Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Update and exclusive!!!

As you may have heard, it turns out that Jolly Fish has been sold rather than shut down completely. What this means is that "Fairy Godmothers, Inc.," "Beast Charming" and "Dreamless" will live on, though they'll switch over to a new publisher (I don't know what that will entail - thus far, we've been told nothing - but I'll let you all know the moment I do.)

In the meantime, feel free to get excited about my brand-new e-book short story collection, "Once Upon A Tale," exclusive to the Tapas reading app. The collection includes brand-new short stories featuring characters from both "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." and "Beast Charming," including a short-story sequel to "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." It's being put together at the moment, and I'll let everyone know the second I have more details.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jolly Fish may be dead, but I'm not

So, as you guys may have heard, there’s no more Jolly Fish Press. Which means that, as of Oct. 31, there will be no more copies of the Jolly Fish Press version of any of my three novels.

The good thing about this is that, when that happens, the rights to everything revert back to me. The bad thing is that it’ll take a little scrambling to get the books available again once Jolly Fish finishes imploding, since I’ll have to find new covers for everything. E-books will come up fastest, but physical copies are going to take a little more time.

If there are any graphic artists out there who want to talk to me about new covers, I’d LOVE to hear from you. Otherwise, feel free to e-mail me at jennifferwardell@gmail.com with any questions you might have. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

So You Want to Rule the World: : Writing the Perfect Villainous Note

At some point in whatever evil plot you have brewing at the moment, you may be tempted to compose some sort of threatening missive for either your heroic arch-nemesis or a government of some kind. Done correctly, these notes can be particularly chilling, and will help spread the word about your evil. 

Done wrong, however, they can make you a laughing stock of everyone from nearby villains to the local news media. A misspelled threat can turn you from a credible enemy to an Internet meme in moments, at which point the only solution is a complete costume/theme change and a year-long hiatus so that everyone can forget who you are.

In order to make certain that doesn’t happen to you, it’s imperative you follow these handy guidelines.

1. Examine your reasoning

First, be honest with yourself. Do you really need to write the note at all? I understand wanting to, of course – part of the reason we got into this business in the first place is because we love an audience – but in some cases your crimes should speak for themselves. Which will the media take more seriously – a written taunt, or freezing an entire bank (after you’ve made off with everything of value inside, of course)?

Be particularly careful when writing notes to heroes. Yes, threatening them can be entertaining, but saying too much can also give away vital details of your plan. A villainous monologue can be dangerous, whether on paper or out loud, and you don’t want the authorities to get wind of your plan until it’s too late for them to stop it. Remember, signing your work is just as much fun after it’s already happened.

The one exception where you should always write a note is if you’ve captured their family member/sidekick/love interest/friend. The entire reason you kidnapped that person in particular is to watch the hero’s pain, and the entire thing will be pointless if he or she is too busy fumbling around somewhere else looking for clues. There’s nothing that kills a villainous buzz more than a clueless hero.

2. Consider your medium

The key to a successful villainous note is drama. Handwriting is for shopping lists, not villainy, and letters cut out of magazines are meant for criminals far more common than you are. The only time paper should be involved at all is if the note is written in blood, and even then it would be more effective scaled up to a wall in the target’s home or private sanctum. It doesn’t even have to be the blood of someone particularly special – unless they have a forensic lab, or have special super-sniffing powers, they won’t be able to tell.

Unless blood is involved, scale up even further whenever possible. Outside walls are better than inner walls, so more people can see the note, and surfaces that are harder to clean/paint over are preferable. Burning can be fun, whether it’s fire or a laser beam of some kind, though more traditional kinds of carving can often take too long to be efficient.

Note: Don’t scale up too high unless your target/nemesis can fly or has regular access to some sort of jet. There’s no point in burning letters big enough to be seen from space if the person who’s meant to read them can’t make it up that high.

3. Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck

In some ways, this is the most important thing you can do. There’s nothing that robs a threatening note of all its horror than spelling a word wrong, or using a word that’s technically spelled correctly but is used in the wrong context. Since spellcheck and grammar check aren’t an option on your final work – why type when you can carve the words into the side of a mountain with a laser – write it out in advance and copy from there. If you make a mistake in the transfer, turn whatever you were writing on to rubble and start over again on another building or landmark.

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Dreamless" fancast, Vol. 1 - starring Elle Fanning, Lucas Till and Charlize Theron

So, I have a little bit of a confession to make - I love fancasts, especially for my own writing. Because I'm great at knowing what the inside of a character's head is like - I can tell you all about their complicated relationship with their families, what their stance on a certain issue/situation would be, and possibly even share a hilarious childhood memory or two if you ask - but I'm not that great on picturing the exact arrangement of their facial features in my head.

So I'm starting fancasts for my latest book, "Dreamless," because I like having the pictures in my head and thought maybe you would to. I'm also including a brief explanation as to why I made each choice, because as a movie critic I know that looks are far from the only indicator of whether a person is the right fit for a role. As always, I welcome any arguments or alternate suggestions.


Elena - Elle Fanning

This was, surprisingly, my simplest choice, though I'll admit that (other than the hair) it came as something of a surprise to me. Still, it's a perfect fit - she looks like she has too much knowledge behind her eyes, and there's (red carpet) photographic proof that she can do Elena's "ice queen" routine with the best of them. But whens she smiles she looks really young, light and happy, and I think she'd do a really good job in those moments when Elena is allowed to tap into that. Also, she's actually 18, and I really didn't want to fall into that trap of casting a 25 year old as an 18 year old.

Cameron - Lucas Till

This was actually a considerably harder choice. Though Till is older than I would have preferred (26), I can't think of another young actor that I know of who could pull off Cam's easygoing charm, his attempt to make it look like he doesn't care about anything, and the deep anger and emotional commitment he's also capable of. Also, I believe he could play a harassed little brother as well as a responsible older brother, which you'll find out is important when you meet Cam's family.

Queen Illiana - Charlize Theron

I know that Theron has been making her mark as an evil queen in movies lately, but I think she could pull off a good queen as well (and besides, Illiana did study to be an evil sorceress at one point). Elena's mom has a lot of emotion she has to deal with throughout the story - her grief over her husband, her complicated relationship with her daughter, her super complicated relationship with her older sister, the stresses of queening all on your own - and Theron has proven in various movies over the years that she can pull it off. Also, as you can see, she has the regal stare thing down.

(Note: For those of you who pay attention to things like what the author says the hair color of various characters is - not that you have to, I myself blithely ignore it in several of my favorite books - "Dreamless" sort of became my "book of the blonds." I realized I didn't write many blond characters, and then look what happened.

It wasn't until the book was published that I realized I also wrote a lot of white characters, a fact that I addressed in my e-book "Two Left Feet" - out now, by the way - and in the full-length novel I'm currently working on, "Piper's Song.")

There are several other significant characters in the story, so more of these will be coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Talk to me, people

What do I have to do to get you folks to start posting reviews of my books? I don't need them to be fancy - just star ratings, either on Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. On Amazon you can post a review if you're signed in to your account,and with Goodreads you can even sign in with your Facebook account. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just a star rating and a few words on what you thought about the book. Even a sentence would do it.

I'm serious - these reviews can mean life or death for an indie author. I am begging you all on my hands and knees. I will bribe you if you want - just tell me what kind of treats you want me to give you. "Two Left Feet" has ZERO reviews at the moment. ZERO! Please. Just take a minute or two out of your day. Anything would be welcome.

EDIT: The search links for both "Dreamless" and "Two Left Feet" have been fixed on their Goodreads description pages. If anyone runs into any more troubles, please let me know.

Two Left Feet:
Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 15, 2016

Growing up for the kids’ sake

There’s nothing that matures you faster than having to take care of someone smaller than you are.

Because let’s face it, most of us aren’t that great when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We know everything we should do to keep ourselves happy, healthy and relatively functional, but we tend to ignore the bits that we don’t have time for or we feel like are too hard for some reason. It’s even easier to ignore if the problems it causes aren’t immediately apparent, because it’s much harder to worry about 10 or 15 years in the future when you’re focused on making it through a particular day.

But when you have a kid, or become responsible for a kid for some reason, suddenly it’s much harder avoid thinking about all the things you should be doing. Or, more specifically, all the things that someone should be doing for this particular child, who is relatively young and innocent and still feels like they should listen when people tell them what to do. Horrifically, you have somehow become the person who’s supposed to pass on all the advice you’ve been happily ignoring for years.

Which means that you not only have to remember all that advice, but you have to figure out how to sort out the useful information from the random fads that get news sites all excited on slow news days. Because this child hasn’t lived long enough to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s complete nonsense, so you have to figure out how to do it for them.

Even though you’ve (probably) been successfully avoiding a Healthy and Responsible Life (tm) for several years, it’s your job to explain to this child how to live that kind of life for themselves. Because you may have opted out, but they’re not old enough to make that choice for themselves yet.

Which means, unfortunately, that it’s your job to choose for them until they can. You have to learn how to watch out for those moments when they’re screwing up, and figure out how to get them back on track. Even more importantly, you need to be on the lookout for dangers they haven’t figured out yet, or you forgot to tell them, and help keep them from falling into them. As a bonus round, you also have to figure out when you need to start letting them make choices on their own so they learn how.

On top of all of that, you have to be a good example, because this kid is going to look up to you. No matter how ridiculous you are, all this child is going to see is a loving and responsible adult in their lives. They’re going to want to pattern themselves after you, often zeroing in on the traits you least wish they would notice and immediately copying them. Which means that, even if you don’t particularly worry about keeping yourself healthy and safe, now is probably a good time to start.

It’s not for you – it’s so your favorite small person doesn’t start making all the terrible decisions you’ve been happily making for most of your life.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Two Left Feet" available July 29!

My new e-book, "Two Left Feet," is finally up in various formats and available for pre-order. It's my take on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," which has always left me so full of questions. Was it really so bad the girls wanted to go dancing every night? Was murder really the best option for all those poor random guys? Who got all 12 sisters to agree on all doing the same thing at the same time, even if it was just dancing? Why do most variations of the story make the hero the random soldier guy instead of, oh, I don't know, the actual princesses who the story is named after?

So, as is my usual habit when I'm left unsatisfied by a fairy tale, I wrote my own.


What do you do when you're one of the 12 Dancing Princesses but are really, really bad at dancing? For Thea, it was a choice between boredom and accidentally maiming her dance partners, and she wasn't terribly fond of either option. But just as the nightly dances start to get interesting, their father hires someone to discover his daughters' secrets and stop their nightly adventures. Can Thea and her sisters figure out how to keep the party going?

Read or download an excerpt here

Pre-order now:

Barnes and Noble