Shameless Plug for my Book

Hey look! A blog post that isn’t about food.

So, as I mentioned awhile ago, I self-published my graduate thesis on for Kindle and for Barnes & Noble’s Nook readers. I figured that I should do some sort of promotion for this because the internet is a giant place and unless you’re selling tits or cats not many people are going to find your shit.

My awesome thesis/short story collection/thing I paid a university way too much fucking money to let me write is called Waiting in Cold Storage.

Without further ado (and only one more mention of TITS!), I present to you a selection from my book.

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Why I Self-Published My Thesis

Ready for a bullshit post about my “feelings”?? Some hardcore navel-gazing? Here we go!

I wrote a book. Actually it’s a collection of short stories. Whatever, same difference. All you need to know is I wrote a thing and, eventually, I self-published the thing.

Back in the day, you’d have to spend money to get your books printed and bound and shipped to you. I never saw much value that. Still don’t. But digital publishing for e-readers? Count me in.

A lot of people rag on self-publishing. I know this because before the days of Kindle Direct publishing, I used to be one of those judgmental assholes. I used to think if your work was good enough someone would publish your stories or give you a book deal. And sure, there are those writers who are so damn good they automatically get noticed and published. But, more often, your work needs to fit a certain style. You need to fit the voice of the journal you’re contributing to, or fit the publisher’s image. Your subject matter needs to be in line with what’s considered “serious” and “literary”. You need to SAY SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION through as many metaphors as possible. I’m not one of those writers. I never have been.

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Writer’s Block and the Art of Fail

I have writer’s block. Severe, writer’s block. I’ve had it for a while now (oh, let’s go with years) and I don’t see it letting up any time soon.

Some people say writer’s block isn’t real. Maybe for them it’s not. Writer’s block, for me, is very, very real. And I’m so fed up I want to jump out my window in frustration.( I live on the third floor so I’ll only break a leg or two.)

I have spent the last several weekends staring at a blank word document. I’ve tried to shake it up by switching to pen & paper. I even tried some writing exercises that are supposedly designed to generate ideas. Nothing. Of course, the exercise I pulled was to write about how a game changed my life. While that game of Connect Four was memorable, it wasn’t exactly life changing.

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A Letter to Myself on the Eve of my 30th Birthday

I attended a Women in Leadership conference today and one of the speakers was Ellyn Spragins, editor and contributor for the book Letters to My Younger Self. In the book, powerful and successful women write a letters to themselves at younger ages.

While I am in no way successful or powerful, I love this idea. I thought it would be a fun exercise for me to try, especially since I’m turning thirty tomorrow. So here’s my attempt at talking to twenty year old Jen. A million bucks says she wouldn’t have listened to me.

Dear Twenty Year Old Jen,

Hey. Decided to write you as life here in the future is so totally awesome that I can send pointless missives backwards through time via the internet. Wait until you see the flying cars! No, I’m just fucking with you. There are no flying cars.

I wanted to write this to you to share what wisdom I have with you in hopes that it might make the next ten years a little easier on you. I don’t have much wisdom to share, but maybe what I can share with you will help as you try to become your own person, which, let me tell you, is far more painful than you can imagine.

1) The day is going to come when you are going to realize that all your relationship-related pain has made you a better person. I must sound crazy to you. I know you believed that having a relationship was the most important thing in your life and you tied your self-esteem to your relationship status. Those two things should never have been entwined. It’s something you can’t change now. But once you realize that your value has nothing to do with your relationship status you will realize two things:

a) If you had been able to date all those guys you wanted to date you never would have worked to develop a personality, a sense of humor or one iota of intelligence. Don’t tell me it’s not true, I know you. It would have become more important to you to be what he wanted because you didn’t have the confidence to be yourself and to be proud of yourself. Because you didn’t get the adorations of nameless dudes, you read books instead. You discovered music you liked. You developed your own opinions. You’re better off for it.

b) If you had been able to date all those guys you wanted to date you would not be able to appreciate the relationship you have when you become me. You mature a lot during this time period. All the pain, all the times you sob into your pillow and learn how you don’t want to be treated, you learn how you DO want to be treated. During this time, watch those around you. Watch how they interact in their relationships and when your time comes, (and, just like your mother always said, it will) emulate what you liked and leave what you don’t like at the door.

2) You’re an introvert and that’s not going to change. But don’t be as shy around people you don’t know.

3) Spend as much time with your family as you can. You’ll need to store up as many good memories as you can for when you move 2000 miles away from them and find yourself living alone in a city you don’t know. Know that your family loves you and your parents raised you to be strong. You will be able to survive. Also, spend some time figuring out how to cook. You will need that knowledge in the future. (You’ll never cook as well as Mom, though. Did you expect anything different?) And kiss the cats. You’ll miss them more than you’ll know.

4) Don’t lose faith in your abilities. You do have talent and it will be hard for you to remember that and to find the motivation to actually use that talent. But it’s there. People will say things that shake your faith in yourself. You will feel talentless, worthless and stupid. Do not let these fears override your drive. Whenever you feel shitty, remember that you wrote this. You loved writing it and you’ll come to realize that is all that matters.

5) Sing. When you move into an apartment complex, it won’t be as easily to belt out those tunes and not annoy your neighbors. May I recommend playing Heart’s “Alone” as loud as you can in your car? That’s a great song to sing.

6) Embrace your nerdiness/fandom/etc. All that useless knowledge will come in handy.

7) Hating your body leads nowhere. Find acceptance in who you are and what you look like. It’ll make your life easier and more enjoyable.

Enjoy the next ten years. They’re going to be difficult, fun, turbulent, amazing and shitty all at the same time. You’ll make it through.



PS – VNV Nation still rocks.

Chicken Soup for the Bored Soul

We’re ringing in 2010 like it’s 2009! For the second year in a row the boyfriend is laid up with a cold and I find myself making another pot of chicken soup to help with his recovery.

As a kid, I hated chicken soup. Hated it. I associated the soup with illness because the only time my mother would make this medical cure in a pot was when one of us was sick. Between the ages of 8 and 18, I came down with strep throat twice  a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. There was a lot of soup.

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Embrace the Fandom!

io9, an amazing sci-fi blog and member of the Gawker Media empire, posted today about a livejournal community called Fandom Secrets. Fandom Secrets contains cyber postcards from fans of various TV shows, movies, even bands. But these people aren’t just fans; they’re people slogging through the trenches of fandom.

For the uninitiated, fandom is when you love something so much that it nearly takes over your life. If it’s a TV show, fandom means you watch every episode, own the DVD box sets, can detail any character’s back story in your sleep and will relate anything and everything you talk about back to the show. Fandom is the nice word for obsession. Fandom Secrets is a place where equally nerdy dorks congregate and admit to each other that they are just as odd and strange as they fear they are. But it also allows uber fans to embrace their strangeness and, in a way, accept it.

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My own personal Cake Wreck

Ever heard of the blog Cake Wrecks? It’s a fantastic blog featuring pictures of professional cakes that are a disgrace to the dessert world.  This morning I produced a cake that is on par with some of the cakes on Cake Wrecks.

We’re having a party and I planned to produce this half chocolate/half vanilla cake with buttercream frosting. That didn’t happen.

Last night, after my sketch show was over, I came home with the intent of baking my cake. It was about 95 degrees in my apartment and after sweating through a 40 minute performance in an un-air conditioned theatre, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in front of an oven for six hours. Instead of going for the half and half square cake as I intended, I decided a simple two-layer round chocolate cake would do.

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