Writing Can Be Murder

October 31, 2006

The monsters that show up every day

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 11:33 am

Yeah, I know it’s Halloween. Boo humbug!

 Today I’m thinking about a different kind of monster. I’m talking your dreaded SELF-CRITIC. Aahhhhhh!

In the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about that monster that resides within us, rearing its ugly head at the worst possible times.

 First Beth Ciotta talked about her bout with the brain snatcher last Friday. www.bethciotta.blogspot.com

 Then I told a friend how upset I’d been by my first review for Nowhere to Hide. I only received 4.5 stars (out of 5). This was a tragedy. I was a failure. What the hell had I been thinking getting a book published? I’m a hack. ((Ok, probably sounds melodramatic but it’s what went through my head.)) My next two reviews were FIVE STARS but I still wasn’t happy. Why? There’s no better review to receive but that damned critic kept whispering in my ear that the reviewers were off their rockers. (Yes, as my dear friends pointed out — none too kindly, not that I’m holding a grudge or anything… — I’m the one who is nuts. I should be THRILLED with my reviews. During my good moments I am, during the not-so-great moments I’m filled with doubt.)

 Then today I was talking to a guy who had just participated in a tournament. I asked how he’d done. He did not look too happy when he said “Fourth.” and I was thinking, Maybe there were only ten people in the tournament. So I asked how many competed. I don’t remember the exact number but it was WELL OVER 100!

He beat nationally ranked players. He beat a ton of other players, but still he wasn’t happy.

I know how that feels. So all I said was something dumb like Fourth place is pretty good.  I did not launch into the whole, “Fourth out of 100-something. That’s awesome. You should be proud of yourself!” thing, because I know that when people say it to me, it sounds hollow, but now I’m wondering if I should have said it. Maybe he needs to hear it. Maybe we all need to hear it. So…

 Beth YOU Rock!

John YOU Rock!

Jen….you’re doing okay….


October 30, 2006

Would you say something?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 9:46 am

I live in NJ where it feels like I’m always being bombarded by the message “If you see something, say something” in terms of suspicious activity that might be related to terrorists.

 So last night I said something. Now before I tell you what happened I must tell you that I am a professional worrier. Heck, I’m paranoid, it’s why I write suspense and thrillers. I worry about everything. I know that there was a good chance that I could have been overreacting.

So here’s what happened: My husband and I went into a strip mall. On the way in I noticed three men in a minivan parked in the far corner of the lot. One of them was working on a laptop. (Keep in mind that it was a Sunday evening and it got dark early.) Odd.

 More than an hour later they were still there. Still working on a laptop. VERY ODD.

 So I called the police. The dispatcher didn’t seem to think I was insane. He said he’d send a car right over. (He also said that they might have been with a phone company since there’s a cell tower nearby.)

So I’ll ask you. If you came across a similar situation, would you say something?

October 26, 2006

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 5:21 pm

I’m a big fan of Stephen King. Big, big fan. So big I haven’t read one of his books in ages (except for On Writing — which imho is BRILLIANT).

I don’t read his books because he’s so damn good at what he does. He engages the reader, sucks you in and scares the hell out of you (or at least out of me). So I don’t read him, but I’m thinking I might give Lisey’s Story a try (only in broad daylight though!).

 Lisey’s Story is a love story, with the trademark Stephen King twist. It’s getting great reviews. It looks like it might be a great read.

 Will you be reading Lisey’s Story? Why or why not?

October 25, 2006

I kill people who piss me off

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 4:21 pm

and I enjoy it, dammit!

Yup, if somebody pisses me off, I plot my revenge.

Sure, I kill them off in a piece of fiction (only cuz I KNOW that with my luck, if I even tried it in real life, something would go wrong. They’d end up alive and fabulously wealthy after selling the story of their attempted murder and I’d end up sharing a cell with someone named Bertha or Helga or something) but still I take a certain satisfaction in making sure people get exactly what they deserve.

 I thought this was a pretty common practice (ok, I assumed that EVERYONE — even people who don’t write — kills off their enemies (perceived or otherwise) in their imagination. 

 Then the other day I commented on something on Kate Perry’s blog (it’s a hoot, check out her site at www.KatePerry.com) and I revealed that I make a point of killing off people. And I realized that not everyone does.

 How do you people get through the day?

 This truly baffles me….

October 24, 2006

The power of today’s text

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 7:52 pm

Earlier this week I read an article about a girl who was threatening to commit suicide via text messages. She went so far as to give a countdown via text messages. Her attempt was not “successful” instead of killing herself she rammed her car into incoming traffic, killing a mother of three. Her text messages will be presented as evidence when she stands trial for murder.

 Also this week, I heard another story about a woman using a computer in a school library. When she was done she did not log out of her email account. Someone sent an insulting message to EVERYONE in her address book. Needless to say, the woman had a lot of apologizing to do.

 Have you had any text mishaps?

I once felt like the world’s biggest idiot when a magazine editor I was working with wrote, “please call me Linda”. Eager to land the assignment I quickly typed back, “I’d love to, but I don’t have your phone number”. I swear I could hear her laughter echoing in my computer.

October 23, 2006

Eau de Writer?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 11:52 am

Have you seen the ads yet for “Danielle” the new perfume being launched by Danielle Steel?  I guess having sold 500 gazillion books isn’t enough for her. She had to hawk her own signature scent. 

 What would an author’s scent embody? Paper, toner, stale coffee, a lack of regular showers?

Would you buy a scent endorsed by a writer?

October 20, 2006

Midnight Sun by Rene Lyons

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 2:04 pm

I don’t read vampire books. My husband does. Eons ago he convinced me to read Interview with a Vampire. Not my thing. I swore I’d never read another.

But then, a few weeks ago at the NJRW conference I met this amazing woman Rene Lyons. She’s adorable and enthusiastic and sweet, so I got her book Midnight Sun. Figured I’d give it a cursory read. Thought I’d send her a polite note.

 So much for those plans.

Her book made me cry. Not a sniffle and a brush away a stray tear kind of cry, but a where-the-hell-did-I-leave-the-Kleenex all out bawl.

 Now I’m kinda pissed.

Cuz I’ve got to wait for the sequel to be released next month.  So I’ve gone from “I’ll never read another” to “I’ve got to wait a WHOLE MONTH for the next?”!

At least it’ll give me time to stock up on Kleenex…

Hop over to Rene’s site and read all about Midnight Sun  www.renelyons.net

October 19, 2006

Can a first person thriller work?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 1:08 pm

I’m not a big fan of first person (though it’s sometimes done well in chick lit type stories) and I’d never read a thriller in first person before.

I may never read one again. I just read a book that I received at the NJRW conference and I decided to “broaden my horizons”and read something I normally wouldn’t read.  I read it. I HATED it.

 I’m not sure if I would have disliked the book quite so much if it hadn’t been in first person. I disliked the “heroine” (it’s a word I use loosely in this case) so much that it was difficult to finish the book. (In keeping with the book, I thought the ending was AWFUL!)

 I’m not going to name the book (bad karma to go bashing other authors, right?) so don’t even ask.

 The question I want to ask you is: can first person work in a thriller? And as a general rule, how do you feel about first person?


Excerpt from Nowhere to Hide www.jenniferelbaum.com

With  trembling  fingers  she  lifted  the  jeans  up  and  clutched  them  to  her  chest.  Her  heart  pounded  in  her  ears  and  she  closed  her  eyes.  She  knew  this  was  wrong,  but  there  was  no  other  way.  No  other  way  to  save  him.  She  turned  to  creep  out  of  the  room  and  a  man’s  chest  entered  her  field  of  vision.  A  wet  chest.  She  would  have  screamed  if  Wolf  hadnʹt  clapped  a  hand  over  her  mouth.    ʺGoing  somewhere?ʺ he  hissed,  his  eyes  dark  with  fury.  His  head  covered  with  shampoo  suds,  his  body  with  nothing.  Instinctively,  Alex  backed  away,  bumping  into  the  cool  tiled  wall.   He  followed,  pinning  her  there  with  a  heavy  hand  on  her  shoulder.     

October 18, 2006

Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmatic, and RAMBO?????

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 3:43 pm

This is beyond sad. I I just saw this story:


(Oct. 18) – The Independent School District of Burleson, Texas, just south of Ft. Worth is the first in the country to adopt a policy of training students to immediately fight back and use their advantage in numbers to take tactical control if a gunman enters their classroom.


A.  Kids are going to have to learn S.W.A.T along with their ABC’s

B: How long until a student or teacher is attacked by a gang of these mini-soldiers?

What are your thoughts?


October 17, 2006

Marriage Minority

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 9:13 am

Have you seen the news reports? Have you read the stories?

From a story in the New York Times by Sam Roberts:

“Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.”

 No big surprise there, right?

Not if you read. Because I’d be willing to bet that the romance novel community has been ahead of the curve on this one. I wish there was a comparable census that could tell us what percentage of romance novels no longer end with a marriage (or promise of marriage).

Do you think that American romance novels are an accurate barometer of American culture?

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