Friday, January 31, 2014

Finally Friday--FInally Sucky January Is Over

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Friday, January 31, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (not only haven't I weighed myself in over a week--as I've been marathon training--but I rarely got out of stretchy workout pants or pajama bottoms all week, so who the H knows?!)
  • 900      Calories Consumed Yesterday (oh crapalicious...that's not enough. Too busy for food. Someone please put some food in my mouth for me!)
  • _3__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (but yes, I had enough time to drink "uplifting" beverages. And I got called out on it. Daughter #2, "Mom, I thought you had to run a marathon...should you be drinking Coke Zero?" *hangs head*)
  • __0 hrs_ Spent Writing (reading, teleconferencing, researching, but no writing.)
  • _1__ Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (tried to make guacamole out of a ripe avocado...tasted like ripe butt!)
Gah! Seriously, was January as rough for you guys as it was for me? Despite many exciting things happening, some days were just gray and drab and very un-holidaysie. Putting away the Christmas tree was like carefully packing up my heart. Sitting down at the desk to face the holiday bills was like putting my soul in the envelope, licking it and sending it away. Going through the carpool, school, and work grind, plus trying to fight off sickness with vitamins, essential oils and green smoothies was like putting my brain into the Vitamix and pressing start.

But I digress... February is almost here, and it can't come soon enough. With promises of half-marathons on the SoCal beach, my literary agency retreat in Orlando, a writing conference in Utah with friends, there's much to look forward to.

What do you have to look forward to in February? A hot Valentines date perhaps?

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Quickie: Believe In Big Ideas

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It. 
Thursday, January 30, 2014
  • __*** lbs. over/under Goal Weight (if I was serious about this goal weight thing on 1-11...I was crazy. January was rough! Chocolate was needed.)
  • 1,000,000 Calories Consumed Yesterday (yes, it was that kind of day!)
  • __5__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (Wednesdays--Hump Days-- suck sometimes)
  • _ 2 hrs Spent Writing (media kit done and done)
  • _1__   Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (Spaghetti with turkey sausage, garlic, and fresh tomato...don't ask if the kids' loved it...cuz' they didn't :/)
Thursday Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING (or otherwise publication related) TIP. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be imagining that you're Faith Hill and  Tim McGraw is singing "Let's Make Love" to you:
Or not.

The writing tip: Believe in your big ideas. Advanced technology with mind control. Futuristic society where surfing in the clouds is possible. Teen assassins. Whatever. But when you choose your hook, your premise, your high concept, shoot for the stars. Don't be limited by fears, seemingly impossible physics, or small thinking. Let your creativity and energy take you to places where inspiration and endless possibility exist! (I sound like I'm high, don't I?)

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (coming soon...)
  • 1625     Calories Consumed Yesterday (none of which were exciting calories to consume)
  • __3__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (I consider it a huge success that I didn't break down and ask my neighbor up the street for some "special ingredient brownies"... so yeah)
  • __1 hr   Spent Writing (procrastinating comes so much easier to me)
  • _1__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (turkey burgers with fresh tomatoes, avocado, spinach, and cheese on a thinwhich bun...holla'!)
Today, I'm participating in What's Up Wednesday- a weekly writing meme to stay in touch.

WHAT I'M READING- more manuscripts of friends. Last night I read the first page of a friend's first novel ever written, and it was soo good! I made the mistake of drinking some water as I read, and said water ended up all over the mirror when I laughed so hard that it came spraying out of my mouth like a geyser. It was right about the time the word "wet" was used, and it wasn't referring to any water in anyone's mouth... if ya' catch my drift ;)

WHAT I'M WRITING- Media kits, extra blog posts, and a bunch of other crap.

  • Music. I loved watching the Grammy's this weekend, and seeing another local Las Vegas band, Imagine Dragons, winning for Best Rock Performance. Those dudes are rad. So are The Killers, amiright?
  • I finally pulled the trigger on buying a new writing computer. My MacBook is a six-year-old dinosaur now, and the battery life is quite ridiculous, the keys are sticky from much candy and Coke abuse, and it weighs half a ton. Therefore, after a bit of research and a good recommendation, the result is....a Windows Surface Pro. It's lightweight, fits in my purse, awesome battery life, backlit keypad, touchscreen tablet when I want it, comes with Microsoft Office preinstalled, everything I wanted. Let's see if it magically writes literary magic...
  • Only four days until the half marathon in Huntington Beach, California. I'm thinking about getting a tattoo afterward, a big 13.l on my arm. JUST KIDDING! Haha
  • My début KILLING RUBY ROSE, is now available for pre-order here! Also, the pub date been moved up to May 1, 2014 so mark your calendars. 
That is all. What's up with you?

With a Shot At The Night

Monday, January 27, 2014

Killer Monday: Catching The Killers--Vegas Style

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Monday, January 27, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (not worried, 13.1 miles should help, right?)
  • 1,900      Calories Consumed Yesterday (I had to run 10 miles on Saturday, so I needed every one of those calories)
  • __4__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (I "needed" those too)
  • __11 hrs  Spent Writing (no, you didn't read that wrong. I seriously spent ELEVEN hours revising because of a deadline. It's okay, 11 is my lucky number.)
  • _0_Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (take-out is my friend ;)

So...Catching The Killers...Vegas-Style (not Gangnam Style), what does that mean?

Well, the thing about Vegas is that it's actually a pretty small town sometimes. Sure the population is a booming 2 million, but in some ways it still feels like a close-knit community.

I'm a rare breed of Vegan, not because I eat meat and believe in dairy, but because I was born and raised here. I went to high school at Chaparral not far from the lights of the Vegas strip, I grew up playing tennis at the old Desert Inn Hotel & Resort, I had an annual pass at the original Wet-N-Wild water park off Las Vegas Boulevard, I made out with boys in the back of the Crystal Palace roller skating rink off of Boulder Highway (which is a rite of passage for those on the East side), and I've chosen to stay in Vegas to raise my family (far away from the Crystal Palace where my children shall never, ever enter).

Because of this thirty-odd-some years walking the Vegas streets (not like a hooker thank you very much), I know some people: judges, politicians, business owners, newscasters, celebrity singers, pro athletes, and I'm even lucky enough to know Maslow Mike (a sweet guy almost everyone knows because he roams the streets and parks--Maslow Park is the original park where he got his name--just being nice to people).

So when I got the crazy-stupid idea to woo the band The Killers into playing at my book launch in May, I just put it out there for all my Vegas friends and family to comment on/laugh at/whatever. The feedback was overwhelming! I received so many messages, texts, emails, calls, etc. All from people saying that they wanted to help, explaining their connections to members of the band and their representatives. I was floored how generous and positive people's reactions were. After all, we are all one big Vegas family. More than just a community.

And while I understand a long list of very short degrees of separation between me and The Killers isn't going to magically make the gig happen for me, it sure as H doesn't hurt. So while everyone is running around spreading their support and ideas on how to help me Catch The Killers, rest assured that I am working very hard on making it happen from a professional, logistical, and financially feasible perspective. And all the Vegas-love might end up being the thing that helps the most.

Which is why I want to point out something about Las Vegas that inspires me the heck out of me right now:

Which is an effort to transform the old Downtown area into the most community-focused large city in the world. 

With a focus on the arts, technology, and education, over $300 million dollars has been set aside to invest in the future of this area of our city. So many amazing things are happening in what was once a decayed and dangerous area of town. It still has a long way to go, but I want to be a part of  the revitalization. I see the passion to create something worthwhile, something to be proud of. I mean, that's why I started writing in the first place!

That's why I am pushing for a book launch party at one of the new venues created Downtown. I'm hoping that with the help of the Downtown Project and some amazing people throughout Vegas, my dream of Catching The Killers might come true.

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Friday, January 24, 2014

Finally Friday: Toy Bombs & Cover Reveal

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Friday, January 24, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (don't know, don't care.)
  • 1050      Calories Consumed Yesterday (not because I wasn't trying to eat, but I was too busy having an epic meltdown of intermittent tears and emotional pain, never mind's quite common--I have a four year old girl who thinks she's the boss of me)
  • _3__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (not bad considering the epic meltdownedness)
  • __0 hrs_ Spent Writing (not so much as one crappy word)
  • _1__ Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (eggs, but I'm not going to call them a delight)
Last night was the bomb.  Rather, Toy Bombs--the bad-A band. (How's that for some B-words?)

Venue: Container Park, Downtown Las Vegas. If you haven't heard about the renovation of the Downtown area, check out the projects they are ambitiously taking on to renovate this neighborhood The Container Park is a bit like a mall, and like a park, and literally made out of recycled old shipping container. Great acoustics and ambiance. Huge kudos to Tony Hsieh and all the Zappos team for pulling me out of the suburbs and brightening my new-found hipster life downtown.

The weather was perfectly cool.  Perfectly.  I stood outside chatting with friends and drinking in the sounds of music, traffic, and children playing. (Other people's children--because mine were NOT invited because of all that emotional pain stuff from the day). Gonna go again this weekend, maybe go see my secret door...

Anyway, onto another exciting event:

(Does it seem like I'm yelling at you? Good, because I am :)

You ready? I'm ready...

I love it! Absolutely love it for several bullet-point reasons:
  • the pop of red on her lips and heels
  • the way he's got his hand on her hip-that's-not-really-her-hip-and-more-like-her-butt :)
  • the arrows in the title--did you know arrows are WAY in. Like hipster-hot-IN! 
  • the clean style of the stainless steel juxtaposed with the popping color
I could go on and on.  But instead, let's talk about what's inside the book.

About ELEVATED: The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

Buy Links:

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers. She is also my best friend. She doesn't know it yet. I'm still working on wooing her.

Check her out all over the place:
League of Extraordinary Writers:

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Quickie: The Happiness Advantage

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It. 
Thursday, January 16, 2014
  • __*** lbs. over/under Goal Weight (10 days until the HB Half-Marathon...can't wait to see what 13.1 miles can do to a weigh-in!)
  • 1800 Calories Consumed Yesterday (damn you nice neighbors who doorbell-ditch me with fresh baked cookies! It's a good thing said friend texted me after so I didn't throw them away suspecting someone was trying to kill me with chocolate-chip-rat-poison-cookies! )
  • __5__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (yah! Call the TV show Intervention on me, see if I care! I'll just say, "I can quit whenever I want." And run away.)
  • _ 3 hrs Spent Writing (and stalking the PitchWars agent round--my Mentee is cleaning up with agent requests!)
  • _1__   Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (A "healthy" pasta with olive oil, onion, garlic, zucchini, and the magic ingredient....bacon! Ok, maybe not that healthy. Sue me!)
Thursday Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING (or otherwise publication related) TIP. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be sweetly swaying to Lionel Richie's "Do It To Me":

You know you want to!

Anywayz, back to writing stuff. This week, a writing friend posted a really awesome TED talk about the "Happiness Advantage." Here's the link:

If you don't have time to watch it, here's what it Boils down to:

If you have a positive state of mind (a happy state of mind), you will perform dramatically better than a negative or neutral state of mind. And this is how you do it:
  • write down three things in which you are grateful for everyday (cookies, PitchWars Mentees, bacon :)
  • journal your thoughts (blogging)
  • exercise (ran 20 miles this week)
  • mediation (prayer...and staring at my computer screen praying for inspiration)
  • perform random but conscious acts of kindness (hmmm....???...accepting the cookies?)
There you have it! Five steps to be happy, perform better, and achieve your dreams!

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (I snuck a peak at the scale today knowing I shouldn't during this crazy marathon training...All I'm gonna say is: son of a motherless B-word...)
  • 1580     Calories Consumed Yesterday (maybe I should research how many calories I should be having when running my arse off like this...)
  • __4__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (two to rev me up and two to rev me down--coconut loose-leaf tea is uhmazin'. I'm turning into such a tea-whore.)
  • __2 hrs   Spent Writing (all revising. For me, for my CP, for my other CP, for the crazy guy on the corner...just kidding)
  • _3__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (scrambled eggs so good the kids asked for seconds, fresh orange smoothies straight from the citrus orchard in AZ, and sweet potatoes with "white trash chicken"--rotisserie chicken but for some reason my dad calls it WT Chicken?!).
Today, I'm participating in What's Up Wednesday- a weekly writing meme to stay in touch.

WHAT I'M READING- a bunch of awesome manuscripts from writing friends. A middle grade fantasy, a contemporary young adult, an adult erotica that keeps using the word "moist" (just kidding on the erotica).

WHAT I'M WRITING- Book #2 in the Ruby Rose Series. Well, revising. 

  • Serendipity. It seems like the more I put myself out there with my crazy goals and dreams, the more people are willing to help. The crazy coincidences just keep stacking up!
  • I'm totally diggin' on the new season of Downton Abbey, but sad that I simply don't have time for Sherlock. I mean, dang, those episodes are full-length movies!
  • Me and two fellow writers are trying to decide what to do for my agency's retreat talent show, but either way, it's going to include leopard leotards and sequins. :)
  • Last week I got yelled at by a little old lady, and this week I got cheered on by a little old lady while running (she held up her fist and yelled, "you can do it!"). See what I mean about serendipity?
That is all. What's up with you?

With a Shot At The Night

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Critique Tuesday: A PitchWars Highlight

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (what's a "goal weight?")
  •  1050     Calories Consumed Yesterday (What? I was stressed!)
  • __4__ Units of Caffeinated (again...I was stressed...)
  • __40   Minutes Spent Writing (too stressed to write coherent sentences)
  • _0__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (Pizza for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner it is!)
Critique Tuesday:
Queries are like a box of chocolates (cue the Forrest Gump scene):

Except in the case of writing, you never know if your going to get a pile of steaming crap (more likely) or a carefully crafted sample of writing that makes you want more (very rare).

In the case of the PitchWars submissions, I'd have to say there were very few piles of steaming crap. But alternately, very few nuggets of chocolate covered caramel flavored queries landed in my inbox. This is one of them, by Amy Trueblood:

--> -->
Dear Jessie,
After reading your wish list for a manuscript that has a main character who is both clever and has sass, I thought you might be interested in mentoring my YA Thriller, FIGHTING CHANCE. Good personalization. Nice. She has already set herself apart from over half of the participants.
Determined to prove her innocence, Nica works with Braeden, who is kind of cute when he isn't running his mouth, to investigate Slim's circle of friends. As she unearths a web of lies, she discovers everyone had a reason to want Slim dead, including Braeden whose dark secret puts a target on her back. Nice plot twist. With cops closing in, and no one left to trust, a desperate Nica hunts the killer alone. And when she unmasks the monster, she'll need more than a fighting chance to stay  alive. Clever wordsmithing to play off the title.
Stellar query letter. This is how it's done (in my humble opinion). Perfect length, professional on every level, does everything it needs to do for me to want to read the actual manuscript. 

An agent needs to pick this story up, eh?

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Monday, January 20, 2014

Killer Monday: Catching the Killers...With Ice Cream

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Monday, January 20, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (ignorance is bliss...tho  a slap in the face might be waiting for me after I'm done with this marathon training)
  • 1,850      Calories Consumed Yesterday (technically I have to include the bowl of chili I ate at the Gold Spike Hotel at 12:30 a.m. on what I thought was still Saturday night)
  • __0__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (ironically, this led to a 3-hour Sunday nap)
  • __3 hrs Spent Writing (mostly late-night hours, that included a lot of water and no late-night-heart-burning chili)
  • _0_Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (but Mr. Humphries brought me breakfast AND lunch in bed, so I didn't have to! Yes, he was making up for something which shall not be discussed publicly ;)

It must've been somewhere around Kindergarten that I discovered the concept of "Bribery by Ice Cream." Just like the kid who doesn't truly understand what her dad really does when he's off being a  software programmer, or a ER physician--I may not have yet understood what my dad did at the family business, Anderson Dairy. Everyone called him the Milk Man (some people inside the family even joked that my grandfather was previously the "Milk Man to the Mob"), but in any case, Dad brought home much more than milk. In fact, he brought much more than milk to Mr. K. (my Kindergarten teacher), Mr. Shea (my 5th grade teacher), Mr. Garmen (my Jr. High math teacher), and Mr. Johnson (my high school principal). The bribery came in the flavors of Rocky Road, Cookies and Cream, and Chocolate Chip Mint, and it came in brands such as Ben & Jerry's, Nestle, and of course Anderson Dairy brand itself.

However, the term "bribery" may be too harsh,  and perhaps too "technically illegal" in some scenarios. Which is why I will neither confirm nor deny that ice cream might have exchanged hands for preferential treatment with law school professors, my kid's coaches, and even my garbage man. I will also have a "no comment" response to if and when ice cream was delivered before I got my first job, or even to the hospital nursing staff when I wanted a nice room after I delivered my first baby. And don't even bother asking me about my internship at the Federal Courthouse! The answer is a firm is denial. Let's just say that ice cream has a way of helping with "stuff."

So it might not come as a huge surprise that one of my best ideas for "Catching The Killers" is through the persuasive powers of cream and sugar, frozen to perfection with their preferred choice of chocolate, fruit, nuts, or candy ingredients.

So does anyone happen to know what Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer, or Ronnie Vannucci Jr.'s favorite kind of ice cream is?

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Legal Disclaimer: I am not alleging or insinuating any acts of wrongdoing on the part of Anderson Dairy, it's owners, or employees. Anderson Dairy (Las Vegas' Hometown Dairy Since 1907) is a reputable business and a well known contributor to local charities, schools, churches, and events. Also, please no one tell my dad that I wrote this blog...he might still have ties to the mob. ;) and he'd kill me. And not in the same way that The Killers kill me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Finally Friday: Celine Dion--My Lady Crush

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Friday, January 17, 2014
  • __***__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (still not looking at the scale during the marathon training but noticing less jiggly parts...)
  • 1650      Calories Consumed Yesterday (including a post-4-mile-run cookie :)
  • _4__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (did you know that bee pollen has energy-inducing effects...gots me some of dat)
  • __5 hrs_ Spent Writing (stole a writing night at Starbucks and got an insane amount of work done...thank you Mr. Hump)
  • _1__ Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (A green smoothie with a little too much green because no one would drink the "nasty-kaka-poopoo")
Once upon a time, all my dreams came true when my sister Julie and I got to go backstage and meet Celine Dion at her original Las Vegas show at Caesar's Palace Coliseum--and oh mon bon Dieu, it was one of the most incroyable moments of my life! It went something like this:

Julie and I went out shopping for some fancy dresses, we practiced singing as loud as we could to her songs (when you turn the volume up really high you almost sound like her--don't tell me you've never done this), and generally went nuts with excitement to get to meet our idol. Julie isn't as obnoxious as me, so when the time came she just smiled and said hello like a normal person would, but not me. Oh no, not me. I had just got back from living in France for eighteen months, and I wanted to impress her with my francophonic charm. So I blurted out how much I love her...and how I know every one of her songs...and how we should be best friends (yanno because if you say it in French it doesn't sound as weird/creepy/desperate/etc.)

And you know how she reacted? Totally gracious! She was so pleased that I was making the effort with her that she touched me (completely disregarding by crazy-person-vibes) and said something back to me in French (I don't remember what it was because I was honestly so fangirling all over the place that my ears didn't work anymore at transmitting information to my brain). And then we took a picture wherein I managed to smile like a glossy-eyed-wierdo who ate too much at the buffet before the show:
(Looking back at this picture, I realize that our taste in "fancy dresses" was more like "Amish dresses"--gah, what were we thinking?!)

Anyway, for years and years...and more excruciatingly long years, I've wanted to go back to one of her shows. Understanding that the backstage thing was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I've just wanted to go and see her new show. We've tried to buy tickets a few times but for one reason or another, it never worked out. Not only do the cheapest tickets cost several hundred dollars, but the last time Mr. Humphries bought them (four months out for my birthday), she cancelled the day before because her voice wasn't optimally primed, or whatever. I don't blame her, after all I love her.

But guess what my Christmas present was this year?!!! Yep, you guessed it: Tickets for this Saturday night! Ahhh, I'm so excited. All my dreams are going to come true...again!

Which dreams of yours are going to come true this weekend?

Also, be sure to jump over to Jolene Perry's blog where she is interviewing me about books I'm reading and stuff. Not only is Jolene my favorite Alaskan, but she is one of the most talented, generous, proficient, soon-to-be-famous-because-her-books-are-amazing friend ever!

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Quickie: Justin Bieber & Bad Kitty

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It. 
Thursday, January 16, 2014
  • __*** lbs. over/under Goal Weight (I've been convinced to abandon tracking this goal while training for the 1/2 marathon because of all the awesome butt and leg muscles I'm gaining--muscles which allegedly weigh more than the previous fat ;0)
  • 1600 Calories Consumed Yesterday (chocolate/peanut butter protein shakes, if prepared correctly, taste like a sinful indulgence. My new fave.)
  • __3__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (most of the calories I consumed today were strangely in liquid form...what's that about?)
  • _ 0 hrs Spent Writing (but plenty of book-ish tasks were accomplished: blogged, teleconference with publicists in NY, attended a book signing, CP chat)
  • _2__   Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (I am rockin' the Vitamix blender these days...smoothies, shakes, etc.)
Thursday Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING (or otherwise publication related) TIP. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be goin' all old-school to the Justin Bieber song, "Baby, Baby, Baby":

Awe, remember when he so fresh and cute? And didn't get busted for spitting on people or having drugs in his mansion?


Last night I had the opportunity to attend a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble for BAD KITTY author, Nick Bruel.
That's Nick signing books in the background :) with me, my ragamuffin children, and my oldest daughter's kindergarten teacher Mrs. Leet, whose presence was such a lovely surprise. The way my daughter's eyes lit up when I pointed out Mrs. Leet in the audience was priceless. Especially since it was Mrs. Leet who introduced to BAD KITTY in the first place.  

We were able to take a couple of our neighbors with us, meet a few other friends there, and have a genuinely great time amongst books and friends. Barnes & Noble manager, Crystal Perkins, is soo good at rounding up amazing authors to visit, and it's becoming more and more apparent to me how important it is to be involved in these kind of things. Supporting fellow authors, getting our children excited about books, promoting literacy in the community, it's what we should be doing as writers. Not just writing books.

Have you been to any cool author signings or book events lately?

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
  • __4.7__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (its day 15 in January and I'm getting nowhere!)
  • 1475     Calories Consumed Yesterday (It's not my fault that a friend gave me wine glass full of cheesecake...sounds weird, but delicieux)
  • __2__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (not enough. definitely not enough--I hit a wall like ten times today)
  • __2 hrs   Minutes Spent Writing (so. much. to. do.)
  • _0__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (it was a Ramen, eggs, and a Mr. Humphries-has-to-fend-for-himself-and-the-children-every-once-in-awhile-kind of day).
Today, I'm participating in What's Up Wednesday- a weekly writing meme to stay in touch.

WHAT I'M READING- GILDED by Christina Farley--it's actually an ARC that I've received because I am participating in her blog tour. Set to release on March 1, 2014, it's a contemporary story set in Korea, with a Kick-A girl who has to fight ancient mythological creatures to survive. I happen to love it. I also love the author, Christina Farley, because she is gorgeous, generous, and happens to be my pub sister with Amazon Children's Publishing/Skyscape. 

WHAT I'M WRITING- Copy edits for KILLING RUBY ROSE set to debut May 6, 2014. 

  • Funny people. I have this fascinating friend I hung out with last night who fake-tatted me up with Sharpies because she's an awesome artist like that AND told me a story about getting punched in the face by an ex-boyfriend. Good times.
  •  Generous people. Ever since I decided to go public with my intentions to "Catch The Killers" and go gangbusters with my debut launch party, I have been amazed at how many people have come out of the woodwork to offer help, advice, connections, support, etc. I love everyone!
  • Smart people. Gosh, I am so grateful for all the people that I get to work with in this industry. If I didn't have such a brilliant agent, sharp editors, ingenious publicists, and clever critique partners...I'd be nowhere.
  • I have less than three weeks of training left before the half-marathon I'm running in Huntington Beach--it's getting intense.
  • I have less than four weeks before I go to Orlando to meet my agent, Sarah Davies, at an agency retreat, Greenhouse Literary Agency. It's going to be fan-friggin-tastic (I'm going to go all fangirl on all the awesome authors there).
  • I got yelled at by a little old lady yesterday, and I didn't even yell back.
That is all. What's up with you?

With a Shot At The Night

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Critique Tuesday: An Awesome First Page From PitchWars

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
  • __4.9__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (yes it was water weight yesterday)
  • 1050     Calories Consumed Yesterday (I had to fast for a life insurance exam so I skipped a meal...that sucked.)
  • __1__ Units of Caffeinated (had to keep by blood and other bodily fluids clean for the exam..TMI)
  • __80   Minutes Spent Writing (got tons done)
  • _1__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (green smoothies with overdose amounts of vitamins 2x...I'm sick of everyone being sick)
Critique Tuesday:
First pages are like tattoos. Great ones can get you a lot of positive attention:
 Look at that cute little peekaboo tattoo on Keith Urban's chest. Very sexy.

And a bad tattoo (or even worse, several bad tattoos) can get you knocked on your A-word:
Call me crazy, but the neck tattoo doesn't do it for me. Not sexy.

So how do you make your first page sexy? Subtly irresistible and flat out desired? I'll give you a VERY good example. 

As mentioned before, I am participating as a Mentor in a writing contest called PitchWars. One particular first page absolutely blew me away, and I want to share it with you. By B.A. Wilson:

“Have you made your decision, then? Are we really going to do this?” he asked, while slowly, delicately tracing a finger back and forth across her bare back, from the tops of her shoulders all the way down to the gentle curve of her hips. She looked so gorgeous and vulnerable, sitting there with her shirt off, clutching his sheet to her chest. It was almost shocking how different she seemed in that moment.  
“I know this is a big step for you . . . for us,” he continued, resting his long caramel fingers on her pale shoulder, “and the first time can be a bit scary and unsettling for everyone.”
“I’m not afraid,” Andy declared boldly, reaching up to cover his hand with hers. They had agreed, almost a year ago, that they would mark the two year anniversary. A promise was a promise. Besides, she knew they were both ready, and there were no age restrictions or even any real laws among the unauthorized.
“Tell me what you want from me, beautiful,” he said, spinning her stool around to face him. He’d been calling Andy that every day for two years, but she still wasn’t used to hearing it.
Andy shot him a wry smile, and then she slid her right hand down into the pocket of her black cargo pants, still clutching the sheet to her chest with her left. She pulled out a tiny scrap of folded paper and held it out to him, palm up. He raised an eyebrow in surprise.
            When he took the paper, Andy closed her eyes, unable to look at him while he read it. She knew he would be shocked. After all, it had taken her months to decide what she would write on that tiny scrap of paper.
Here are some of the reasons why this first page works so well for me:

  • It's a mysterious situation. I know it's an intimate and sensual scene, but I'm not sure where it's going. I know where I want it to go, but I have my doubts...and that is a good thing because you better believe I am going to keep reading to find out!
  • There's no info dumping about the world they are in, but with a few terms like "the unauthorized" and clues about clothing like her "black cargo pants," I'm getting a very good sense about who and where they are.
  • I like the diversity established by the contrast between her pale skin and his darker caramel skin. 
  • I like how she is clutching his sheet her bare chest. The word clutching tells me that she's not all together comfortable with the situation that she is facing, but yet "a promise is a promise." Ahhh, so intense!
Really, I could go on and on about how tight the writing is, how fresh the concept is, but really...the writing speaks for itself.  Don't you want to know what she wrote on that tiny scrap of paper?

You'll have to wait until B.A. Wilson lands her agent, sells her book, and then publishes it to the world! Or you could just email her and ask to read it ;)

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Monday, January 13, 2014

Killer Monday: "Catching The Killers"

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Monday, January 13, 2014
  • __6.0__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (it's all retained water-weight, right?)
  • 1250      Calories Consumed Yesterday (I ran 6 miles on Saturday, I deserve a few cookies...)
  • __1__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (good girl deserves another cookie?)
  • __6 hrs Minutes Spent Writing (yes, I spent more time with my computer today than the whole week combined...feeling ultra-productive)
  • _1__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (that pre-packaged salad and pre-packaged cookie dough didn't make itself!)

Today I would like to share an excerpt of the column I wrote for my city's newspaper, The Las Vegas Sun. It's still under review whether or not the editors-that-be will accept my idea, but in the meantime:
“Catching The Killers” by Jessie Humphries
—A local attorney-turned-author attempts to persuade the rock band, The Killers, to appear at the launch of her book KILLING RUBY ROSE.

Jessie Humphries was born at Sunrise hospital, not far from the lights of the Las Vegas strip. As a graduate of Chaparral High School (class of 1996) and the Sam Boyd School of Law (class of 2006), Jessie’s roots in the valley run deep. From her first job as a tour guide at family owned business, Anderson Dairy, to her present job as a local Family Law Attorney and Young Adult Author, Jessie is committed to the community that raised her. She is also averse to talking about herself in the third person…

So, hi…I’m Jessie.

And I have a dream. A crazy-stupid, outrageously ridiculous, and absurdly unrealistic dream. To catch The Killers. I realize that the odds of convincing the rockstar band to play at my book launch is somewhere between zero and a chance in hell. But hey, since a lot of people like to call Las Vegas "hell"...I figure that I might have a pretty decent chance after all.

About five years ago, in the midst of private practice as an attorney, I started writing a novel. It was absolutely awful and I threw it away.

However, a few years later, I wrote one that was pretty good. Good enough to land one of the top ranked literary agent in North American sales, Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. In 2013, my agent sold that book, KILLING RUBY ROSE (and the sequel) to Amazon Children’s Publishing/Skyscape. On May 6, 2014, KILLING RUBY ROSE will hit the shelves, and I want to celebrate in style. I want to take a “Shot At The Night”—a Killers song about taking chances and living life to the fullest, even if it’s just one night. So “Catching The Killers” is my attempt at convincing The Killers to appear at my book launch and celebrate.

“Celebrate what?” you mutter, pinching your eyebrows together in confusion.

“Well, I’m glad you asked,” I respond, a delighted smile spreads across my face.

Las Vegas is cool. We all know that. Millions of people travel here every year to experience our coolness. But what all those millions of tourists might not know is how exceptionally normal we are beyond all the bright lights. When we visit other places, I’m sure we’ve all been asked this question: “Do people actually live in Vegas?” Brandon Flowers (The Killers lead singer) was asked by a European reporter once, “Do you even have kindergartens there?”

Yes, we do! And we have the arts, and culture, and community…and other normal stuff. Maybe all of our normalcy isn’t plastered on billboards with all the bare butts across town, but it’s here. And it’s getting stronger. With bands like The Killers and Imagine Dragons, businesses like Zappos, and local artists/authors busting at the seams with ideas to make this place even better.

Anyway, back to the celebration part: I want to celebrate this idea of behind-the-scenes culture and community in Las Vegas as well as the reinvention of Downtown Las Vegas. Sixty years ago, my grandfather made his living Downtown by selling milk to hotels like the El Cortez and the Golden Nugget. Now in 2014, I’m heading Downtown—hopefully to the Container Park or similar venue—to celebrate the history and culture that is coming back to life with a vengeance. Beyond promoting literacy, getting teens and young adults excited about books (which are extremely important), this event will be a killer party!

“But what does the band, The Killers, have to do with your book?” you ask, rubbing your chin skeptically.

“Aha,” I answer, tapping my fingers together like the novice master-villain that I am. “Let me explain.”

The extent of The Killers relevance to me, or my Young Adult Thriller, KILLING RUBY ROSE, (which was pitched as “Dexter” meets “Veronica Mars”) is negligible at best:
  1. I mention the band and their song “A White Demon Love Song” on page eleven, which is interesting (to me) because:
    • I wrote that scene three years ago, before I had any reason to believe the book would ever be published;
    • The Killers reference is on page eleven! And the number eleven is my lucky number.
  2. The root word “kill” is in both our titles.

That is all.

“Yeah, not a very convincing opening argument, counselor,” you say.

“True,” I admit.

However, beyond these utterly un-compelling relevancies, there are far more compelling reasons for the rock band (voted “Greatest Live Act of 2013” by Gigwise) to perform at my book launch: (presented with the use of Bullet points—people don’t call me a B-Word for nothing)

  • The Killers are from Las Vegas! They are a true local success story.
  • Both Brandon Flowers (lead singer) and Mark Stoermer (bassist) graduated from the same high school as me—go Chaparral Cowboys. Though I got to hang out with either of them, due to different graduating classes, school spirit has to count for something.
  • It’s no secret that the band cares about their hometown. In my opinion, an appearance to promote a local author, highlight the community arts, bring much-needed attention to the Downtown area, might just be my most killer idea yet.

There are more reasons than just these, and that is what the subject of this column will entail. All the reasons why The Killers should appear at my book launch will, in time, be revealed.

Until they say yes. Or until they tell me to take a leap off of Hoover Dam.

Either way. This is my attempt to Catch The Killers.

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finally Friday: Date Night Downtown

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Friday, January 10, 2014
  • __5.0__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (they say training for a half-marathon is not a great strategy for weight loss--they are correct. I hate "they.")
  • 1100      Calories Consumed Yesterday (trying the "Pass Out From Exhaustion Diet"--can't eat while asleep)
  • _4__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (did I mention that I'm exhausted?)
  • __0__ Minutes Spent Writing ( though I did get some youtube video watching in...yanno, for research)
  • _2__ Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (A green smoothie packed full of kale, berries and Emergen-C--better help with all this exhaustion--also sweet potato, green beans, and turkey burger dinner. Not fancy, but healthy :)
They say that the first Monday after New Years is the most depressing day of the year. (Again with those pesky "they" people). It's true! At least it was for me. In fact, this whole week was one giant ball of  bills, bustling, and bullcrap! Stupid week full of B-Words...and laundry, and homework, and responsible-adult-type stuff that I despise. Not to mention the ultimate depressing act of taking down all of the Christmas decorations. NO FUN!

But tonight...I'm going Downtown! I gots me a babysitter, some plans for date night (which may or may not include the secret door that I referred to earlier in the week), and some "canned heat in my heels tonight, baby!"

How was your first week of 2014? Got any fun plans for tonight?

Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thursday Quickie: Push It

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It. 
Thursday, January 9, 2014
  • __5.3 lbs. over/under Goal Weight (should have just thrown that mother-lovin' ice cream away!)
  • 1050 Calories Consumed Yesterday (DoTerra Protein Shakes sure taste like butt compared to Ben & Jerry's)
  • __3__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (what? I needed the energy to run my Ben & Jerry's Ass off!)
  • _30   Minutes Spent Writing (or freaking out about writing because I just received a new deadline from my editor for RUBY ROSE #2)
  • _1__   Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (tried to recycle some of my feta, tomato, and green onion dip into an al dente pasta...turned out like recycled al dente the kids ate Toy Story noodle soup out of a can)
Thursday Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING (or otherwise publication related) TIP. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be jamming to the song "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa:

Or not.

But I still want you to PUSH IT. What I mean is: Get out of your comfort zone. Take risks. PUSH yourself to do the thing you are most afraid of. It will pay off in one way or another...I swear!

About a year ago, I decided to step back from my career as an attorney so that I could focus on writing (and family and some other crap ;0 jk) and the risk paid off--I landed my dream agent (Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency), I sold two books, and a bunch of other positive things happened. I realize it's hard to place a value on most of these things. It's not playing roulette where you either win or you lose. Sometimes we never see a direct benefit when we put ourselves out there, and other times all of our wildest dreams can come true. (Like The Killers could come play at my book launch :).

So how are you going to PUSH IT?


Jessie With A Shot At The Night

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
  • __4.8__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (hovering, like a round bootylicious UFO)
  • 1670     Calories Consumed Yesterday (It's never a good sign when you eat the rest of the ice cream container just so to make room in the freezer for more fresh ice cream)
  • __2__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (have you ever had a Rockstar energy drink? HOLYHELLNUTS that stuff is strong.)
  • __20   Minutes Spent Writing (F for effing effort)
  • _3__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (banana pancakes, turkey & lentil chili, and feta dip with sourdough baguettes--not all at the same time ;)
Today, I'm participating in What's Up Wednesday- a weekly writing meme to stay in touch.

  1. WHAT I'M READING- ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell-- great voice, touching story, a delicious read.
  2. WHAT I'M WRITING- Mostly blog posts, columns for my hopeful newspaper debut, critiques for friends and #PitchWars mentees, and just a smidge of my French YA Contemp.
  3. WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW-Last night I hosted a writing group get-together chez-moi, and zut alors, it's so nice to be around other writers. We are all at different points in our creative journeys but we all have so much to learn, and big places to go. Thanks Neon Scribblers for a fun night of great ideas, helpful advice, and much needed kick in the A-word.
  4. WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO- I finally got to see what was behind the secret door I discovered in a renovated bar in Downtown Las Vegas several weeks ago. It's a whole long & totally amazing story that I am planning on blogging/columning about soon...but suffice it to say, there was:
  • a token passed across the bar with a name and a phone number engraved on it
  • a clandestine reservation was made
  • a request to meet in a dark hallway was accepted
  • an antechamber was entered
  • voices were quiet
  • cellphones prohibited
That is all. What's up with you?

With a Shot At The Night

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Critique Tuesday: My #Pitchwars Top Pick

Jessie’s Bullets: Cock It and Pull It.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
  • __4.9__ lbs. over/under Goal Weight (slowly but surely)
  • 1350     Calories Consumed Yesterday (Wendy's kid-size Frosties are okay, right? Anything kid-size has to be fair game...)
  • __2__ Units of Caffeinated (or otherwise non-water) Beverages (not nearly enough...Gah, I was grumpy almost all day.)
  • __80   Minutes Spent Writing (all crap. all craptastically crap.)
  • _0__Culinary Delights/Disasters Created With Own Hands (but I did go to the grocery store for the first time in three weeks, tomorrow the culinary creativity will flow...)
I still can't get over the awesome 80's pics from yesterday's Killer Monday post. But alas, I must move on...

Today I'm going to share my critique of the query that snagged me as a #Pitchwars Mentor. (Pitchwars is a writing/pitching contest hosted by author, Brenda Drake wherein published authors mentor unpublished writers in the hopes of landing an agent in the agent round. Each Mentor chose one Mentee and two alternates). Here is my top pick--Andy Hertzenberg's query for ONLY IN MY DREAMS: (my comments are in red)

Dear Ms. Humphries,

Olivia Davis may have saved her famous crush's life, but she botches pretty much everything that comes after. Great hook sentence. Short, sweet, and succinct. I have a very good idea of where the story is going.

ONLY IN MY DREAMS, a 55,000 word contemporary YA, is a fresh take on While You Were Sleeping set in teen Hollywood. 
--> Another great sentence that shows me: she’s a pro and knows what she’s doing. Cool contemporary title, appropriate word count for the genre, very marketable genre, and a comp that tells me exactly what I want to know. I am instantly hooked because I am familiar with this plot, and “fresh” along with “teen Hollywood” are perfect defining words for a modern YA story.

Olivia has loved Kit Taylor since the first time she saw him on TV. So when she sees a hunk of crumbling roof head straight for him on the set of his newest movie, she jumps at the chance to save his life. Mistaken for his girlfriend by the ER staff—and then the paparazzi—Olivia uses the mix-up to make sure Kit's okay. She’s ready to bolt when she has to face his family, but they welcome her as the newest member of their bunch. Well, all but Jamie, Kit's younger brother. With Kit in a coma, the family clings to her for comfort and Olivia decides it’s better to let them believe for a little while.

Stuck in a stupid cast, thanks to the clumsy fall she took while trying to save Kit, Olivia is forced to accept rides to and from work by Kit's sullen, mistrusting brother. As if answering a constant barrage of his questions isn't bad enough, Jamie fancies himself a know-it-all at just about everything. He's so sure he gets Olivia, and yes, they have a ton in common—like a love of acoustic guitars and the fact that they'd both do anything for their families, even giving up their own dreams—but that shouldn’t be enough to make them friends. Besides, all they do is argue and toss jabs at each other.

Still, Olivia can't help but see that Jamie is a great guy and she finds herself having fun and wanting to spend more time with him. If she didn’t have a crush on his brother, she might even think of him as more than a friend. When Jamie kisses her during yet another argument, they both feel guilty. 
--> Not sure this is providing big enough stakes. How about “it ruins everything.” She’s supposed to be Kit’s girlfriend. Jamie thinks she is. Everyone does. Everyone but Kit, who has no clue who she is until he wakes up and, convinced by his family that it's the right thing to do, asks Olivia out for real.  --> Cut all this, the query is on the long side (should be around 250 words and you are at double that. Which is okay because it all still fits neatly on one page, but this might help. Forced to choose between doing what's right by telling the truth, and going on lying to the family she always wished she had, Olivia has to make the hardest decision of her life. Not only is it Kit or Jamie, it's coming clean and being true to herself and her parents legacy or living a lie to fill the void they left behind.

I believe we'd be a great Pitch Wars team because I can promise lots of almost kissing, waffle eating on the beach, and two cute boys. Also I've been called the B-word more than a few times myself. The first five pages are pasted below per Pitch Wars guidelines.
--> Great personalization—I really appreciated the effort you put into getting to know who I am—and I know agents will too. But what you are missing is information about yourself. Just a sentence will suffice, but agents want to know something about you. Something interesting, quirky, relevant. Whatev.

 Andy Hertzenberg
***contact info redacted***
--> Great contact info—which I redacted for privacy—ALWAYS put phone number, email, blog, website, etc. ALWAYS. Agents don’t have time to google you and wade through all the other weirdos with the same name as you.
Great query letter, right? I think so. And the actual book is really good too. I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Pitchwars experience. Go #TeamBwords!

If anyone wants a query or first page critique, please send it to my email: jessiehump(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessie With A Shot At The Night