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I write novels for teens and adults. Visit me here & on my website http://www.jenniferarcher.net

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stability Is Highly Overrated

Summer has definitely arrived at my house and it proves to be a busy one! We just returned from a weekend trip to the mountains with family and had a wonderful time. My youngest son went back to college this morning and I'm playing catch-up! Meanwhile, I received the back cover copy a.k.a. "blurb" for my August 2006 release OFF HER ROCKER. Here it is!

“Enjoy every second you have with them. Tomorrow you’ll wake up, and they’ll be all grown.”

Twenty years ago, Dana Logan reacted to this statement like any new mother would—with disbelief. Tomorrow? Didn’t the years ahead stretch like a long, sunny road…with no end in sight?

Well, Dana’s just fallen into that end. Hard. It’s like her whole life has been a prep course—only, without warning, they’ve canceled the test. Her children don’t seem to need anything she is able to give.

Okay—so she’ll just have to find someone who does want what she has to offer. If she has to drive into Hell to do it….

Judging by the sign she just passed—“Welcome to Hell. Population 512”—she already has….

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Off Her Rocker

For me, one of the rewards for finishing writing a novel is my first glimpse of the cover art. It's the first verification that my story is really going to become a book that will be on actual shelves in real live bookstores across the country! When an art department takes my idea and comes up with their own visual rendition of it, it's always interesting to see what evolves out of my creative force merging with theirs. My covers are never exactly what I imagined. Sometimes a few of the elements I'd envisioned are there, other times none of them are. No matter what, I'm always surprised in one way or another!

Today my publisher sent the cover art for my August release, OFF HER ROCKER. I imagined my heroine would be in a rocking chair but, other than that, nothing about this cover is what I pictured in my mind. Even the *type" of rocking chair is different. The good news is, I LOVE THIS COVER! It's better than what I pictured. It's fun, with eye-popping color. Now I can't wait to read the blurb my editor wrote for the back of the cover. When I do, I'll let you know what it says!

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Long time, no blog! I've been busy meeting my self-imposed May 15 deadline to finish my Young Adult novel. I made it! It still needs work, but I reached the end, and I hope to have it polished up and on the way to my agent by June 1. One of the reasons I wanted it finished by May 15 is that my youngest son came home from college the evening of May 15 for a much-too-brief two week stay. I wish my oldest could've come with him but he had to stay and work. I won't see him until July. I haven't seen either of them since the first of January! Way too long! Anyway, whenever one or both of my kids are headed home, I think of this poem that my mother-in-law has inside the cover of her cookbook. She put it there when her children started leaving home for college. It never meant much to me until my own kids left home. Now it pretty much captures my mood when I'm anticipating their homecoming. It's really aimed at Christmas, but just change the words "Christmas" to "summer," "November" to "April," and "flakes" to something like "flutters" or "flashes" and it works for this season.

by Linda Pastan

Instinctive as swallows
the migratory children
return at Christmas,
strewing the roads
with their brief colors,
moving like the weather
from south to north,
from west to east.
It is November, these flakes at the window
are only leaves.
But, already the ritual
readies itself.
It is the birth we prepare for,
the homing
of children...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Shakin' Up The Routine & Smellin' The Fun

My new puppy Marge is turning this former night owl into a reluctant morning person. Today, while walking at 6:45 a.m. (yes, you read that right -- A.M. -- as in six-friggin-forty-five in the MORNING), after I blinked the sleep from my eyes, I admitted to myself that there's something special about strolling around the neighborhood when the only sounds are twittering birds, the paper boy's rumbling truck, and a breeze rustling the trees that seemed to whisper hush every time one of my feet struck the pavement. Each morning, Marge seems to want to get up and out a little earlier, and she's shaking up my routine. In more ways than one. For instance, this morning she insisted on turning left to cut across the park rather than walking our usual route around it. So we did. Marge, who normally prances happily along at my side, strained at the leash a bit when she spotted the school playground. Since nobody was out for her to bother, I gave her some slack. A lot of slack. The closer we came to the swings and slide and merry-go-round, the faster she trotted until, finally, she ran, splashing through rain puddles, pouncing at fallen leaves, one ear flopped back, tail wagging. I wondered if she'd caught the scent of all the children who play there, day in, day out, and they smelled like FUN! This was a place to explore.

Since I'm not normally outside at such an early hour, I noticed things I miss on my usual later-in-the-day excursions: the morning mist on my skin, dew on the roses I pass by routinely, a pretty white-haired little old woman who lives down the street. I've never seen her before, but she was out to pick up her paper and we said "hello" to one another.

When Marge and I made it home a half hour later, I wasn't the least bit sleepy anymore. I only required one cup of coffee to kick my brain into gear instead of my usual two. As I made my way to the computer and my story-in-progress, I felt a little like Marge headed for the playground. For the first time in a long while, the writing ahead of me smelled like fun rather than work. I couldn't wait to enter the world where my characters live, to explore it, to discover what adventures they had in store for me.

Thank-you Marge for reminding me it's good for the attitude and the creativity to shake up the old routine every once in a while. But could we at least sleep until seven tomorrow?

Happy reading and writing!

Jennifer (yawn)

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Race To The Finish Line

When I'm writing a book, I prefer not to rush the process. Bringing the characters to life, working out the plot details, uncovering the theme or themes and figuring out how everything connects--imagery to theme to plot to character, etc., requires time. In order to get it right, I do best with plenty of months to put it all down, let it all percolate and brew. Sometimes a tight deadline pushes me along faster than I like. Or, sometimes, I fret over a story and procrastinate and put it aside, come back to it, then put it aside again and again, usually out of fear that I won't do the story justice, that I can't make it as fantastic on paper as it is in my mind. My young adult novel, for instance. The idea for this story came to me something like four years ago, and I started working on it immediately. It wasn't all procrastination and fretting that made me set it aside repeatedly; I signed contracts to write four other novels, all with somewhat short deadlines. I wasn't under contract for the YA, so I had to attend to the paying work first! Since finishing up those contracted books a couple of months ago, I've gone back to the YA, working on it almost daily. And fretting. And dragging my feet. So I've given myself a deadline. I WILL reach the end of the story by May 15, then spend the last half of the month reading it and digging deeper and molding it into shape. I'm zipping it off to my agent on June 1. You heard it here! I've said it, now I MUST follow through! I'll keep you posted.

This weekend, I took a detour on the path I'd planned for my reading. I have wanted to read the YA novel SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson for a long time, so when I saw it at Barnes and Noble, I bought it and temporarily postponed the book I was about to begin. I finished SPEAK in two nights. It's a great story. Dark and funny and heartbreaking, at once. The author perfectly captured the voice of a troubled teenaged outcast. I ached for Melinda and laughed at the wicked sense of humor she maintained even in the face of almost unbearable depression and humiliation. I really admired the author's skill in making me know exactly what emotion her character was feeling at any given time without "telling" me. Ms. Anderson's writing is subtle and powerful. This novel is a former National Book Award finalist. After reading it, that's no surprise to me. I highly recommend it for older adults as well as young ones!

Back to the writing! Happy Monday,