Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

What’s Up Wednesday


Whats Up WednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk that allows us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up.


I read Jungle (or Lost in the Jungle as it’s apparently sometimes called) by Yossi Ghinsberg, which is a non-fic account of the author’s survival for nearly three weeks ALONE in the Amazon rainforest after he becomes separated from his traveling companions.

It was a fascinating story, but I really need to stop reading about scary stuff like trench foot and fire ants because it sorta makes me want to never set foot in nature again.


I’ve fallen into that same-chapter trap. You know, the one where you feel like you’ve been writing for days (and you literally have) but you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

There’s a YA Buccaneers’ Word Sprint tonight and I’m determined to get out of this freaking chapter. I need to move on!


My parents have been slowly but surely cleaning out their basement and among their four trillion boxes of books, I uncovered a “treasure” that needs to be shared with friends.

So here it is, my friends:

How to Perform Strong Man Stunts by Ottley R. Coulter

Copyright 1952

Strongman Cover

There are instructions on things ranging from tearing a telephone book in halves to smashing a rock with “a blow of the first,” but these two were favorites of me and my younger brother:


How to Support 1,000 Lbs. of Living Weight with Ease (I’m not sure why “living” had to be added)

“This particular feat I am going to describe is one you can perform in the parlor any time you are having a party.”



How to Lift and Swing a Man with Your Teeth

“These stunts will make you the life of the party, as well as greatly admired.”

I did a search for the author and found some pics, but sadly none where he was actually performing these stunts.


Firstly, my parents, who just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. I’ve learned so much about love and commitment from them.

Secondly, I mentioned last week that reading ELEANOR AND PARK reminded me of my own stack of cassettes, so of course I had to pull them out.

I still have what I think was my first non-Disneyish tape: Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. One of my cousins gave it to me for Christmas and hearing The Boss usually reminds me of him.

I’ve always been a big fan of music, so I like to have a “soundtrack” for each of my WIPs. It’s not something I listen to constantly while I write, but when I’m stuck, it gives me some inspiration.

With my last WIP, it was like all the right songs jumped out at me immediately.

But with my current one, the jams have been elusive.


I *think* I’m finally starting to get in the groove! Thank you, Rihanna and Mikky Ekko, for the song “Stay,” I can definitely picture this playing during scenes with Jules and Jesse.


Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

24 thoughts on “What’s Up Wednesday

  1. STRONG MAN STUNTS made me laugh so hard I spit out my coffee. What a book. And JUNGLE sounds really interesting, if terrifying–I love survival stories. Have a great week!

  2. I’m with Rebecca… Those Strong Man photos are fantastic! “Living weight” — why?! Happy anniversary to your parents. I can definitely see why you’re inspired by their marriage. Here’s to many more happy years for them! Oh, and JUNGLE sounds sort of fascinating. I’d not heard of it before, but I’m off to look it up. Thanks for the rec, Jen!

  3. Oh gosh, I so know that same-chapter rut. I spent about two weeks there earlier this summer. I can say with certainty that the other side exists! I hope you get a ton of words out tonight!

  4. Holy Crap, I LOOOOOVE that 1950’s book!!! That is the most hilarious of finds. I also find it immensely funny that someone in your family either a) bought it at some point or b) was given a copy as a present. I’m not sure which is better/worse. 🙂

    And I feel your pain on your chapter rut. I feel like I’ve been editing the same section of my MS for years. (Well, it’s been more like weeks…but it feels like years)

    When you first mentioned the Jungle, I thought you meant Upton Sinclair. (Which makes you never want to eat sausage again) But I haven’t read this version. I think I’m going to have to check it out, because I love the premise. Although, now that I have had a LOT of first hand experience with fire ants, I have to say I have now found one insect that I seriously DO NOT LIKE. Nasty little buggers. Nothing’s worse than having to strip down in the woods because they’ve gotten inside your pants. Except, maybe getting caught right after you’ve removed said pants. (Not that I am speaking from experience or anything….*grin*)

    Hope you have a great week! Happy Writing. *gives you a little push out of that rut*

    • My dad was a kid when it came out, so I like to imagine he had dreams of becoming a “strong man” 🙂

      I’m pretty much freaked out by ALL insects, so there were several parts in the book where my skin was crawling.

  5. I’m about to go digging through stacks in my mom’s garage so I think I may have some similar finds! That one looks great! And oh – cassette tapes. I think I still have a Paula Abdul one somewhere. 🙂

    Good luck getting out of that chapter! I will try to join the word sprint, but the timing may not work out tonight.:( Write some words for me!

  6. I can NOT stop laughing at that “strong man stunts” book! The illustrations are hilarious! Now that would make a great coffee table book. Just think what a great conversation starter it would be lol!

    You’re in good company in the “chapter-trap,” because I think I’ve fallen in there with you, and I’ve heard a few other people say the same recently. My story feels like it’s meandering even though I plan the heck out of it. How does that happen? Ugh. Hope word sprinting helps you move on to the next chapter!

    Oh, and trench foot? Yikes! My son and I looked at pictures of it this year when he learned about WWI. So gross and scary!

  7. I’ve also had chapters I lingered over for days, either due to blockage or burnout. As long as they get finished in the end.

    I’ve still got all the cassettes I had, though my collection wasn’t massive. My collection of vinyl is actually my biggest musical stash, more than tapes or CDs!

    • I have vinyl, as well! I “borrowed” some from my dad when I was a teen (and never gave them back) and that started my love of records. Every time I’m in a thrift store, I go in search of them.

  8. OMG, I LOVE those wacky illustrations! Somebody has to do a shirt of the dude lifting 1000 lbs of man flesh! And the Rhianna song is beautiful.

  9. LOVE it, especially the Strong Man Stunts. Yes, the necessity of saying “living” weight is a little disturbing. Can we just assume there will be no dead bodies involved in ANY of the stunts, please?
    Have a great writing week!

  10. JUNGLE sounds really interesting. The Amazon forest kind of freaks me out, but I also find it fascinating. 🙂

    The same-chapter trap (love that you have a name for it!) is definitely something I can relate to. With my last WIP, I re-wrote the first chapter over and over again for MONTHS. I just couldn’t step away from it, even though I knew it wasn’t happening. So frustrating!

    It sounds you busted through during the Word Sprint, though!! Yay!! 🙂

    Good luck with your writing goals this week!

  11. That Strong Man book is HILARIOUS! I was totally laughing out loud at the quotes you shared from it. Also, the fact that the illustrator felt the need to give the folks on the bench very detailed wedgies. 😛 Too funny! I think you should master some of these parlour tricks, record yourself performing them, and share them on your blog.

    As for the same-chapter trap: been there a million times. Right now I’m struggling with the “there are apparently only three people in this town” trap. I’m having a hard time remembering to add in those little details that make a setting feel more full, you know?

    Ah, cassette tapes! I still have a bunch of mixed tapes my high school best friend (and eventual boyfriend) made for me. I’ll have to bust those out when I finally read ELEANOR AND PARK. Have a great week, Jennifer! 😀

  12. I love finding old books.

    I know about those chapters. I’ve been stuck in many myself.

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