Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

More shore info tomorrow...

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Down the Shore with...Eric Nuzum

Halloween treat for this installment of "Down the Shore with..." Today's victim, er, subject is Eric Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula.

I interviewed Eric for the October issue of Washingtonian, and he's one of the people who kicked off the idea for this series. He doesn't live in NJ or PA but still has strong ties to the South Jersey Shore. I'm going to stretch that boundary line a bit up to LBI for Eric -- I didn't cover that part of the coast in my book, but how could I pass up the opportunity to interview someone who wrote a book about vampires?

1. What do you consider "your" shore town? Why?
Long Beach Island. My family has been visiting LBI since my mother was a child. Since I was a toddler, we've spent a week there every summer. Aunts, uncles, cousins--relatives from all over come and go throughout the week. We've had as many as four generations gathered there at once. Photos from Long Beach Island really become a chronicle of our lives and our life together as a family. In many ways, whenever I think of summer, I think of LBI.

2. A lot of people go to the shore just to eat. Any place that sticks out in your mind?
The LBI Pancake House. I consider myself kind of a pancake connoisseur and often seek out the best pancakes wherever I travel. The LBI Pancake House entered the list in the Top 3, and while its position changes periodically, it's never left those top spots. If the line is terrible for LBI Pancake House, I suggest going down to Beach Haven to Uncle Will's. While they aren't stellar, their pancakes are pretty good and the rest of their menu is very yummy.

I have to say, though, that one of the best parts of going out to LBI is an excuse to eat a lot of Jersey produce. Seriously, pancakes and ice cream aside, local veggies are my favorite things to eat there. Eating New Jersey vegetables reminds you what good produce should taste like.

3. Tell our readers about one special shore memory.
It actually happened this year: finding an erect ship mast in the middle of an island forest on LBI.

Recently, I've discovered geocaching as a new (incredibly geeky) hobby. For those uninitiated into the joys of geocaching, it's kinda like playing hide and seek, but with GPS units. This past year was the first year I tried geocaching on LBI. The clue for one geocache was that the target of the hunt was something that didn't belong. That was, obviously, the ship mast.

When the Powers That Be were working to slow down the erosion at the northern tip of the island (home to old Barney--the Barnegat Lighthouse), they ended up drying out a few hundred yards of former ocean just south of the lighthouse in the process. This newly exposed bit of beachfront quickly filled in with wild trees and shrubs--forming a small forest that covers most of the land.

Many years ago, when this area was covered with water, a cargo ship got caught in a sandbar and eventually sunk. When the area became dry land--there was the ship mast, sticking up out of the sand.

Why is this a special memory? Well, because often the places that are special to us are quite static--they stay pretty much the same and we like it that way. We get upset when they change. LBI changes all the time (different businesses, new houses, etc) and I'm okay with that. What makes that alright, and why this memory is special, is that a place as rich as Long Beach Island is always revealing new facets of itself to you as you spend more and more time there.

I just totally dig that I can go to a place for 30-plus summers and still discover something completely unexpected there--like a ship mast.

4. I visited Zombie World on the Wildwood Boardwalk. Any ties between vampires and zombies?
Besides the whole blood-drinking vs brain-eating thing? I'd have to say the answer is motive. Zombies are like animals--they have a singular purpose that is built into their DNA: find and eat brains. Zombies don't put a lot of "thought' into what they do. Vampires are different. They often retain their higher functions and can combine their new fangs and lack of morality with the ability to reason. In other words, they can still make decisions (just not ones that would be shared with mortals, especially the mortals they are about to bite). I believe that's what makes the vampire such a perfect monster.

If you watch the new movie 30 Days of Night (which I recently reviewed for the DCist , you'll see that sometimes unimaginative filmmakers will make zombies and vampires pretty much the same.

5. If I were to dress up like a vampire for Halloween, what essentials would I need?
Sure, you could go the typical fang, slicked back hair, and cape look, but that isn't how vampires have looked throughout their history. Even Count Dracula, as Bram Stoker envisioned him, is much different than the Bela Lugosi icon we've all come to associate with the undead. Stoker's count was rather rat-like--with long pointy fingers, pale skin, jagged teeth, and a wild mop of hair. Going back to vampire folklore, most vampires looked like...well...they look like dead bodies. There are lots of variations: the Indian version of a vampire had six arms, the Japanese vampire looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is also an old European vampire that smears cow dung all over himself, but that probably wouldn't lend to a lot of fun at parties.

6. I just finished my book -- any advice on how to pick your next project?
I spent almost three years after my first book trying to find another book topic. I think the key was to stop trying. Once I did that, the subject literally fell into my lap. I had never given any thought to vampires beforehand, but afterwards it felt like my life would never be complete until I wrote a book about vampires. I guess the bottom line is that a good book subject is never obvious (at first) and the only way to discover it is to just forget about the book part and be curious about the world.

7. And the question we all want you to answer: how is Lolly?
Lolly is amazing. For the unaware (which is probably everyone), my wife and I just adopted a French bulldog puppy who just turned 14 weeks (and is sleeping next to me now on top of a pile of her toys). I'm sure most people think their puppies are smart and amazing, but we were very fortunate. Lolly came home just a week before the book was published, so it has been a crazy time in our house. When you are dealing with the highs and lows of putting a book out into the world, it's great to come home every day to something that is just about to flip its lid because she's so happy to see you. And since you asked, you now have to suffer through some photos.

Eric will be reading at Politics & Prose in Washington, DC on Halloween -- 7pm, so plenty of time for trick or treating. Read more about The Dead Travel Fast here.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Let's Take it Way Back

As a freelance writer, I spend a lot of time marketing myself, whether it be sending emails to editors to remind them that I'm alive (hi there!), or taking ideas that never quite hit the mark, revising them, and sending them to other magazines (to get the skinny on how to do this really well, check out

Part of this process involves going through my "My Documents" folder and pulling up old queries. While doing that this morning, I came across a file labeled "countrymanpres_pitch," which I created on April 14, 2006. The heart of that document is this:

"Have you considered a guide to Atlantic City? I write about Atlantic City for Philadelphia Style and Inside Magazine, and the changes in our playground down the shore have been big. Since the Borgata opened its glossy doors, Atlantic City has become a new East Coast hot spot. Jay Z located his 40/40 club there, and the House of Blues has taken up shop in the Show Boat Casino. There’s lots to see and do: gamble (every casino has done something to spiff herself up), shop (a new $175 million pier of top tier shops and restaurants is opening across from Caesars this summer), relax (spas, spas and more spas), indulge (a $1,000 brownie at Brulee) and be entertained. Plus, there’s the Steel Pier side of Atlantic City that families can enjoy."

And that, readers, was the seed that grew into the book that you will (hopefully) be reading in May. Granted, That paragraph wasn't all I needed to do to land the book contract. The idea was revised to include all of the South Jersey shore, and I wrote a 16 page proposal before getting the thumbs up in the fall of 2006.

The neat thing about reading this today is that not much has changed about my vision for the book, or at least the Atlantic City chapter, which I just re-read this week (except Brulee closed this summer). It also reminds me that, when the book's published in May, it'll be two years ago that the idea for the book started. No one said publishing was a swift industry!

Stay tuned for an excellent "Down the Shore with..." on Monday. This is the guy who, indirectly, gave me the idea for the series (and it's Halloweened themed!)

What I'm Listening to: Dulcinea by Toad the Wet Sprocket

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Looks like Wildwood's getting a new playground. If you haven't had the chance to check out the area for which it's planned, which is by the newish Wildwoods Convention Center, I recommend you check it out -- the Doo Wop Experience, which is across the street from the convention center, is an absolute must do.

It's birding season in Cape May. Here's someone's list of what she saw, and a nifty blog for beginning birders. I just reviewed Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding by Scott Weidensaul on my other blog, and he writes that "Cape May...may be the single best place in North American -- perhaps the world -- for birding." So enjoy, birders (and, um, buy my book for next fall so you know the best places to go. Yes, shameless plug, I know...)

More on the sitcom that is Atlantic City government.

Don't ever try to steal from a casino -- as this guy learned.

Congrats to the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, which is one of seven recipients of the Historical Commission Awards, which are given out by the state of NJ.

Here's a nice story on the latest exhibit at the Emlen Physick Estate. If you've never been to the Emlen Physick Estate, I urge you to stop there on your next Cape May trip. Not only is the building interesting, but the guides also give you a peek into how much work went into saving the great Victorian buildings that are still over town today.

a profile of Jerry Seinfeld -- it opens in Atlantic City. Nice local flavor with shout outs to Tastykakes and the White House Sub Shop.

What I'm listening to: Preston & Steve on 93.3 WMMR
What I'm reading: Wired by Liz Maverick

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

First Thumbs Up for the Book!

"One thing I love about my job is that I get to learn so much about so many different things--especially from fine writers like you! You write so well and with such enthusiasm about the place that it makes me want to go there--which of course is the whole idea. Bravo."


Granted, this is from someone who works for my publisher. BUT -- he's edited about 40 projects for them, so his comments mean a lot to me, and went a long way in calming my nerves about getting back edits from the publisher.

Still, I'm far from perfect, as I learned by going through the proposed changes to the Atlantic City chapter this evening. How did I not get that misspelling? Or how could I have possibly thought anyone else would get that reference? I know that the book will never been 100% perfect, and I'll open it in final form and go "how could I ever write THAT?!?!" at least once -- or 10 times. I've been warned about this by other authors, so at least I'm normal.

Funny -- I haven't worked this late at night since I wrote book (and, no, reading books for book reviews does NOT count). But I surrounded myself with the same physical accouterments (which I spelled wrong in my manuscript, by the by): I'm wearing my camouflage baseball cap, my father's old blue zip up sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a ratty t-shirt. I started the editing job with a cup of tea by my left hand. Music's the same (see below). My dog has tried to distract me the entire time I've been working. My shoulders and back are stiff, but now that I'm done with this chapter, I'll head downstairs to grab a beer and watch some TV or flip through a magazine while drinking it. The only difference is that I'm not cranking the AC, I'm swearing sweats instead of shorts, and I'm wearing Uggs instead of sneakers. Us writers really are creatures of habit.

What I'm Listening to: The Break-In by Ari Hest

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The Miller Clan

This post is shore-related, trust me...

I am blessed to have an incredibly supportive family, even if sometimes I want to poke them in the eye (isn't that the case with all families?). So I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the work of my siblings.

Mike rants...I mean Pity the boy. He's a Phillies fan in Mets country.

Jim has just started blogging at And here's why this post is book related -- Jim is making the maps for my book (and hopefully other Countryman Press books down the line). He also designed my website, which I love, and is going to create a book-focused website for me as well. Plus, he's had his maps, and picture, in Sports Illustrated. Don't let him know this, but I think that's pretty damn cool.

My sister, Tracy was a major help this summer in both watching my dog while I was away, and fact checking part of my book. She is not an active blogger, but she is going to culinary school to become a pastry chef. And who doesn't need one of those in the family? You can see samples of her cakes on her myspace page.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

South Jersey Girl on Film

This weekend, Steve Chernoski took a trip down the New Jersey Turnpike with camera and questions in tow. His goal? To ask me what exactly makes up the South Jersey Shore.

Steve is the man behind a documentary tentatively called Where is the Line Between North & South Jersey? Or, at least that's what the blog about the project is called -- you can read that blog here.

It's an interesting question, and, I think, a great topic for a documentary. I'm not usually stumped, but Steve managed to get me when he asked me to draw a divinding line between North and South Jersey. It wasn't exactly horizontal. He also asked me about why I cut LBI from the book, and why I think the Atlantic City Expressway forms a dividing line between the North and South Jersey shores, as well as such crucial questions as "hoagie or sub" and "jimmies or sprinkles." I won't give the answers here, but when Steve posts clips of the interview on his website (something I am dreading -- he already told me I do have a slight South Jersey accent, which I HATE hearing), I'll link to them here.

Pretty day, wasn't it? Steve filmed me in Collingswood's Knight Park.

This also marks the first interview I've done about the book, and my first time on film since I was part of that pre-ABC Action News clips montage when I was about ten years old. I hope I did well and that I didn't talk too fast. My mom, who took this picture, said I did fine. But she's a mom, and it's her job to say that. I'll let you guys judge when the clips go online.

So what do you think makes up the South Jersey Shore? Hit up the comments below.

What I'm Listening to: Nomads, Indians, Saints by the Indigo Girls

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First, thanks to Galleycat and Ask Allison -- two blogs I faithfully read that have given shout outs to this blog. Galleycat highlighted the new "Down the Shore with..." feature, and Allison of Ask Allison interviewed me about being a book reviewer, and about how I think I'll feel when the tables are turned and I'm the author whose book is up for review.

Second, I've posted a few updates to my other blog project, which is at, including my review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, which ran in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

And, third, the edits on my manuscript are starting to come in. EEK! Actually, it's not so bad, but I have to read the entire thing again, and see all the little mistakes I made (which, yes, is why authors have editors) and think about, for the almost final time, if that's what I really want to say. Back to doing an after dinner work shift for me...

What I'm Listening to: Chase the Light by Jimmy Eat World
What I'm Reading: Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding by Scott Weidensaul

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Down the Shore with...Jason Kilderry

Three things take up huge chunks of my time. The first is writing. The second is reading. And the third is running. I've been training with Jason Kilderry of ETA Coaching since May, and it's because of him that I'm going to attack the half marathon portion of the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18.

Jason also has a great love of the shore, and he has a fab event coming up on October 28 for endurance athletes, which is why he's the second victim, er, subject of the "Down the Shore with..." series:

1. What do you consider "your" shore town?
North Wildwood. My aunt has had a house in North Wildwood for over 20 years, so that was where my family would always go.

2. What's your favorite bar in Wildwood?
Keenan's [113 Olde New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-729-3344]. They play good music, draw a big crowd, and it's low key. You could show up in flip flops, bathing suit, and a t-shirt, or you could where a button down with jeans and still fit in. It's not expensive, either, unlike most shore bars.

3. Most people go down the shore to eat eat and eat some more. Any restaurant or dish that stands out?
Believe it or not, I love the Vegas Diner [14th and New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-729-5511].

4. Tell us why running on sand can be bad for you.
Running on very "soft" sand can accentuate over pronation. And what I mean by that is everyone's feet roll in when we run -- it's our bodies' way over dispersing are weight. Some people roll in more than others. This is called over pronation. Whether or not you over pronate, the soft sand will accentuate the pronation and cause extra stress on the shins, knees, and hips. On the other hand, soft packed sand is very soft and can be better than the pavement. So there are good and bad aspects to it. My suggestion is to gradually build your running frequency and volume on the beach.

5. What else should someone consider when running in a shore environment?

I would follow the same rules for sun protection, as if you were planning a day on the beach. Even if your super fast, you will not be able to out run sunburn. I would also follow basic rules of hydration. As long as your are sipping water throughout the day, dehydration should not be an issue. If you are running over an hour, you should either carry water with you or plan your route out to ensure that water is accessible.

5. You've been my running coach since May, and it's made a huge difference in my running game. Share with our readers why having a coach can help you, whether you want to train for a 5K or a triathlon.
Coaching can be a benefit for the very beginner athlete to the advanced. Most athletes don't realize that it's very tough to arbitrary throw workouts together and hope to perform optimally on race day. A coach can structure your training to ensure proper training adaptations, promote injury prevention, and perform at his or her best on race day.

6. And tell us a little bit about your upcoming event.

On October 28th, I will be holding an informational meeting for athletes who may be interested in coaching at Fit Fast [700 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Eagle Plaza Suite 21, Voorhees, 856-627-0060]. I will be explaining what I do and why ETA Coaching Systems is a good choice for individualized coaching for endurance athletes.

If you would like more information on the event, or about coaching, email Jason at info [at] etacoach [dot] com.

Know a good candidate for "Down the Shore with..."? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] mac [dot] com.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Sands Goes Boom

Happy Friday!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Blog Project

This has nothing to do with the shore book, but I just started a new project called "A Book a Week With Jen," which you can link to here. It not much more than what the blog title suggests. Enjoy!

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Feeling love for mother earth? Check out these pics from Cape May, along with information on endangered species.

The Sands is going boom toomorrow. Read more about it here.

More craziness surrounding that Atlantic City mayor thing. My favorite part is in the comments, where NotToConcerned calls Atlantic City's government a "sitcom" government. We'll forgive him/her that he didn't know that the appropriate name would have been NotTooConcerned.

Run, run, run! Here's the results of the Atlantic City Marathon. I'm still hoping to run the Ocean Drive Marathon in March...

Congrats to the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce on celebrating its 70th anniversary.

What I'm Listening to: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In the Inlet

Last night, I hoofed it down to Somers Point for a party at the Inlet (998 Bay Avenue, Somers Point, 609-926-9611), the latest restaurant from Marty Grims, who also owns the Moshulu in Philadelphia and Plantation and Daddy-O in Long Beach Island. I wrote about Grims and his various shore properties for the fall issue of Inside Magazine, which is why I'm guessing I was invited.

I like the Inlet. I spent a lot of the summer testing pizza parlors, Italian restaurants and more pizza parlors (which is why I still haven't worked off my 'book weight'), so the Inlet was nice to grab a bite to eat a place that's a little more upscale without being pretentious.

I didn't know what I was expecting last night -- certainly not spending a half hour to find parking. The place was packed, more so than I ever thought it would be in October. After getting jammed up against the bar by a few ladies doing their best Sex in the City impersonations, I escaped to the outdoor deck -- the weather was perfect for enjoying the live band and a glass of wine while watching the bay shimmy by. If you visit during the day, it has great views of the causeway, or Route 52, reconstruction. Yes, I'm from a construction family, so such things interest me.

What I'm Listening to: Preston & Steve on 93.3 WMMR.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Got Dumped Cure

Everyone has their way of getting over a break up. As I found out this weekend, I head straight for gourmet mac & cheese and Law & Order reruns (no more references to 'the boyfriend' -- sorry, folks). Then I get my hair cut and/or indulge in some sort of spa service.

The folks in Atlantic City seem to know just what a gal needs to wash that man right out of her hair. Here's what they have in store:

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s Sweet Revenge package
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa helps you leave the “dead weight” behind with:
-a Soothing Surrender body treatment that incorporates a float in the soft pack flotation system
-a Borgata Jade Stone facial to turn him green with envy
-skilled stylists at the Salon who will perfect your locks with a Deluxe Kerastase hair treatment and blow dry
-a Euphoric Hand Ritual manicure to help you spiff up your hands so you can retire that ring (the Spa will even offer up pawn shop locations)
-Euphoric Foot Ritual pedicure (those feet were made for walking….as far from him as possible)
-a personalized make up lesson and application from Spa Toccare
-a visit to Carina in Borgata’s retail area so you can be a styled single with hot new wardrobe suggestions
-two complimentary cocktails to show off all that effort at Gypsy Bar.
Times and prices may vary. Contact Spa Toccare for availability at 609-317-7555, or visit for details.

Caesars Atlantic City’s Pier Pleasure
What better way to get over Mr. Wrong than with a shopping spree at designer stores or world-class restaurants? Caesars Atlantic City offers the Pier Pleasure package, which allows gals to pick their pleasure: shopping at one of the 90+ Pier Shops at Caesars famous designer shops or dining at one of the renowned restaurants. Guests will enjoy a deluxe room and a $50 Pier Gift Card to use at a Pier shop such as bebe or Gucci, or restaurants including Buddakan, Sonsie and Continental. The Gift Card is only redeemable in the Pier at Caesars; valid through 12/30/2007, Sunday through Thursday, not available on holidays. Package starts at $139.47exclusive of taxes and fees; call 609-348-4411 or visit for reservations.

Bally’s Atlantic City’s Ultimate Pampering Experience
Recovering romantics can head to Bally’s Atlantic City for the Ultimate Pampering Experience, including overnight accommodations, one herbal wrap or manicure at world-class Spa at Bally’s, one Swedish or aromatherapy massage, and one 50-minute body treatment. Afterwards, indulge with a friend in a spa cafĂ© lunch for two. Additional services may be purchased separately through a spa representative. Package is based on double occupancy and starts at $339, taxes included, Sunday through Thursday; package is not valid weekends or holidays and is subject to black out dates. Valid until 12/30/2007; call 609-348-4411 or visit for reservations.

Tropicana Casino & Resort’s Girlfriends Getaway Package
Girlfriends play a supporting role in breakup recovery at Tropicana Casino & Resort, as they indulge in spa-ing, shopping and show watching. The getaway package includes a $200 credit to bluemercury spa, two tickets to a Tropicana review show or IMAX movie, one $50.00 Gift Card to be used for dining, shopping, and entertainment throughout The Quarter, and overnight accommodations. Package is based on double occupancy and does not include taxes and fees; valid Sunday through Thursday. Prices start at $168 in October, $153 in November and December; valid through 12/30/2007. Advanced spa reservations required; show tickets subject to availability. Call 1-800-345-8767 or visit for reservations.

What I'm Reading: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
What I'm Listening to: Ganging Up on the Sun by Guster

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Down the Shore with...Sue Marquette Poremba

Today I'm chatting with Sue Marquette Poremba, author of The Phillies Fan's Little Book of Wisdom and the blogger behind I Breathe; Therefore, I Write. Sue and I have been swapping emails about the Phillies since opening day (and especially during the playoffs), and she has a great love of Cape May. Who better than to kick off our "Down the Shore with..." series?

1. What do you consider "your" shore town? Why?
Cape May. When we were kids, we'd spend a week with my aunt and uncle and cousins who live in South Jersey. We'd use their house as a home base, and every day, we'd go to a different shore town -- Atlantic City before the casinos, Wildwood, and Cape May were the ones we'd make sure to visit every year. I remember Cape May best, especially riding the ferry. After I married, I'd talk to my husband all the time about going back to Cape May. We like to go in October, after the summer rush. It's the shore town where I have childhood and adult memories.

2. What's your favorite thing about Cape May?
I love the Victorian era, and whenever I'm in Cape May, I feel like I've stepped into an Edith Wharton novel. But even more, I like the absence of the typical boardwalk atmosphere. The town has a special feeling to me.

3. Most people go down the shore to eat eat and eat some more. Any restaurant or dish that stands out?
I am so not a foodie. We found a restaurant called Oyster Bay that we liked visiting when we were there. But to me, going down the shore means only one kind of food -- salt water taffy.

4. How are you holding up after the Phillies' quick exit from the playoffs?
It's been painful, especially since my husband is a Cleveland boy who feels the need to remind me daily that the Indians are still playing. And the Eagles aren't helping, with their subpar play. Thank goodness for hockey season!

5. How long have you been a fan?
Since 1974. When I was in the 6th grade, the boys on the bus decided to play pick up baseball and invited the girls. I had such a good time, I came home and started flipping through channels to find baseball. In my central PA home, we had access to the Yankees games and Phillies games. The first game I watched was a Phillies game, and I was hooked. My parents were Yankees fans and tried to get me to switch alliances, but I refused. Larry Bowa was my favorite player back then. He's still my all-time favorite player. I became a fan at a good time. 1974 was the beginning of their turnaround from a truly awful team to a playoff contender.

My 18 year old son, incidentally, followed my footsteps, and he is a huge Phillies fan. I'm trying to similarly influence my little grandson. I gave him a Chase Utley poster for his room.

6. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A writing friend who is also a big baseball fan told me that her husband wrote a trivia book for the White Sox, and she was writing one on the Dodgers. She sent me the name and contact info for her editor, and suggested I write one on the Phils. Now I'm kicking around the idea of a book on how sports has shaped the relationships I have in my life.

7. Was it painful going over all 10,000 losses?

Not at all! I find a lot of pride in those losses. First, no other sports team has been in one city with one name in one league without any break in the action as long as the Phillies have (now the owners did try to change the name, hoping to change the team's luck, but it didn't work. They were the Phillies to everyone else.) Second, even though Philadelphia fans catch a lot of grief for being hard on players and others, they are a fiercely loyal bunch.

8. And what do you think the team should do in the offseason to make sure we're not swept in the first round again?
Unfortunately, they did the one thing I thought they shouldn't do -- resigned Charlie Manuel. But that said, I think what they need to do is make sure there is no April swoon, so we aren't scratching and clawing for a playoff spot in September. The boys seemed mentally tired from that fight, and it showed on the field. I think signing Aaron Rowand needs to be a top priority, followed closely by getting a real third baseman. I know everybody whines about pitching, but I think pitching is a crap shoot. We sign guys who you expect to do great and they fall apart; or they aren't doing well on another team but find their stride in Philly. I'd rather see the team spend the money on the positioin players.

Know a good candidate for "Down the Shore with..."? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] mac [dot] com.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Fall

Yesterday, I had my picture taken for an article in an upcoming issue of Edible Jersey magazine, so the photographer (who happens to be my cousin) did me a favor and took a shot of me and my Jack Russell Terrier, Emily. It looks like a very a autumn picture to me since it's the first time this year that I've worn long sleeves without the reason being too chilly air conditioning, and Emily is wearing a new fall-ish collar, which I got from Joey's in Collingswood.

Want some fall at the shore? Historic Cold Springs Village (720 Rt. 9 South, Cape May, 609-898-2300) is having their annual pumpkin festival today. Best part? It's free!

Check back in on Monday for the first installment of "Down the Shore with..." If there's enough interest, I hope to run one every Monday -- just another thing you can read to delay your re-entry into the work week!

What I'm Reading: Cleopatra's Nose: 39 Varieties of Desire by Judith Thurman

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Feature! New Feature!

I'll be introducting a new feature to the blog shortly, a Q&A series called "Down the Shore with..." where I'll ask writers, musicians, bloggers, comedians, Very Important People -- just about anyone with a Jersey shore connection -- to tell us about it.

This idea came from people's reactions to the blog, either after they stumbled upon it, or saw it in my email signature. I've had people from Canada to California to New York tell me they're shoobies or that they have great memories of the shore, so why not let them share? There's only so much Jen A. Miller you guys can read anyway, right?

Known anyone I should feature? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

We've got two big news items coming out of Atlantic City for your weekly update.

The first is that the previously missing Atlantic City mayor is now the former Atlantic City Mayor. Bob Levy turned up and resigned.

The second is that MGM plans to build a mega casino in Atlantic City. How mega? Try 3,000 rooms at a cost of $5 billion. That's right -- billion. In comparison, the Borgata cost $1.1 billion. According to this Philadelphia Inquirer article, "MGM's announcement of the MGM Grand Atlantic City raises the bar considerably, and rivals or surpasses in coast the world's most expensive casino projects under construction in Las Vegas or Singapore." Even I'm shocked at this announcement -- I never expected anyone to take this kind of plunge in Atlantic City, but I'm not going to complain. The more interest in AC, the better shot I have at doing a second, third and edition of my shore book.

Speaking of the Borgata, remember that fire? It's pushing back the opening of the Water Tower by a few months. Read more here.

Not to be all Atlantic City all the time, but casino revenues are down again. Here's my question: Yes, money from gamblers is down. But how much money are they making from new shopping and restaurant patrons? And the people who book hotel rooms so they can shop, eat and drink without worrying about driving home? I'm going to guess that it evens out. I know I wouldn't spend as much time in the Atlantic City casinos if they still let smoking on all the gambling floors. And I don't even gamble.

Could we be seeing power generating windmills off the shores of Stone Harbor? Maybe.

Your latest update on the Strathmere wanting to separate from Sea Isle City movement.

Who says birding is easy? Not this guy, who almost died while birding in Cape May.

The efforts to save the Beach Theatre are still alive and kicking -- check out this Saturday's auction if you're interested, too.

Have any memories to share of The Sands, which will be imploded soon? Check this out.

Who knew? Kurt Loder grew up in Ocean City.

Even though this isn't about the South Jersey shore, it's still interesting: outdoor beer pong is now illegal in Sea Grit, NJ.

What I'm Listening to: Beatles 1 by the Beatles.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Building Buzz

Almost as soon as I turned in my manuscript for The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City through Cape May: Great Destinations, family and friends started asking me what I would be doing next. A common response (aside from "sleeping for a week") was working on the publicity campaign. One well-meaning family member, who shall remain unnamed, asked "why don't you just make up a few fliers and post them around popular places down the shore?"

He means well. Really. But that's not how book publicity works.

I'm coming at this from a different angle than most authors. As part of my freelance writing business, I review and write about books, and I use authors as experts in service pieces. This means I work with a lot of in-house book PR people. I see how busy publicists are and have come to realize that, as good as their intentions might be, they cannot give 100 percent attention to any one book at a time. I even wrote an oft-linked to piece for Poets & Writers that offers my insights into the world of book PR. You can read that here.

So I know how much effort this PR campaign is going to be for me. Sure, I'll coordinate my efforts with the PR person from my publisher, but there's no way they can understand the local media marketplace like someone who lives and works in it every day, especially when they put out books about regions from all over the country. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I'm thankful that I realize this way ahead of time instead of when the book's already out and I'm wondering why no one cares.

To start, I signed up for Sandra Beckwith's Build Book Buzz class. It's a ridiculously good value when you consider that, in two weeks of classes, I've already had my eyes opened to ways I can promote the book that I never even considered. I don't want to give too much away, but I'll just say that I'll never look at tip sheets the same way again.

I'm also creating lists of media outlets that might want to write about me, the book, or both. This hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, it took about 10 minutes to put together a list of area writers and reporters I know who will probably write about the book, but that's only the beginning of this book's potential. For example, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article pointed out that about 25 percent of people who visit Cape May County come from Canada, specifically Montreal. So I'm asking Canada-based colleagues about what papers they think would be interested in the book, and how to navigate the French-media market in Montreal if your knowledge of French dates back to high school.

I've also had editors from all over the country comment about my blog and how they, from New York, California, and Michigan, either used to spend time or still vacation at the southern New Jersey shore. How do I reach those potential readers? It's on my 'to do' list. This blog is also going to be a prong of the publicity campaign, and I'm toying with the idea of building an entirely new site just for the book.

And then there's the world of book launch parties -- I think I'll have one in the Philadelphia area, and down the shore -- and how to get the most bang from my buck at book-related events. I'd also like to run a contest through this blog that would offer shore-related prizes and hopefully a few laughs. That, too, will be publicized and hopefully bring in readers. I have a few ideas -- if you do, too, send 'em my way or post in the comments.

And that's just the tip of the promo iceberg. It's intimidating, but it can be worth it. Why? One word: royalties. The more books I sell, the more money I make and the more money the publisher makes. And they're nice people, so why not help us both out at the same time?

If you have any ideas of how I could promote this book, or want to offer any advice, either drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com, or post in the comments below. And send this blog link to your friends!

What I'm Listening to: Under the Iron Sea by Keane

What I'm Reading: My Life in France by Julia Child

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Here's an article about how more people are visiting Atlantic City (and hopefully buying my book starting in the spring to make sure the get the best of the best in AC).

Speaking of Atlantic City, the mayor's disappeared.

Uh oh. Be careful crossing those shore bridges -- and all NJ bridges, for that matter.

Stephen Starr's opening another restaurant in AC.

The New York Times
at the Wildwood film festival.

Well, this doesn't sound friendly: three innkeepers in Cape May have sued the town over sidewalks.

This seems a little more friendly. Giuliani made a stop in Cape May this week.

Quick housekeeping note: if you're in the Philly area, pick up this week's Philadelphia City Paper. I wrote a few reviews for the book quarterly (you can also read them here and here.)

And remember my post about North vs. South Jersey? Someone was paying attention -- I got a nice email from Steve Chernoski, who, along with Alena Kruchkova, is making a documentary on the subject. They'd like to interview me for it. You can read more about the documentary here. How fun!

What I'm Listening to: The Life Pursuit by Belle and Sebastian.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

15 Tastes of Cuba

Quick housekeeping note: I sometimes guest blog over at The Renegade Writer. To read about what I've been doing post-book, click here.

As I mentioned before, the boyfriend and I headed to Atlantic City to try out the very best of what Cuba Libre, located in the Quarter at the Tropicana (2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City), has to offer. We did so through through their special "15 Tastes of Cuba" menu.

It was a great option for us -- I love Cuban food, and the boyfriend was interested in trying a new-to-him cuisine. We didn't even look at the menu, just said "bring it on" and dug in.

Fifteen might seem like a daunting number of dishes to get through, but the portions were small, and we shared. It was more like tapas dining than a sit down meal -- they'd bring out four appetizers, then three small entrees with sides, and desert options. I also opted for a mojito -- EXCELLENT -- to go with the meal. My favorite were the plantains. The boyfriend liked the appetizer resting on a bed of spinach. We didn't really pay attention to what was in each meal because we thought an ingredient might turn us off to trying something new. Needless to say, we were stuffed by evening's end (and If you're not headed down to the shore soon, Cuba Libre also has a location in Philadelphia).

After dinner, we headed upstairs at the Quarter to A Dam Good Sports Bar so we could watch the end of the Phillies game. Of course there were a lot of Phillies fans (downing 40s of beer, mind you), but a lot of Mets fans as well (crying into their 40s). I forgot how big a draw Atlantic City is to New Yorkers, and made a mental note to factor that into how I'll promote my book.

Speaking of, I should be getting edits back on my manuscript soon, and am being told that I'll be reading proofs by mid-November. I'm also working on building my publicity campaign, something I will be writing much more on that later, but until then, it's back to magazine writing...and GO PHILS!

What I'm Listening to: Last Light by matt pond pa
What I'm Reading: Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner

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Monday, October 1, 2007


Please excuse the diversion from all things shore, but the Phils are in the playoffs for the first time since 1993. I was in seventh grade in 1993. This was a magical moment.

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