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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.

Archive for March, 2011

Progress report

Posted on March 30th, 2011 by annakjarzab

So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m trying to be more active and go to the gym more, since, you know, I pay for it and all that, and that I’m doing Couch to 5K. I decided to repeat the first week of the program (so I did “week 1” for two weeks, well more like two and a half weeks) because I’ve never been able to run anything close to 5K (I think that’s around two and a half miles) and I thought I should take it slow to let my body adjust. But by the third day of my second week of “week 1” (does that make sense? are you still with me?), I was starting to feel like I could do more. I was crowding the front of the treadmill, which I assumed meant that I was running faster than the 5.5 pace I’d set the treadmill at, so I bumped it up to the 6 pace. That was Monday; I was proud that I pushed myself, and after the workout I felt really strong and capable. Hey, it was an accomplishment for me! I’m terrible at this running thing.

So yesterday (even though you’re supposed to take a day off between Couch to 5K workouts) I went back to the gym to start on Week 2. Week 1 sets are 5 minutes warm up, then 8 sets of 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, followed by a 5 minute cool down. My pacing for those workouts has been warm up: 3, running: 5.5, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5 (except Monday when it was warm up: 3, running: 6, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5). I was so sure that the Week 2 workouts would be a breeze because Monday felt so good. Boy, was I in for a surprise! First of all, they tell you to take a day of rest between workouts for reason. I’ve had bad knees for a long time, and when I started my warm up yesterday I realized, hey, my knees really hurt. But I was already dressed, I’d already stolen a treadmill from somebody (there are two kinds of treadmills at my gym and I don’t know how to use one of the brands, but the brand I have managed to figure out is also the more popular one, so sometimes you have to knock little old ladies out of the way to get one and I’m not above that), and I was already warming up, so I was like, whatever, I’m doing this. Apart from the knee pain, everything else felt fine.

It wasn’t the worst workout ever. It was hard, harder than I thought it’d be, and by the end I was sort of dying and wanting it to be over, but I was also feeling really proud for making it through. Week 2 workouts are 5 minutes warm up, then 6 sets of alternating 90 seconds running with 2 minutes walking, then a 5 minute cool down. I started doing the running on 5.5, but had to bump it up to 5.7 because, again, I was crowding the front of the treadmill so I knew I could go faster (but didn’t want to set it at 6, lest my legs break and I pass out). But I was really feeling it afterward. My knees were screaming with pain, and so were my ankles. I know part of it is just the way my body is–I have knee problems, this isn’t new–and part of it is the way I run. My balance is not great and I favor the sides of my feet even when I walk, so I probably have terrible, terrible running form and that is causing pain where it needn’t be. However, I seem to be bouncing back quicker from the muscle fatigue and pain caused by the running–the first few times I did it, I would ache for days, but even though my knees really hurt yesterday, they feel fine today. I even contemplated going back to the gym tonight, but then I was like, don’t do it. Tomorrow will be fine.

In other news (this is such an exciting post you guys!) I bought new running shoes. Mine were ten years old (I know! Ten! That shows you how much I’ve used them) and UGLY. I remember that I lost my taste for them when I saw a particularly unfashionable and unliked RA of mine wearing the same ones in college, but for a decade they’re all I’ve had. So I went to the Footlocker Run store in Union Square and bought new ones. I thought I deserved it for really dedicating myself to this running thing. I bought these Nike Free Run + shoes, because they’re really lightweight (which is invaluable in a city where you have to carry everything with you) and they simulate barefoot running, which I hear is the best but would never do EVER. So okay, a few things about these shoes: mine aren’t those colors (they’re just white with a royal blue swoosh) and, um, I had to get a pair of men’s instead of women’s.

Okay, but here’s why! It makes me feel like a colossus admitting this, but I wear a size 10 and these shoes run small since they’re almost like slippers–they have no tongue, they’re a little tough to get on, but they fit like a glove so you have to get a size up if you have any hope of fitting into them at all. But a size up from 10 is 11 and the store didn’t carry women’s 11s. So mine are a men’s 9. And actually, the guy who sold them to me told me that lots of women with small feet get upset when they can’t try on the men’s sizes because they think they come in better colors (they do–the lady colors are blinding neon and total ugsville). I’m sure he was exaggerating because he wanted to sell me some shoes and the way to do that is not to make the patron feel like a giantess, but whatever. I love them anyway. They feel amazing on and they don’t weigh down my bag like my old ones did, plus they’re much nicer looking.

So that’s where I am with the running. I’m sticking to it, and I’m enjoying it for the most part, so I feel like that’s all good news.

Liveblogging the Make It or Break It season premiere

Posted on March 29th, 2011 by annakjarzab


My love for Make It or Break It is well documented, so I probably don’t need to explain how much I’ve been anticipating this premiere. I know it’s a cheesy little show, and apparently the gymnastics is ludicrous, but quite honestly I don’t know anything about gymnastics so I don’t care about that. I find MIOBI soooo entertaining, and I can’t possibly watch it without liveblogging my ridiculous thoughts about the premiere after the jump.

Publishing 101

Posted on March 24th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Are you guys reading the posts that Alex Bracken puts up explaining different parts of the publishing process? Sometimes I feel like I should talk about publishing more than I do, since I work in the industry and (you would think) have some insights (I have a whole Publishing tag I don’t even use!), but mainly I just think Alex does it much better than I can or would and I leave it to her. Plus I’m not totally sure I have any insights. Today she put up a post about launch that does a good job of draining the process of some of its mystery.

I have to admit, launch is one of my favorite parts of working in publishing, for a couple of reasons. First of all: I don’t have to do anything. I work in Marketing, and Marketing plays a much larger part in the publishing process than anybody really realizes, so even if I’m not attending or presenting at a meeting, I’m often pulling together last minute information or providing marketing bullets for various decks that my bosses have to present (all of the Marketing big wigs were off site at sales conference this week and even then I was still getting emails with questions–the work is never finished!). But when it comes to launch, I just get to sit back and relax and be presented to, which is pretty sweet.

Second of all, it’s like going to the movies and seeing the coming attractions. There was actually an editor who devoted the end of her presentation to telling us what we were going to see on future 2012 launches, which I loved. Even though I love my job most days and love the books I work on, after working on them for a year you start itching for new blood–What’s the cover of this sequel going to look like? Or what’s this awesome author’s new book going to be about? I basically stalk the place on the server where editorial puts all the launch manuscripts for weeks before launch to see what they’re going to post and come up with my totally OCD list of the order in which I’m going to read them. (However, true to form, I’ve only read one two launch manuscripts so far…my list includes like eight.) Plus I like to hear what Sales has to say–they’re always very vocal and full of opinions and the discussion is really interesting, at least if you’re a total publishing nerd like me. I always learn a lot at launch, or at least find out I have a lot of questions I didn’t know I needed answered. Like: what is a planogram? Account reps for mass market channels say it all the time and I’ve never found the right moment to pull one of them aside and ask what that is. Except I just Wiki’d it and now I don’t have to.

The part of the process where I become involved is Marketing brainstorming, which happens about a month post-launch. At my company all the Marketing folks have a series of meetings in which we all get together and come up with marketing plans for titles on the list. Even though this requires me to think, I love brainstorming. I really like my coworkers and it’s fun for all of us to talk about books, especially new books! I usually read a lot more manuscripts for brainstorming than for launch, mostly because I’ve had more time. Marketing plans go through a near-infinite series of refining stages–when they leave Marketing brainstorming, they’re just rough drafts–but it’s a great place to come up with crazy ideas, like sky writing or getting an Essie nail polish named after a character or pursuing a partnership with Capri Sun or whatever.

Running in place

Posted on March 18th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I am not a runner. I mean, the first rule of fight club is obviously “You don’t talk about fight club,” but the second rule is definitely “Let’s all be honest about whether or not we’re actually runners.” (No it’s not. Actually the second rule of fight club is “You don’t talk about fight club.”) So I’m not a runner. I don’t like to run. I’m not good at it. My brother and sister are both runners but I’m like, meh, I could do without the running.

But I’d like to be in better shape. I’d like to be a runner, although I hear tell in some circles that some people are just never going to be runners no matter how much they run? I don’t know. I’m not trying to be a runner. I’m just trying to run. For now.

In January I joined a gym using a corporate discount I got through work, which makes it slightly less expensive to belong to the gym, but not much. Because gyms in New York are insanely expensive. I pay $75 a month to belong to mine. SEVENTY-FIVE ENTIRE US DOLLARS PER MONTH! My new gym doesn’t even have a pool! Ugh. Whatever.

So I joined the gym in order to make myself work out, and then of course I kept putting off going for one reason or another (“I’m sick”, “I might be getting sick”, “I was just sick, I probably shouldn’t push myself”) and suddenly a whole month and a half had gone by and I’d only gone to the gym like once. Which is disgusting, spending all that money just to have the privilege of going to a gym I don’t actually go to. So I decided this week that I’m actually going to go, and not only am I going to go, but I’m going to restart Couch to 5K, which I began eons ago at my parents’ house over the summer last year and never finished. Couch to 5K makes a really awesome iPhone app and I still have it on my phone, so on Thursday instead of doing the elliptical I waited somewhat impatiently for a treadmill and completed the first workout.

And, okay, the beginning workouts of Couch to 5K are NOT that hard. It’s a 5 minute warm up (walking) followed by 8 sets of running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, followed by a 5 minute cool down (walking). NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL. Except when you’re not a runner you’re like, “Holy crap, sixty seconds is a long time.” Now, my gym self is a lot like my real self, in that inertia is a big obstacle for me (an object at rest will stay at rest, etc.), but once I’m actually doing something I push myself really hard, stupidly hard at times. So getting motivated to go to the gym is a real struggle for me, but once I’m in my gym clothes and I’m on the treadmill, I’m like, “Well, I could walk at the 2.5 speed but what if I walk at 3. I could run at 5 but maybe I’ll run at 5.5.” I like to see how hard I can push myself. And once I’m in the groove I can go forever–I was once on the elliptical for 2 hours at my old gym because I was watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on the TV and didn’t want to stop! (It was empty and there were lot of machines available, don’t worry, I wasn’t being a jerk.)

But…when you’re not a runner and you push yourself really hard on a treadmill, even if you’re not doing THAT much, you end up getting insanely sore. INSANELY. I could barely move on Wednesday morning. But, because an object in motion will stay in motion, I of course went to the gym that same night. You’re supposed to do the Couch to 5K exercises three times a week, allowing at least one day in between for rest, so I was planning on just doing the elliptical for half an hour and going home. But when I got to the gym there were tons of treadmills available and no ellipticals, so I decided to do Week 1, Day 2 of Couch to 5K instead of waiting. BIG MISTAKE. Yesterday I actually could not go to the gym because I could barely walk around the office.

I know this is just temporary, and my friend Cambria told me that the second day you’re always more sore than the first, and I feel so much better today that I’m definitely going to the gym and doing Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 3. But man, it was crazy how much just running for a grand total of about 8 minutes took such a toll on me. I just never use those muscles, not being a runner. But I’m going to finish Couch to 5K! This I swear to you. However, it would be a lot easier to do this if, say, all treadmills actually had Couch to 5K preprogrammed in, or that you could program your own intervals. (Actually, you probably can, I just don’t know how.) Because it is seriously annoying when the app tells me to “RUN” in this very scary computer woman voice and I have to fumble with the key pad to get the belt to move at 5.5 immediately. Someday I’m going to get tangled in my headphones and fall on my face. Anyone want to take bets on how long before that happens? The comments are yours.

The Opposite of Hallelujah

Posted on March 11th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Regular readers of this blog will know that the course of book two never did run smooth…at least for this writer (me). But today came some good news–my editor called and told me that she really liked the book we turned in a few weeks ago and she’s going to publish it! INSERT HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF HERE. It has a tentative pub season of Fall 2012, which might seem really far away, but luckily for me I already live on a publishing schedule (since I work in the industry), so to me Fall 2012 is like right around the corner–we’re launching our Spring 2012 titles next week!

So now I feel a little more comfortable talking about what, exactly, The Opposite of Hallelujah is all about. Caveat: the description below was written by me specifically for this blog post, so it shouldn’t be considered official in any sense whatsoever. But I don’t think the plot is going to change, so I’m going to go ahead and give you an idea of what you can expect from Anna Jarzab Book 2: Tokyo Drift.

Caro Mitchell has a sister, but she hasn’t seen her in several years and rarely thinks about her. Hannah, who is eleven years older, has been a nun in the cloistered order of the Sisters of Grace since Caro was eight-years-old, and per the rules of her order has almost no contact with her family. In the years since Hannah left, Caro has become a teenager and is just starting to carve out a life for herself: she has a boyfriend, great friends, and a real passion and talent for science. Though she was raised Catholic, Caro has no interest in the religion that defines and consumes her sister’s life.

But things start to unravel right as Caro’s junior year in high school begins. Her boyfriend, Derek, comes back from summer camp and summarily dumps her, and her parents drop a huge bomb on her: Hannah is leaving the Sisters of Grace and, after nearly a decade spent locked behind convent walls, coming home to live with her family. Though her parents are overjoyed at their older daughter’s return, Caro struggles to accept and connect with Hannah, with whom things are obviously not at all well, and Caro makes a rash choice that puts all of her relationships in peril–including a budding romance with new boy Pawel.

What follows is a journey towards redemption and understanding, as Caro seeks to regain the trust she has broken with the help of the art of M.C. Escher, single-bubble sonoluminescence, and a scientist priest who challenges her to pursue the answers to the questions that torment her: How do we repair what has been destroyed? How do we make lasting and meaningful connections with the people we love? Can science and religion peacefully coexist?

And, most pressing: What happened to Hannah? Why did she go into the convent eight years ago, and why has she returned now? And can anything be done to save her?

So yeah. That’s it. There’s a lot going on in this book, but in a good way, I hope–complex instead of complicated was the goal. It’s a little long and my editor implied that revisions would mainly involve trimming the manuscript, which makes sense to me. What is important to me about this book is that it serve as an exploration of–well, an exploration of a lot of things, like family (sisterhood in particular), human connection, memory, how we deal with remorse and what guilt and grief do to us (a common theme with me, as that’s a biggie in All Unquiet Things, too), growing up, creation, truth, etc. But I wanted to deal with religion, not preach at anybody. I never want people to write this book off as “religious” or “Christian.” The way Caro (a non-believer, a firm scientific empiricist) grapples with issues of faith is as realistic and open as I could possibly make it, because I didn’t want to write a book about someone who doesn’t believe in God and is then magically converted. That’s one story, but it’s not this story.

Nor did I ever intend it to be a villification of religious people of any denomination, or people who choose a religious vocation. I did a LOT of research on nuns and convents while I was working on this novel, and what I learned is that the women who choose to enter the convent are more widely varied than you can possibly imagine–they do what they do for so many different, good reasons, and it’s a life choice that I really respect for a lot of reasons.

Even though it won’t happen for a while, I’m excited for people to eventually read this. I have a supersoft spot in my heart for The Opposite of Hallelujah (fun fact: its original title, back when I conceived of it back WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE OMG, was Do Geese See God?, which is still the name of the folder it lives in on my computer, and also apparently the name of a movie starring Blair Underwood that I’ve never seen, and a recent Jeopardy! question; it’s also my third favorite palindrome after (of course) my name, and “A man, a plan, a canal–Panama”) and I hope people love it as much as I do.

But that’s later! Right now I’m just rocking out to Avril Lavigne and watching the pilot of Fringe (WTF IS GOING ON?!?! ZOMBIES ON A PLANE!), reading manuscripts for launch and Ken Jennings’ book Braniac* and working on my new manuscript, which is crazy and sloppy and fun to write. Check you later!

*Ken Jennings might be the world’s best human. Just a hunch. I’m really resisting the urge to turn this into a Ken Jennings appreciation blog, but you should read his blog and Twitter feed (HOW DOES HE NOT HAVE MORE FOLLOWERS?) and his AMA on Reddit. Oh, and Braniac. Which is great.