The Writer's Room

August 23, 2020

Who Needs Grammar Anyway?

Filed under: The Writing Life — jillamyrosenblatt @ 11:00 am
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Grammar is the Bermuda Triangle of high school English. You open the textbook and before you know it, you’ve disappeared into a vortex of confusion where no one can find you and you can’t get out. Everyone knows this. I will be so bold as to say even the teachers know this.

My high school English experience started with the poor teacher whose singular accomplishment was drilling us that it’s pronounced gramMAR, not gramMER. She would open the sessions with “Take out your gramMAR books, please.” That was it. That’s as far as she got. I don’t blame her. She tried her best. I don’t know what they’re doing now in school, but when I was in school, we had the fish.

Do you know about the fish? This is the diagram that was supposed to help you dissect a sentence to understand its grammatical components, your nouns, your adjectives, your main clause, your dependent clause . . . and when you finished it kind of looked like a fish?

How does this help me? How does ripping apart a sentence and cutting it up into chunks of words, and placing them on separate lines help me? Hunh? It didn’t; it doesn’t. It just confuses me and puts me off seafood.

Not that I didn’t enjoy English. I did. I was (and still am) a voracious reader. But my method for passing multiple choice grammar tests in high school consisted of the system “if It looks right and sounds right, it is right.” Not scientific, but it worked. I’ve been writing fiction for well over twenty years, but it’s only in the last ten years that I’ve gotten serious about grammar. When I finally reached the stage of studying for my Master’s degree, I mentioned to my advisor, “I think I need to strengthen my grammar.” She suggested The Least You Need to Know About English. I tried Version A. I went through the entire book; it helped.  But it was only the beginning.

So How Much Grammar Do You Need?

I’ve heard arguments for and against how much a writer needs to know about grammar. Many authors have been known to flout the rules of grammar for artistic reasons.

There is also the argument that good grammar isn’t necessary for a manuscript. If a writer is fortunate to secure a deal with a publisher, there’s an editor, and then copyeditors to take care of “the commas and shit.” Yes, that’s true, but turning in a manuscript that looks like your grammar came out of a blender is going to up the ante that something may go awry. In my opinion, it’s better to turn in the cleanest manuscript you can. If you’re self-publishing, nothing says “What this hell was this author thinking?” than a published book riddled with misspelled words and poorly punctuated sentences.

I say this with a caveat: grammar gremlins do exist. They are real. I’ve checked my manuscripts until I can’t focus. I also have an editor who checks the book; and then I check it again. Still, I’ve had “Oh shit” moments after publication when I realize one of those pesky pains in the ass managed to sneak through.

I’ve checked this blog post five times.

If you find something, go ahead and tell me. It’s okay.

Oy vey.

It’s a Grammar Riddle: Quick Watson, the Reference Book!

I’m as particular about my grammar resources as I am about the journal books I use for my drafts. Believe or not, a grammar reference book is a personal choice; no two reference books are quite the same. The book’s topics have to be arranged in such a way that works for the writer. I keep four or five reference books including a Chicago Manual of Style and an ancient, dog-eared Grammar and Punctuation Thesaurus that my mother loaned me. On top of that, I use several excellent grammar guide resource websites, for questions the books don’t address.

Yet, after all this time, there are grammar issues I still have to look up every time, no matter how many times I’ve done it before:

Is it lay or lie? Or is it lain? Or laid? Is there a chart somewhere? Can I get a freakin’ chart for this?

Is it “priveledge” or “privledge”? Or “priviledge”? Or none of the above? Yes, I know Word has autocorrect. Shouldn’t I know how to spell this? And don’t get me started on ”occassion.” Or “ocassion.” O crap.

And what about misplaced modifiers? What if I can’t find them again? What if I don’t remember the last place I saw them? I don’t put down breadcrumbs. Am I screwed?

I do not want to talk about my dangling participles. I try to keep them in check, really I do. Every time I strap them in, they come loose. And is that my fault?

And why is the adverb the enemy of the fiction writer? What has the adverb ever done to anyone that it should be so reviled and cast out, shunned and ignored? I really don’t see why an adverb is so terribly bad to use; I find it extremely helpful.

I used to tutor ESL adults in grammar, and it was one of my favorite activities. I hope my students enjoyed it as much as I did! So, in honor of these questions and conundrums (and many more), I will be blogging about grammar for the foreseeable future. If you’re a writer, it is my opinion that you need to know some grammar; it will make you a better writer. If you’ve been frustrated by the subject, I believe you too can get your grammar on and it can be painless, even, dare I say it, enjoyable.

So, are you in?

If you would like me to guest post on your blog, I love to write about all things literary (and pop culture too!) Please get in touch with me at

Want to post this on your blog? Please feel free but please post with the credit below and a link back to my blog. That would be awesome and I appreciate it.  

Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse, published by Kensington Press. The Fixer series is Jill’s first adventure in self-publishing. The first three books in the series, The Naked Man, The Killing Kind, and The Last Romanov are available in paperback and e-book formats at all major online retailers.  Visit Jill at her website,

July 31, 2020

Write Right Now! Tips To Put A Lid On Procrastination

In my last post, I discussed the issue of writer’s block. To be clear, writer’s block and procrastination are two very different animals, even though they might feel the same.

Writer’s Block: “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”

As in, “I want to write a story but every time I think about it, I feel like my head will explode.”


Procrastination: “the action of delaying or postponing something.”

Which is, “I know exactly what I want to write and there’s no reason not to sit down and write, but wouldn’t it be better if I first checked my emails, sharpened all my pencils, balanced my checkbook, rearranged my workspace, and sorted my laundry?”

I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Procrastination (Although check out Megan MCardle’s article. She’s giving me a run for my money). My favorite word in the English language is “later” (“soon” comes in a close second). My scheduling system has three modes: 5 Minutes, Later, and Tomorrow (tomorrow is code for not until I’m absolutely forced to – or never).

While procrastination is most often associated with not “getting off your ass” to get things done, in writing, it’s the opposite. We don’t “sit down on our ass” and get to work.

Here are a few of my favorite procrastination scenarios:

1. I should read over EVERYTHING I’ve written to date before moving on and writing new material. Technically, this is good, but the results can morph into avoiding writing anything new. This is not good.

2. I need to do research. Tricky. Research, of course, is good. Spending 9 hours on the internet and realizing 8 1/2 of those hours were spent watching puppy videos and Marvel movie clips, is not good. And that’s what usually happens.

3. I can’t get into a head space where I’m comfortable to write. I had a bad day at the day job, someone said something that upset me, I’m having one of my countless OCD episodes of “did I forget to lock my office,” “lock the cabinet,” “take the paperwork off the communal copy machine,” or just “enter favorite irrational worry here.” Any one of these is good for a wasted evening.

4. Oh Look, My Favorite Movie. Sure, we’ve all got On Demand, Streaming Services, DVR, but I’m just going to flip channels to unwind, and this is my favorite movie, and my favorite part of my favorite movie is coming in 5 minutes . . . Two hours later, the oomph to write is gone, people. Gone, gone, gone.  

5.  The Phone. The Gold Medal of aiding and abetting procrastination. The phone is The Jungle Book’s Kaa, the sweet talking Serpent, Alice going down the Rabbit Hole,  Dr. Strange falling through a portal. You pick up that phone at 8:00 p.m. and before you know it – “Son of a #&@!,  how did it get to be 11:00 o’clock?” Yup. Been there, done that.

Bonus: I need to market my books and connect with readers. What about the website, the blog, the Facebook profile, the Instagram profile? I need to post, I need to comment, I need to create content!  I struggle with all this, in part because I’m a marketing moron that can’t seem to grasp anything that includes the words SEO or Google Adwords. Connecting with readers is good. It’s better than good. It’s lovely. But marketing your book can eclipse writing your book and that’s not good.

Technically speaking, writing this blog post could just be me procrastinating from writing my book, if you think about it. Not that I would do that, of course.

So what do we do? How do we shut off all the sensory stimuli that is calling to us like a siren’s song, luring us away from the writing we’re supposed to be doing? Listed below, five tips to turn away from the procrastination monster and get back to work.

1. PUT. THE. PHONE. AWAY. Seriously. Take a social media break. Turn it off. Turn off notifications. Put it on silent. Put it in a drawer. Put it in another room. Hide it in a closet. Here are some more tips to unplug.

2. Find your Happy Day/Time/Place: It took a while but I discovered that Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., in the living room, in my favorite chair, is my magical time to write. It’s absolutely quiet and I have total privacy. See if you can find a spot (hopefully more than 1x per week) where you can open your laptop or notebook and you think, “Yup, I love this.” Take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of having the quintessential writer’s experience. Yes, you can make a cup of coffee or tea to go with the experience, but DO NOT use the coffee/tea prep for procrastinating!

3. Designate a time for research: in order to limit the computer time, if I’m writing something and realize I need more info, I make a note in the margin and continue on so I don’t interrupt myself.

4. Keep the TV Off: This is a tough one. Once the TV goes on, I know I’m done for. That’s four hours, easy. When I was in college, I had a study partner. We made a deal to go to the library and work for at least two hours. If we did that, we would head over to the AV area and reward ourselves with watching “A Hard Days Night.” Set a goal that works for you and decide how you will reward yourself.

5. “It’s Not Coming Out The Way I Want It To” Syndrome: this is a pre-cursor to procrastination. My story always sounds so good in my head. My characters are kick-ass and the dialogue is crisp and crackles. And then I put it on paper – and it just isn’t anymore. Therein lies the urge to put off the writing because it just won’t look the way it sounded on the inside.

Write it anyway. That’s it. There’s nothing else for it. A friend in college described it as “vomiting” out a story. That sounds quite unpleasant, and a little disgusting, but the premise is correct. Don’t edit in the draft process, and don’t judge. In fact, designate your workspace as a judgment-free zone. Let it all out, warts and all, and get it on the paper or in the Word doc. The work will first begin after that. For additional tips on the rhyme and reason of procrastination and other suggestions to tame the beast, check out this article.

No, we don’t. You can do this. I can do this. Whatever you do, keep writing. You’re closer than you think to reaching your goal. When it feels the hardest, that’s when you’re closest. Don’t give up.


If you would like me to guest post on your blog, I love to write about all things literary (and pop culture too!) Please get in touch with me at

Want to post this on your blog? Please feel free but please post with the credit below and a link back to my blog. That would be awesome and I appreciate it.  

Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse, published by Kensington Press. The Fixer thriller suspense series is Jill’s first adventure in self-publishing. The first three books in the series, The Naked Man, The Killing Kind, and The Last Romanov were named Distinguished Favorites in the 2020 Independent Press Awards. They are available in paperback and e-book format at all major online retailers. Visit Jill at her website

July 18, 2020

5 Tips To Fight Writer’s Block

“I hate writing, I love having written.” Dorothy Parker

“The first sentence is always a bitch.” Jill Amy Rosenblatt

Ms. Parker said it best, of course, but I had to get my two cents in. I’ve said this before: writing is a sickness. It’s a glorious, mad, frustrating, exhilarating, why-the-hell-do-I-do-this-to-myself affliction and I never want to be cured. For any creative, it’s not what we do; it’s who we are.

I don’t want to exist without writing in my life.

But I have.

I’ve talked about this in author interviews, that period of time after I completed my second novel, For Better or Worse (2009), and the self-publication of The Fixer: The Naked Man (2015). Six years. Six, long, years of writer’s block.

It sucked. It was depressing, disheartening; it drove me to distraction. Why was I not doing what I was convinced I was born to do? How does writing shut off?

And more importantly, why?

And if it’s gone, like the imaginary friend who refuses to come out and play with you, how do you get it to come back?

I have a feeling that there is no Universal Writer’s Block; it takes different forms for different people.

The list of tips below are observations based on my personal experience.

1. Review Your Process, Inside and Out.

While some people experience the terrifying inability to even pick up the pencil or the pad (they won’t even turn on the laptop) I did write during the six years. On my computer, you will find a dozen folders of half-formed, dangling shreds of treatments, character profiles, and chapters.

I would start a novel excited, motivated. I would write dozens of pages. And then it would drop dead. It would just stop. I would try again; a different idea.

I would write. Then stop.

I would like it noted, I had no problem coming up with titles.

I could write. But I couldn’t finish. I couldn’t commit. I was like a serial dater who kept going out with someone new only to ghost them after the proverbial one night of passion, in a literary sense.

Friends and family listened as I talked it out. I kept rehashing the symptoms, the reticence, the confusion, the lack of motivation. During this period, the seed of the idea that would become The Fixer series came to me and I talked about that, too. One day I blurted to a friend, “But what if no one likes it?” and she answered without missing a beat, “Who cares?”

Who cares? Just like that? I had been chasing the tunnel vision dream of the “writer’s life” for over twenty years. I had two published novels through a major publishing house and my life was exactly the same. I wasn’t living the dream. I wasn’t even dreaming the dream. Now you tell me “Who cares?” What? I should just write for myself? Without thinking of the future, the publishing, the marketing, the audience, the dream?


What a concept.

It was not an instantaneous cure by any means (see items #2-5) but maybe it was the jolt I needed to hear, just that way, in that moment. If you’re blocked, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror, or talk to someone trusted who will tell you the truth, and admit what’s really going on. What is your thought process that has you in a state of creative paralysis? What are you preoccupied with? What are you afraid of? What are you afraid will happen? What are you afraid won’t happen?

2. Take a Tip From Hemingway – Write Shit

“The first draft of anything is . . . ” well, you know the saying. And Papa knew. You have to get it down on paper in all its craptastic glory before you can start to make something of it.

I thought about The Naked Man through the spring of 2015. When the time came to begin the draft, I was so terrified that I would start the project and fizzle out in the middle that I resolved to write with no deadlines or self-imposed rules. I purchased small journal books with cream colored paper (more on that below) and I wrote. I wrote until I felt I had put down all the scenes I wanted to write.

I typed up what I had with the mental mindset that the page count was the page count; I would not attempt to make it longer or shorter. However the story came out, that was it.

I purposely removed all pressure. The story would do what it wanted; I would be the transcriptionist. That brings me to my next point.

3. Stop Bossing Your Characters

Fictional characters are a funny bunch. We spend all our time with them, but they are peevish. They come and go when they want; sometimes they won’t shut up, and other times they give us the cold shoulder. But I’m always fascinated by the funny thing that happens on the way to writing a novel. After the hours, days, weeks, and months of living with these pesky people we love, all of a sudden they get up one day and decide to do something, out of the blue. And they don’t ask permission.

If I’ve learned anything, I know my characters don’t need me. When I try to “come up with something,” that’s when the wheels stop turning and everything shuts down. Let me suggest this: let the characters tell you their story. In order for that to happen, you need to relax. As someone who never relaxes, I can tell you – you need to relax. Don’t hover over them, fret over the plot, or attempt to force, push, and pull your characters to do what is out of character for them.

Try something new: Unplug with meditation, listen to music, indulge in a hobby, or better yet, read someone else’s work for joy and for study. Give your characters some space. Don’t try to think of what will happen in the story. When your character makes a decision, and does something, their decision will move the story (thank you Robert McKee).

4. Never Mind What Happens Next, What Happens First?

After you come out of writer’s block, there is always that little thought that lives at the very back of your mind. Every so often that thought whispers, “What if it comes back?” I know it’s back there. I practice ignoring behavior, but sometimes it comes creeping out of its room and says it can’t sleep and asks for a drink of water and please read me a story, because it’s hoping I might let it stay, and simmer, and grow.

Once you get over the hill, there can be hiccups. One of them is writing the first sentence. Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, beginnings are harder than endings and the first sentence of a book, chapter, and paragraph is always the most difficult.

If you find yourself stuck, you might want to consider mixing it up a little. I’m currently working on the 4th, 5th, and 6th books of The Fixer series, and I’m noticing that I’m struggling to write the beginning of scenes. So, I start in the middle, sometime in mid-conversation. As I keep writing, I get ideas of what came before. Usually by the end of the scene, I have a better idea of how that scene began, and I make notes for when I type up the draft.

If you can do it, if you feel comfortable with it, consider writing out of sequence. So much of writing a story is working backwards, shifting into reverse to work counter-clockwise back to Chapter 1.

5. I’ll Take The Writer’s Room for Two Hundred, Alex

A final thought: if staring at that white piece of paper makes you break out into a sweat, then take another tip from Robert McKee: don’t write on white paper. Use a yellow legal pad. If you write on a laptop, change the background in Word to a pale yellow.

My weird writer’s habit is using journals with cream-colored paper and writing only in pencil.

Find your happy place to write. Do you write indoors or outdoors? In the bedroom? The living room? I rarely, if ever, write a draft sitting at a desk. Try music; try silence. Do you keep the TV playing with the sound on or off? I write in the living room, sitting in my recliner, with the TV on, the sound off, and there’s usually a Marvel movie playing. Go figure.

Find the style that fits you best. It’s your creative journey. Create the atmosphere that makes you happy and productive, even if it doesn’t make sense to someone else.

These tips are just that, suggestions. If one or more help you, I’m happy. If they don’t work for you, keep searching until you find your way back. I’m rooting for you that you will.

Check out more tips to fight writer’s block here

If you would like me to guest post on your blog, I love to write about all things literary (and pop culture too!) Please get in touch with me at

Want to post this on your blog? Please feel free but please post with the credit below, including links. That would be awesome and I appreciate it.

Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse, published by Kensington Press. The Fixer – Katerina Mills crime thriller series is Jill’s first adventure in self-publishing. The first three books in the series, The Naked Man, The Killing Kind, and The Last Romanov are available in paperback and e-book formats at all major online retailers. You can visit her at her website and her blog


Something New . . .

Filed under: The Writing Life,Uncategorized — jillamyrosenblatt @ 6:14 pm
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Yes, it’s been a while!

I hope everyone is healthy and well in these crazy and uncertain times.

I have decided to retool the blog, that includes changing the name and image and restructuring it for all things books and writing. The old blog posts of pop culture and personal essays will remain on the site. I hope you’ll stick with me for the change! If you want to keep up with the personal essays, please head over to my website and sign up for the newsletter where I will continue my updates of all the news you cannot use. I promise not to be spammy.

Be well –





December 6, 2017

Stranger Things Theory: Sara Hopper’s Second Act

So I finished binging the 1980’s retro awesomeness that is Stranger Things 2. I watched, I watched again, and I have to tell you, something is off – and it has to do with a blue hair bow.

Don’t get me wrong. All of the characters’ struggles with emotional growing pains and psychological demons are just as important, if not more important, than the fight against the Big Bad of the series, the Mind Flayer demon. But it’s the emotional arc of Hopper and Eleven, separately, and as father and daughter, that grounds the season.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods), you know this new family unit is sealed by a blue hair bow. The hair bow belonged to Hopper’s daughter, Sara, who died of illness some years earlier. All through ST1  and ST2, Hopper wears the hair bow as a bracelet, keeping Sara’s memory close. At the end of Season 2, the quiet, under-the-radar transfer of the bracelet from Hopper’s wrist to Eleven’s wrist serves as a tender, bittersweet symbol of Hopper’s all-in commitment to love and protect Eleven as his own child.

His only living child.

Umm . . . are we sure about that?

While I tend to keep my random bouts of rabid fangirl obsession to myself, I’m willing to make this rare exception. Something has been bothering me ever since I finished ST2. I’ve read online commentary and either I’m not looking in the right place, no one is talking about this, or the Duffer brothers are pulling a WTF Jedi Mind Trick on everyone. 

I think Sara Hopper is alive.

Seriously, seriously.

Before I make my case, be warned that my theory requires mention of the ST2 red-headed stepchild episode that has been the brunt of much (I think) undeserved criticism. You know the one I mean. I’ll come back to that in a minute. Let’s begin, shall we:

  1. The Coif Conundrum:

In ST2, Episode 5, Dig Dug, we see the tragic back story of Eleven’s mother, Terri Ives. Terri allowed herself to be used as a test subject in a secret government project, not realizing she was pregnant at the time. Terri gives birth to Eleven (Jane) but is told she miscarried. When Terri breaks into the lab, she enters the Rainbow Room and sees a child she identifies as her stolen child, Jane.

The first problem is obvious:  We assume Terri has never seen her daughter. How would she know this child is her child?

The second problem is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious obvious:
Here’s a picture of the child with Kali in the Rainbow Room:

rainbow room

Here’s a picture of Eleven:


Soooo, the child in the Rainbow Room has straight blonde hair and Eleven – doesn’t.

However, this is a picture of Hopper’s daughter, Sara:

Houston, we have a problem, Exhibit A.

2. The Conspiracy Theorist:

Back in ST1, Hopper and Joyce visited Terri Ives. When Terri’s sister, Becky, explains all the medical personnel attested to the miscarriage and there is no birth certificate, it’s Hopper who says, “Yeah, but that could have been covered up, right?”

If the government can cover up a birth, why can’t they fake a death?

Laying the groundwork, Exhibit B.

3. The Staircase Recurrence:

Kudos to the eagle-eyed fans (not me, I missed this) who picked up on the same Hawkins Lab stairwell in Hopper’s crying-over-Sara flashback in ST1 and where wounded Doc Owens was found after the Demodog maulfest in ST2. Deja Vu, Exhibit C.

If you needed more evidence, in ST2, Joyce tells Doc Owens she wants Will transferred to another hospital. She’s told Will’s getting the best care at the lab. So we know Hawkins Lab can treat patients. From the similar stairwell, we know Sara was being treated in Hawkins Lab or a similar facility. Piling On, Exhibit D.

3. I’ll Take Plush Toys For Five Hundred, Alex

As if that all wasn’t enough, the tiger stuffed animal that keeps popping up is another clue confirming Sara was in a Hawkins Lab (see above link for more on this). In the ST1 flashback, Sara had the stuffed tiger in her hospital bed. Eleven had the same stuffed tiger in her cell at the lab. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Beating a Dead Horse, Exhibit E.

4. Which Lost Sister?

That brings me to “the episode,” Episode Seven, The Lost Sister.

I may be reaching here but I think the title as it refers to Kali is a fake out. Yes, there are other kindred test subjects out there, one through seven, nine and ten.

However, in ST2 Episode Nine, The Gate, Doc Owens gives Hopper a forged birth certificate for Eleven. She is officially Jane Hopper and now she has a sister, Sara.

Episode Seven is also where we learn Dr. Brenner is alive. So what’s he been doing with himself? Quilting, taking up the pan flute, planting an herb garden? Or perhaps he’s keeping busy with another test subject, a little girl presumed dead from an illness. It’s Sara who is the lost sister, still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found.

Sorry guys, Episode Seven was necessary. Eleven had to run away in order to make a clear choice for her second act. She decides she no longer wants to be lost and chooses to be part of a family with Hopper.

And you know when the shit hits the fan, don’t you? Just when people begin to heal, calm down, and carry on. I’m just saying.

5. The Karma Comment:

Finally, in ST1, as Joyce despairs of finding Will, Hopper opens up and confesses his guilt and regret over Sara’s loss saying, “You know what I would give for a chance?” Dammit Jim, I wish you hadn’t said that. Foreshadowing much? Exhibit F.

Since I suspect Sara Hopper lives and her discovery spells peril for our favorite Dad Bod Police Chief, I would like to take this time to share the list of plot points that will cause me to sue Netflix:

1. Hopper is forced to make a Sophie’s Choice between the two daughters – He already had to let Eleven fend for herself in Season One so he could save Will. No.

2. Hopper gets trapped in the Upside Down, sacrificing himself to save both daughters – Oh hell no.

3. Hopper dies, sacrificing himself to save both daughters – Don’t even think about it.

4. All of the above and any other plot points that will prevent the realization of #Jopper – Seriously, if the writers are even considering this – what is wrong with you? Think of your audience! Have you no decency?? And NO!

Honorable Mention: Hopper has a temporary “Temple of Doom” flakeout from the Mind Flayer crud he swallowed in the tunnels. Pass. Besides, he vomited all that crap out and Doc Owens gave him the all clear.

So, to sum up: Sara Hopper’s alive, she will return home to a happy family reunion, Eleven will be happy with a father and a sister, Hopper will be happy with two daughters, and of course, nothing bad will happen to anyone.

Okay. Good.

*sigh* Maybe I should take up fan fiction.

Oh and by the way, WHEN IS SEASON 3 COMING OUT????

September 27, 2017

The Pancake Indicator

Filed under: Daily Life,Funny,Uncategorized — jillamyrosenblatt @ 10:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 16, after the Almighty became miffed about that pesky pomaceous eating incident, he made a pronouncement to Eve:

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

In layman’s terms: Yes, he’s going to be a pain in the ass and cause you nothing but aggravation. You’re going to want him anyway.

And so it has been since the dawn of time that woman have been consumed by this question: Is he the one? Never mind that society has reduced love and relationships to mere signs and symbols, legends and myths. In Greek mythology, Eros is the herald of love and affection, afflicting people at whim or will. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the fairies, make mischief by causing mere mortals to fall in and out of love. While the Gods toy with us, we ladies still fret over self-made romantic follies, mentally picking the petals off the daisy, wondering, “Is he into me, or not?”

Fear not ladies. As with most things in life, the answer to this dilemma has been in plain sight all along. The answer to this question is evidenced by one thing and one thing only: the pancake.

Scoff if you will but the pancake is the window to a man’s soul. Let’s say you make the decision to consummate your relationship. It’s the morning after. Does he say:

  1. There’s Rice Krispies if you want it.
  2. Flip the switch for the coffee maker, will you?
  3. I’ll call you.
  4. How about some pancakes?

If you guessed D, you win the prize. Let’s look at this more carefully.

  1. Cold cereal means you’re dealing with a take-it-or-leave-it kind of guy. He got his SNAP! CRACKLE! and POP! last night and now you can get yours. Literally. Or not.
  2. Coffee means he’s not interested at all. As a matter of fact, if he’s got a supply of styrofoam cups with matching lids in his closet, get ready to call your girlfriend from the parking lot. You just made a big mistake and you’re going to need to talk about it.
  3. This doesn’t need any further explanation, does it?
  4. You’re golden. How do I know? If you think about it, it’s obvious.

First, there’s the pancake’s texture: soft and warm, and with heated syrup —sensuously squishy, just like l’amour, non?

Second, a pancake intimates commitment. Look what you have to go through to make it. You have to break the eggs, mix wet and dry ingredients, cook them on the griddle. The pancake says, “You’re not just a one night stand. No! This was special. This meant something — have a pancake.”

Third, the pancake lends itself to spending time together. If your new significant other offers you pancakes, this breakfast is going to be a meal where you sit and experience time in each other’s company. You can’t eat a pancake quickly. I mean you can but you’re risking a wicked case of indigestion. Pancakes mean time, conversation, and happy memories of the previous evening. The pancake says he had a good time. He’d like to do it again.

What about other foods, you argue. Is there no honorable mention for bacon and eggs? It’s close, very close. If he comes across with a plate of eggs with a side of pig, there may be hope that he’s a keeper. After all he did cook, however, total prep time is only about 5-7 minutes so it could go either way.

A special allowance can be made for coffee AND toast. I leave it to your discretion. How cute is he?

Movies bear out this premise. In Pretty Woman, what did Richard Gere order for Julia Roberts the morning after their first encounter? Pancakes. Trust me, while Etta Place waited for Robert Redford’s Sundance Kid to show up, what do you think she had on hand in her kitchen? Ingredients for pancakes. There might have been boiled potatoes in Dr. Zhivago but believe me, if it hadn’t been for the Russian Revolution and those pesky Bolsheviks, there would have been some chowing down on pancakes. And then everyone would have died. However, these are nothing compared to the pièce de résistance, the romantic holy of holies, The Notebook. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams overcome obstacles of time, place, and circumstance to consummate their relationship. After an implied marathon of lovemaking in front of the fireplace, what does Ryan Gosling ask for? You guessed it — pancakes. And don’t give me any crap about how hungry he is. You want filling there’s waffles, French toast, even oatmeal! But when it comes to love, only the pancake fits the bill.

My theory is supported historically. In 18th Century Friesland (wherever the hell that is), the traditional wedding breakfast is the pancake. Call it Pannenkoeken, call it a mini Dutch Boy, call it crêpes (a thinner, lighter, variation to the American pancake), it makes no difference. By the way, the French, of course, understand the delicate balance between sexuality and gastronomy. You want to be full, yet not too full. After all, too much stuffin’ leads to not much lovin’, if you know what I mean.

Look, ladies, all I’m saying is stop searching for signs. Like Dorothy and her Ruby Slippers, everything you need to know is right in front of you. The morning after, forget the flowers, toss the trinkets. Check the breakfast menu, If it’s pancakes, you don’t have to ask: “Is he into me?” Oh yes he is. And if he brings out the real Vermont maple syrup, you’ll be ring shopping by Christmas.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 –


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.


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….




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


or makes you laugh out loud

ron burgundy

or gives you the chills


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

indiana jones

or any combination of the above


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,




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.

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