December 11, 2009

Trailer for In Your Room!

As you can tell, I've taken this whole internet-break thing to heart, and haven't been blogging of late, but I just came across this really sweet trailer for In Your Room. It was posted in June, yet I somehow ony discovered it today.

I just want to say a huge thank you to Taylor, aka Heston498 on Youtube, for being inspired enough by my book to put this together! And I LOVE the song she used, "Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse.

And here's the trailer:

Hope everyone's having a great December!
x J

November 29, 2009

So long for now FB &Twitter...

As of today, I'm taking a break from Facebook and Twitter until 2010. I'm doing it so that I can spend more time focusing on the things I need to focus on over the next month or two (like writing!), and to re-train my brain to go to a book or an interesting article rather than to FB or Twitter to fill a spare few minutes here and there. Not that I don't love reading about what everyone else is up to, or what great new pics they've posted. The problem is that I love it a little too much, and thus, has become a bit of a distraction. To ensure that I don't cheat, my husband has already blocked the sites from my computer. I had been thinking about doing something like this for a while, but when I saw, on Twitter of course, that Sara Zarr, one of my favorite YA authors, was doing it, it inspired me to go for it. And you know what? It's only been, like an hour, but I already feel freer in a way. But don't worry, I will be back...

In other news, I just got back from Montreal. The Girls Night Out evening was amazing. I was so honored to be this year's guest speaker, and I was flattered and honored that the event was sold out.  I talked about fear, and not letting it get in the way of following your passion, and it was a great way to remind myself of why I write and have chosen this profession.  I also got to catch up with old friends, see my family, and go to two of my mother's concerts. She's a concert pianist, and since I live so far away, I hardly ever get to see her perform anymore. One of her concerts was part of a new kids' series called Bach Before Bedtime. It was a huge hit with lines out the door, and it was so cute to see so many kids crowded around the stage while the musicians performed. You can find out more about my mother and her Allegra Chamber Music series here.

I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging over the next month. Who knows, maybe my internet respite will inspire me to take it to the blog more often. It remains to be seen...

Lastly, I want to share this amazingly touching essay I just read in today's Modern Love column in the Sunday NYT (see? I'm reading instead of status-viewing). It's a real testament to the power of authentic connection and true love. And I'm just going to come right out and say it: yes, such a thing does exist, even if I didn't fully believe it myself until I met my husband.

Happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone!


November 21, 2009

Julie & Julia & me

As I type, I'm mid-flight to Montreal. As you may know, it's my hometown and I'm heading back to be the guest speaker at the 5th annual Girls Night Out event at the Jewish Public Library tomorrow night at 7pm. This event has been in the works for months now, thanks to Penny Fransblow, the extraordinary children's librarian at the JPL, and the wonderful committee that has worked so hard to put it together. Just before I boarded the plane, I heard that it's sold out! I can't believe it, and am so honored to have been chosen to be the guest speaker this year. I'm in pretty great company, as my predecessors are the amazing YA authors Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mylnowski and Robin Friedman. So, if you live in Montreal and plan on being there, please come and say hello!

In other news, I just saw Julie & Julia on the plane. I had read the script back when I was still a film exec, and had meant to catch it in the theatres, but somehow I missed it and finally got my opportunity in-flight from seat 25D. Can I just say that I loved it? I think it was just one of those movies that hit the right note at the right time. And what better way to share my thoughts, than to blog about it.

So, how did the movie inspire me? You'd think it'd make me want to run out and buy Julia's cookbook and try my own hand at French cuisine, but no, it didn't do that (even though I do love to cook). What it did was make me feel a little bit more motivated to finish my book -- and comforted by the fact that, at some point, everyone feels like their projects (in my case, my book) are taking longer than they should or that they will never be done. But the truth is, if you just chip away, little by little, pretty much anything is possible - and anything can get done.  In the end, it doesn't really matter how long it takes, but how well you do it - and that you *do* do it.  I have to keep reminding myself of that because this book has evolved and has taken longer than I expected.  But that's okay. It's a process and this just happens to be the process for this particular novel. It's a lesson I've learned a million times over through my various incarnations (as a student, athelete, etc etc), but one that can easily slip through the cracks, and sometimes all you need is a good reminder, like this movie, that you can get it done.  And a reminder of why you do it -- because you love it (in my case, writing) even if it isn't always obvious.

The other thing the movie did was make me miss my amazing husband only two hours into my one week adventure!
Love is at the very heart of this movie - love for life, love for the people in our lives and love for what we do.
So, I guess I just wanted to say thanks Julie & Julia, for making me take a moment to realize what I've got.

November 11, 2009

Sunset over Hollywood

I went on a sunset hike this afternoon with Rocky and Alex up to the Hollywood sign. It was a rare cloudy day in LA, which made the sunset all the more beautiful. These pictures tell the story better than I could.

October 25, 2009

Peace & Calm

I just got back from a beautiful hike in the Hollywood Hills with my trusty companion, Rocky. I usually take a spinning/pilates class on Sunday mornings, but today I felt the tug to be outside. And I'm glad I listened. It's a perfect clear, blue, Fall day, with temps cool enough for the Big Sweets to make it even further up than we normally go.

Here's Rocky, taking a forced break so I could snap this pic.
Back on the go, cresting the first view.
Taking a break, to take in the view...

Anticipating drops from my bottle...

Ah, the sweet taste of water after a long climb.Preparing for the descent...
Now that we're back in the comfort of our home, Rocky is recuperating in the sun on his favorite spot. It's a tough life...
I hope everyone else's Sunday is as good as his.

x J

October 22, 2009

Just Do It

Greetings, friends:
you know those days when the hours just blend together and fly by so fast that you forget to eat? Well, I had one of those yesterday. I had a marathon meeting on one of my projects that was so much fun I didn't notice that five hours had passed...I love it when that happens. It probably had something to do with the fact that I wasn't alone in my office all day like I normally am, plus the fact that I didn't have a chance to go online at all.

After that I dashed to the complete other side of town to get to the Echo Park Library for my Teen Read Week event with fellow YA authors Anna Hays and Michael Reisman. Thanks to the fabulous Wendy McPherson, YA librarian extraordinaire, we had 75 people attend the speaking portion of the event, and 18 of them stayed for the workshop that followed.

I love these kinds of events. I love the enthusiasm of the attendees, and it's always a great way to give back, to let others know, no matter their age, that they can do this, too. They can write. They have something to say. The key is to stick with it and to form a habit. And the way to form a habit is to be consistent, even if it's in 20 minute increments. Chances are, you'll get more done in 20 minutes than you think you can. It's like training for a marathon. You don't start with 26 miles. You start with 1. And when you're ready, you take it up to 2. Maybe a few days later you'll even be able to do 3 miles. The point is, this is how you form a habit and eventually you will make it to 26 miles. Or a finished mansucript.

On another note, I came home to poor Rocky still grappling with his foot rash. And you know what that means? It's back to the socks for the Big Sweets.
He's now a walking reminder to, that's right, JUST DO IT!
And with that, I'm off to do just that, which means see you later, interweb!
x J

October 19, 2009

your daily rocky

hello folks.
I'm back, it's Monday, and I think this picture says it all:
But it's only 2:14pm, which means there's still practically an entire day to get back to revisions, take the sleepy guy for a hike, grocery shop and then cook a fabulous meal for hubby.right? RIGHT.

Or I can always convince Beef to cuddle for the rest of the afternoon...
p.s. for future reference, Rocky, pictured above, is also known as: Beef, Big Beef, The Big Sweets, Steiners-Beef, Rockstein and many more nicknames that will likely surface on this stay tuned!

happy monday, friends and dog lovers alike.
x j

October 18, 2009

it's twitter time

hello friends,
I have some news! It finally happened! Yes, that's right. I joined twitter. I'm hoping this will make up for my lack of blogging of late, or that perhaps those 140 characters will inspire some more frequent posting...who knows?
BUT, in the meantime, you can see all the fascinating things I'm up to (you know, like taking "Big Beef," aka Rocky, aka my dog, around the block, what I'm about to concoct in the kitchen, which TV show I'm OBSESSED with), so please don't be shy and come be a follower (their word, not mine!).

you can find me here! (

In other news, since I *am* so obsessed with my dog, I'm thinking of giving you all a chance to see the adorableness right HERE by posting some of the greatest pictorial hits of this beast we love so much. He is my muse after all, and gets photographed almost daily, but I figured the best place to start is with a pic from my wedding, where Rocky was the ring bearer, way back in 2008.
So, without further ado, here he is, in all his floral glory!And with that, I'm off to take this big, beefy guy to the park before hitting the road for Santa Barbara for a lovely, afternoon wedding.
See you soon, friends.
x j

August 13, 2009

Feel good post

ok, peeps. I just saw this video that's been sitting in my inbox for weeks and I had to share.
there's something so beautiful and inspiring about its simplicity. Not to mention, I do love this song...

but wait, I just realized I don't actually *know how* to post a video, so for the curious, here's a link instead.


So close...

I can taste it! To be less cryptic, I'm almost done with a major overhaul of my second book. It has taken some time, but it has been my loyal companion during a particular nutty few months. But now that I'm coming out the other side, I can pretty safely say that while life does and will always "get in the way," it is in fact these very distractions, forced breaks and sometimes obstacles that are the very stuff of writing. The stuff that we store in our DNA. While it might not be obvious at the time, these experiences can and ultimately do find their way onto the page. Sometimes it's clear when it happens, other times ideas will only slightly resemble their origins and will come out of the filter of time and perspective anew.

When you're in the thick of life, the thick of upsetting news or seemingly endless roadblocks, when you feel like the writing's not coming, like you're drawing water from a stone, when stringing a simple sentence together feels like a herculean effort, like you're learning a new language, just remember: it will pass. Maybe not in a day. Or a week. Or even a month.
But once it passes, you know it's gone.
And you know you're back.
And the next time it happens, hopefully you'll remember you made it through before. For the better.

So welcome back, me!

June 29, 2009

eureka (I hope)

For the past few hours, I've been having a frustrating time trying to wrangle what should be a few simple paragraphs at the end of a chapter.
I have the ideal writing environment. No distractions. I haven't been procrastinating, for once. But let's just say it hasn't been flowing. So, after an internet search to find comforting tales of other writers in my position, I found this quote, and bingo, it nails my problem:
"I've often said that there's no such thing as writer's block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen--whether I'm working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book--it's usually because I'm trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place."
(Jeffery Deaver)

Hooray. So with that nugget, I'm going to call it a night.
p.s. have you ever heard people say that they have solved story problems in their sleep, by writing out or articulating the issue before going to bed? Well, I'm trying it tonight so wish me luck.

June 25, 2009

clearing fog

June gloom cast a shadow long and wide this month, and trust me, I was under it.
It's bright today, I'm sitting by a window in the library looking out at the way the sun's dappled light is hitting the leaves, and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. And gratitude. Not just that the sun is here, but that I'm coming out of a fog, too. It was one unfortunately born of unpredictable and unstoppable circumstances, one that tested my resolve and hope, but one that is thankfully lifting.

It's always hard to reengage with writing when I've been forced away, to find that rhythm again, the flow, the feeling that you're living and breathing your characters. But, there's also something to be said about life and experience and the ups and downs that go along with it, sorting through the emotions and finding your place among them and then harvesting all that you've learned and hopefully finding a way to channel it into your work.

That's where I am now. Sorting through it all. Sitting with it. Listening to music and allowing myself to get back there. It will happen in time. Maybe not today, but I will get back.

One thing I know, even if I don't feel it all the time, is that writing is a gift. It's a way to try to make sense of the world, a way to express the contradictions, confusions, wonders we experience. It's a way to channel all the things that I turn over in my mind, concepts, feelings, questions, uncertainties -- and most of all, hope.

Because at the end of the day, no matter how hard life gets, hope usually finds its way back in, if it ever really left in the first place.

June 11, 2009

daily warm-up

Back in the day when I was an athlete, I would start my training regimen with a warm-up. It usually entailed riding the bike, or stretching, or doing a few minutes of light sprints on the court to get my body moving. For those who don't know, I used to play squash. It was literally my life between the ages of 10 and 24. I would train in the mornings, after school, on weekends. And once I graduated from college, I pursued it full time for a few months on the pro tour while trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

Anyway, about a month ago I was reminded of my days as an athlete in a meaningful way. I was given the amazing honor of being inducted into the Harvard Varsity Hall of Fame. My husband and I flew back to Boston for the event, where I was surrounded by family and old friends. My college coach (who is still a close friend) introduced me that night before receiving my award. In his speech, he reminded me of so much from those days, but particularly the plan I put in place when I decided I really wanted to win the national singles title. I had lost in the finals the year before, and three weeks before the championship tournament, I had a chance to face the defending champion in a dual match between Harvard and Yale for the national team title. I scraped by with a 3-1 victory, but like usual, came off the court feeling like I wasn't fully in control, that I hadn't played my best. I was sick of that feeling, of not being able to own my victories, and I didn't want it to happen again three weeks later. So, I took out my journal and wrote a plan as to how I was going to improve, what I needed to do to win. But most importantly, I wrote down what I needed to do in order to feel like I was fulfilling my potential -- and not leaving the rest to chance.

I mapped out exactly how I was going to train every day, both on and off the court, for how long, what I needed to focus on, etc. And I followed it. Every day I consulted my journal and executed the plan I had laid out for myself. I was in control. I even wrote out two pages of motivational sayings, stuff that worked for me at the time, little sound bites I could repeat to myself between points when I was catching my breath. I had read them over so many times in the days leading up to the tournament, throughout the matches I played to get to the finals, that by the time I was playing for the title, they were ingrained in me. There wasn't room for the negative talk that so often finds its way in. I had trained it out of me. And the result? Yes, I won. And it was a satisfying victory. Not because I had become the national champion. But because I had left it all on the court. I had no regrets. I had done my best and it felt good.

I still have that journal and the two pages of handwritten motivational sound bites somewhere in the bin in my closet where I keep all my old journals, most of them unfinished, jumping months and years ahead sometimes between pages.

I thought about it this morning because I think it's what I need. A shedule to map out the work remaining through the end of this book. And maybe even a new list of inspirational sayings to pop in my head when the negative thoughts come creeping back in...

By the way, does anyone ever read their old journals? I also have a stack of old letters from high school in a giant box on top of my bookshelf that I keep meaning to comb through. But I guess, for now, the memories are enough.


June 10, 2009

and so it goes again

It's that time of year again in Los Angeles. June Gloom. And it's really true. It *does* get gloomy pretty much every day in June. Low white clouds cover the sky and hang like a low ceiling pretty much all day. I kind of love it. It feels cozy and makes me want to stay inside, which is good when you're trying to finish a book.

I'm about to re-write a chapter I've been looking forward to for a while. It was one of the first new scenes I came up with when figuring out how to approach the revisions, and it was one of the reasons I got excited about the work ahead. It lit that fire, so to speak, and helped me let go of what I had already written to be open to new and better ideas. So, now that I finally get to write it, I'm, of course, procrastinating big time.

But I'm not one of those productive procrastinators who gets things like laundry, bill paying, email-responding, cleaning, writing wedding thank-you notes (yes! over a year later and I still haven't finished, for shame), blogging (okay, I'm doing that now) done while avoiding my work.
No, that time gets sucked by either hugging my dog or random internet browsing (hey, I'm very up to date on current events and Michelle Obama's latest outfit). If I were a productive procrastinator I'd pay more attention to my succulent garden, or go for bike rides around the neighborhood (hmmm, maybe I'll do that later), or plant the herb/vegetable garden I've been mentally planning, etc.

The thing is, I've come to accept that this is part of my process. I rarely can start writing the second I sit down at my computer. I need time to sink back into that mental space. Some days it only takes a few minutes, others, like today, it can be up to or over an hour. But, I've realized that the work always ends up getting done, one way or another, so there's no point resisting it. A little cushion room is sometimes all I need to pave the way for a good day of writing.

And with that, I'm off to begin. Happy June Gloom.
x jordanna

June 8, 2009

I have a title!

Hello friends,
That is, if I still have any after being the worst blogger of 2009. But the year is only half over, so there is still time to rectify that, or at least to move a few notches up from the *worst.*
Okay, now that I've cleared that up, let me confess that I am retreating to this blank page in order to hide from another, at least for a few minutes. To be more specific, I'm revising my next book and as is often the case with revisions, that entails writing new stuff, not just revising the stuff that's already been written.

But, I'm really excited to announce the title! It's called OUR SONG, and should be out in June 2010. When I have a good synopsis to share, I will, but for now I'll just tell you it's a pretty dramatic love story and despite my temporary avoidance, has been so much fun to write.

You know, as a writer, I realized I'd been spending way too much time and energy trying to get to the finish line, wanting to already be done, to have this book behind me. But then as I approached (and blew past my deadline!), I realized that I'm actually having fun writing this book, inhabiting the minds of my characters, thinking about how they feel and act, and that I shouldn't want it to end, that I'll actually miss these characters when I'm done. The amazing thing is that this shift in thinking has actually worked. It has taken away the sense of doom and fear hanging over me and replaced it with a desire to take the time I need to do the book justice. I still procrastinate. I still have trouble starting most days no matter how well the previous day or days of writing have gone. But I don't feel panicked or wish it was over. Since I want to be doing this for a long time, I hope I can maintain this attitude for a long time, too. At least it's how I feel today.
Now I'm ready to go back to the other blank page. Happy Monday, everyone.
x Jordanna

January 14, 2009

Elegy for a Squirrel

Greetings from beautiful Ojai,

I came up here yesterday afternoon on a whim that struck on Monday, but has been brewing for several years. Way back when I was still working as a film exec (six months plus many years ago), I always dreamed that I would reach a point in my life where I could whisk away for a few days by myself to write, holing myself up in a cabin somewhere. The fantasy has always been very basic, with modest expectations (a room with a bed, a desk, a reading chair) in a beautiful, serene environment.

After I quit my other career to focus on writing full time, I felt so liberated just staying home all day, making my own schedule, writing, working out, seeing friends when I wanted, on my terms. And did I mention how amazing it's been to have Rocky by my side ALL DAY LONG? We've kind of become addicted to each other since we're home together all the time. He likes to follow me wherever I go, even if it's moving five feet from one end of the room to another. He'll sit on the bathmat in front of the shower door while I take a shower, or lie down outside the bathroom door waiting for me (when guests are over and I have the door shut -- kind of weird to let them see you actually let your dog follow you into the bathroom. I know I'm admitting it here, but at least it's pseudo-anonymous and I don't have to see your reactions.)

Here's the thing. I grew up with dogs and have been dying to have my own since I left home for college. My family's dogs died a few years ago, at the same time my husband lost his beloved family dog (both chocolate labs. In fact, here's a good tidbit. Molly and Charlie in In Your Room are kind of named after my hubby's family pets, Molly the chocolate lab, and Charlie, the legendary greatest cat of all time. He really was. I mean, his neighbor named one of her children after Charlie the cat he's THAT legendary.)

Anyway, having Rocky around all the time, not just on school breaks and visits home, is pretty much a dream come true. Which is one of the reasons I've deferred this other dream of mine, to go somewhere alone to write. That, and, of course, it's always more fun when I'm hanging out with Alex.

But, with a deadline approaching, I felt this was a good time to go away and see if isolation in a tranquil place would be all that I dreamed it would be. So, on a whim (plus many years of dreaming) I found this charming place on several acres of beautifully tended land and drove up the next day. I don't have a cabin, but a little cottage, modestly appointed (a bed, a reading chair, a desk) with my own balcony overlooking the mountains.
This is what the view looks like:

And this brings me to the squirrel.

I'm one of those people who shudders and feels a tiny bit of pain on the part of any dead animal I ever pass on the street. It's like those times you feel a shiver go up your spine for no apparent reason, only the reason for me in these cases is always very clear. I feel sad that their lives ended so tragically.

So, after being happily ensconced in my room, on my balcony, on the grounds for the last 24 hours, I decided to venture into town to get some lunch and restock on supplies (breakfast is the only meal served here). On my way down the steep private road, a squirrel darted out right in front of the car. It was almost like a kamikaze mission, and even though I managed to swerve slightly, it was too late. I could see the little guy lying in the middle of the road through my rear view mirror, his tail whipping from one side to the other.
It was really sad. I felt awful. Even though there wasn't anything I could do, I hated that I was the cause of his death.

Further along my drive into town, I drove past a sign on the side of the main road that said: "Free Your Mind," beneath its Sanskrit equivalent. I thought about the squirrel and what had just happened and tried to do just that.

I had a lovely meal and walk around town, and browsed through an antique store, where I bought myself a pair of delicate earrings, and a little gift for Alex.

On my way home, not too far from where I'm staying, I drove past a dog crossing the road on his own, no owner in sight. A couple of other cars stopped to make sure he got across okay. He had a collar but no leash, so I pulled over and walked across the street to see him.
He was a sweet, medium sized dog, some type of Shepherd mix, with a rich dark brown and black coat. I was able to see that he had a tag with a local number, but the sound of a truck driving by startled him and he ran off. I got back in my car and followed him slowly up the street and down a private drive that led to several houses off the road. I pulled over again, got out and followed him to a house where a man greeted him. He was home, and his owner didn't realize he had gotten out.

I got back in the car again, relieved to know that this animal wasn't going to get hit by a car, and drove the rest of the way up the hill. When I got to the private road where I had hit the squirrel, I kept waiting to see his dead body still lying there, and cringed at the thought of facing it again.
But I kept driving all the way up, back onto the property, to my parking spot near my cottage and never saw him again.
He was gone. Who knows, maybe he didn't die after all.

January 3, 2009

home cooking

I'm sitting at my dining room table by the fire. Rocky's by my side, and the smell of the chicken soup simmering on the stove has just hit me. The sun has just set, so it's almost but not quite dark in the courtyard in front of me. The lights under the umbrella and on the tree are now visible. Music's playing. So finally, after I finish this, I'll be able to write.
Maybe it's that I worked in an office for 11 years, but I'm still finding it so much fun to set up my writing spaces. I go through phases where it will be the same place everyday, or it can change daily. The past few days I've been working from the dining room table. Before that, I wrote in my office upstairs. Before that I did a stint in coffee shops. Now I seem to want to cook and write. I've been making a lot of soups, and I love the way it fills the house with that smell that reminds me of home, the one I grew up in when I was little.
Happy new year, everyone.