Year: 2011

On Romance Reading and Writing

I spent the week before Christmas on vacation in Providence, RI. Before hopping on that Amtrak train, I hit Barnes & Noble to stock up on a genre I’m further studying: romance novels. It’s a not-so-hidden secret that I’m a fan, and I’ve attempted to write one before, though half heartedly. This fall, I made major steps in that direction. I have 40-something pages of my first real shot at a novel almost done (the photo includes pages that are part of that manuscript), and I’ll be submitting a sample from that book to a competition in January. I have a pen name picked out, too, but I don’t know if I’ll use it. More on that in another post. While I’ve read romances and I’m a member of RWA, I’ve stuck to a few authors whose work I know I’ll love, so for vacation, I went judging books by…

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On bad books

I was in New York this weekend on a two-day writing retreat, and brought a book I’d expected to review for Guyspeed.com along with me (I stayed in Red Bank, NJ, which meant I had some down time on the train to and from New York). But the book was so rotten that I emailed my editor and said I just couldn’t do it – and this is a site that will list things that they hate. Could I have done that for this book? Yes. I didn’t, though, because I hadn’t read the whole thing. Two chapters was enough. In order to do a proper “I hate it” review, I’d have to read the whole thing (yes, I have ethics!), and I didn’t want to subject myself to that. Two reasons why the book was bad: 1. It was written by someone who said they were an ‘expert’ on…

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Let’s talk about Eloisa James

I’ve been doing some book review for this site, which is very fun. I’ve also been plowing through two tomes on personal finance, which is not very fun. And then there’s holiday and family stress, and I decided I needed a break. This year, those kind of reading/mental breaks have been spent with Eloisa James. Eloisa James is the pen name for Mary Bly, a Shakespeare professor at Fordham. I interviewed her back in 2009 for a story I wrote on the real lives of romance writers. I’d never read her books before, but included her because of her fun story, and because she lived in New Jersey. She was incredibly friendly and smart – a great interviewee. I read one of her books for the story, and enjoyed it, which surprised me because she writes historical fiction. Most of her books take place mostly in the Regency time period…

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Four years later, an essay

If you’ve read Book a Week with Jen – the ebook or the blog – you know I kept referencing an essay I was writing about the person who dumped me, an event that was one of the things that lead to me starting the 52 books in 52 weeks project. Four years later, here it is. It’s been completely rewritten, revised and rewritten again since I first wrote it, and I obviously updated it, but it’s finally seeing the light of day. I wrote then that, if it were ever published, that “the sh*t would hit the fan.” I don’t think it will now. That great big thing called “time” and “perspective” have changed things, and gave me the space from the actual event to write an essay I felt like I could share. It’s not pretty, and part of me is still very embarrassed that I let myself…

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Reading 2011

This came in the mail yesterday. Well, these. I’m starting to review books for a new website, and I called in a specific kind of book from publicists on my book PR list. I thought I’d get a few. Didn’t think I’d require a crate. I spent some time with Book a Week with Jen when I was turning it from a blog series into a book. One thing I realized is how little I write about books anymore compared to 2007-2008. A few reasons for this. First, my writing was deflected into travel writing when The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May was published – more than I could have imagined. It’s now in its second edition, so I’ve spent a large chunk of my writing time on the shore in the last four years. I mean a really large chunk. Second, there just aren’t many book review…

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Book a Week with Jen – now on sale!

“In 2007, freelance journalist Jen A. Miller got dumped, lost her grandfather, wrote a book and bought a house – all in a four month span. She couldn’t run, she couldn’t write, and spent most of her time lying on her office floor. To break herself out of her depression, she decided to read 52 books in 52 weeks, and write about them all. In Book a Week with Jen, Jen recovers from the worst year of her life by reading – everything from dating books written for men to foodie lit to running books to romance novels (and even an instruction guide to threesomes). Funny, inspiring, and full of essays about good books, Book a Week with Jen is how one writer used the power of reading to pull herself through to a brighter side.” It’s finally here! The Book a Week with Jen eBook! Thanks to everyone who…

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Book a Week with Jen: The ebook!

This blog isn’t dead yet! In fact, it’s now an ebook! Well, partly. I don’t want to say too much since the book’s not actually on sale yet, but if you read this blog from the beginning, you’ll be very familiar with what the book is about. More details soon!

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Review: American Wife

This is a curious book. Joyce Carol Oates called Curtis Sittenfeld’s third book, American Wife: A Novel, her most ambitious project. I might agree with her there. But I’m not sure I agree that the ambitionof this novel quite followed through. American Wife is about Alice, a small town girl who lives a dull, normal life. As a teenager, she kills a classmate in a car accident. She eventually because a librarian. At 31, she meets Charlie Blackwell, a loveable but somewhat dim man who has inherited fortune as part of a well known political family name. They marry. They falter. He buys a baseball team. He drinks. He stops drinking. And he eventually becomes President of the United States. Sound familiar? That’s because Alice’s story mimics that of former first lady Laura Bush. Sure, Charlie works in meat packing and lives in Wisconsin. But there is no way to…

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Interview: Michael Uslan

Check out the August issue of New Jersey Monthly for my interview with Michael Uslan about his new book, The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir Uslan is responsible for getting every modern Batman movie – from 1989 to today – on screen, and the book is about his journey in making that happen. Believe it or not, it was not an easy road. But it’s more than just a “my life in movies” book. It’s a wonderful memoir about being a kid growing up in New Jersey. The writing is vivid and lively, and I devoured this book in three days – three very stressful, busy days where all I wanted to do was drop everything to finish the book. It’s a great read.

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Observation Part 2: More Hair Covers

So apparently this is still happening. Those were all taken yesterday at Barnes & Noble. I didn’t go looking for them – they were all in the same “new releases” shelf. I barely even had to move to take a picture of all of them. Why? No clue. Any thoughts?

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