I only found out at 7 a.m. this morning and thought I'd have to sit on it for awhile longer, but since the deal is posted on Publisher's Marketplace, I can announce it here:


As posted on PM:

Debut Fiction:  Jennifer Hillier's CREEP, about a sexually addicted college professor terrorized by her teaching assistant, to Kathy Sagan at Gallery, by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (world).

It's really happening.  It's really happening.  It's really happening.

More details to follow tomorrow.  But for now, know that Gallery is an imprint of Simon & Schuster (one of the Big Six publishers) and it goes without saying that I Am Really Freaking Excited About This!

(click to enlarge... I'm in the middle)

I love my agent.  She is a rock star.

Italics are on my shit list, too.

It's just not typos that bother me.  Italics bug me, too.  More so, actually, because italics in a novel are done purposefully to make a point.

I'm reading a Patterson book right now, and it's riddled with italics.  There are probably five or six italicized words and phrases on every single page.  It's beyond distracting.  Does Patterson not trust his readers to understand the point he's trying to make?

Italics are like a spice.  Used sparingly, they can certainly enhance what the author is trying to say.  Used in excess, the dish is ruined.

My ten favorite Stephen King books

10.  Salem's Lot
The first vampire story I ever read (even before Dracula).  And still one of the best, in my opinion.  I'd be interested to see, if King ever wanted to write a vampire series, what he'd do with it.

9.   Different Seasons
Four novellas in one book, including Rita Hayworth & The Shawshank Redemption and The Body (which later became the movie Stand By Me).

8.  Thinner (written as Richard Bachman)
Imagine a gypsy puts a curse on you to make you thinner.  Awesome, right?  Until you shoot right past your goal weight and turn into a skeleton, that is.

7.  Misery
You already know that Annie Wilkes is one my favorite villains, ever.

6.  Insomnia
A lot of people didn't like this book (King being one of them) but I loved the characters.  He writes old people as well as he writes children, and I cheered for elderly Ralph Roberts to triumph over the evil Crimson King.  Plus his budding romance with long-time neighbor Lois was surprisingly sweet.

5.  The Talisman (co-written with Peter Straub)
This book just got to me – that's the only way I think of to explain it.  The isolation of the 12-year-old main character Jack from his family, and his unlikely friendship with a 16-year-old werewolf named Wolf… I actually cried a couple times.

4.  The Eyes of the Dragon
This is a fairy tale that King wrote for his children.  Filled with corrupt kings, evil magicians and, yes, dragons, this is usually the first book I recommend to someone who doesn't normally like King, because it's so different from his other work.

3.  On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft
I wouldn't necessarily say that King's book is the best and most educational book I've ever read about writing and publishing, but as a budding writer myself, it was fascinating to see how one of the most famous writers of all time became a writer.

2.  Pet Sematary
The first Stephen King book I ever read.  Gave me nightmares for two weeks.  Anything you bury in the pet cemetery comes back to life, including people.  Including Louis's wife.
The last three lines of the book:
A cold hand fell on Louis's shoulder.  Rachel's voice was grating, full of dirt.
"Darling," she said.
One of the most satisfying Stephen King endings ever.

1.  IT
A controversial number one I'm sure… but I loved this book.  I already mentioned this is my FAQ section, but I'll repost here:
It's a thousand-plus pages long, has seven protagonists who are all eleven years old, and they have to defeat a monster who can change into their worst nightmare whenever It feels like it.  I first read this book when I was eleven years old, and every word felt authentic to me.  I've read IT a dozen times since, and every time I get something different out of it.

I bet one or two of you are wondering where The Stand is.  I did read it a long time ago, but I can't remember it!  So obviously it doesn't qualify as one of my favorites, although I believe most King fans would wholeheartedly disagree with me.

Have you read Stephen King?  Which of his books did you love?

Just kill me now

What do you do when you feel like your new WIP is shit?

You keep writing it anyway. 

(There are many versions of hell... and this is one of mine.)

Bad book covers

I can't remember for the life of me what I was searching for, but in the depths of Google I stumbled across some awesomely awful book covers.

Here are six of the worst offenders:

Really?  You can't identify wood?  If that's the case, maybe you're not ready to be... uh... looking under the leaves.


That uncertain feeling you're feeling is sexual harassment, you pervert.

I'm not entirely sure what game these animals are playing, but the rooster up front doesn't seem like a happy camper.  I bet he wishes he was wearing underwear.

I have no idea what this book is about, or what the title is supposed to mean, but I can definitely say this:  whatever's in Satan's burger, please God, I don't want it.

Based on the look of horror on the kid's face, I'd say, "Baby, stay in!"

This one is just... unfortunate.  
Though, I can't help but wonder:  does poo harden or melt when you bake it?

Happy Friday!


I just finished reading a very funny book by Christopher Moore called BLOODSUCKING FIENDS.  The book's been out since 1995, but of course you know me… always late to the party.

I loved this book.  It's a humorous look at a young woman who turns into a vampire.  It has none of the angst or broodiness that I've come to expect from a vampire story;  on the contrary, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all.  The subject matter's a little dark, but the voice is light-hearted and the characters are quirky.  There's only one thing I didn't like.

It has typos.

And nothing pulls me out of a story faster than a typo.  You know why?  Because I notice.  And that makes me stop reading.  So I can make sure it really was a typo.  And once I confirm that that Yes indeed, this is a typo I'm looking at and not an ink splotch, the following thoughts run through my mind in this exact order:

How can there be a typo?
Wasn't this proofread by a whole bunch of people?
Why didn't the author catch it?
Why didn't his beta readers catch it?
Why didn't the agent catch it?
Why didn't the editor catch it?
Why didn't the copy editor catch it?
Nobody noticed this in the ARC (advance release copy)?
But this book was originally published in 1995.  There have been multiple printings since then... couldn't someone have fixed it?
Does the author know about this?
Does it bother him?
It would bother me.
I wonder how many more I'll spot.
How can there be a typo?

Yep.  Nothing like a laundry list of pointless questions to pull you right out of the story.
Look, I get it, typos happen.  Nobody's perfect, least of all me.  But six?  In a skinny book?  A skinny published book?  With three of them on the same page?

Tsk tsk.  Or, should I say, tks tks.

Ten books I loved as a kid

I could probably start a blog that does nothing but discuss children's books, so this is by no means a comprehensive list.  But each one of these books sparked something in me when I was little.  As an adult reader, I don't think I'll ever be able to replicate that feeling I had when I was a kid, reading way past my bedtime, lost in someone else's world.  

To children's book authors everywhere:  Thank you.

10.  CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White
This is the first book I can remember reading that made me cry.  I was upset for days after I finished it.  It wasn't until I was older that I was able to recognize the mark of a truly great book:  it stays with you long after the reading experience is over.

9.  HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS by Thomas Rockwell
What could be more gross – and more awesome! – than having to eat worms as part of a bet?

I checked this book out of the library because someone else had checked out Green Eggs & Ham.  To this day it remains my favorite of all the Dr. Seuss books.  I loved it so much I refused to return it.  We kept getting letters from the library, and eventually my poor mom just paid for it.

7.  CRISIS ON CONSHELF TEN by Monica Hughes
Assigned reading in grade four!  And it was my very first thriller (okay, it's probably more science fiction, but it was very thrilling).  Set way in the future, it was about a boy who undergoes an operation that gives him gills, so he can live underwater because Earth's air is too polluted.  In hindsight I suppose this book was part of the curriculum because of its message about the environment.  But back then, all I cared about were the underwater adventures.

6.  ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery
Everything about this book is magical, from the spunk and whimsy of the title character to the breathless tranquility of Green Gables.  Because of this book, I'll never rule out the possibility of someday living on Prince Edward Island.


5.  A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L'Engle
I was eight when I turned to the first page and read:  It was a dark and stormy night.  This might be a clichéd way to start a book in 2010, but it's clichéd because of this book.

4.  I WANT TO GO HOME! by Gordon Korman
Korman is my hero.  Born in Thornhill, Ontario, his first book This Can't Be Happening at McDonald Hall (1978) was written as a 7th grade English assignment, and was published by Scholastic by the time he was 14.  To date he's written 65 books.  I Want To Go Home! is my favorite, because it's about a kid who doesn't want to be at camp, and so he does everything he can to make the experience memorable.  I laughed so hard I had tears.  TEARS.  And I was only ten. 

I loved all of Blume's Fudge books, but this first one was my favorite.  I didn't have a little brother like Fudge, but Peter's exasperation with him is legendary. 


This whole series is amazing, but there's a reason this one is the standout:  the White Witch is one icy bitch.  (See, I could appreciate a good villain even at the age of nine.)

1.  RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8 by Beverly Cleary
Ahhh, Ramona.  I was eight, she was eight, and we both had all the same problems:  older siblings who thought they knew it all, parents who worked all the time, a teacher we wanted to please, and kids in our class who got on our nerves.  She will forever be my most cherished childhood heroine ever.

Which books did you love when you were little?

Fat vs. skinny

So you're at the bookstore looking for something to read.  You're planning to actually buy something (you're not just browsing).  You spot two books that look interesting on the What's Hot In Fiction shelf.  You pick them up.  You scan the back cover blurbs and the first pages of both books, and they seem equally compelling.  The books are the same genre, written by authors you admire.

But one book is skinny (say, 275 pages).  The other book is fat (say, 550 pages).  You only have enough money for one book, and they're the same price.

Which one would you buy?

The horrible stuff I read for educational purposes

I've been doing a lot of research on serial killers lately. Some random facts:

Luis Garavito from Colombia is thought to have killed the most people ever.  Convicted of killing 138 boys, the actual number could be over 300. Most of his victims were street children.  His sentence was reduced to 22 years in prison once he started helping Colombian authorities find their bodies.

Mary Ann Cotton's weapon of choice was arsenic.  Believed to have killed 20 people, her victims included her mother, 4 husbands, 2 lovers, and a dozen children.  She was hanged in England in 1873.

James Bulger is the oldest person on the FBI's Most Wanted list.  Born in 1929, he's wanted for 19 murders and various other stuff relating to organized crime.  Though he's 80 years old now, he's considered armed and dangerous.

Quite a few serial killers are from Washington state (where I live now).  Among the most infamous:

Ted Bundy
The University of Washington Law student was convicted of killing 36 women in Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, and Florida.  He was executed in 1989.

Kenneth Bianchi, a.k.a. The Hillside Strangler
Along with his cousin, Angelo Buono, Yates murdered 7 women in Los Angeles and 2 in Bellingham, Washington.  He's currently on death row in Washington State Penitentiary.

Robert Lee Yates
Convicted of 15 murders, Yates's victims were prostitutes.  He'd shoot them first and then engage in post-mortem sex.  He grew up on Whidbey Island (north of Seattle) and is currently serving a life sentence in Washington State Penitentiary.

Why do I write fiction?  There's no need to make this stuff up.

Things that go bump in the night

It doesn't matter that I'm a grown woman, or that I live in a pretty safe neighborhood, or that I know the odds of me dying an agonizing and torturous death at the hands of a serial killer are .0000001%.

I still get scared at night.

Every bump is the sound of a crazy man breaking into my house.  Every creak is the weight of his footsteps on the stairs.  Every flicker out of the corner of my eye is his shadow moving towards me.  And even with my eyes squeezed shut, every breath I take is his breath on my face.

I really need to start writing romance.

Introducing Top Ten Tuesdays! Villains!

I delight in making lists, and I delight even more in ranking things.  So what better way to combine these two delights than to create Top Ten Tuesdays?

Today's Top 10 list:

My 10 Favorite Movie Villains Of All Time

(Disclaimer:  These are not necessarily the best movie villains using any objective criteria, these are simply my personal favorites using incredibly biased criteria.)

10. Alex Forrest – Fatal Attraction
She slept with a married man, then boiled his daughter's bunny when he spurned her.  Do you know what kind of evil it takes to a boil a kid's bunny?  The harming of innocent pets (especially ones with floppy ears) takes evil to a whole new level.

9. Margaret White – Carrie
I'm sure this one will be controversial, but to me, Mrs. White is the epitome of 'crazy bitch'.  And she's religious to boot, which really ups the creep factor. "They're all gonna laugh at choo! They're all gonna laugh at choo!"  With that kind of shrieking, it's no wonder Carrie flung knives at her telekinetically.

8. Great White Shark – Jaws
The shark doesn't have a single line in the movie, but the mere sight of its fin strikes terror in your heart.  Now that's what I call Movie Star Quality.

7. Annie Wilkes – Misery
Who could be scarier than a psychotic, murderous, sledgehammer-wielding nurse who can't bring herself to say the word 'fuck'?  Nobody, you stupid cockadoodie brat.

6. The Joker – The Dark Knight
Twitchy, with a face that looks like it's melting... it was hard to watch Ledger's interpretation of The Joker without getting chills.  But it's a gleeful kind of horror, because, well, "Why so serious?"
5. Jack Torrance – The Shining
Jack Nicholson plays a boozy, grizzly writer who spirals into madness.  Then he tries to REDRUM his wife and son. He must be DEPPOTS!

4. Dracula – Bram Stoker's Dracula
The original vampire love story.  Vlad the Impaler and Mina Murray are the original Edward and Bella, but they're so much more interesting because Vlad's kind of fugly and Mina's engaged to someone else.

3. Regan MacNeil – The Exorcist
She's a 12-year-old girl possessed by a demon.  What's a mother to do?  You can't kill her.  You can't send her to her room (she's already there, tied to the bed).  There's no point in grounding her because she has no friends (nobody wants to play with a possessed kid).  She curses like a sailor and vomits on people.  All a mother can do is love her… and she definitely has a face only a mother could love.

2. John Doe – Se7en
He commits a series of murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins (quick, name them all without Googling!).  This story is brilliantly plotted, and the fact that we never learn John Doe's true identity keeps the movie in your head for days after you've watched it.

1. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon
I'm sure you saw this one coming.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for a villain who's smarter than all the other characters put together.  My favorite line is from Hannibal, the second film.  Says Lecter to Inspector Pazzi, "On a similar note I must confess to you, I'm giving very serious thought... to eating your wife."

And an honorable mention goes to...

Jame Gumb, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill – Silence of the Lambs
Not that he could ever upstage Lecter, but this dude made clothes out of real human skin.  Skin!  "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."  Yeah, don't do the lotion.  Let your skin peel and crack and dry out so he can't wear you!

Who are your favorite movie villains?

What? This is a true story?

I've been reading so much fiction lately that I honestly can't remember the last time I read a non-fiction book.  That all changed this weekend, when I finally finished the wonderfully macabre escapist romp that is DEARLY DEVOTED DEXTER (by Jeff Lindsay) and dove into Geneen Roth's WOMEN, FOOD AND GOD.

I won't go into too many details about the premise of the book.  But I will say that it's a much different experience reading a non-fiction book after almost a year of reading nothing but fiction, because the author's view are all over it!  I know that's a silly statement, because Duh Jenny That's So Obvious, so let me explain.

Because I'm so used to reading stories that are Made Up, it's almost jarring when the author very plainly tells me what she believes about relationships, why people are fat, and yes, what she thinks about God.  As a fiction writer, I work really hard to keep my own views out of my work.  They inevitably seep in sometimes, but hopefully I've done a good enough job telling you a fictional story to convince you that the views in my work belong to the characters, and not necessarily to me.

But I'm enjoying this book.  Roth's voice is very distinctive and engaging, and she makes her views clear without shoving them down your throat.  I find I have to pause every couple of pages, just to let what she's saying sink in, and there's so much to digest that I'll probably have to read the book again before I'm able to process it all.

It's a different reading experience than what I've let myself get used to.  I'm not being carried away in an adrenaline-charged thriller where the characters are the narrators of the story.  Here, the author is speaking to me, and I have to think about what she's trying to tell me.  I have to figure out if her insights fit with my own beliefs and, if they do, how they fit.  In most ways, I feel like I'm the one doing all the work.

Which, since I'm the reader, is nice for a change.

Addendum to Top Ten Pet Peeves post

New #1 Pet Peeve:

A blogger who changes the layout, colors, and graphics of her blog three times in one week, causing surprise and dismay to many of her blog readers who, frankly, do not understand why the blog keeps changing.

In defense of this pathetically indecisive blogger, may we kindly remind readers that it is not so easy to design a website when one possesses almost zero web design skills, and when something one thought looked nice and professional last week suddenly seems amateurish and cartoony a few days later.

This blogger was given no warning that her host site was about to upload a whole slew of new templates which did not exist last weekend when she was struggling to give her blog a makeover. Had made these awesome new templates available last week, this poor, struggling blogger would not have changed her layout, colors, and graphics three times. This blogger would have changed it only once, and gotten it right the first time.

So in order not to hurt this blogger's feelings, we kindly request that you do not make fun of her multiple attempts to get her website to look exactly right. Someday you may find yourself in a position to have a blog or website of your own, and you may struggle with it, too. We request that if you absolutely must make fun of her, you do it behind her back, so that she may continue to live in blissful ignorance of how idiotic it really is to change a blog three times in one week.

Thank you.

Top Ten Pet Peeves

10.  Magazine inserts.  It aggravates me when I open up a new magazine and three or four sharp squares of cardboard fall out.  I don't need sharp cardboard to tell me how cheap it is to subscribe.  I already subscribe.  That's why I'm reading the magazine.

9.  Telemarketers I hang up on who call back the very next day.  I told a lady yesterday that I wasn't interested in upgrading my Dell computer's warranty.  Didn't matter.  Someone from that department called me again this morning.  At 9 am.   I'm a night owl—calling too early is really not the way to win my heart.

8.  people who dont use any punctuation whatsoever in their messages even if theyre writing on your facebook wall or commenting on photos messages should still have periods commas and apostrophes because not having them makes them really difficult to understand and if you write this way all the time how the hell are you able switch back to proper grammatical sentences for school or work

7.  YouTube videos that pause frequently for "buffering".  Even with my super-fast wireless card and my lightning-speed wireless router and my Speedy Gonzales internet connection, this still happens.  No entiendo!  I am stumped.

6.  People who tell the same jokes over and over and over again.  Not naming names, but I know somebody who's guilty of this.  I don't care how funny it was the first time, by the tenth time I'm gritting my teeth.  For the sake of my molars, please find some new material.
5.  Cat barf.  Especially cat barf I didn't notice until I stepped on it.

4.  TV commercial that are ten times louder than the program I'm watching.  Do advertisers really expect we'll watch the commercial if it's ear-splitting?  Thank God for DVRs and the fast-forward button.

3.  Having important conversations via text or email.  Have something earth-shattering to tell me? CALL. Your message will much more impactful without all the typos.

2.  Eating the last chocolate in the box without realizing it was the last chocolate, then reaching for the box only to find it empty.  It is imperative that I be psychologically prepared for my snacking experience to be over.  Otherwise, I'm left feeling very unsatisfied, regardless of how many chocolates I've eaten.

1.  Toilet paper that comes out under the roll.  Folks, toilet paper should always be over the roll.   Don't ask me why over is right—it just is, and it's not up for debate.  It will literally ruin my bathroom experience if the roll is wrong.

What are your pet peeves?