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

Sunday, February 08, 2009


“It’s a beautiful day at XYZ Cosmetics. This is Karen. How may I help you?”
“I’d like to cancel my quarterly shipment.”
“Oh…I’m sorry to hear that. Could I ask why you don’t want to continue using the products?”
“I’m not satisfied with the results I’m seeing.”
“I’m sorry. What results were you hoping for? Maybe I can recommend some different products that will better suit your specific needs.”
“Well, the infomercial promised the cleanser and cream would diminish my fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores by 49% and sun spots by 60%. With those sorts of claims, I expected to look like Jennifer Aniston but instead I still look like Jennifer Archer.”
Long pause… “The advertisement said that a certain number of users have reported those results, not everyone. You might benefit from a more intense regimen. I recommend you add our weekly facial masque made from an extract of caterpillar larvae blended with blueberry and apricot acids. I can send you a trial shipment of one month’s supply, and if you like it, the shipments will continue every quarter afterward for the low price of 64.99 a—”
“Will it make me look like Jennifer Aniston?”
“Um . . .” Another long pause.
“That’s what I thought. I think I’ll pass. I can go to the drugstore every quarter and continue to look like Jennifer Archer for $6.99 instead of $64.99.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Hey, it’s not that bad.” (Said defensively.)
“I didn’t mean . . . I’m sorry.”
“So you’ve said.”
“I’ve cancelled your order, Ma’am. Have a beautiful day.”

The moral of this story? Hmmm. . . . not sure. Maybe that the world already has a Jennifer Aniston, a Halle Berry, a Brad Pitt, a you-name-it, but the world only has one you? Quit trying to be someone else and be yourself? Embrace your identity? You don’t have to spend a fortune making the most of what you’ve got? Or maybe the moral is just that we should always take the opportunity to mess with folks who work for companies that make outrageous claims for an outrageous price. It’s fun, and it probably livens up their monotonous day.

Speaking of identity, I promised to blog about the young adult novel THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson. The story raised many questions in my mind. How far would I go to save someone I love? Before reading the book, I would have answered that question, “I would do whatever it takes.” Now the answer is no longer so clear cut for me. I hope I would consider first whether my actions were in the loved one’s best interests, or just for my own selfish reasons – because I couldn’t bear the loss. The story also raised the question of what makes up a person’s identity. A small part of the brain that contains personality? Our collected experiences? Both of those and more? THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX is a thought-provoking, well-written novel with compelling characters – a blend of science fiction, mystery, and coming of age love story all rolled into one. I enjoyed the read and I recommend it for teens and adults. I must admit to being a bit freaked out by the fact that some of the elements are eerily similar to elements in a story I’ve been working on. Just more proof to my theory that ideas float around out there in the universe and more than one writer often tap into the same one. The good news is that the same core idea in the minds of two writers usually emerges on the page in two very different ways. Though similarities may exist, we each put our own stamp of identity on the story.
* * * *
If identity is made up of collected experiences, I’ve been adding a lot of material to shape mine. An acquaintance recently gave me a wonderful compliment by claiming that I am both interested and interesting. I believe those two elements are the key to staying mentally young. Which is why I recently challenged myself to Do Something New each month. Though I haven’t blogged in a while, I haven’t slacked off on that challenge. Here’s some of what I’ve been doing:
1) I had a food adventure. Jaime, a student from the creativity class I’m teaching, invited my husband and me to his house to sample authentic Peruvian foods. Jaime grew up in Peru and his girlfriend still lives in Lima. She was in town for the month of January and helped him prepare the meal. We had thinly sliced octopus with the most delicious olive sauce, yucca, cerviche, and much more. The food was wonderful but I also enjoyed the Pisco Sours, a yummy but potent drink!
2) I have been collaborating with my oldest son on a writing project. I get two points for that, as I have never collaborated on a book with anyone before, and I have never worked professionally with my son before. I have enjoyed doing both!
3) The project my son and I are writing is a biography – the personal history of a 94 year old man who has led a remarkable life. This is my first attempt at writing a biography. Non-fiction is typically not my forte, but I am loving this!
4) I have joined Facebook and am trying to learn the ins and outs of it. So far, so good.

That’s it until next time. I would love to hear about the new things you’ve tried recently, what you’ve been reading, and your thoughts on what makes up identity. Post away!

Happy Reading,


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Travis Erwin said...

As you know I've been up to my armpits in new, but sadly these new gray hairs have failed to make me look more distinguished. I'm still the same fat hairy and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Jennifer said...

Ah, Travis. I bet those gray hairs give you character--not that you aren't already chock full of it!

anita said...

Hey Jenny! You KNOW what I'm reading. Buggy love on parade. :-)

How cool about the octopus! You didn't tell us about that. Oh, but I guess you were saving it for the blog. You sneaky chickie you.

Great post, and now I'm wanting to read that YA. Hmm. Let me wallow through the forest a bit longer...I may just have to borrow that book if it gets too green here on my side of the world. Heh.

Britta Coleman said...

Great book I just finished: William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Incredible book that's a lesson in writing in multiple viewpoints.

New thing: Facebook. Loving catching up with old friends.

Identity: My favorite quote on identity is "If you don't know who you are the world will tell you." Scary thought, and a good catalyst for exploration.

dee said...

you know its too funny....I ordered some of this woop-te-do face stuff that was supposed to tighten and smooth the skin....so you had to spray the mist, then stick your face through the mist as it hung in the air...which I did believe it or not. A short time later, I tried to smile and my skin crackled...actually crackled!! apparently it was like cosmetic superglue cause it took days to wear off...so I figure if I want to look younger, to the plastic surgeon i will go, but no more mail order superglue!!!