My Essay Published by Hollywood Journal!

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So I have exciting news to share…

My personal essay just went live on Hollywood Journal! It’s called “My Glamourous Hollywood Career… and Why I Gave It Up.”

The essay explores my time working in the trenches of Hollywood and my transition to becoming a writer. It also involves a goldendoodle puppy. Oh, and there’s a story about Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese!

How can you resist?

Here’s a snippet from my essay on Hollywood Journal:

I drove up the pitch-black canyon roads en route to Marilyn Manson’s Hollywood Hills mansion, my headlights wending their way around the near 180 curves in the road. My newly purchased cell phone rang every few seconds from the passenger seat with my boss’ number flashing on the caller ID.

The panic started to set in — I didn’t dare answer it. I was new to L.A. and hopelessly lost in a time before cars with GPS and Google Maps. My boss, a movie producer with a famous temper, was going to murder me. Worse yet, he might even fire me. I’d only been on the job a few weeks. Failure wasn’t an option, not with my bank account balance hovering around zero.

My age: Twenty-one and naïve as hell.

My salary: Five hundred measly bucks a week before taxes.

My mission: To retrieve new music for our horror movie’s teaser trailer.

Click here to read the rest of my essay!

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Young Storytellers Strikes Again!

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I had a great Big Show last night!

I mentor with a great organization called the Young Storytellers Foundation! This semester, I worked with a brilliant 5th grader named Brooklyn. Over the course of 8 weeks, we wrote a 5 page screenplay. Then last night the magic happened… real Hollywood actors came in to perform the kids’ scripts.

My good friend Challen Cates (of a famed Nickelodeon show) acted in the show. The show was a success. Next week is our wrap party.

If you’re interested in getting involved, check out their website.

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Positano Bites Deep: Sirenland Writers Conference 2014 Recap

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“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

John Steinbeck recorded his impression of Positano, Italy—a town perched on a vertical cliffside on the Amalfi Coast overlooking the sea. Could you imagine a more breathtaking location for a writers conference?

Just two weeks ago, I was one of thirty lucky attendees accepted to the 2014 Sirenland Writers Conference, held annually at Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano. Sirenland is truly a unique and unforgettable experience—the locale, the accommodations (5 star hotel perched on the cliffside with ocean views), the food (the hotel boasts a Michelin starred restaurant), but most importantly, the people. Working with Meg Wolitzer, who led my fiction workshop, was a dream come true. She’s so kind and brilliant and hugely talented. I’m still in awe that she read chapters of my novel and gave me feedback.

Jen & Gina

The instructors for the other two workshops were also fantastic—Andre Dubus, so warm and friendly, and Dani Shaprio, who founded the workshop along with Michael Maren, a filmmaker and also her husband, and Hannah Tinti, an award-winning writer and editor. In addition to the workshop portion, there were talks on publishing, readings, and writing exercises.

I read in front of actual people for the first time ever.

I was shaking in my boots (literally), but everyone was so supportive and complimentary. It was the perfect place to take a risk and try something new. I can see why writers return to this conference for a second time, or in one case this year, for their fourth time. Though the week flew by, and by the end I wished I could stay, if only for a few more days, I know I made lasting friendships and left with renewed confidence and inspiration to pursue this crazy thing called writing.

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The Sirenland Writers Conference: Before I Depart for Italy

sirenlandBG1The countdown is finally over.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for Italy. First, I’m off to Rome to see some of the sights and meet up with some fellow workshoppers, and then we’re traveling via Naples down to Positano for the Sirenland Writers Conference. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be working with Meg Wolitzer at the workshop. I submitted the first three chapters of my novel, The 13th Continuum. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the light of day, not just sequestered on my laptop, or zipping from my agent to various publishing entities.

Now this trip comes not without it’s hiccups. Our airline—of course THE ONE airline we chose to book—has decided to go on strike and cancelled our original flights. That left us scrambling with our travel agent to find new ones. As I write this post, our brand new tickets on a different airline are hopefully being issued. Oh, and my BRAND NEW iPhone melted down yesterday, requiring an emergency trip to the Apple Store for a new one.

I’m saying goodbye to Ryker, my trusty pooch, this morning. I was supposed to have him for another day since we had a later flight, but now we have to leave early in the AM. He’s off to his doggie place, which is a bit like doggie camp. I think it’s harder on me than him. The pet taxi is due to arrive at any moment. I’ll miss the little fur ball.

Through all this bumps and scrambling I’m just trying to hold the vision in my mind of Italy and Prosecco and Calamari and the Amalfi Coast and working with tremendous writers. Writing can feel like such a solitary task, but we benefit from stepping away from our desks, shutting our laptops, and interacting with other human beings. That’s why attending this conference was so important to me. In addition to Meg, there will be other amazing writers in the house, including Dani Shapiro and Andre Dubus.

I’ll try to check in from the road, but if not I’ll write a recap right here!

Ciao!

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Harvardwood Publishing Announcement

harvardwood_ 2I’m excited to announce that I’m the new Associate Director of Harvardwood Publishing! You can follow us on Twitter—@HarvardwoodPub.

We’re relaunching our imprint this spring with a variety of exciting new events. Harvardwood Publishing has teamed with the Harvard Review, and we are bringing out a joint anthology in late March, which will feature the work of Joyce Carol Oates, John Ashbury, David Foster Wallace, Seamus Heaney and many other major writers who have contributed to the Harvard Review. Over the course of this year, we will be publishing other anthologies, featuring new writers and with an emphasis on writing from the West Coast.

Also, we’re launching a series of literary workshops in Los Angeles this spring on a variety of topics (including one coming up that I’ll be teaching):

Please visit the Harvardwood Literary Workshop page for more information.

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