Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bonus Tracks: "Just Geography" and "Playing Barbies?"

My pieces were chosen (two weeks in a row) as the winners of JM Prescott's "I Dare You" challenges.

Read "Playing Barbies", a young feminist's response to Mattel's popular plastic dolls, and "Just Geography", a piece inspired by our trip to a little league football game.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bonus Track: "Lady Liberty"

My piece, "Lady Liberty" about our nation's great landmark, was chosen as an honorable mention for Jo Prescott's "I Dare You" blog this week. Heather Fitzpatrick is the guest challenger this week, and I was honored to be listed on the same page as the winner, Erica Bolton. Make sure you check out her piece, "Invisible Landmarks of Love" if you haven't already!

Here is my interpretation of the dare. It was inspired by the recent anniversaries of tragedies in American history and both the intolerance and compassion I have witnessed in the media and our everyday lives.

“Lady Liberty”
By: Jen Schneider

“Give me your tired, your poor. . .”

(November 12, 1886)

This was America. This was the country that would help my family escape the poverty that began decades prior in Ireland with the potato famine.

           Her torch beckoned me to come ashore. “Look, Michael! It’s Lady Liberty, they call her,” my best friend, Shawn O’Malley, gazed with hopeful eyes at the future that awaited us in the land of the free.

          “America,” I said the word as though I was speaking it for the first time. I was never a man of tears, but I shed a few that day. I wasn’t ashamed to tell my grandchildren this years later when I recounted my trip to Ellis Island into the country that would change our lives forever.

         “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

(September 15, 1963)

I was livin’ just outside of Harlem. Dr. King had just given his “I Have a Dream” speech, and my wife Darla and I listened to it on the radio at the Woolworth’s just outside of town. When Darla heard about a job cleanin’ apartments in the city where you could see that lady statue from the windows, we done left my sister and her babies behind in ‘Bama. Things were still tough in the North, but I couldn’t believe what I heard on the radio on that day.

The KKK gone and put a bomb in that church in Birmingham, Alabama, killed four little girls doin’ it too. On August 28, I heard Dr. King talk about liberty and justice and judging not on the color of skin but the content of our character, and less than a month later, I turned on the radio and heard Mrs. McNair crying cause her baby done get killed. Four little girls dead because their skin was colored.

“Send these — the homeless, tempest-tossed — to me;
I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.”

(September 11, 2010)

It’s been nine years since the terrorists attacked my beloved country, and the site where my former work place stood is still known as Ground Zero. When I see it, I am filled with grief. Every day I thank Allah that I escaped, but I cry for the hate, the ignorance, and the pain.

They want to build a mosque there. Many question the motives of those behind it; I wouldn’t attend anyway. I go to services at the same place I have since I was born in New York City, as a citizen of the United States. I remember the day my parents became citizens. We went to the Statue of Liberty and had our picture taken. My father read the poem inscribed on the front, and said, “Zahra, this is why I came here: to make a life for my family.”

Now I look out my window and think about the life I have made for myself and how things have changed. Before 9/11, I had the highest profile clients in my corporate law firm. My colleagues are understanding, but they know that we have lost business from several companies because they “don’t want a Muslim representing them.”

My emotions go from anger to sadness when I think about what my religion and what this country both mean to me. Islam is a peaceful religion at its core. Just like any religion, there are extremists who claim Allah’s will and the teachings of the Qur’an direct them to perform these unthinkable acts. I, an well-established woman who was born on US soil, have been spit on and cursed at when I have defended my faith.

I look at Lady Liberty’s lamp, and I know for certain that this is a country of acceptance and openness. Hate has clouded its once open shores. I hope that my children with see a day when this fear will make way for clarity and tolerance.

Bonus Track: "Pensacola"

Check out the Echap published by Michael Solender at the not, "Dog Days of Summer 2010".

"Pensacola" by Jen Schneider is on p. 18.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bonus Track: "No Child Left Behind"

My piece, "No Child Left Behind", was chosen as the I Dare You winner for the week of August 23 on JM Prescott's blog. The prompt was to consider something you don't want to lose control of. Thanks for reading, and thanks again Jo for choosing my selection.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bonus Tracks: "The Bread Guy" and "Pink Slip"

My story, "The Bread Guy", was included as part of Chick Lit Shorties' Launch Event for their new web site. This is a fiction piece, but before I was happily married, I did have some weird dates just like the protagonist.
After you read the story, be sure to check out my bio.

 "Pink Slip", a 50 word story, was also published on 50 to 1 today.

I encourage you to check out work by the other writers on both sites. I am honored to be included with such talented writers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Track 5--"Time After Time"

you said go slow--
I fall behind
the second hand unwinds-- 
"Time After Time" -Cyndi Lauper
As a writer (who also works full time), my biggest enemy is the clock. That's why I love the summer. I have gotten more accomplished in the last several weeks than I did in the nine months prior. 

I can't completely blame my day job. I pile on the extra duties: curriculum, after school activities, etc. I love my job, and I love all the "extra" things I do, but as the school year quickly approaches, I am giving myself a preemptive reminder.


It's really OK to say no once in awhile, to go home and write a bit, have dinner with my husband, and watch mindless television. (Oh, Glee, I can't wait for September!) I feel slightly guilty if I am not busy or if I waste the day reading a book or watching television instead of working on my novel or a flash fiction piece, but I know I can't. Sometimes the simple pleasures in life help me appreciate what I have when I am going at a non-stop pace. Summer has reminded me of that. . .with the free time, the vacations, the time with my stepson, and just watching my dogs exhibit the true meaning of the dog days of summer. I love this season. 

All good things have to come to an end, or in my case, I have to give up the non-schedule for the 8-4 (yeah, right), and squeeze the writing in somewhere. Yes, I will slow down, but I will not give up on the progress I have made. I will still write every day, and I hope you will all continue to read the bits and pieces I post here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bonus Track: "Flying Standby"

I wrote this flash in response to JM Prescott's "I Dare You" Challenge, What Could Happen?.

I received an honorable mention, so I decided to post it here. I encourage you to click the above "I Dare You" link to read the winner, Sal Buttaci's, response to the challenge.

"Flying Standby"

I look up at the departures screen, and I know that I can go anywhere I want. I feel freedom and trepidation at the same time. With a few hundred dollars in my pocket and the clothes on my back, I can spend the rest of the summer working odd jobs and playing my guitar in the downtown area of Any City, USA while businessmen throw dimes and dollars into the case and ask me to play “Proud Mary”.

New York. The Big Apple makes me want to sing a Broadway showtune, and I imagine standing in Times Square, getting “discovered” by a faux-tan gentleman with a handlebar moustache who thinks I could be one of the next Zigfield Girls. My Streisand-esque fantasy ends when I see the last flight of the day has already departed, leaving me to wonder if I will ever wake up in the city that never sleeps.

Las Vegas. Wearing my LBD (little black dress), I'll hop a plane to Sin City, laugh with Ashton Kutcher (he is a frequent Vegas visitor), dance to Katy Perry (who knows what it’s like “Waking Up in Vegas”), and play blackjack at the Palms. I look down at my flip flops and peer into my wallet, thinking my three C-notes won’t last me long in the city where drinks are $20 each and my style will not be appreciated in most of the hot clubs.

New Orleans. I’ll flee to the home of Mardi Gras, my heart breaking for the victims of Katrina. I'll hear Harry Connick, Jr., and I’ll exchange my guitar for a saxophone, bellowing jazz melodies from my tired lungs, praying that any music I make will teach the world that anywhere your family is at is home.


Home.  It doesn’t seem to fit with the big cities, the bright lights, the anywhere invitation, but I am content when I take my eyes from the departures screen and look at the arrivals. I notice all the planes coming to my hometown, and think that maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe the decision I am making to stay right here is the best one for me.

Walking out into the night, I hail one of the few cabs in this town, and when the driver asks where I am headed, I simply say, “Home.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bonus Tracks: Mind Games and "The Phone Call"

My piece about eating disorders was chosen for the 6S Anthology, Mind Games available here.

My flash fiction piece about domestic violence, "The Phone Call", was chosen as the I Dare You winner for the week of July 9 on JM Prescott's blog.

Thanks for reading, and I appreciate your comments!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Track #4--"Nookie"

"I did it all for the nookie
The nookie
So you can take that cookie. . ."
 ~Limp Bizkit

"Hi, my name is Jen and I am addicted to nook."

"Nook? You mean, like, sex?"

"No, not nookie, the nook e-reader! I guess it sounds like it, doesn't it?"

It has been almost two weeks since I finally gave in and bought Barnes and Noble's e-reader, and I am definitely glad I did except that distracted me from writing for that week. For the first week, there were no 6S blog posts, no submissions, as I spent most waking moments glued to the nook. Before you give me the bad mother award, these were all moments when he was engaged in other activity: racing his RC car with dad or practicing his guitar. I do spend time with the boy, and occasionally, the husband. I even (gasp) let the boy use the nook a time or two.

Since I am going to be doing a lot of e-reading this summer, I thought I would recommend some summer reading for all of you ebook and non-ebook readers alike, including a few on my wish list.

Here are the books I have read/am reading and the ones I am ready to download next.


1. Warning---Shameless Plug ahead
The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey 
Edited by Thomas Knox
This is a fantastic flash fiction anthology put out by 6S writers. You may even know one or two.

2. Best Friends Forever 
by Jennifer Weiner
Although I read this last summer, I love the story of Addie and Valerie. Weiner's characters are always well-developed and make you hope for a sequel. BFF is a little bit of Thelma and Louise and the perfect summer read.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
I am only halfway through this book, but the story of an African American woman whose "HeLa cells" changed the world of medicine is a study of ethics and humanity that is part scientific study part biography, and compelling with every turn of the page.

4. Hello, Summer Vacay
by Bolton Carley
Yes, Summer Vacay is written by one of my close friends, but it is a perfect YA verse novel for students and adults alike. Told from the perspectives of a teacher and her student, Mrs. H. and Brianna both are uncensored in the words, not telling us what we want to hear, but what they are really thinking in this humorous real verse novel.

5. Heart of the Matter
by Emily Giffin
I just started reading my library copy of Giffin's newest book, and I know it will be a fast read but the first few pages reminded me of conversations I've often had with myself about letting go of silly things and understanding that I am one of the lucky ones. I look forward to reading more.

NEXT (on my wish list):
5. Thin, Rich, Pretty
by Beth Harbison
Harbison is one of the best "chicklit" authors around, and her personable interaction with fans has made her one of my favorites. Last year's Hope in a Jar was delightful, and I am ready for this July 6 release about friendship, weight loss, and tragedy.

6. My Fair Lazy
by Jen Lancaster
It's Jen Lancaster; what else can I say? Jen's memoirs are hilarious, and I hope this one lives up to the uncontrollable laughter I experienced while reading Such a Pretty Fat.
Bonus! It's a lendable nook book!

7. When the Game Was Ours
by Larry Bird, Ervin "Magic" Johnson, and Jackie McMullan
See? They aren't all chick books. This book was released in November 2009, but I've always been fascinated by the friendship by these two adversaries and basketball greats. (Also lendable)

8. Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain
I love No Reservations, and Bourdain has such strong voice in his writing. I am looking forward to the followup to Kitchen Confidential. I am adding the debut to my list as well.

Feel free to plug your own writing or list some of your favorites in the comments section.

Enjoy your summer reading!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bonus Track: The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey

My flash fiction piece has been published in the 6S anthology, The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey. Check out some of my other flash fiction pieces here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Track #3--Celebrity

"Cause when you’re a celebrity
It’s adios reality
You can act just like a fool
And people think you’re cool
Just cause your on T.V.
I can throw a major fit
When my latte isn't just how I like it
They say I've gone insane
I'll blame it on the fame
And the pressures that go with....
Being a Celebrity"
-Brad Paisley

Like many creative writers, I tend to find inspiration during times of anger and sadness. When things are going pretty well, I don't really feel the divine muse shining down on me, sprinkling magic writing dust on me.

See what I mean. . .puke.

Sylvia Plath, one of my favorite demented poets of all time, found her voice through abuse and depression. Pablo Neruda wrote sonnets of passionate love, gained and lost.

I don't wish for Sylvia's tragedy, and although I am content with my love life, I haven't told my husband lately, "[T]hanks to your love the tight aroma that arose from the earth lives dimly in my body" (Neruda). (Although he has told me, "I like it when you're quiet" while he is watching the Nightly News.)

Today was a rather crappy day, but I was reminded by an old friend that many people have it crappier than I do. Now, I think she was referring to victims of genocide in the Middle East and oil spill victims, but I would hate to find good in such horrible situations. There are, however, people that I will be happy to exploit for creativity's sake.

Case(s) in point:

Charlie Sheen
Joran Van Der Sloot and every woman he has come in contact with
Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt
Lindsay Lohan

Yes, some of those really do have it tough through no fault of their own, and others, well, they are getting what's been coming to them for year. Poor Charlie Sheen can't even smoke in Aspen prison. What is this world coming to?

Thank God for idiots like Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. I can draw from the misery and pain over the separation of their made in reality hell marriage, and make a semi-amusing blog out of it. Heck, I might even write a poem or two about celebrity anguish.

"A Haiku For Lohan"

SCRAM! Was that a light?
Booze, parties, call it a night
Better call Doc Drew

Maybe I could try finding inspiration from the happy things in my life. Eventually, I think I might fry my brain reading about celebidiots.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Track #2--You're So Vain

"You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you"
~Carly Simon 

Dear you,

Yeah, you. You know who you are. You are the one who thinks this is about you even when it's not. You are the one who thinks the whole world revolves around you. You haven't reached your dreams because someone is out to get you; it couldn't possibly be because you haven't tried hard enough, could it?

Rewind. Let's think about it. Is it ever your fault? No, it's always someone else's problem. The world is out to get you, the people in your immediate path are successful because of luck not perseverance according to your whining words.

Well, enough is enough. Get off your pedestal. No one is impressed with the one who doesn't get their hands dirty. Get ahead by doing, not just saying you are going to do it. Take ownership of your own life. Don't expect things to get handed to you.

I got where I am today because of skill and hard work. Luck has nothing to do with it.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Track #1--"My Next 30 Years"

"Oh my next thirty years, I’m gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years"
~Tim McGraw

Facebook fans, twitter followers, and real-life friends and colleagues:

This is my new blog.

Bookmark it. Wait on the edge of your seat for every update and tweet. I have arrived.

For those of you who have followed my many attempts at blogging since 2001, (yes, I have been blogging before they were called weblogs) I am planning on keeping this one for the long haul.


They (friends, media, family) tell me life begins at 30. I am sure when I hit the big 4-0, that will change (to make me feel better, no doubt), but I am not sure if I am buying into that cliche yet.

Sure, I got a new car at 30 (because I wrecked the one I had for nearly a decade before). I hurt my neck twice. What kinda chick walks with a hunchback at 30? Hopefully not me, if my chiropractic bills have anything to say about it.

With thirty has come a new sense of freedom, however. I no longer give a crap what anyone else thinks. OK, that may be a bit of a stretch. I respect the opinions of my colleagues, I want people to enjoy my writing, and I want my family to understand how important they are to me. But. . .I am sick of living every minute based on someone else. I choose to take on extra work in my job if it is actually something I want to do. I don't do it to suck up or get ahead. I'll wear my hair two-toned if that (the roots are a little long, not gonna lie), and when I notice that first gray hair, I will not cry. (I am practicing that mantra.) I'll broadcast my affinity for so-called teeny bopper shows like "Glee" and (gasp) "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" without claiming I am watching them for educational purposes. And I will eat the food my man makes me because I love food. I love food a lot. Just ask the 40 lbs. I have put on since we met.

I am done with the first third of my life, peeps. This is the best part of my test drive. I am hitting the gas full speed in my new vehicle, and if I get pulled over, tough. It's my life. Deal with it.