Life Imitates Art (and not in a good way)

By now, those of you following along undoubtedly know the premise of LEAGUE OF STRAYS–a shady character pulls together a group of misfits, introverts, and loners, organizes them into a band with a catchy name and a singular purpose, then gradually pushes them into doing bad things for his pleasure and benefit. It is a tense and dramatic story, in which the reader wonders when or if Charlotte will get the strength to escape the dangerous sociopath before she is in too deep to redeem herself.

The story carries important messages about the dangers of peer pressure, temptation, bullying, and the desire for revenge. But I want to talk about something else here. About the ease with which someone can fall into this trap if the shady character happens to be smooth enough, charismatic enough, and deeply sinister enough.

It is a cautionary tale about how easily life can imitate art.

It is a dreadful little real-life  horror story I like to call:

Let me take you back two years. To the very beginning. To right about this time of year in 2010, when both L.B. and I were eagerly awaiting the completion of our debut book deals. This is a nerve-wracking, email-checking, nail-biting time for a writer. A vulnerable time. A times when a person feels desperate for a connection.


And thus, I set my plan into action.

“Hey, L.B. I hear you’re about to have a book under contract. What would you think of joining me in a debut author blog,” I enthused innocently.

“Gosh, Jeannie,” she expounded, “It’s a little creepy that you know such secret information about me.”

“Never mind that,” I laughed lightly. “Join me. It will be great.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “Hey, I know. We can call it EMU’s Debuts.”

I smiled at how well the plan was coming together, and let her believe she had come up with the name, while meanwhile I gathered others to me:

Michelle Ray, burning for revenge because Shakespeare not only copied her story idea, but killed off her favorite character

J. Anderson Coats, the promising young scholar of medieval history, surrounded by fools who didn’t understand a word of Latin

Lynda Mullaly Hunt, wrestling daily with the pain of an abused child in foster care

Natalie Lorenzi, alone in a foreign land, with little but gelato to comfort her,

Cynthia Levinson, a lonely non-fiction specialist in a sea of fiction writers.

One by one, I reeled them in, promising them camaraderie in their lonely author’s journey.

Then, Mike Jung’s deal with this dream editor Arthur Levine came through. At once, I pounced.

“Hey Mike,” I crooned in my sultriest voice, “Wouldn’t you like to join us?”

“Gosh, I don’t know,” Mike hesitated. “I have young kids, a day job, a lot on my plate.”

I batted my eyelashes in a way he could not ignore, even though we were communicating via email.  “But Mike. EMUs NEEDS your masculine, manly touch.”

“Golly, gosh, gee-whiz!” Mike exclaimed. “Count me in!”

(Yeah. When I bat my lashes, I’m that hot.)

And so I had them, and could set my master plan into motion. None of them suspected my true intent; my desire to exhaust them creatively and humiliate them publicly until my book–MINE I TELL YOU–would dominate at the expense of all others!

What’s that you say? You think I am making all this up? Exaggerating, to make our EMU’s journey sound just like LEAGUE OF STRAYS? You don’t believe I would push them all to humiliating extremes?

Need I remind you of this?

And my hair is rarely that combed.

J Anerson Coats bares it all (nearly) in her big girl panties.

Or this?

“Sure,” I said. “Have another drink. Don’t worry about that man with the camera.”

Or, God forgive me, this?

There’s really no caption that can do this justice.

And as for exhaustion, I am the one who first suggested we do release parties that last all week.

“It sounds like a lot of work,” one of them mused.

“I don’t know if I have that much time,” remarked another.

“It’s only a week,” I encouraged warmly. “And it’s for dear, dear Michelle. You wouldn’t want to disappoint dear Michelle, would you?”

Yes, that’s how the release party plan began, in July of 2011.  Little did they foresee the outcome: Five release parties in seven weeks in the fall of 2012 (mine, of course, being the first, while they were all still fresh as daisies.)

Coincidence?  I think not.

So take your own lesson from this. Sociopaths are out there–one in every twenty-five people, as L.B. will tell you.  They seem nice. Normal. Charming, even. Don’t be drawn in.  It can happen to anyone, even Charlotte. Even L.B. Even a manly man like Mike Jung.

LEAGUE OF STRAYS by L.B. SchulmanThe best defense is a strong offense. So read LEAGUE OF STRAYS so you can see the risk, and learn to be your own guide in life. Before it’s too late and you find yourself eating a whole chocolate cake under duress.

Another unsuspecting victim is drawn in…

And the best way to get your hands on a copy of LEAGUE OF STRAYS? Post a reply any time this week, for our drawing. For a book, not a cake.



Filed under Blogging, Celebrations, Colleagues

22 responses to “Life Imitates Art (and not in a good way)

  1. I suspect that if you look closely at every outrageous Emudebut-, no, make that Gango-conspiracy, you’ll find Jeannie Mobley involved in it somehow. Usually as the instigator.


  2. Jeannie,
    Don’t ever stop writing. This is priceless. 🙂


  3. Mike Jung

    Wait, I got manipulated into wearing a miniskirt (you have to admit I look good, though), but Tara gets manipulated into EATING CAKE? True, she ate a horrifyingly large amount of it, but it’s CAKE! There’s a distinct lack of equity in Jeannie’s evil mastermind activities!


  4. Ha!!!

    I mean…wow, I can’t believe I was manipulated so easily. And here I thought I just wanted to eat a whole cake. But really, Jeannie Mobley was pulling the strings the entire time!

    Awesome post–and truly in the spirit of League of Strays!


  5. L.B. Schulman

    I was having one of those busy, stupid mornings (slicing 200 bookmarks) when I logged into Emu’s to check out today’s party. I laughed out loud through the whole thing. Jeannie, your next book has to be funny. You are a riot! I love you. You’re great. You’re book is awesome-tastic. You’re so hot you’re on the Ten Most Wanted List. (Now, please, don’t come after me, pretty please.)


  6. Jeannie, please don’t write any books about world domination.


  7. Who knew that gelato would make me so vulnerable?? Not that I’m giving it up, mind you. *hands Jeannie a cone*


  8. Mike sure looks good in a school girl bikini.


  9. Wow, it’s scary how evil you really are, Jeannie.


  10. Jeannie is seriously a genius when it comes to this stuff! I want to hang this cover in my office! It would be a great conversation piece, no? Brava for her AND for LISA SCHULMAN!!! So Totally happy for you!! ❤


  11. Pingback: Introducing new Emu, Laurie Ann Thompson | EMU's Debuts

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