I Met Jen Lancaster and She Was the Bomb!

Hey guys, it's been a busy few weeks and I thought I'd catch you up on what's been going on. I know, I know. You're always sitting around wondering to yourself, “I wonder what Jen's been doing lately? I sure wish she'd write me a note and let me know what she's up to.” Lucky you, I've got a story for you. How about when I met my new BFF, Jen Lancaster recently? (OK, she doesn't know we're BFFs just yet, but soooooon she'll figure out we belong together.)

So, a few weeks ago I went to a book signing for Jen Lancaster. You know who Jen is, right? She's only one of the funniest lady writers out there. Her first book, Bitter is theNew Black, kind of changed my life. That was the first time I read a book about a woman doing ridiculous things, lamenting over first world problems, and swearing like a sailor. I thought to myself, “Wait. Stupid shit happens to me all the time and I swear so much I can make a Marine blush. You can get paid for this?? What the hell have I been doing with my life until now?” Also it was the first time a book truly made me guffaw. That's a level of laugh I don't often reach.

I can safely say that Jen Lancaster gave me the blueprint for my life. She started out as a blogger (check), she wrote snarky sweary books (check), and she's a big deal (still working on that part, but I have time still).

Anyway, Jen was coming to town to promote her new book I Regret Nothing. (I'm not sure, but I think it's like her bazillionth funny memoir, but I could be wrong.) When I saw her on the calendar for the local bookstore, I started to formulate a plan.

Jen has no idea who the hell I am. We are not buddies. At least NOT YET! I wanted to meet Jen and I wanted to see if we could be besties. Or at the very least, she'd be willing to give me a blurb for my upcoming book: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges. I had sent her an email to the email listed on her website, but had not heard anything. It was time for the in-person ask and this book signing would be the perfect place to do it.

I needed to let Jen know I was coming though. You have to finesse this shit. You can't just walk up to someone and introduce yourself as the woman who writes People I Want to Punch in the Throat and you'd like to speak them privately. People get nervous that you're going to actually hit them. So I started a Twitter campaign for Jen. You see, on Facebook, everyone is a Chatty Cathy and you can get lost in the shuffle. I skim my comments on Facebook a few times a day, but there are a lot and you miss a bunch of stuff on there. If you want to get someone's attention, you need to Tweet them. Twitter isn't nearly as busy and your messages don't get lost. So I started warning Jen that I was coming. I also let her know that not only was I coming, I was bringing a gift! I sent a picture of the gift. I wanted to get her thinking, Ooooh, what could it be? (Sure, it was a copy of People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges, but that still counts as a gift!

That night I got to the venue and listened to Jen entertain the crowd from her seat. (It's a long story why she had to sit. Basically, she hurt her foot when she fell off a five-inch curb months ago and then sort of ignored it until it was so damaged that it needed extensive work and now she's in a cast thingy and forced to sit so that it will finally heal properly. See? I told she was my people. That is so something I would do. I fell off my treadmill yesterday going 1 MPH. I get this girl.) Anyway, Jen killed it. She was funny and personable and giving. At one point someone in the audience asked her who she was reading. I hear this question asked of authors a lot and many times an author will get all demure and answer with a “I read everything” kind of answer instead of a specific, “I'm reading Manhunt, it's the true story of the search for John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln's assassination.” It's as if authors are afraid to mention other books for fear that everyone in the room will suddenly stand up and leave to go buy that book. We might, eventually, but we're here for your book first, dummy. Readers are voracious and books could use every plug they can get. Give a shout out and sell your book and maybe a colleague's book! Sheesh.

OK, rant over. Back to my story. So someone asked Jen what she was reading. I held my breath and hoped she was a giver. She dropped the names of like five books on us. (I can't remember which ones specifically. I do remember there was one about Will and Kate and she was going to pick up the Selection series based on a recommendation at her last book signing.) SHE'S A GIVER! I thought. This was a good sign for me. Maybe she'd give me a blurb after all!

Finally it was time to line up and get our books signed. You had to line up by the number on your ticket and a few of my friends were several numbers ahead of me.

“I know,” my friend Lucy said. “I'm ahead of you and so I'll ask Jen, 'Hey, have you ever read Jen Mann from People I Want to Punch in the Throat? I think she's freaking hilarious. You'd love her. I'm not sure, but I heard that she's here tonight. I hope you can meet her.' And Beth can chime in too. And then when you come along Jen will be like, 'Whoa. EVERYONE is talking about you.'”

“Oh my God, no! Don't do that,” I begged. “I love you for offering, but we have to be so much cooler than that!”

I inched closer and closer to Jen and I got a little nervous. I didn't expect her to say, "I love you" but what if she said, "I know exactly who you are, and I hate your guts." I needed Jen to know that at least two other people liked me. I wasn't terrible. I tried to give Lucy and Beth a sign to go ahead with their plan. It was too late, they'd already moved on and now it was my turn.

“Hi Jen!” I said. “I brought you something.”

“I saw that on Instagram!” Jen said.

Aha!! My plan worked! I walked up to the table and handed her the gift bag.

“Can I open it now?” she asked.

I tried to be casual. “Sure. If you want.”

So Jen pulled out my book and said, “Holy cow. I love this book! I have given copies to all of my friends and family. I was hoping you'd come tonight so we could meet and have a drink together, because you and I should be besties!”

AND THEN I WOKE UP FROM MY DAYDREAM. Because that's NOT what happened.

Instead, I watched her pull out my book and say, “Ohh, is this you? I've seen this book and I was meaning to read it.”

Close enough! I'll take it!

You guys, look at my body language. I am terrified Jen Lancaster is going to say, "Oh my God, you suck so hard." 
That's when I opened my mouth and gushed a whole stream of word vomit on her. I know I said something about her being inspiring to me and that I think she's so great and I fangirled all over her. It was all true, but it was also me trying to say everything in 30 seconds before the bookstore owner told me to move and let someone else get a shot at Jen so I probably threw stuff in there like "And I love your cast thing. It's so cute! Do you need help to your car? Because I could totally stay late and help you out." 

I tried to walk the line of complimenting her and scaring her.

Then she said, “You emailed me and asked me for a blurb.”

Why yes I did! She remembered me!

She said, “I've been busy, but I was going to respond to you. Of course I will.”


She went on, “In fact,” she pulled out her wallet and rummaged through the pockets and pulled out a little card, “Here's how to really reach me. This is my private email and a phone number.”


I mumbled a thank you and walked out of the book signing in a daze clutching the very precious business card to my chest. I might have screamed a little when I got outside. I'm not going to say.

Anyhoo, I emailed Jen a few days later and here's the blurb she sent me:

"Jen Mann understands that wanting to be a good person and yearning to punch the deserving in the throat aren't mutually exclusive.  At no time is this more evident than during the holidays.  Even Gandhi advocated the well-timed karate chop to the thorax after a particularly challenging pre-Thanksgiving Day grocery   store run.  (I have no empirical evidence here; regardless, it feels true.)  I applaud Mann's ability to tell it like it is, and if clapping keeps everyone's hands too busy to throw a right hook, all the better.  Buy this book if you're a fan of not spending the holidays behind bars."

Since our fateful meeting, I've put Jen's card in a safe place. It's where I can (hopefully) remember it when I need it again, but not too handy, because I'm the type of person who might drunk dial her some night. 

But ... if I did, maybe I'd end up in her next book?

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Unknown said...

I am inspired :) Go for what you want, people! Dream big and it might come true.

LED522 said...

OMG! I love you both! Very similar reading. By that I mean I lol when I read your books. You both give an escape of real like while talking about real life. I know that probably makes absolutely no sense to anyone but me. I'm all about the oxymorons of life.

SnarkfestBlog said...

I could've sworn you were going to start shortening the titles of your book. I'm so excited for you!!! It's so odd to think that you are fangirling over other authors when so many of us fangirl over you. Even knowing you personally (totally name dropping!) I still fangirl when I see you.

Oona Johnson said...

That's so great! Good for you! My mother always says "More than 'no' they cannot say", yet I still hesitate to ask people for things.

Unknown said...

You TOTALLY win the internet! This is amazing. I would have DIED. And probably fangirled all over her too.

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