Statistically Speaking

thI’m coming up on my 100th blog and what have I learned? The answer is, not nearly as much as I’d hoped.  I’m still trying to figure out why some posts get a lot of traffic and others are ignored. One thing I do know is  –  a whole lot of people on the internet are searching for information regarding mammary glands, boobs, tits or whatever else you want to call them.

No duh, you might be thinking.  How did you come up with that brilliant observation, you might snidely want to ask. Well, I’ll tell you, through the beauty of … statistics!  Wordpress (my host) provides handy little graphs that display how many people view or visit  your site each day.  “Visit” evidently means they stayed a few minutes and took a look around.  “View” means they beat a hasty retreat.  “What? No boobs?  I’m out of here” – those kind of folks.

The statistics also display the most popular posts for the week and how each viewer arrived on scene (either via a Google search, Facebook, Twitter or any of a number of different social media links).

Scene from "Happy Hour and Friskie Little Titties"

Scene from “Happy Hour and Frisky Little Titties”

For example: Many people stumbled upon my blog after googling for  “little titties” (far too many if you ask me!)

Good grief! Imagine their disappointment when, instead of pictures of boobs,  they happened upon “Happy Hour and Frisky Little Titties” which is more about life in Cold War Germany than Debbie Does Dallas .

Equally unlucky were those folks googling for “tuna noodle casserole recipes” who landed on “My Life in Tuna Noodle Casserole.”  Imagine some poor lady in Nebraska looking for something new and interesting to do with tuna fish and finding instead my mother’s depression era recipe:

From "My Life in Tuna Noodle Casserole"

From “My Life in Tuna Noodle Casserole” Not my mother’s recipe but Joel’s

“Boil egg noodles till mushy, mix in a tin of tunafish, a can of mushroom soup,  dried onion mix and top with crushed potato chips – set in oven and cook till bubbly.”  Yum!

So,  I’ll been busting my butt for two years trying to entertain folks and I get the most views from people looking for tits and tuna?  I guess so!


From “Seriously, blog? It’s Spring”

I must confess, oft times I sit down with no idea at all what to write, staring at the  blank screen in front of me in abject horror.  My shortest blog is a poem “Seriously, blog?  It’s Spring” in which I complain about having to stay inside on a nice day.

The motto:  Blogging is tough.  Cry babies, need not apply.

I have learned one thing – don’t write about yourself or your books.  Interview someone!  Why?

My most popular blog "Meet Jennifer Hotes"

From my most viewed blog “Jennifer Hotes: A Creepy Obsession Becomes a Novel”

Because they will advertise your blog for you!  Every time I’ve interviewed or hosted another writer, my hits have risen way beyond the usual 20 to 30 a day to the astronomical number of 66!  (Jennifer Hotes: A Creepy Obsession Becomes a Novel).

I realize that other bloggers get hits in the thousands and here am I boasting about 66.  But, you know, I get great comments from the people who stop by and that makes it all worthwhile.

By the way – I just checked and today’s top posts are:  Highway 50 Road Trip with the Griswolds and Dem Dam Hippies’ Christmas in Have You Been Saved Missouri.  Go figure!

Prince Charming – we blame you!

high-res-cover-leaving the beach

I was delighted to run into the works of fellow author Mary Rowan for a variety of reasons. First, we both have roots in Massachusetts; second, her protagonists are far from perfect (like mine), and third she’s brave enough to address both bulimia and rockstar obsession with stunning candor, gaining the admiration of myself and countless other readers. So I’m taking a break from blah-blah-blah blogging about my cat, my neurosis, my hubby, his squirrels, tuna noodle casserole, hookers, red-haired cannibals, etc., to introduce you to her.

Oh, by the way, Pretty Kitty is feeling much better.


Mary says “Hi!”

JTT: Hi Mary – thank you very much for agreeing to join my cast of soon-to-be world famous authors. Before you change your mind, let’s begin…

One thing I particularly liked about your book was the setting.  As I’ve probably mentioned, my mother’s family is from a small town in Massachusetts.  Prior to the mass shipment of textile jobs to China and India, it was a typical “Our Town” sort of place to live.  Then, with jobs gone, it started to go into decline. However, somehow it hung on and still remains one of my favorite places to visit.  Please tell us a bit about where you grew up and how that influenced your writing.


Lawrence MA during happier times. (from Bing images)

MR: That’s very interesting about your hometown. I love the mill towns in Massachusetts, and as you probably know, many of them are now enjoying revivals. When I was born, my parents lived downstairs in my grandfather’s house in Lawrence—a mill city—but when I was five, we moved to a neighboring suburb called North Andover. I went to Catholic school in North Andover until eighth grade, then transitioned to public high school, and my freshman year was truly miserable. Not only did I have very few friends, but my infant brother had died the previous year (he was only five days old) so my whole family—especially my mother—was still dealing with a lot of grief. Memories of that year helped me write about Erin’s feelings of isolation in Leaving the Beach. Fortunately, I made friends during sophomore year and high school improved significantly for me. Poor Erin wasn’t so lucky!

JTT: Very sorry to hear about the death of your brother. Yes, a child’s death is something parents never get over.

Moving on –  your book brought back memories of my twenties when physically I was an adult but mentally I still believed in knights in shining white armor. How is Erin’s journey similar to your own?


Oh Princie, Princie, Princie! How many bad relationships have  you been responsible for? Tut!

MR: Well, some young women have realistic expectations about relationships, but I wasn’t one of them! Maybe I read too many romance novels and saw too many romantic comedies as a kid, but I truly believed—as Erin does—that the perfect guy was out there, waiting for me. It took years—and a few bad boyfriends—before I realized that some of the best relationships thrive in spite of—or perhaps because of—the fact that perfection can’t exist in this world.

JTT: Erin’s experience, which you’ve so beautifully drawn, is something I have no doubt many young women go through. For me, it was all those Disney movies – Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella!

Another thing I was impressed with is how honestly you dealt with the subject of obsession.  I shudder to think of the hours I wasted daydreaming about a kismet encounter with the Beatles. Of course, Erin actually does encounter a rock star. Without revealing the plot, can you tell us if this scene was inspired by a real life experience?

MR: It wasn’t—that scene was entirely made up. But it was based on some very real fantasies about kismet encounters with various rock stars.


Hanging with the Beatles – in my dreams!

JTT:  That’s too bad!  I never had any kismet moments with an idol either.  Course, I probably would have run the opposite direction which brings me to the topic of low self esteem. Erin’s low esteem and her turn towards self-destructive acts were gut wrenching to me because I’ve struggled with weight issues throughout my life. Where can friends and family find help in dealing with loved ones who suffer from this deadly disease?

MR: If the person doesn’t have health insurance or doesn’t feel comfortable calling their insurance company, NEDA is a wonderful resource. NEDA is the National Eating Disorders Association, and their website contains a plethora of information. They also have a live, toll-free helpline. ( Another option is calling your health insurance company’s customer service number and explaining the problem. Health insurance providers can often recommend a therapist or treatment facility and also provide practical information about medical referrals, necessary forms, etc.

Q. Thanks for that info, Mary.  Changing the topic, in both Leaving the Beach and my book (The Graduation Present) college aged women set off for Europe where both have adventures, some good and some bad. I’m assuming you probably pulled those scenes from memories of a real trip.  Can you tell me the one memory or lesson learned?  Thing you would have done differently?


Mary?  Singing on the streets of Paris?

MR: That’s a tough question, because when I went off to Europe—I spent my junior year of college in Switzerland—I was very immature. Much more immature than Riley in The Graduation Present. So I did some crazy things that I wouldn’t recommend to others. But one thing I did get to do was play guitar with a friend on a street corner in Paris. We were having drinks in the Latin Quarter and asked a couple of buskers to play “The Day the Music Died.” But the buskers didn’t know that song, and when we tried to tell them the chords, they handed us their guitars and said, “You play it.” That little experience was the kernel for another novel of mine, called Living by Ear, which is about a street musician in Boston. Living by Ear was self-published in 2013, and will be republished by Booktrope this September.

JTT: Wow! It’s hard to imagine anyone more immature than Riley O’Tannen!  That’s a great story!  I was foolish enough to hang out with a couple of American guys who decided to roast a hotdog in the eternal flame under the Arch de Triomphe.  That didn’t go over too well with the French!

spencer on beach

Mary’s very happy dog Spencer!

Now to the important stuff: Where can people purchase your book?  Website? Twitter? etc.

MR: It’s available on Amazon, and in a couple of independent bookstores in the Boston area.

JTT: Last, what’s the most outrageous tweet you ever sent out?

MR: Ha! I don’t send outrageous tweets, because I’m still not that comfortable on Twitter. But if people want to follow me, I’m at @maryjrowen

JTT: I was pretty uncomfortable on Twitter at first too and then I realized that zillions of tweets go out per second so if I send out a few that are, let’s say goof-ball stupid, they’ll soon get buried beneath the avalanche. I have a couple of books of famous quotes that I’ll copy from just to say in the game.  Cheating I know, but there you have it!

It’s been fabulous getting to know you a little better, Mary. Thanks again!  Read more about Mary here:


Jan, blah-blah-blah blogging with a cat’s butt in her face.

Readers – it’s hard to believe but I’m rapidly approaching my 100th blog!  Thanks so much to those of you who’ve stuck with me through the good, bad, and boring.  It means more to me than I can say.  So what should I blog about for that 100th post?  Maybe I should just repost my most popular post to date.  What do you think?

Laughter in the Dark

As I sit here listening to Chopin’s Nocturne the day is clear and windy, the cat lies hidden somewhere after a bad night. Upset tummy, poor thing.

According to the rules of marketing, I should begin blogging about the subject matter of my next book but there’s nothing funny about divorce or the death of a child, or taxes although tax laws are often so ridiculous they lend themselves easily to satire.  Here’s an honest-to-God snippet from a letter I received from the IRS:

It is clear that appellant has failed to meet her burden of overcoming rebuttable correctness of respondent’s determination...she did not benefit from the income understatement are insufficient to overcome the presumptive correctness of respondent’s assessments.

“rebuttable correctness”  “presumptive correctness” ???  Gadzooks!

Besides, who doesn’t love laughing at lawyers? One of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens, made an art form out of it.  His seething hatred for the law came out again and again – so often that it’s hard to believe he was actually a student of the law!


Uriah Heep – can you believe a band named themselves after him?

For example: Uriah Heep, the solicitor who tries to insinuate himself to David Copperfield, is described as a “red-eyed: cadaver” whose “lank forefinger makes clammy tracks along the page…like a snail.”


Mr. Vlohes, whose legal finagles in Bleak House drag out a case for so long that it ruins the lives of two young people and bleeds an estate dry, is described as “so eager, so bloodless and gaunt.”Bleakhouse

Dickens exposed the injustices of his time with such great wit and sarcasm we can’t help giggling even though we can feel the pain, much the same way as the movie “The Producers” provokes hilarity by portraying the world’s biggest villain (Hitler) as an idiotic buffoon.  Behind the laughter there’s always pain.

Or maybe it isn’t pain. Maybe it’s something else.


It’s not possible to laugh at Hitler, is it? Yes, it is!

Over the weekend I couldn’t help myself. I watched a Robin Williams marathon:  Dead Poet’s Society, Cadillac Man and One Hour Photo.  In those movies, particularly the last, Williams doesn’t even try to mask the pain his characters are going through with his usual flashes of manic energy.  I sensed in those portrayals something other than pain.  Something fierce.


One of my favorite satires – the King of Hearts

Curious, I did a little research online about why comedians mask their pain with humor. I didn’t get any answers, however the research did debunk a few myths:

Myth Number 1: Comedians come from difficult childhoods. According to a blog on Psychology Today, this myth does not hold true for the majority of modern day comedians. Many were popular in high school. Some were even class clowns.

Myth Number 2: Comedians have an IQ in the genius range. The average comedian (again according to Psychology Today) has an IQ in the 120s, high, but not in the genius range.  However they do have a very large vocabularies.

By the way, wouldn’t you like to know how the psychologist managed to get a group of comedians to take IQ tests?

Anyway, a couple of myths did hold true.  The majority of comedians are extroverts on stage and introverts off. Many suffer not only from depression but are also suspicious and angry.

Anger, hum…

Aye, that’s it. That’s what I saw in Williams’ performances: Anger.  Not kind of the anger that shouts “I’m going to punch you in the face if you look at me the wrong way!”  The kind of anger that ignites a passionate, brilliant performance, often doing great damage to the artist.  It’s as if they hold a mirror up to the world and say “you don’t have to be so damned ugly to each other.”

We may laugh but we get it.

Stoned Kitty Blues


Hiding his face in shame.


Apparently my cat has a substance abuse problem but before I tell that sad tale, here are the answers to the quiz on my previous post – The League of Vile though Witty Literary Reviewers.

  1. “Each adventure is tedious, repititious and inane… and there’s over 500 pages of it.” Don Quixote
  2. “But let’s be honest:  It’s as fun as reading the telephone book.” Ulysses by James Joyce
  3. “I ended up throwing this book away after reading about 5 chapters.  If you enjoy reading pedophilic ramblings of a perv, go for it! Yuk!” Lolita 
  4. “This book in my opinion should get the “Turkey of the Century” award.  A big book B-B-Q should be devoted to all the copies in print.” Huckleberry Finn
  5. So if you see *** at your neighbor’s garage sale, go ahead and buy it, hallow it out and put a handgun in it.  Or leave it next to your toilet if you have unwanted guests. Beat your disobedient child with it.  Put it in your fireplace and have a nice glass of vodka.  Just don’t read it.  You have been warned.” Anna Karenina 

Banished to the tower for re-hab!


Kitty’s indoor garden – before the destruction

On to tragic case of Das Kat. In order to alleviate kitty’s hairball problem, hubby bought enough kitty grass and catnip to fill a three foot by three foot planter, not realizing, of course, that we had a cat with a problem. In his defense, kitty was a stray we adopted.  For all we know, he could be the great grandcat of the infamous Vlad Kat, cat “mule” for Russia’s most notorious drug cartel.  Thus, he might not be able to control his addiction.

Anyway, the cat nip plant lasted three minutes.


Unable to control himself, kitty chews the head off Mr. Mole to get even more catnip!

Stoned kitty then took off skidding down the floor, leaping on the furniture and bouncing off the walls.  When scolded with a “Bad Kitty,” off he ran to attack any toy stuffed with cat nip, snapping the heads off two, a lovely yellow parakeet and goofy looking thing we call Mr. Mole.

In attempt to help him control his addiction, hubby came up with an idea:  cover the planter with an old plastic clothes hamper.


Very attractive centerpiece for our living room coffee table, don’t you think?

This contraption allowed kitty only little nibbles of grass though the slats.  Did I mention that hubby considers himself an efficiency expert?

However, approximately one o’clock in the morning we awoke to a loud crash and the skittle of claws across the wood floor.  Kitty had figured out how to tip the whole dang thing over.

I’m afraid it’s cold turkey for Das Kat!




I just sent my third book off to the editor so I guess I can be forgiven for a little silliness, can’t I?






The League of Vile but Witty Literary Reviewers



I’ve a friend named Duke (click here to meet him).  Oft times I open emails from this gent at one o’clock in the afternoon and my first thought is “damn, it’s too early for a drink!”  Mostly because he’s rifting on a subject I’d rather discuss sitting on a beach, frosty margarita in hand, watching the sun set over a calm green ocean.

But he lives in Mexico and I live thousands of miles to the north. So we have to toast each other with virtual margaritas.


Buy my book!! Write a review!

Most of the time we bitch about the realities of publishing in a world which conspires to turn socially awkward writers into bug-eyed circus barkers desperate to validate the time they’ve wasted writing and then alienating family and friends by pleading for those absolutely vital reviews.

I’ve given up on that last bit. Your friends might like you but not share your taste in literature.  Or they might think you’re a crappy writer and not want to tell you. Some don’t have the time to spare. At any rate, it’s not worth all the trauma.


Sharpen your pens and wits, gents.  Today we let this Duke Miller know what we really think of LADWD!

However, Duke has come up with an ingenious idea for getting reviews!  Or an ignoble one, who knows.  He’s going to invite all the reviewers on Amazon who specialize in cruel but witty reviews of contemporary novels to review his book.  Since he’s written an honest and brutal account of his journeys around the world as an aid worker, I can’t wait to see what the League of Vile but Witty Literary Reviewers has to say. I’ll let you know.

Today I leave you with a few cruel (though not necessarily witty) reviews of very famous novels from Lit Reactor, in a post by Meredith Borders.  See if you can match the review with the book being vilified (misspellings are those of the reviewers):

  1. “Each adventure is tedious, repititious and inane… and there’s over 500 pages of it.”
  2. “But let’s be honest:  It’s as fun as reading the telephone book.”
  3. “I ended up throwing this book away after reading about 5 chapters.  If you enjoy reading pedophilic ramblings of a perv, go for it! Yuk!”0582083486
  4. “This book in my opinion should get the “Turkey of the Century” award.  A big book B-B-Q should be devoted to all the copies in print.”
  5. So if you see *** at your neighbor’s garage sale, go ahead and buy it, hallow it out and put a handgun in it.  Or leave it next to your toilet if you have unwanted guests. Beat your disobedient child with it.  Put it in your fireplace and have a nice glass of vodka.  Just don’t read it.  You have been warned.”

a.) Anna Karenina b.) Huckleberry Finn c.) Lolita  d.) Ulysses by James Joyce not Homer e.) Don Quixote

Images used in this post (save Duke) are from