There are no bad reviews. Unless…Read More
In a shameless attempt to get more reviews on…well… basically everything in my catalogue, we’re sticking with Amazon for a little bit longer with FREE DEALS practically every day in the month of July. Head on over to Amazon to stock up on all my work and feel free to share with your friends. And please, please, please, please, please if you’ve written a review in the past, please check that its actually posted since there seems to be an ongoing problem with reviews actually making it on to the page. Goodreads, Amazon, Nook, Smashwords… All of them!
In the meantime, I’m still plugging away at my new Sci-fy Alien Romance over here. Tap, tap, tapping away in space.
As always, thanks for the support and for keeping the dream alive!
Happy Summer Reading. xo xo J
Here’s an update about what’s in the works over here in Authorland.
Coming out this month, March 2019, is Number Six in the Incubus Rising series, Taking Chances. Taking Chances picks up where Wild Thing (#5) left off, in the midst of the relatively new characters who are a part of the Hotel Danu universe. While the tale follows party planner Angie Stone and her foray into the supernatural dark side, it also has tons of cameos from some of my favorite series regulars as well including Rafe Falcone, Deacon Blaine, Wlla Thorne, with a little dash of rockstar Dante James thrown in for good measure. It also drops some major hints about where the entire series will go in the future, with juicy bits thrown in all over the place. I guess you’ll just have to read it and see if you can pick out all the gems and hidden Easter Eggs in there!
Which leads me to what I’m working on now. Number Seven in the Incubus Rising series will be Two Much, the continuation of Cassadee, Rafe, and Gianni’s unconventional love story. Full disclosure, I’ve been working on this book for a long time and have yet to come to a satisfying conclusion that I feel happy with. It sometimes happens when you’re invested in the characters so much and I’ve learned to leave it alone and go back to the work when I hit a roadblock like this. Inspiration will hit. I just need to give it time. The story wants to tell itself eventually and these people are my babies so I try not to push it too much or to rush things. However, rest assured that Cassadee will be getting her follow up and HOPEFULLY a very happy double sized ending that will be satisfying for everyone.
In addition to the above, I’m also in the process of writing a new Sci-fi Alien Romance that just needed to come out of me. It’s tentatively titled Annihilation and is part of a series I plan on calling the Seven Souls. I’m only about quarter in, but boy of boy, am I enjoying writing about my badass alpha alien and his unexpected human obsession. I hope you’ll stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, I’ll say what every single author out there is saying these days — reviews are what keeps our work alive. The more reviews the more attention the work gets. So, if you haven’t already done so, please, please, please take a minute to post a review on one of the sights and make sure that it actually makes it there. And tell your friends to do the same. Good, bad, or indifferent reviews are a necessary part of keeping the dream alive.
As always, thanks for the support and hope to talk to you soon!
For a limited time, beginning today, all of my works will be available exclusively on Amazon.com, including Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Why not head on over there today and pick up a copy of my latest Contemporary Romance, Finding Eden!? Or, just to catch up on my back catalogue while you have the chance. Tell a friend!
As always, thanks for the support.
Cover Tease for the sixth book in the Incubus Rising Series, Taking Chances. Coming soon to an e-reader near you.
I’m fully aware that “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a famous idiom that means that you shouldn’t prejudge the worth of something based on its outward appearance alone. However, I’ve been discovering recently that the phrase can literally apply to the books I’ve been reading over the past couple of years as well, and unfortunately, not in a positive way.
When I began publishing my own work and was tasked with the job of creating my covers I found myself torn between the concept of what I wanted to convey to the reader and what appeared to be the most sales worthy. My stories fall mostly into the category of Adult, Paranormal, Fiction, and Romance, which would generally mean a close up shot of some model-dude’s really sweet six-packed abs either with a cowboy hat, or a pair of dragon’s wings, or heavily tattooed arms on full display depending on the sub-genre. And while I’m not at all opposed to seeing the male torso in all of its jacked up, muscular, naked glory, what I am opposed to is the kind of false advertising I’ve come across on covers so many times as of late. For instance, if the cowboy inside the pages of our saga has sandy blonde hair, a sexy goatee, and a hairy chest — why the hell am I looking at a picture of a some oiled up bald guy with no facial hair and a torso so smooth he’s like the poster boy for Mr. Universe? Putting a cowboy hat on a duck doesn’t make that duck a cowboy no matter how you slice it, and I don’t understand why any author would slap such misleading packaging on a product that they spent so much time and effort creating.
Now, I do understand about click bait, eye candy, and trying to encourage sales and all that jazz — apparently the hot, nude, beefy male upper body sells no matter what the occasion. Go check it out people — at least seventy-five percent of romance covers, no matter what the genre, have some form of a naked or mostly naked man on them. And do you remember Fabio? Of course you do! Because Fabio built an entire long and illustrious career as the Romance Cover guy based on his looks alone, and long, blonde hair is still synonymous with his name to this day. The guy’s got to be in his sixties at this point, but he’ll forever be frozen in time mid-bodice rip, pirate shirt torn open to reveal just the right amount of bare chest, beautiful locks flapping in the breeze (possibly with a tub of butter product in his hands). So clearly this fascination with male beefcake is far from new. I also realize that the price point for a really well done or original photo cover with a real life model can be exorbitant. Been there, done that, paid my royalties. My problem as both a reader and a writer is that, for me, a particularly erroneous or misleading cover can seriously hinder my enjoyment of the book itself and I can’t think of a writer in the universe who would want to do that for any reason at all, sales driven or otherwise.
Conversely, a really good cover can rock your literary world. I had nightmares for years when I was younger because of the cover of the Jaws novel and I think that it couldn’t have been more spot on. A couple of my favorite covers over the years have been Flowers in the Attic, The Great Gatsby, and The Watchmen as much for their simplicity as their accurate representation of the work inside.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do covers make a difference when you’re choosing or reading a book? As always — I want to know!
FRIENDS, FAMILY & FANS! IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR KINDLE USERS! It has come to my attention since releasing Finding Eden that people who are posting reviews via the "Before You Go" pop-up screen at the end of the book in Kindle ARE NOT ALWAYS BEING POSTED. Therefore I'm asking you to please, please, please either check that your review does indeed post when using this feature OR (at the suggestion of Amazon Help) that you post your reviews directly from the product details page in Amazon. (i.e., Write a Customer Review, just like you would for any other Amazon product you purchase). Further if you do find that your reviews don't seem to be posting directly from your Kindle you may also uninstall/reinstall the app. Kindle recommends deregistering your device first in the settings section within your Kindle and then uninstalling. I'd be happy to provide the exact info sent to me by Kindle if you feel like you need it.
As an author, especially an author with a new release, reviews are CRUCIAL and any and all reviews (good, bad, or indifferent) are a vital part of the process. If you are one of the reviewers who reached out to me about having a problem posting your review I'd be very grateful if you went back and posted via the product page at Amazon to cut out the cyber middle man. I'm truly sorry to make you do double the work for something that should be so simple, but I can't stress enough how important this is.
In the meantime, Kindle Users, please share this information with any and all of your reader friends and authors alike. I'd hate to think there are deserving authors out there that are missing reviews! Thank you for your time. #amwriting #contemporaryromance #selfpublishing
Happy 2018 everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that this year is already shaping up to be a good one. Things have been chugging along over here and I just wanted to touch base on a couple of projects coming down the pike very soon.
First, my full length romance novel Finding Eden is about halfway through the editing process right now and I've been working diligently to get things done on this end. Editing is an important but extremely arduous process, especially with a novel as long as Eden is, but hopefully that will mean there's just more for you to love. However, to help hold you over in the meantime, take a sneak peek at the cover I'm working on! Let me know what you think.
In other news, I just finished my first pass of Number Six in the Incubus Rising Series, tentatively titled Taking Chances. The story is part of the Hotel Danu universe I created in Wild Thing and does include a fun little cameo appearance by one of my favorite characters, the wonderfully wacky Willa Thorne.
I expect to have Taking Chances ready to go sometime in the next month or so, so keep those e-readers warm and at the ready!
As always, thanks for all your support and Happy 2018.
So it's November already, the months flying by in a rush. Summer is nothing but a faded montage of days by the pool, barbecued meat, and the occasional pitstop at Margaritaville. Time to pull out the pumpkin spice everything and buckle down for the long winter ahead. I believe I've mentioned before that I'm not my most productive during the busy holiday season, my mind too focused on family, entertaining, and Christmas to produce any real viable writing work. I find it hard to bare my soul or dig into a long edit when I'm more concerned about moving furniture so my entire family can fit in my house for Thanksgiving, or when is the best time to buy my Christmas tree so it doesn't die before New Year. But I will try to keep plugging away since my new full length romance is mid-edit and I'd hate to lose momentum before its ever really gotten going. It also so happens that I'm just about done with my first pass at Number Six in the Incubus Rising series and will most likely be able to publish that before the beast that is the full length novel drops. I've tentatively titled it Taking Chances and it picks up in the wide open and very fertile playing field of the Hotel Danu which Number Five, Wild Thing, took place. I love having a whole new world of magical characters to delve into and, fingers crossed, hope you'll love it as well. Now more than ever we need entertainment to help us kick back and escape, to take a break from blowhard politicians, unsettling sexual misconduct claims, and the horrific reality of gun violence in our country. Sometimes it's hard to wake up and face the world knowing what's out there, which is why escapism is such a necessary and vital part of life. Humans need some mindless fun, relaxation, and hope in their lives, and a saucy romance novel or going to see a campy film about a hot, blonde god who wields a giant hammer to fight evil is a fantastic way to accomplish precisely that.
I'm an entertainer at my core and always have been. It's just who I am. Ever since I was a little kid and I slipped on my mother's high heeled pumps, wrapped my Great Aunt Katie's fur stole around my shoulders, and starting prancing around my basement singing the entire libretto of Evita I knew I'd found my niche. I sang and I danced. Then I acted, stage managed, and directed. Then I acted and stage managed, and directed some more. But the entire time I never stopped writing. I wrote when I was happy. I wrote when I was sad. I wrote when my first big relationship ended and I wrote when I had nothing better to do but write. I made up stories for my girlfriends that I used to tell campfire style in our Duran Duran wallpapered bedrooms and pounded away on an old IBM typewriter like I was the next Anne Rice destined for greatness. Writing made me feel good and, in turn, my sometimes ridiculous but always heartfelt storytelling seemed to make other people feel good as well. That's all I've ever wanted really -- to entertain people and to make them feel... something... anything other than bad. Especially during the holidays when the highs can be epically high and the lows can be devastatingly low, everyone needs a happy place or a guilty pleasure. Whether it's a Real Housewives marathon, non-stop holiday music, or a sexy bit of fluff on the page, I can assure you that I'll never judge because I'm right there with you my friend.
So this season I'll say it again, as I've said it roughly a hundred, million times before, carpe the fuck out of this diem people! This isn't a dress rehearsal -- your life is happening now, today in spite of all the bad news and the bullshit. Do what you want to do. Drink the good wine and feel all the feels. Call that ex. Kiss that girl. Travel. Be good to one another. Make amends and let that shit go. And, most of all, tell the important people you love them right now; because you won't remember how it ended but you sure as hell can chose to go down in a meteoric blaze of blissful glory with no regrets before your own story ends.
xo xo Jenn
For Eric. I miss you.
While recently watching a documentary short on a new male sex doll that's available to buy it occurred to me that I was just as interested in the woman doing the interview with the creators of said sex toy as I was with the actual information contained in the video. How did she stumble across such a deliciously taboo assignment? What are her qualifications? Tinker, tailor, spy, thief... porn star? My interest was definitely piqued. Which had me thinking about unique professions in general and how they apply to real life social situations.
Case in point, friends of mine have this fantastically entertaining story about a couple they met on their honeymoon where the husband was a children's underwear manufacturer. Now this is the kind of accidental greatness I long for as a writer. I don't think I'd have ever let this guy leave despite being on my honeymoon! I have sooooo many questions! I need to know all the ridiculous minutiae that comes with such a fascinating, unusual job. Human nature being as it is, the comically inappropriate reactions he must get are no doubt priceless. So much so that I imagine he's even considered lying about what he does just to avoid the entire thing. "Ugh. So not in the mood for THIS crap today. Today I'm an insurance salesman from Poughkeepsie."
So as I mentally try to come to terms with the morbid curiosity I have with both the children's underwear manufacturer and the male sex doll creators, it occurred to me that I should make a list of some of the occupations I'd love to have a drink with at some point in my life that I have not had the opportunity to meet thus far:
Mortician - Speaking of morbid, there are some jobs I could just NEVER do. This is definitely one of them. I hit the bricks and cry for my Mommy when I need to give blood for goodness sake, there ain't no way in hell I'm the one in charge of the bone saw and the embalming fluid. I'm a real wimp when it comes to bodily functions. It's a problem. Thus the avid curiosity about a mortician's career path I think. These are people who choose to deal with death and the results as a full-time job and on a very intimate level. Once again, SO MANY QUESTIONS! How did they get into the profession in the first place? Was it by design or by necessity? How do they wind down and relax after a hard day at the morgue? How psychically demanding is the job? Do they ever have that eerie feeling that the body is going to sit up and start Beetlejuicing around or have they seen too much to even be bothered anymore? Because I think we can all agree that it takes a very specific kind of person to be able to do this job successfully for any length of time, which is something I'd really like to delve into much more with someone actually doing it for a living.
Psychic - I've been having a long standing discussion with both my family and friends about the nature of this particular job for many years. There are so many successful psychics that hail from my neck of the woods that it's hard not to stand up and take notice, or at least be slightly intrigued. In all honesty I probably have a lot of the same run of the mill inquiries that everybody does about the how, when, and what of it. However, discounting the obvious, this is a profession that I feel would be much better served in knowing someone personally. Because I can speculate all I want about what I do and don't believe, but that doesn't amount to a hill of beans unless you're speaking one on one with someone who not only believes but has to sell that entire idea as their livelihood.
Voice Actor - Here's one of those professions that I can't decide if I would love or hate being associated with. Much like a successful comedian there's a certain perception that you always need to be "on", which has got to be a really frustrating way to live no matter how much you love the job. Nobody is "on", or funny, or in a good mood all the time. Nobody. It's inhuman to even think that. And yet a voice actor must always be prepared to bust out a character at the drop of a hat. I'm exhausted on their behalf just typing that. And even the biggest showboaters must tire of the continual badgering at some point. (Hey, Seth MacFarlane -- why don't you give me a call sometime?)
I actually remember hearing a story years ago about how Hank Azaria (an extremely successful, professional voice actor IF you don't already know that) and actress Helen Hunt got divorced after only a brief marriage because he didn't know how to turn off the voices -- ever. Now I don't know Hank Azaria or Helen Hunt personally but it's not that difficult to imagine. What must it be like inside the head of a human being who not only hears multiple voices but is encouraged to let them fly at any and all occasions? Intriguing or annoying? Probably a little bit of both if you ask me. Still, I am curious about the process itself and how it all began. Voice acting at a very high level of success and prominence is pretty rare and you come to notice that the circle is incredibly small -- the same handful of actors working behind the scenes over and over again. Meeting an actual professional in the field would be a great way to spend a Saturday night at the bar... Or would it? I'll let you know when I get that call from Seth's people.
So that's my off the cuff list of People I'd Like to Meet - The Bizarre Career Edition. I'm absolutely sure that the minute I publish this I'll think of a dozen more. But, in the meantime, what have you got? Like I said, my inquiring mind wants to know...
Happy Spring! Here we are again, another month and a half gone by like a shot. Time flies, doesn't it? Not as much editing as I'd like happening on this end due to a rash of school vacations, time off, and holidays but I am trying as hard as I can to sneak in some sporadic blocks of work. I'm still plugging away at my full length romance novel, Finding Eden, but it's a real beast, which will be fun to read (I hope) but not so much to proofread. So stick with me and I hope to have a release date and some tantalizing teasers ready for you very soon. Then it will be on to the SIXTH installment of the Incubus Rising Series -- a saucy little tale about....??? Well, you'll just have to wait and see won't you?
In the meantime here are some random things I'm looking forward to in the entertainment realm in the coming days and months.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is right around the corner and I do love a good, action packed Marvel popcorn guzzler. In addition, the latest Thor trailer is out there in the webisphere and it looks great. Now I know the trailers can sometimes be deceiving but I have my fingers crossed that Ragnarock will not disappoint, especially with the Hulk and Loki solidly in the mix. The Last Jedi released a poster and a trailer earlier in the week and both look pretty epic. And I also see Charlie Hunnam's gorgeous...face is back on the map and I'm a real sucker for hot men and historical dramas, so his Guy Ritchie directed Arthurian tale is a no brainer for me. Take my money, please and thank you!
Cable television is at the height of its Renaissance as far as I'm concerned and there's so much out there that I'm excited about. Game of Thrones is starting its long tease with cast photos and short bites and Outlander is slowly but surely coming up more and more on the feeds. The new Twin Peaks is quickly approaching and American Gods and The White Princess are set to begin their runs on premium cable. (Both based on popular books by the way). I've been watching The White Queen and the Tudors repeats to whet my appetite and, honestly, it couldn't be whetter!
Unfortunately there's nothing on my e-reader that I'm overly anxious to share but I did see that Laini Taylor has a new book out. If you don't already know Ms. Taylor is the author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and it's a riveting YA, paranormal read that I highly recommend. I also just started reading Amelia Hutchins's Playing With Monsters and am enjoying it for the most part. Hutchins is a genius at sexy alphas, damaged and dark as they may be. Check out her Fae Chronicles for more supernatural angst, torrid romance, and plenty of big badass men you'll love to hate.
Otherwise it's all showers and weddings and happily prepping for summer! What have you got going on? Drop me a line and let me know what you're lovin' right now!
Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Spring.
Hello happy readers. Hope all is well and you're enjoying your winter thus far. For Northerners like me this is the home stretch with Spring right around the corner. Part of what I like the most about being from New York is that the seasons do change and every few months we get a dose of something completely different. It goes from buried in snow to buried in sand within a matter of days and I can't deny that I love it!
With the kiddy back in school after a loooooonnnnggggg February break I'm finally back to work over here, which means that Finding Eden is on the chopping block and getting the full press edit as we speak. As a matter of fact as soon as I finish this blog I'll be working on slicing and dicing her, hoping to get that trusty first draft out of my head and on to the next stage of tweaking. (The boring but entirely necessary "Edit for Mistakes" portion of the process.) As I mentioned in the February newsletter Eden's story is entirely mapped out and just waiting for me to set it free... although I'm having some minor reservations about the ending that I'm hoping to have conquered fully by this pass. Fingers crossed and here's hoping! #inspirationfindme
Some other news that you might want to pass along to anyone you think might be interested, Smashwords is having a promotion called Read an Ebook Week from March 5th to March 11th with thousands of authors on deep discount and even free in some cases. During the promotion all my work that isn't already free will be listed at 75% off on the Smashwords site. So now is the perfect time to tell and friend to tell a friend to tell a friend about how fantastic Dante and Gabriel and Cage and Rafe would all look on their e-reader. Go to Smashwords.com for more information and grab yourself a deep discounted ebook today! Yay!
As always thank you for your continued support and for keeping the dream alive. Have a wonderful March.
So, February is here and with it comes Valentine's Day and the new Fifty Shades movie installment. For Episode One my girlfriends and I drank a little too much wine and were nearly shushed out of the theatre for cackling too much. Good times. Good times. I'm hoping for a repeat performance with a lot less shushing this go-around because I really do love everything about guilty pleasures like Fifty Shades, too much wine, laughing our butts off, and my favorite girls. Feel free to try this at home - I recommend highly.
Any-who, on to work and such. With five Incubus Rising novellas and Devil May Care out there for public consumption I am currently in the process of writing my first full length straight romance novel (with absolutely no paranormal activity! GASP!) Inspired by a trip I took out to Montauk, NY several years ago, Finding Eden (tentatively titled), revolves around a young woman trying desperately to find a place for herself in this coo-coo crazy world of ours, and all the loves, losses, and slip-ups she experiences along the way. Eden also happens to include one of my all-time favorite alpha-males to write to date in the guise of Jon "Mac" MacIntyre and I absolutely can not wait to share him with you.
The first draft is done and everything is on "paper" but, as always, the editing and re-editing process is a slow and arduous one, so... fingers crossed I'll have something to tell you all by early summer.
In the meantime, Happy Valentines Day to you all. I hope you get all the flowers, romance, candy, and Fifty Shades you're dreaming of. Viva la' February! I'll touch base soon.
All my love
P.S. Random musings on some things I'm lovin' right now: The Magicians on Syfy, based on the novel by Lev Grossman. I'm also rereading one of my childhood favorites, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle, but this time with my ten year old son.
Last week I sent my child off to school for his first day of fourth grade. Now in my neck of the woods, fourth grade isn't particularly exciting on paper. It's the often overlooked middle child of school years, neither the coddled baby of the brood, or the oft lauded elder statesman. It's merely another small stepping stone on the the path to the Junior High School Years, the penultimate precursor to bigger, better things of the much more mature middle school variety. But, as always, this first day felt like the first day of all first days to my kid, who is experiencing it all for the very first time.
Now, I realize that's a lot of firsts shoved into one sentence and that my editor would be having a minor coronary right now while using up all the ink on his metaphorical red pen, however it was an entirely intentional misuse of the English language on my part since it drives home my point without any misinterpretation -- firsts are important. Firsts are significant. There aren't many words that are as succinct or fitting. Firsts are the touchstones of our life, the bullet points in our syllabus, the scribbled captions in the photo albums of our memories. They aren't always the best, can sometimes be the worst, and are often so mediocre that they're hard to remember the specifics of. Yet, they remain forever Numero Uno in the footnotes of the encyclopedia that is our lives, benchmarks that are an indelible part of what makes us US.
When I think about that, when it occurs to me that I'm so far into my own list of personal firsts that I'm nearly at the point where I have to wait for the next generation to graciously provide them for me, I can't help but feel slightly...forlorn. (Can you say Grandma people? Because I can't without sounding like the Fonz trying to admit he was wrong.) Despite what common knowledge clearly states, and my mother never fails to remind me, time flies and we ain't getting any younger. The passage of time is as inevitable as me drinking wine, buying those shoes, or the tides. It is happening. And while the benefits of growing up are amazingly exciting and downright liberating, the idea of growing old, or fundamentally running out of time, is just plain terrifying. There ain't no cream, pill, or medical procedure out there right now that can change the fact that I'll never get the opportunity to experience that first kiss again, that first win, that first good review, that first ride, that first love, or that first heartbreak. (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE YOU RAT BASTARD!) It's all in the past. Sands through the hourglass. Dust in the wind. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am! Goodnight Long Island and thank you! Mic drop.
I think that's why when I talk to my younger relatives, or have a conversation with someone who's about to get married, or go off to college, I can't help but provide the same (entirely unsolicited) advise: slow down, take a deep breath, and try to be in the moment -- to not let the excitement and forward momentum of everything going on get in the way of them fully experiencing or even noticing the tiny nuggets of greatness that life can sometimes unexpectedly dole out.
The truth is, firsts are finite and all too soon become few and far between. They're one shot only, limited time offers, with absolutely no returns, no do-overs, and no backsies. They're IT. They don't give a damn if you weren't paying attention.
So, I've decided, it's my mission today to put my money where my mouth is and listen to my own advise; to take a little time to appreciate the epic firsts that have shaped my world, while keeping my fingers tightly crossed that I may still have a few more pleasant surprises coming my way. And maybe, just maybe, if I'm really lucky I can impart to my son, my sponge, my Boo, my living, breathing legacy, how wonderful it is that he's nervous because it's his first day of 'insert whatever grade here', because that means it's consequential enough to make an impression.
Rejoice comic book fans, Batman vs. Superman - Dawn of Justice gets released this month and, like most superhero movies these days, it's sure to make mad amounts of dough. After all, it has just about everything we look for in a film -- lots of testosterone heavy, adrenaline pumping fight scenes, special effects galore, plus two of the most iconic and beloved DC characters at the forefront and fanboy Zack Snyder at the helm. And, if that doesn't float your nerd boat or get your movie-going juices flowing appropriately it also has off the charts sex appeal in the form of Henry Caville, Gal Gadot, and Carla Gugino with the added bonus of Ben Affleck in that new badass, tank-like Batsuit, which is nearly worth the price of admission alone. Step off Clooney. Your codpiece ain't got nothing on Ben's giant midlife crisis costume.
However, if you still don't think that all this Hollywood glitz and superhero glamor is up your alley, there are some new and innovative ways to entice your butt into the seats. Welcome to the 4DX experience my friends! Where you can pay twenty five bucks a pop to literally SMELL the desperation of the movie industry.
Don't get me wrong - I love movies, and as big as my home HD-TV is there's still a certain greatness involved with going to see things on "the big screen". The trailers! The surround sound! The scent of popcorn in the air! That annoying couple in front of you who will not shut the hell up no matter what the announcements say... It's all part of the experience. I can also choose 3D or 2D, IMAX or plain old Max, recliners or generic velvet clunkers. The sky's the limit. And now, for certain demographics, New York City included, that limit can include smell-o-vision, seat motion, air blasts, water blasts, rumblers, poppers, leg ticklers, neck ticklers and the ever popular back poker.
Is it just me, or does this all sound like a really bad advertisement for an adult store? On sale this week -- neck ticklers, back pokers, and lumbar rumblers. Comes with free lube! Someone call Henry Caville! I'd like a hands on demonstration please...
Seriously folks, call me a purist or a prude, but I don't really think I want to go to the theatre to get my back poked or my neck tickled. And I sure as shit don't want to shell out twenty five ducats to be blasted with water and then forced to smell Batman's all day fighting bad guys suit-sweat. Thanks, but no thanks movie makers. I'm good.
Which begs the question --how do they even decide what bells, whistles, and pokers to use? Is there a focus group? Some sort of survey I can take? A Best Of list? Or are we simply at the mercy of a couple of suits over in Korea, pandering to the lowest common movie-going denominator? Will the film Creed include the appropriate Eau de Locker Room scent? Will the next Woody Allen film be rife with New York City Street Stench? Will my seat jerk every time Captain America gets punched in the shield, or do I have to wait for the epic boss battle at the end? Don't even get me started on the more adult themed fare because there are myriad of possibilities there that I don't even want to think about. Are we PG-ing this all the way, even if the movie isn't PG? Will a Judd Apatow release be handled differently than a Pixar venture? Do we ignore all the steamy sex in a Bond flick and just stick to the balls to the wall action? How do they know when and where to draw the line? I mean, when I go to Disney World and hop on Soarin' I'm secure in the fact that the most hard core thing they're going to do is spray some orange scented air freshener in my direction and then blow me with a gentle fan. Are we even attempting some realism here? Or are we half-assing it all the way? Cramming in as much titillating extras as possible without a shred of consideration for story line, genre, or plot? I have so many questions that I'm not even sure I want to know the answer to. In fact, I believe I've decided that I'd rather just use my own imagination - I want to be invested because the entire moviemaking process is working, not because someone told me it's time to be cold, or wet, or some jacked up combination of the two. Besides, anyone who knows me well, knows that I get nauseous just writing the word nauseous and that my sense of smell is my own personal useless superpower. I'd survive about twenty seconds if the scent pumped into the theatre was anything but men's cologne, clean laundry, or Christmas Pine. Clearly 4DX - NOT FOR ME!
Plus, do we really need MORE REASONS for people to talk and complain out loud in the theatre? Do we actually need more running commentary? Because you can bet your rumbling ass that you're gonna hear a whole bunch of unsolicited jabber the first time Aunt Peg in row D gets a whiff of smoke, or hit in the face with a blast of frigid air. I can hear the domino effect coughing and griping already -- so much so that I'm actually preemptively annoyed typing this. See? I just pissed myself off! Not exactly a great start...
Look, I realize that we're somewhat desperate for new ways to be entertained. I also realize that every great advance in technology started as a totally insane sounding idea. From 8 tracks, to albums, to wireless phones, to fax machines we've come a long way baby. And I'm definitely looking forward to much more immersive concepts like virtual reality to come to fruition. However, I don't think I want to get sprayed in the face with simulated monkey piss (see Night at the Museum 4DX reviews please) in the name of cinematic progress. Next movie night maybe I'll just pay my friends to come over with a bottle of air freshener and an oscillating fan, ask them to complain really loud every now and again about the temperature, while periodically poking me in the back with something. I don't know about you, but to me that seems infinitely more entertaining.
I want to wear a tutu.
There, I said it. I want to slip into a bright pink proliferation of cheap, layered, see through fabric that is really only appropriate for six year old girls and professional ballerinas. Hell, if kids can wear pajama pants, hoodies, and Uggs out to a restaurant on a Saturday night, why can't I sport a frou frou skirt fashioned for toddlers? At least it's a skirt right? I can easily dress it up with some smokin' hot heels and opaque tights. Wear it with fake lashes and a tiara and then spin like the pretty, pretty, princess I obviously am!
Well...no...not really. Because, in the immortal words of the great Kenny Rogers, You got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. And the calendar tells me that wearing a tutu out on a Saturday night at my age is simply not in the cards. Sad as that reality check, truth bomb may be. Wa, wa...
Now, I've always been pretty fancy and very much a girlie girl. I loved Barbie growing up, wore makeup as soon as I was allowed, and would dress up in a costume on a random Tuesday and make my mom take pictures on our front lawn. Yes, I'm totally serious. That happened. And this was back when pictures were taken on actual film that needed to be developed. I'd wait weeks, nay, sometimes months for the results of these little impromptu photo shoots and maybe get one or two good shots of me posing in front of a tree in full costume, hair, and makeup like some tarted up lunatic. Naturally this led me directly into years and years of dance class. (Say what? I get to have FOUR TUTUS with sequins and a pair of fishnet tights? Sign me up bitches!) Then, when my dance career ran its course (helllooooo boobies!) I took up acting. (You mean I get to hang out with a bunch of other wonderful misfits pretending to be someone else while trussed up in a corset, sewn into a hoop skirt that doesn't fit through doors, and the world's largest taco shaped hat? I'm SO IN!) Of course I loved every Sybil-like minute of it. Getting to wear a costume, no matter how outrageous, that was painstakingly designed by a professional costume designer, handcrafted by willing apprentices, and sometimes even worked on by me personally was like a dream come true. Look at me now Ma'! Jazz hands!
Which brings me to precisely why Halloween is one of my all time favorite holidays. So much of it is over the top, theatrical greatness PLUS you get to wear a goofy getup and nobody can say shit. I could walk around my neighborhood in a giant tulle monstrosity and a big blonde wig holding a wand in one hand and a glass of wine in the other and no one would even bat an eye. With or without my kid! It's October 31st people -- the one day of the year that you get to wear something wildly inappropriate for your age and not give a damn. The perfect opportunity to let your super-freak flag fly and be the inner super hero you've always dreamed of. Man or woman. Young or old. Makes no difference on All Hallows' Eve.
Truth be told, people who don't enjoy a little Halloween shenanigans actually make me a bit nervous. They're like people who are really super duper nice ALL THE TIME or say that they absolutely love everyone in their family -- even Uncle Weirdo from somewhere on Mom's side. I feel like there's got to be something missing in their genetic makeup; some wishful thinking gene that, let's be honest, kinda helps you get through the more craptastic days. Personally, I revel in the make believe, fantasy, child-like quality of it all and, unlike a tutu, I'm never going to be forced to give it up. There is no expiration date on pure imagination as far as I'm concerned. Sing it loud and proud Willy Wonka! I'm a believer.
So, this Halloween, I'm wearing a fucking tutu. Because I can. This is it -- this is my slutty cop, too-short miniskirt, freak mask, psycho killer, ombre hair sporting, tiara wearing day to shine! I, for one, plan on making the most of it. You should go ahead and feel free to do the same. Consider this your official free pass from adulthood. Use it wisely.
And by wisely I mean no pajamas in public. 'Cause that'll never be okay.
Welcome to the blog post I almost didn't write. Because the thing about having a blog is that there's a real danger of becoming soap box preachy and that's not really what I'm about. I'm usually much more interested in making people laugh or basically discussing relatively fun, painless, sometimes wildly inappropriate stuff. Fifty Shades movie? Hell yes! It's the joke that practically tells itself. Ghostbusters banter? I'm totally in! How Anne Rice is, and always will be, my Gothic American Idol? Sho nuff. But when it comes to bullying people on the internet and fat shaming women into thinking they're not good enough... well, generally I'd avoid these subjects like the plague. I don't write because I want to change the world or stoke the flames of controversy, I simply enjoy putting something out there that people might enjoy. (Well that and I can't NOT write, so I may as well just do it right?) So, when I woke up yesterday and decided that maybe I had bit off more than I could chew by wanting to address the new Lane Bryant ad with curvy girls prancing around in their undies for fear of things getting far too serious up in here, I was then inundated by the Human Beings Can Really Suck gem of the day that made me rethink my rethinking. Apparently Pink (the singer) is being lambasted on social media for gaining some weight and being fat. You know Pink? The woman who did an entire world tour swinging from the rafters Cirque du Soleil style in nothing but a body stocking and a smile? The one who wrote the anthem (Fuckin') Perfect about embracing what God gave you and female empowerment? Pink, the gloriously unapologetic badass who could leap up on your back and crack your skull with her thighs just because she CAN? Yes. THAT Pink.
Apparently she went on a bit of a break and gained a few pounds and now the trolls are out in full force. (Above is the exact picture that started the whole controversy btw.)
What the hell is happening people? It's NOT okay.
So, let me attempt to start from the beginning.... Last week while watching the news I came across the story about Lane Bryant's new I'm No Angel ad, a bare bones black and white commercial showcasing a bevy of big, beautiful women in nothing but their underwear, expounding that they're happily nothing like their size zero Angel counterparts over at Victoria's Secret. My initial reaction was a resounding "huzzah!" since I was thrilled to see these sexy ladies showcased so nicely on network TV. My next thought was actually of my son and what he would've thought of the commercial. Now, my son is only eight, so he would most likely have ignored the thing entirely, asked for more apple juice, and then went back to playing Minecraft. But I was thinking more of my future son. My hypothetical man, as it were. Because someday soon he'll have a very clear opinion about what he finds attractive and not attractive in a woman and I'll be right there watching it happen, front row center -- whether I like it or not.
I've often asked myself over the years whether or not I personally have a predilection for more voluptuous figures because I myself have always been curvy. I'm consistently attracted to an hourglass shape, with boobs and hips to spare. Hollywood versions of this type would include people like Sophia Vegara, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Christina Hendricks, and Kim K's ass. Although in reality, these women are far from large by any stretch, they've been chosen as the acceptable depiction of what a beautiful curvy woman is today, and I guess it's better than nothing. Small battles. Tiny victories. I'll take what I can get. Still, as I happily watched half a dozen zaftig ladies prance around in their skivvies, I couldn't help but wonder what the male reaction was to the whole thing.
I should point out that we do this a lot, my girlfriends and I. We often have in-depth conversations amongst ourselves and wish we could hear the male perspective on the matter. And by male perspective we mean one that doesn't belong to our husbands and/or significant others. These men are livin' far too close to the flames to answer these kind of inquiries honestly. They know too much. They've seen waaaayyyy too much. There's no way for them not to be internally editing their responses for content, realizing full well they may end up in the dog house or at least on the couch depending on the amount of wine we've imbibed, what direction the wind is blowing that day, or even THEIR STUPID FACE. With all due respect, bitches be crazy. What can I say? I have no real defense.
Therefore, in light of all this, I decided it was much safer to go to my male friends and ask them how they felt about the plus size ladies of Lane Bryant selling their nearly naked wares on national television, and the replies I got were extremely enlightening, devastatingly honest, and pretty clear cut. (Thanks guys! You're all aces.) The men I spoke to all said that they didn't really give a shit about a woman's size. In point of fact, none of them even knew what the average woman in America's size is right now (with the exception of one correct second guess that was just that -- a guess). And one hundred percent of them said the women in the commercial were attractive. Further, the general consensus was that confidence is a turn on, no matter what the shape and size of the package and that if they're interested in a woman they're simply interested. Nothing more. Nothing less. They don't really think about it too much, or obsess about it, or ask anyone's opinions on the matter -- it just is what it is.
To quote Keanu Reeves in the Matrix -- "Whoa."
But LADIES, if you're listening, here's the rub... One hundred percent of the men I surveyed also said that they believe that other women are to blame for a large portion of the vitriol and negativity out there. In fact, the terms jealous, catty, judgmental, and hateful were all used when asked if they thought that women were harder on other women than men. And, as a card carrying woman myself, this particular information, while not all that surprising, was hard to digest. When did that happen? More importantly, why did it happen? Where did it all go so horribly wrong?
And here's where I do that thing that I was so worried about back at the beginning -- here comes my inevitable soap box tirade, no holds barred, Jennie from the block, kumbaya style: Male or female, size is the insecurity you can never hide. It's out there for all the world to see at all times, plain and clear. But no one is perfect and we all have things about ourselves we'd like to change. We're all humans and we're all exquisitely, irreparably flawed in ways we can see and in many ways we can't. So, from now on, why not think a little bit more before we speak? Why not be more aware of what we put out there into the world? Why not try to be more confident, for no other reason but it feels really damn good? Why not just do things that make us happy and not worry so much about what everyone else thinks? Why not surround ourselves with people who care about us for who we are rather than how we look? Own it like a Lane Bryant underwear model my friends! Because the fact of the matter is that skinny or fat, tall or short, curly or straight, blonde, red, gray, or brunette -- life is way too short to give anyone else the power to bring you down.
Can I get an AMEN? A high five? A slightly encouraging head nod? I'll take it!
Oh, and, for the love of God, leave Pink alone. Because she has people who can find out where you live. Don't say I didn't warn ya'.
It's nearly time! Gentlemen! Truss up your ladies with your favorite tie, throw her over your shoulder caveman style, and proceed to the nearest multiplex. Fifty Shades the movie is happening next week!
Allow me to be frank -- I WILL be going to see this movie and I don't care what anyone thinks. My girlfriends and I have already decided this is going to be a hilarious, wine soaked outing of epic proportions. And why the hell not? I love movies. I love books. I love sexy movies and sexy books. This is an event made for me. I may rent a limo and wear an evening gown. It's THAT spot on.
Now, I have no delusions about any of this. While I found Fifty Shades to be a fun, diverting read the first time I powered through it a couple of years back, and even slightly more entertaining when I inhaled it for a second time last week to "bone up" for the movie (oh yes, I went there), I've always said it isn't Shakespeare, or even Rowling, or even Dan Brown for that matter. The writing is simple and straight-forward, exceptionally stream of consciousness at points, and sometimes tries way too hard to be hip. However, I always felt that if you're a human being who enjoys sex, then you should take a moment to consider this entire phenomenon (and perhaps even take notes). This is the panty drop heard around the globe people! Over a hundred million copies strong and growing every day. That's got to mean something, right? The sexual situations in this book, while mostly subversive and written for shock value, are still titillating enough for most of the female population to think of the exceptionally damaged Christian Grey as a modern day Prince Charming. What can I say? These days we like our fantasy men to be domineering, clinically insane, Alpha control freaks with mommy issues and good hair. We've come a long way, baby! Or not. Oh, who the hell knows? Maybe it's just the spanking. I'm not sure. All I do know for sure is that no matter how many shades of f-ed up Christian Grey was/is, the people swooned! And in droves.
E.L. James -- doing something right.
Now, Jamie Dornan, the actor playing Grey on film, is a great looking guy with a smokin' hot Calvin Klein undie ready bod. No question. I'd probably consider paying money just to watch him walk around in low slung jeans and no shirt. However, he does seem to be missing that innate inner darkness that I crave -- i.e., Timothy Olyphant, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender (See Shame. Or Jane Eyre. Preferably both). Part of what makes these men so compelling to me is that little glint of all wrong that smacks of some deviant sexual greatness. That Jack Nicholson charisma that has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with the vibe. Rob Pattinson's Edward in Twilight, on which Christian Grey was originally based I remind you, was more intent on scowling and looking angry than actually imbuing his tortured vampire with any substance, and I think this could be attributed to lack of experience in addition to some really mediocre acting skills. He simply didn't have the maturity or gravitas to pull off the hundred year old tortured soul angle with any sort of believability. It's not really something that can be faked all that well. Then add the hard core sexual element inherent in Fifty Shades to that -- the need for this man to play one hundred percent, no holds barred dominant with a camera in his face and only a skin-colored stocking covering his naughty bits, and you're asking a whole hell of a lot of an actor. Any actor. Big job to tackle. Smacks of difficulties. A lot to swallow. Bound to be tough. (Seriously, I crack myself up.)
Although I never watched the show, I hear that Charlie Hunnan was pretty hardcore on Sons of Anarchy, and he certainly's got nothing to complain about in the hotness department either. Both women and men seem to like him equally, something that definitely could've added to any box office bottom line appeal. I'm disappointed he wasn't able to do Fifty Shades for whatever reason. The inner casting agent in me says he would've been very interesting to watch. But we don't always get what or whom we want in our book adaptations, do we? (I'm talking to YOU Tom Cruise) And that doesn't mean I won't see the movie anyway. I'll think of the book as one thing and the movie as something else entirely. I'll keep my Ultimate Gold version squirreled away in my head and take the movie at face value. And maybe, just maybe, I'll live long enough to see another re-imagining with an entirely different cast, perhaps more to my liking. Hollywood, after all, has been known to beat a dead horse or two, and even a couple of live ones. (There's nothing in the world you can say to convince me that the original Ghostbusters needs to be remade. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. But that's a different blog post for a different day.) Whether the movie tanks on February 14th or goes total blockbuster, I doubt very much that Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are the last words on Christian and Ana. I predict that Hollywood will squeeze every last ounce of life from this thing, resurrect it, and then milk it dry all over again. Several times. With gusto!
I actually wish someone had been smart enough to do the entire fiasco for cable. Cable has had so much success with controversial works made for discerning, mature audiences -- things like True Blood, Game of Thrones, Sex in the City, Girls, The L Word, and Diary of a Call Girl. These shows never shied away from controversial subject matter -- hot sex, graphic violence, or crude curse words -- as a matter of fact, some of them seem to revel in it, often times all at once. (Red Wedding episode anyone?) With the right team, I think Fifty Shades the Cable Series would've done really well, heating up water cooler convos in over 52 different languages every week. I've already heard so much about what they had to leave out of the film to keep an R rating when the source material was an off the charts NC-17, probably closer to NC-27 with a side of BDSM. At the same time, the Outlander adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's best selling series of books on Showtime ADDED IN ORAL SEX just because it seemed fitting. Hell yes it seemed fitting! If you're doing it right, when does oral sex not seem fitting? I mean, come on! In addition, they also managed one of the hottest, most sensual wedding night scenes I've ever seen on film. (Sam Heughan's ass should get its own award as far as I'm concerned). And now they have millions of viewers waiting anxiously with bated, salivating breath for the show to come back this summer. They can't make the episodes fast enough! It's that big. I have a feeling Fifty Shades the Sextacular Spectacular would've been great for this progressive, brave new world of television and my DVR would be happily full, full, full. Rewind. Replay. Repeat. Rewind. Replay. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Oh sweet mystery of life at last I found thee!
So, to Ms. James I say, a heartfelt good luck on your movie adaptation. I'm looking forward to seeing it and I know countless other people are as well (or at least will be sneaking it in late at night when it comes out On Demand and pretending they didn't). This zeitgeist is all yours! You own this guilty pleasure. And whether the movie breaks a million records or quietly drifts off into discount bin obscurity, Fifty Shades has definitely made its mark.
Mr. Grey will see you now...
Shudder. Shudder. Gulp.
I'm all in.
Okay, I have a confession. My love of vampires didn't start with Bram Stoker's classic Dracula but instead with the blonde haired, blue eyed, brat of the great Anne RIce's imagination. Although written to be self-loathing Louis's first hand account of his trials and tribulations as a vampire, Lestat's bombastic, defiant, beautiful devil was the character that skyrocketed to the top of the food chain in Interview With the Vampire, scratching, clawing and biting for supremacy all the way. Penned in the late 60's and originally published in 1976, Interview with the Vampire proved to be a life changing event for me once I got my hands on it, my trajectory as a reader and would-be writer irrevocably changed. Rice's language was florid and fascinating, filled with long descriptive passages on everything from art, to history, to mythology, to religious dogma. Her human (and not so human) relationships were written with genuine heart and a very concise understanding of a being's insecurities and darker nature. In my opinion, her men were always more fully realized than her women characters, the males of her creation leaping off the page and grabbing you right away. They were sensual and self assured, conflicted and arrogant, learned and fragile all at once. But no male character in her repertoire ever leapt or grabbed more aggressively than her Lestat.
I've said many times over the years that Rice not only loved the fair-haired Adonis of her machinations, but also remained, after nearly forty years, madly in love with him. Which is why it was sometimes hard to stick with her in later works, since no one cared for Lestat nearly as much as his creator did, or needed to continue to suffer through his cruelty and mad, self involved tangents on the page.
After years of leaving Rice's novels behind, trying and failing to get fully hooked on her tales of witches, and then completely bailing out when she attempted writing Christian novels (in the voice of Jesus Christ himself no less!) I was convinced by a good review on the Nerdist to give her new novel, Prince Lestat, the ole college try. And, I have to admit, I'm happy I did. Prince is back to basics for Rice, her writing as sharp and as entrancing as ever. She seems to have loosened up a good deal, writing her muse Lestat, in particular, in a voice that's modern and witty, while staying true to his basest belligerent, self absorbed, unlikeable self. While relatively common place as far as plot (there's a Big Bad that needs to be stopped or the world as we know it will end) the execution is pure, classic Anne Rice. The book reads like a Greatest Hits album, including all your favorite characters, the most stunning gothic locals, and even her own career and legacy as a writer thrown in for good measure. Interview With the Vampire, the book within the book, is as big a part of Prince Lestat as Lestat himself, and it really is an ingenious, fun way to delve back into the author's vault -- a vault that inspired not only my love of all things sexy, damaged, alpha male vampire related, but also of the supernatural genre as a whole.
I was lucky enough meet Ms. Rice at The Book Review in Huntington several years ago, where she signed my shiny, new copy of Queen of the Damned (which I loved by the way, and will still sit through the movie adaptation every single time it comes on without fail). We, the adoring throngs, were allowed to ask one question of the author when we got our chance up to bat and it was like I had just been told I was about to accept a major award. After obsessing over what I could possibly ask the woman who had affected my life so profoundly from afar in sixty seconds or less (something akin to torture, I might add), I pondered and thought and pondered again. In the end I stuck to what I hoped was the most genuine, heartfelt inquiry, something that'd truly been niggling in the most creative and insecure parts of my artist's brain. I simply asked her what advice she would give to someone who wanted to write. After putting down her pen and pulling off her reading glasses, she actually looked at me square in the eye and seemed to be seriously considering her answer, despite the fact that I'm sure she'd been asked that exact question roughly five hundred times that day alone. "Jenn," she told me, "Never let anyone tell you shouldn't or you can't. Write what you want to write and don't listen to what anyone else has to say about it."
I'll admit, some days that advice is harder than others to follow -- even though they came from the very mouth of a woman I believe to be a bit a living legend (JK Rowling, you're next baby, so lookout). But I try to remember these sage words when I fail to get a review that I need, or see my already minuscule sales flagging. At the end of the day, I'm doing what I love to do. I'm creating something that means something to me, and I plan on doing exactly that for as long as I have a glimmer of a germ of an idea left rattling around in my brain. And maybe, just maybe, someday I'll be lucky enough to find my own Lestat; truly come to love something vital that I alone created on the page -- unfailingly, unflinchingly, and for years and years to come.