right. He knew it. So did she.

Tossing the purse onto the chair, she went back inside to finish dressing.

 

 

 

 

 

June 27, 2015

How Do I Love Thee (Fictional Character)…Let Me Count The Ways

Hi Everyone,

Now that the release of The Fixer: The Naked Man is less than a month away (yay!!) this is how I’ve been feeling

most wonderful story belle gif

 

…. and I want to tell everyone! The WHOLE WORLD kind of everyone. I want everyone to read it and love it and be as excited about it as I am.  But, how do you explain to people why they should love your characters as much as you do?  I spend a lot of time thinking, musing, daydreaming, (read: obsessing) about my characters. I have definite ideas of how this series will go and what will happen to these people. I have imagined scenes for them I can’t wait to write and I hope the world turns in a way that I will get my chance to write them.

It’s a sickness. I admit it.

I hope readers will be so in love with my characters they will feel like this:

complicated relationship

 

And yet not this…

kathy bates

 

Not that… no.

I asked my friend about this problem and she answered me without hesitation: “Just tell people what you see, tell them what you want them to know.”

Fair enough. What do I want readers to know about Katerina Mills?

I want you to know that she has dreams just like we do, dreams of the things she would like to do and accomplish. She wants to finish college, she wants to go to law school, and she’s working really hard to be a success.

I want you to know that she gets caught up, like so many of us do, in situations that are not of her own making, and once she gets on that rollercoaster, she can’t get off.

I want you to know that she is many different things: brave, scared, and uncertain. Sometimes she’s forceful, sometimes timid, and sometimes all at once.

I want you to know that she has been hurt in love.

I want you to know that she makes mistakes but she tries to learn from them.

I want you to know that she cares about others before herself. She doesn’t just say it. She shows it by her actions.

I see a young woman who has to make hard choices because she doesn’t have a choice and that is where her story begins.

In my mind, Katerina Mills, looks like this:

Jennifer-Lawrence-Hairstyles-4

But when you read the story, you may imagine someone else.

 

What do I want you to know about Alexander Winter?

I want you to know that he isn’t easy to know…at first.

I want you to know that just because he has the label of “thief,” that isn’t all he is.

I see a man who needs to be helped just as much as the young woman he’s helping.

In my mind, Alexander Winter looks like this:

max martini

But when you read the story, you may imagine someone else.

These characters tiptoe through the tulips of my mind. Sometimes I lead and choose their path but most of the time they take over, run amok, and decide what they will say and do. I’m relegated to being little more than a stenographer.

It’s like this…

Fictional characters

 

This is the link to my e-book, The Fixer: The Naked Man. I hope you will consider giving it a try and seeing if you become as attached to Katerina Mills and her story as I am.

Now I should get back to typing up the second book in The Fixer series, The Killing Kind. But, you know, I have to post this and then check Facebook to see if there are any likes or comments or retweets on Twitter…

procrastination

🙂

Take care,

Jill

 

 

June 21, 2015

If A Book Is Done… Is It Finished?

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I fell off the radar again, I know. I think I’d like to get the phrase “multi-tasking whiz” needlepointed on a pillow… but in my defense, I have been very busy with The Fixer: The Naked Man as you can see by the attached link…

Drumroll please while you click the link…

Yay!!! And when I saw the Amazon Pre-Order page live, I admit, there was a lot of this…

snoopy dancing

I also have to admit, that going through the process of writing this book, there was something very important I had forgotten about the writing experience. Something I had gone through with each of the last two books I wrote. I probably blocked it from my mind. I will explain.

It was two months ago when I announced to friends and family that I was done with The Fixer: The Naked Man. Done as in, done writing it, done editing it, where’s the Amazon upload page, let’s get this sucker scheduled because I am ready to show this to the world!!! Google the definition of done and you will see “ended,” “concluded,” “over and done with.” Right, that’s what I said. Let’s blow this popsicle stand, I’m DONE.

I looked like this…

 

happy writer

 

Good times.

Every writer needs an editor, someone who can view the manuscript with some objective distance. I wish that weren’t so because I have a stubborn self-sufficient streak, creatively speaking, and I would prefer to be able to do everything myself. I’m childish that way.

My mother is my editor. She’s smart and talented and amazing. She’s a voracious reader, a crack editor, and on top of it all designs and makes her own jewelry . For my first two books, Project Jennifer, and For Better or Worse, she was my first editor and her flawless eye for seeing things that… how does she phrase it… “need work,” was the reason those manuscripts were in such great shape before the publishing house editor saw them. So she read the “done” manuscript, made her suggestions, and announced, “You were concentrating on the story elements. You’ve got that covered. Now you have to work on style.”

As a friend reminded me, there’s done and there’s finished. Google the definition of finished and you get “(of an action, activity, or a piece of work) having been completed.”  Not just concluded, but completed. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to… but they are correct, whoever they are. Bastards.

And then I looked like this:

upset writer

Soooo…back to the manuscript, not once, not twice, but three times and hopefully, each round of edits has made the story better.

I’m so excited and grateful to share the very first book in The Fixer series, the beginning of the journey for Katerina Mills. I still can’t believe this happy accident happened;  almost a year ago the seed of this story appeared after a sleepless night of self-questioning. Why wasn’t I writing anymore? Why wasn’t I doing what I was made to do? The first image I had of Katerina was of a young woman in danger, facing an adversary, a powerful man, so much stronger than herself, matching courage and wits to save not just her body but her spirit as well. The story grew from there. The ideas have been coming and I’ve been writing them down and this story has grown far, wide, and deep. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

I hope you will “enter the dangerous world of Katerina Mills” and come along for the ride.

Take care,

Jill

 

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