What's this all about

Chronicling my steps to becoming a published novelist, and the randomness of my life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


My roommate has this rambunctious little dog named Oliver. We don't know what he is exactly, but he has the strength of 10 elephants and the energy of 10 children at a bounce house party. He's a rescue and a trouble maker, but he also has a touch of the separation anxiety.

Dog Shaming: 
"I thought it would be fun to dig up a sprinkler 
and then roll in the mud pit I created"

Looking fabulous!

Like all dogs, Oliver worships the ground his owner walks on. Roommate Kim is pretty much his whole life, and he doesn't quite know what do with himself when she's away. This was evident in the conversation he and I had when she went out of town a little while back, without clearing her absence with him first.

Our conversation is best represented in screenplay format, I believe:

Oliver: (laying on the floor outside of Kim's bedroom door) Kimmie!!! Can you hear me? I'm here! Don't. Panic. We will get you out. Just make some noise if you can hear me!

Me: (coming out of the kitchen) Oliver, what are you crying about?

Oliver: Oh good you're here! It's Kimmie. She's trapped inside her room without me. I need you to use those magnificent opposable thumbs and open this door! Don't worry Kimmie, we're coming.

Me: She's not in there.

Oliver: (looking back over his shoulder at me) What?

Me: She went out of town for the day, she's not in her room.

Oliver: (stands and turns around toward me) What do you mean she "went out of town?" Where did she go?

Me: She just went to Canton for the "First Mondays" thing. She'll be back later.

Oliver: You don't know that for sure. Canton is 75.5 miles away. Anything could happen in 75.5 miles! What if she needs me....?

Me: (cracking open a coke zero) You are totally overreacting. She's gonna be just fine. Hey look! I have your stretchy ostrich.

Oliver: Damn my stretchy ostrich! This is no time for play

Me: (squeaking the ostrich toy) Squeak! Squeak!

Oliver: I can't believe she left me here. Alone to fend for myself. How could she do that to me?

Me: You aren't alone, I'm here.

Oliver: (sighing) Look, Jen, don't take this the wrong way.... But... you're no Kimmie.

Me: (muttering) I may as well be chopped liver...

Oliver: That would actually be delightful.

Me: You know what Oliver? I don't have to take this from you. And you didn't get this upset when she went to Michigan.

Oliver: She went to Michigan?!?!

Me: Oh lord. No. Forget I said it. Look, man, she's gonna be back later tonight. You're going to sleep most of that time away anyway. Let's just chill out, play some tug-o-war, maybe chase the laser pointer...

Oliver: (laying on his back with his feet in the air) All is lost.

Me: I know what will cheer you up. How about we watch a little Downton Abbey, huh?

Oliver: (rolling back over, one ear standing straight up) Did you say "Downton"?

Me: (Nodding and smiling with the remote in hand)

Oliver: Well I do love a good British drama.

Oliver goes to his toy box, picks out a rawhide bone and lays down on his bed. I start the episode of Downton Abbey and get comfy on the couch. By the end of the title sequence, all is calm and we're both whisked away to turn-of-the-century England. 


This was not an exaggeration. The dog LOVES British television. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Surprisingly Good Celebrity Novelists

These days it seems like every celebrity and everybody who thinks they're a celebrity has written a book.

Then, you read the fine print and see that really a ghost writer actually did all the work while the "author" babbled on about a series of unrelated experiences over a mimosa and a cigarette.

Anyway, that got me thinking.

I wonder who out there in the wild wood of Holly has actually written a real book. And not just a legitimate autobiography - if you're the coolest surviving member of the Rolling Stones then of course your memoirs are going to be amazing. But I wondered if any otherwise famous people had ever written a successful piece of fiction??

So, I took my curiosity to the interwebs and searched and searched and searched, and actually found some surprising information. I thought I'd just go ahead and share it with ya. There were quite a few celebrities who wrote books that don't suck, but here are 5 Surprisingly Good Celebrity Novelists.

The results may shock you.

Ok, more realistically they may illicit a "Huh...I didn't know he wrote a book" from you.

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. The Indie rocker is also the author of a children's book entitled Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1, a novel not surprisingly (if you're familiar with his music) inspired by folk tales. The story is about a of seventh-grade girl and her friend who end up on a quest to a mystical land to rescue the girl's baby brother from being sacrificed to an invasive, carnivorous species of ivy.

Ethan Hawke Yeah, really! My good ol' friend Ethan is the penman behind novels The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday.  The Hottest State follows the trials and tribulations of a dark, sensitive young man aspiring to be an actor in New York City. It's one of those coming of age love stories that shakes you up and makes you think about life. If The Hottest State is about the mistakes you make in your twenties, then Ash Wednesday is about the next stage of life: marriage and parenthood. Told through two points of view the novel follows an AWOL soldier and his pregnant girlfriend/wife, it's another raw, emotional novel designed to suck you in and leave you with lots to think about.

Ethan Hawke and Me, chillin' in London

Hugh Laurie Dr. House is notorious for his brilliance and his cruel but hilarious one liners, but he's also a pretty talented writer. Though he initially submitted the novel anonymously, Laurie has gained quite a bit of praise from his first book The Gun Seller. Told with that same biting sense of humor he's become famous for, this novel is a spy spoof about a retired British soldier who accidentally becomes involved in an underworld of illegal arms dealers, government secrets and lots of action.

Nick Cave Frontman of the genre-blending rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has written two well received novels that have put him in the company of Faulkner in some critics' opinions. And the Ass Saw the Angel is a Southern Gothic tale about the vengeance a mute boy takes out on his entire town of abusive, corrupt, religious nut-jobs. His second novel The Death of Bunny Munro is about an alcoholic, sex-addicted salesman and a looming serial killer.

Steve Martin Comedian, actor, banjo-player, and author. Steve Martin may be a genius. He's actually written several books comprising of non-fiction, essays and fiction. Here I'll mention his children's book Late for School - the adventure of one boy's attempt to make it to school, it comes complete with a CD of Martin singing the story in a collection of bluegrass songs. (I know. It's really cool.) But you can discover more of Steve Martin's genius here, at his site.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 14, 2013


I've been relatively lucky my whole life. I mean to say nothing really bad has ever really happened to me. Sure I've been in a couple car accidents, but no one got hurt. I've never been badly injured, I've never been really sick, and no one close to me has ever encountered those things either (for which I am extremely grateful to the Lord, the Universe or whatever is out there). So when something bad did happen to me, I was met with a sort of disbelief, a sort of "no, you're mistaken. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me."

Yesterday was a dreary, cold day in North Dallas, so I decided to spend the day getting back into writing and working on my novel A Mouth Full of Teeth. There is major road construction going on in my neighborhood , and the pummeling of the bulldozer outside was shaking the entire house and I just couldn't take it. So I hastily got my stuff together and did something highly uncharacteristic: I went to the Public Library.

I know, I know. It's kind of a big deal for me, which you will know if you have been following my blogs. If you're new-ish to The Path to Publication, please see this post which will explain why I don't like and don't frequent libraries.

Anyway I pretty much spent all day at the library, and pretty much took me all day just to hammer out one page of new work. It takes a while to get back in the swing of things when you've been doing nothing but tax forms for 4 months (the day job). 15 minutes before closing I packed it up, put my brand new, beautiful Asus laptop in my backpack - a Christmas present from my wonderful parents - and headed out to my car. A vicious cold front had blown in while I was inside and I was just wearing a short sleeved Raconteurs shirt and skinny jeans - no jacket to speak of. I was planning on going in to work that evening to wrap some things up, but I didn't feel like heading there yet, especially sans jacket. So I headed to the most wonderful place on earth: Target.

Since it was freezing and starting to sprinkle, I tried to park as close to the Target entrance as possible. I found a spot in a row that was right in front of the door, and about 8 spaces in. I pulled in next to a tan, old POS sedan. I glanced over at the car to make sure I was a reasonable distance away from it (as one does) and locked eyes with the dude sitting in the back seat of the car. He was a miserable looking guy, white, messy brown hair, kind of long face, about my age. Being a Texan I did the closed-lip smile of acknowledgement we all do when we make eye contact with a stranger. The dude did not return the gesture.

Well... I thought, slightly annoyed at his rudeness. I grabbed my purse, got out, locked the car and headed in to Target. I really was just planning on picking up a cheap hoodie so I'd have something to wear and then moving on with my day. But as any female and any male who knows a female will tell you, you can't just run into Target for one thing and then leave. You  have to see what's new, what's on sale, what's coming.

I really only spent about 30 minutes inside. I bought my new jacket, made my way to the exit and stopped in that little area between the double doors to put my jacket on because it was now freezing balls cold. As I put my arm in through the jacket, a secret red door I had never noticed before opened and a Target person nearly walked right into me.

"Oh! I'm sorry," I said, shuffling aside.

"Oh, no, that's ok," said the Target person. She was mid-twenties, dark brown hair, freckle faced. "I was actually looking for you."


"Yeah. At least I think it's you. Um, do you drive a white Dodge?"


"Well, I don't want to alarm you, but we had a report of a vehicle break in on a white Dodge."

Color me alarmed. My heart clenched up and my jaw dropped. Oh no, my laptop.

"Do you want to go out and see if it was your car, and then come back and let me know? We can proceed from there."


With a sinking feeling in my stomach I marched out into the cold night. There were no other cars parked around mine now. I couldn't see any damage on the drivers side. Please no, please no. Thank God my gun isn't in there anymore.

I walked around to the passenger side, and sure enough right under the front door was a glittering pile of glass. Here I let loose an internal string of curse words, most starting with "F". Knowing what I would find - or rather, wouldn't find - I inched closer to the door. My backpack, my new computer, my work of the day - was gone.

Oh, there's my window!

My shoulders slumped and I numbly went back inside. I felt so defeated. So violated. Stuff like that didn't happen to me. How could someone do this?

And then the image of the old car I had parked next to, and the miserable looking guy's face popped into my head. Jerks. While I didn't and don't have any proof, I know in my soul it was them. I know it was.

I found the Target person again and told her that it was indeed my car that had been broken into.

"Ok, well I have security footage of it happening, and I'm pretty sure I got a good shot of their license plate when they left."

 Blinking back tears, I called the police and relayed to the dispatcher what had happened.  About 15 minutes later an officer showed up and I lead him to my car. He asked me about what was missing, I told him about the car fool of miserables I had parked  next to, and he took lots of notes.

"To be honest," he said "We're probably not going to be able to do anything. The video footage from stores usually isn't very clear, it will probably show that something that looks like a person was by your car. And if they did get a shot of the license plate, it probably won't be clear enough to tell what it says. More than likely you aren't going to get your computer back. I'm sorry to tell you that, but I just want to be realistic."

I knew that was probably the case, and he was being very nice to me. But in my head I wanted him to set up a perimeter, block off the roads and interstates, put out an APB. Call the helicopters and the dogs and send the SWAT team after them. This was my stuff. Is there no justice?

I called my best friend to tell her what had happened. She very kindly came out to meet me and check on me. When I tried to tell her what had happened again in more detail, I go to the part about my laptop being gone and I just lost it. I broke down right there in the parking lot.

It's times like that when having a friend to lean on becomes the most important thing in the world.

It's easy for me to slip into a state of anger bitterness over the whole incident, and believe me I am angry and bitter. But my friends and family have been reminding me that things could have been much worse. They only took my laptop. My work, my stories, are saved in other places. I did loose that day's work, and some pages from another time, but that was it. I had not passwords or credit card info stored on that computer yet. Most importantly however, they didn't get me.

I don't know if there's a lesson to be learned from this. There probably is one, and I will probably realize it later. Right now I'm just hurt and upset and the only thing I can do to make myself feel better is to write.

Thank you for reading. It means the world to me =)