Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Goal Review...

On this last blogging day of 2017, it's time to do a final review on the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I've done quarterly check-ins, but now it's time for a final grade.

1) Write to my Grandma in Denmark every six weeks or so. I'm going to fail myself. I've not sent my dear Grandma a letter since the summer. Bad Jen. I'll be recycling this goal for sure.

Grade F

2) Call my moms every month or so. Didn't quite hit every month, but most of them. This goal too is moving on to 2018.

Grade C

3) Cook/eat better. Didn't do as well as I wanted to on this one either. Finances make it harder to eat well, because healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. But we'll keep on keeping on with this goal too because DH is ready to make progress on his weight loss endeavors now.

Grade B

4) Clean out and organize my writing room. I did a couple of things a couple of times, but there was no major overhaul here. Is this task important enough to carry over into 2018? Nah. The state of my writing room isn't bothersome, so...

Grade D

5) Re-institute the cleaning plan. I thought about it in context of my quarterly goal updates and at no other time. I still really want to do it, so this goal carries over as well.

Grade F

6) Publish six books by September 2017. Well, nope...didn't get six books by the ninth month. I did get four books out by the twelfth month though. No major extenuating circumstances to blame. Just ran into a bit of writing road block in completing the sixth book, so all deadlines and tasks required got pushed farther out.

Grade F

7) Reach 120lbs. to 125lbs. as a weight goal. Reached this one in October. I've kept the weight off. I only gained about 4 pounds on the cruise and lost that easily. I've been enjoying the holidays and will get back on the wagon come January 2.

Grade A+

8) Walk the dog three times a week. I reported that I'd started this back at the third quarter review, but got lazy about it rather quickly. This goal is definitely moving onto the 2018 list as it's become more important to the dog's physical health than it was originally. So yeah.

Grade F

Well-- I didn't do so hot this year, did I? Average grade is a D-. Gotta do better next year, eh?

Hope you have a safe and lovely New Years!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

So, Jen, how are those books doing?

I've been a published author for all of a month and a half. But life has been a bit hectic since I pressed the "publish" button back in November and aside from just getting books 1 through 4 ready to go, I haven't spent much time or effort on much of anything besides prepping for the cruise (which I need to share some pictures from) and then prepping for Christmas.

There's still the New Years weekend to get through, helping DH down at the fireworks store, but besides grocery shopping for those couple of days, there's really no prepping to do, so I've been able to stop and breathe and start thinking about what's what as far as the writing/publishing business goes.

To the answer the question, though, in the grand scheme of things I don't really know. I got an email from PayPal notifying me that one of my retailers sent me $13.42 in royalties. YAY--my first author earnings. So begins the journey to repay the money I've spent on editing and book covers and other expenses over the past year and a half.

A quick peek at my Amazon/Kindle dashboard looks promising, but I'm not entirely sure how to process all those numbers. Also, it shows me sales from several foreign markets and the corresponding currencies, so I really don't know what a final royalty payment for that sales period will end up being. I won't get it until the end of January, so I have to be patient for a little bit longer.

Have a great New Year Weekend!

Please watch hockey on New Years Day and the day after--hockey will be going back to its roots with two outdoor games. Should be a lot of fun.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Christmas from my house to yours...

Hope you're having a lovely day. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cruising the Caribbean

So... I was on a Western Caribbean cruise last week. My first cruise, as a matter of fact. We sailed on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas--a very large ship. About as large, we discovered, as the USS Nimitz, the aircraft carrier my Sonshine's been on. :0)

From the gangway onto the boat...

DH and I traveled with my mother-in-law, both my sisters-in-law and one of their husbands. Sadly, the other husband couldn't get the time off work. There were a few challenges, but I think that overall everyone had an enjoyable trip. I did, and DH and I have already booked another cruise. Same ship, same ports of call, although we'll be traveling on our own next time.

This was our cozy cabin...

I'm standing up against the door looking in. The closet was at my left shoulder, the bathroom at my right (you can see the door handle, just there). For the amount of time we spent there, it was roomy enough. We did have a port hole behind the curtain.

The first full day was a sea day and DH wasn't quite sure how to power down enough to relax. :0) But here he is trying...

Each cabin obviously has a cabin steward to come perform housekeeping duties. Harris came twice a day, once in the am and once again during dinner, leaving us a towel animal each evening.

There's more to come, but that's it for today. Have you been on a cruise? If so, where'd you go?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Sailor Sonshine

So Sailor Sonshine turned 22 yesterday! I haven't seen him in just over two years and I'm looking forward to hearing his voice and seeing his face and hugging him hard relatively soon. His ship is on the last leg of its journey and then I guess there will be some end-of-cruise stuff they have to do before he can get leave and fly home.

I think the last time I saw Sonshine was August of 2015 when we flew to Seattle.

Not that he'll ever see this, but he's the best Christmas present I ever got. :0)


Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Traditions, Part II

Wednesday, I mentioned the ornament tradition that's still alive and kicking.There are a few traditions, I'd like to get back to.

While I enjoy the concept of the Advent Calendar, I'm already seven days into the month and I'm going to be gone for a few more days, so I'll have to pass this year. I'll plan better next year.

(The current Christmas tree...easy to put up, easy to take down.)

The one thing I've been really lax about is the Christmas tree. I love having a tree up. I love the ornaments, I especially love the lights, but because of fireworks and the fact that we celebrate at my mother-in-law's house, I've gotten really lazy about breaking out the tree. The other reason is because our fake tree is decrepit (if we still have it) and I really don't want to cough up a hundred bucks or more for a new one. On the other hand, I grew up with "real" trees and the scent of pine in the house, and I would really like to do that again too. But, again, not this year... I need to assess the ornament situation. I want to do a themed tree, so that will require purchasing new ornaments and lights...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas lights. I want them all over the house and on the outside of the house, but the thought of all that effort is a bit daunting. Worse is having to take them all down again. I know, I know--I'm really lazy. I'll put some lights up this year for sure, because lights are one thing I don't go without this time of year.

I got a video the other day from sister-in-law who had her Angel Chimes out. After live Christmas trees, having the Angel Chimes is the tradition I remember the most. Last year, I bought my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law Angel Chimes and extra candles with the hopes of sharing the love. I need to find mine.

And the final tradition I'd like to bring back is the Redneck Gingerbread House. I miss seeing old GI Snow. Unfortunately, it's not as fun putting it all together without helpers, but this one really tickles me.

Are there any traditions you miss?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Traditions, Part I

A few years ago, I did a Countdown to Christmas series of posts and rambled on about many of the things we do (or did) in our house in regards to Christmas... Sadly, with the kids gone, many things have fallen by the wayside, but one thing that won't is the yearly ornament.

The kids all have an ornament for every Christmas they've celebrated. Any that have gone missing I've tried to replace. Sometimes I buy them ready to hang, sometimes I make them, sometimes I buy things than need embellishment.

Here a few ornaments from past years...

 I decorated a red bell for one of the girls and a green one for the other...not sure what Sonshine got.

 Three years ago, everyone got cross stitched Christmas bulbs with their initial and the year on it.

I'm on the hunt for this year's offering. I saw some cute metal plaid letters at Michael's the other day, but the display had been cleaned out and there were no more of the letters I need. Bummer.


I've had a background love affair with snow globes for a while and have some ideas on how to incorporate the concept into an ornament. So stayed tuned!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Weight Watching--or should I say Managing?

So going into the holidays, I'm not gonna sweat the temptation of treats. I've reached my target weight, I'm maintaining that weight just fine, and I CAN EAT TORTILLAS AGAIN!!

As long as I keep up with my basic exercise regimen, I'm going to enjoy holiday treats within reason. In other words, I'm not going to turn down a cookie or two--I just won't eat a dozen. I'll eat more protein and vegetables than I will rolls and sweet treats, but I will still have them. I mean, life is challenging enough as it is and there's no reason to turn something that makes life enjoyable.

As for the tortillas, Mission has a carb-smart brand and they are delicious. The Lavash bread is fine, but I love tortillas. Being able to enjoy them again without the carb guilt is fantastic!

The one thing I haven't had for way too long is my favorite pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. There's a very real possibility that if faced with that in cake or cupcake form, I will cave like a cheap house of cards and devour the whole thing. Perhaps, though, if they're made for the holidays and available to others, I'll be able to resist temptation!

What one food item is your downfall??

Friday, December 8, 2017

Arctic Air... BRRRRR!

Who invited this arctic cold front to Texas??

Yes, it was below freezing this morning on the way to work. I didn't realize it was that cold, although I knew it was close and I did not venture out to the gym this morning. Also because my right hip joint/ligament or something-or-other needed a rest day.

I even had snowflake frost on my windshield this morning. It wasn't so thick I had to wait for it to melt, but I just don't like it this cold. I like it just a tad bit warmer, thank-you-very-much!!

There were apparently snow flurries around the Metroplex yesterday, although I didn't witness any, and there was SNOW in San Antonio last night!!!

Fresh falling snow, especially in a place that rarely gets it, is so lovely that part of me always longs for one. The downside to having it in a place like Texas is that it tends to shut down the whole city because everyone seems to freak the heck out and driving becomes a nightmare. It's okay if it's on a Saturday or Sunday, but the chances of that are, you know, are pretty low.

Stay safe wherever you are and whatever's happening in your neck of the woods.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The STARS at night are big and bright...

There's not much rattling around in the old noggin right now except hockey and cross stitching--so that's what you get. :0) I've watched or listened/slept through (only last night) the last four games and the STARS are on a bit of tear. They won three of four games prior to that.

They're winning against teams in their own division which is a very good thing as it puts them in a better position to make the playoffs come March and April.

If you want to watch a spectacular diving save by our goalie, click in at the 7:20 mark and watch--it happens right at 7:30!!

In cross stitch news, I finished the major project /Christmas gift I was working on and got it into Michael's for framing and it'll be ready for giving before Christmas, so YAY. I've started on some smaller projects which are also hockey related and for Christmas gifts. I should be able to get a couple of them done.

So anyway Happy Monday and Happy Holidays...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Do you listen to podcasts?

I've listened to a couple over the years when they came across my radar and seemed interesting. I enjoyed them, but in general podcasts are not things I go out and actively search for.

Last week, I listened to a specific episode of a podcast because the creator of that hockey webcomic I love so much was interviewed and I ended up enjoying the rest of the episode as well, sooo...

I subscribed to the podcast and then went back and listened from the beginning, which thankfully was only a year and a half ago and also thankfully airs weekly.

Anyway, it's mostly a hockey podcast (of course) with some other random TV and movie chatter thrown in. The two "hosts" are hockey/sports writers for various entities, hockey fans, and just general middle aged bros, and I like their humor.

One of the most interesting things about listening the podcast from the beginning is that they started this leading into the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and that's right around the same time I was getting into hockey. I watched a little bit of the playoffs at the time, but not a whole lot.

Anyway, I've learned a lot about hockey since then, but it's amusing to hear their predictions as each round was played through, knowing what I know now about that season as well as the following one. I'm also looking forward to what they have to say about everything that's happened since that I paid attention or affected my teams.

So back to the original you listen to podcasts?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Amazon has failed me!

So DD brought these to my attention...

And I want some pretty badly, but as I'm not Canadian, I can't order them from the Canadian branch of Amazon and they're not available in the US.

What I want to know is WHY WHY WHY??

Hockey has a pretty decent following here in the United States. I mean, TWENTY-FOUR of thirty-one teams are home-based here. What the heck, SHOP.NHL.COM??? Why aren't you carrying these???

Can I get NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's email so I can contact him about this travesty??

Friday, November 24, 2017

My own Black Friday Special...

Okay, not really, but it sounded good. :0)

I'm participating in a Christmas Advent Calendar Romance Novel give-away and I wanted to share the info with you! This is your chance to stock up on free books for the winter--if romance novels tickle your fancy.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving full of delicious food and family-filled or friend-filled fun. We opted to stay home since December is going to be pretty busy for us. And I made a full crockpot of my favorite beef stew, which we'll be eating all weekend, because why not? Gotta have leftovers, right, no matter what you have for your Thanksgiving meal!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is going to be short and sweet because, well, it's time to be thankful and travel and spend time with family and friends. No one wants to read my ramblings today!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to one and all.

Hope you have super day filled with food, fun, family and friends.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Time to think about Christmas shopping...

It seems like it should be too early, but I'll be stuck on a ship during some prime shopping days, so...

It's time to think about Christmas shopping. Who I need to buy for, what I'm going to get them. I do have one gift in my hot little hands and I'm super excited about it. Alas, it's for Sonshine who probably won't be home until January to receive it.

I've been cross stitching one gift, and I think I need to speed up the process a little. I'll have the four day Thanksgiving break, though, to make some progress, so fingers crossed I can get as close to done as possible. It'll need to be framed, which I may end up running out of time for.

Two other gifts are on order...

I'm getting confused think about this all of a sudden. It must be time to create the annual Christmas Gift spreadsheet. Yes, I use spreadsheets even for that. It's easy to keep track of who has what gifts and how much of budgeted amount has been spent on each person. I can also go back to previous years to see what was bought.

No, this isn't what my spreadsheet looks like, but it's cute.

On that note, enjoy the short work week and the long holiday weekend!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

So I finally got my new refridgerator...

Our old fridge died a couple of weeks ago and the new one we purchased turned out to be a more popular model than we anticipated as the delivery date got pushed out.

So we ended up living out of ice chests for a couple of weeks, which seemed fine on the surface, but I'm so very glad to have this lovely new appliance in my house now. Though smaller, it's actually a much better fit for my kitchen.

Our old fridge was close to 20 years old, if not older, so while I would have rather not had to fork out hundreds of dollars for a new fridge, I can't be too upset about it finally giving up the ghost.

After living out of ice chests, there wasn't much to transfer into the new fridge, but it wasn't the challenge I expected it be. As I mentioned, the new one is smaller than the old one--and the height available in the shelves in the door is not as much, so salad dressing bottles, as well as ketchup and BBQ sauce can only go in one place. Easy peasy.

Not complaining, though, it's new and it's pretty and it's bright inside!

The fun part is going to be figuring out how to arrange my sizable magnet collection!!

Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your slide into the holidays!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It's all Kelly Severide's fault...

Who's Kelly Severide, you ask...

Well, THIS is Kelly Severide: Hunky firefighter from TV's Chicago Fire, played by the gorgeous Taylor Kinney.

In the show, Kelly gives the appearance of being the archetypal bad boy, but for all the dark clothes, leather jacket, broody looks and sleeping around, Kelly is a not a bad boy. He's a fire fighter, he's a local everyday hero.

The other thing that contributes to the appearance of Kelly as a bad boy is his proclivity for muscle cars. The first car he drove on the show was a vintage black Camaro and after that was torched by an arsonist, he restored a vintage blue Mustang which got totaled in a car accident in the most recent episode I've seen--which is a season behind what currently airing, so we'll see what he ends up with next.

The whole point being, these days, I see muscle cars everywhere and it's all Kelly Severide's fault. :0)

Hope you're having a great week!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's OFFICIAL! I'm now a published author.


It's been a long journey--not that it's over yet--and there were many times when I wasn't even sure I wanted to take it, but ultimately I did decide to pursue publication.

And here I am...well over a dozen years after taking up writing with book babies out in the world!

Book one in the Ten Rigs Texas series, For the Love of Scott, is out free at a handful of online retailers. Well, except Amazon, because they don't allow free and it takes time to get them to change the price to match other retailers. And also propagation takes time... Books two through four are available for pre-order.

This is book one, For the Love of Scott:

You can find it at...




It's not at B&N/Nook just yet because of technical issues, but it will be soon.

Books two through four, coming soon!

Book Two Book Three Book Four

So, yeah--the journey's finally begun. Wheee!

Have a great week. :0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

I have a plan, I have my own plan, and I need to stick with it...

In the last month or so, between the conference in Denver, talking with writer friends, and listening to industry experts (Mark Coker!!), the pressure to deviate from my plan of publishing attack is there.

I'm not going to say it's heavy or hard, but it's there. These are all people who are more experienced than me and definitely more knowledgeable. But I based my plan on other conversations with other people who are also knowledgeable, as well as on my own wants, needs, and capabilities.

Considering that I'm preparing to launch my books any day now, it's really a little late to second-guess and/or change my plan. I'll do what I've been planning to do all along with one major change (that doesn't contradict anything I've already decided) and see how it all plays out.

If it doesn't work, I can change things, I can try various things. No one's life is in danger.

It's getting real now, though. ANY DAY NOW! It's exciting and scary and nerve-wracking.

There's still a lot to do, so I'd better get to it.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Book Covers

So I finally got a draft of book 6's cover. I was not impressed. At all. I can't put all of that on my cover artist because I did a bad job of bullet pointing the book, I didn't have any idea what I really wanted and gave minimal instruction. But still. After the first four covers (she didn't do five), I expected more for some reason.

Instead, I spent several hours looking through stock photos until an idea started forming. Then I created a mock-up or two and sent her those as well as the link to the images I used/liked.

Hopefully, the next draft will be pretty much what I created only better because she's the artist and has a better grasp of the tools.

Fingers crossed.

See you Friday!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Getting back on the wagon...

While in Denver, I fell off the carbohydrate wagon, and I've really struggled to get my willpower up and running again. It's coming along slowly, but still, those grain-based carbs are not good for me.

It's hard to not to dangle my legs over the side of the wagon, though, because despite my indulgences, I'm still making progress in eliminating the first layer of fat. The key turns out to be a combination of things--

A) As long a fasting period each day as I can hold out. Usually, it's about 13 hours. I don't eat after 7pm in the evening and I don't eat before 8am in the morning.

Which means that when I go to the gym and work out in the mornings, B) my body is forced to fuel my workouts with energy I already have stored. Fat burn for the win!!

So that means consuming carbohydrates again hasn't stopped the fat loss. Makes it so hard to stop eating the bad ones...

But I'm making better choices day by day and eating less and less of the unhealthy ones. I need to get back to eating more vegetables and maybe my body will find enough satisfaction in those that the temptation will be easier to resist.

Hope you had a lovely and relaxing weekend. I sure did.

Friday, November 3, 2017

So it's Friday...

And, honestly, I don't have much to say.

Most of my writing posse is coming over tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to seeing them since I haven't seen most of them since September and won't see them again until January. Our writers group doesn't meet in November, so we're gathering on our own.

Here's hoping you have a lovely weekend...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The next step...and the next...and the next...

One of the next steps in this publishing process is the purchase of ISBN numbers. Like a bar code, it's a unique identifying number for each and every book in the world and for print versus "e" versions of the same book... Also, sometimes from retailer to retailer. That means one book may have to have a different ISBN for each platform. Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo... I think. I'm pretty sure. I'll be researching that again. The point is that I'll need several ISBNs for any given book depending on who requires a unique number. Yesterday I was able to purchase a block of ISBNs at a sizeable discount, so I'm very pleased that I won't have to limit distribution of my books.

As I've been mucking about in the back matter of each book, the issue of linking to online retailers for ease of purchasing the next book has come to light. But linking to Apple from a book bought via Amazon or to Google Play from a book bought via Apple is a big no-no. So that now means, either I add no links at all or I create a separate file for each retailer containing links to the next book. It's not a lot of extra work. And I have to think a sale or two or ten is worth it because I've made it so easy and is worth an extra ten minutes, right? Yeah.

(Just one more thing--or do I count creating each version as a thing of its own??-- to add to my growing to-do list...)

(I better actually create that to-do list.)

In other news, I'm still enjoying hockey. My team won in overtime on Monday and will play the last game of a road trip in Winnipeg tomorrow. Go STARS!!

On Saturday, my writer peeps will gather at my house for the monthly get-together since our writers group does not meet in November. I'm excited to see everyone and talk writing, books, and publishing.

Hope you have a great rest-of-the-week.

Monday, October 30, 2017

And so the journey begins...!!

Going into the conference I attended in Denver, I wanted to take something with me to hand out that had book info and publication dates. That meant I had to actually choose dates. So the big day (finally) is:


Yep, I figured the long weekend would be good for two reasons. I would be home to troubleshoot any possible issues. And--long lazy weekend for readers to be home to buy the books and actually have time to read them. :0)

So now guess what I'm in the process of doing?

1) Finalizing all edits from my proofreader/content editor for books 1 through 4.
2) Organizing all the individual documents that make up a book: title pages, copyright pages, dedication pages, about the author pages, etc....
3) Compiling the documents out of my writing program, Scrivener, and into an EPUB file format.

And that's where I ran into trouble this weekend. Book 1 looked fine. Book 2 looked fine, but it didn't match book 1 exactly. The book/author info across the top of the screen when I previewed the book in the Kindle Previewer was different, so I had to research how / where to change that. Also Book 2's paragraphs weren't indented for easier reading, so yet more research.

I figured out definitively how to change the info that appears at the top of each page. Yay me!

I did not figure out why I had no idents in the compiled file of Book 2 even though the actual pages in the program are indented. Harrumph!! The only think I can think of is that I probably used two different templates. Of course, I have no idea which two. But as I was reading and researching in the help file, I learned about some really helpful features of Scrivener, sooo...the project de jour is creating a custom template and setting everything up the way I want it.

Once that's done, I'll have to manually transfer each book, chapter by chapter, into a new file based on the custom template, and that should provide me uniformly formatted/compiled ebook files.

That's the theory anyway. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Back to the salt mines.

Conference Impressions, continued...the TRIP itself

Okay, last post about the conference.

I'm high maintenance. Not terribly, but I am. However, I do maintain myself. There are a few things I have to have, like mint tea and warmth when I sleep. I need to eat relatively healthy and usually cheaply and I need to exercise.

The only microwaves available were downstairs, off the lobby. Luckily my room was on the second floor, so it wasn't a horrible inconvenience--this time--but I could have been on the 14th floor or something...  And since the apparent removal of vending machines from next to the ice machines on each floor--a small cart with a microwave could easily be added.

Note to self--consider how to get my small portable kettle to my destination.

Most people prefer colder to warmer, unlike me. So I generally take a blanket with me when I travel by car. I had to take the larger suitcase this time to fit my small electric blanket. Yes, I really did. I didn't need to plug it in, but I had it just in case. :0) I usually take my pillow too. Hotel pillows are too poofy and hard and icky usually.

Note to self--is there any way to get my pillow there, lol?

October weather can change from day to day, so I took more clothes than I needed because I had to plan for both comfortable weather as well as cold weather. In the case of GRL, I don't think that's never not going to be an issue, so I have to deal with it.

The swag, whatever I decide, will just have to be shipped. Next year's location is too far too drive for me, so that's another consideration when deciding on what kind of swag to invest in.

Eating healthy was a challenge, although surprisingly I lost weight. I traveled with a week's supply of Plantation Mint tea as well as a package of Oberto's Trail Mix for each day. There was a local grocery store, and I was able to buy a few pre-made salads, some yogurt, and some microwavable soups.

There was still an over-abundance of carbs in my diet, even when eating "out". I ate at the hotel restaurant at least once each day--part of the networking and getting-to-know-people process--and except for the one breakfast I ordered, everything was based around bread products. Those carbs that I'm trying so hard to exclude from my regular diet. Figuring out some more portable protein will be another of those challenges.

Last point of this ramble--the traveling itself. I took a backpack and toted my laptop as well as my iPad. I have an iPhone as well as a Fit Bit. All of which had to be placed in bins for the xray. I had to take off my shoes and remove my jacket/s. One person and I had to push six bins through the machine. And then gather it all back up again on the other side. *sigh*

But I never used my laptop for the purpose for which I brought it--having to work remotely. Next year...not taking. I'll use the hotel business center if something comes up. I used the iPad for a special project on a daily basis, but will probably not be doing that project next year. So no iPad. I'll always need my phone and chances are I'll still be wearing my Fit Bit. If the weather isn't awful at my destination, my jacket will go in checked luggage. I'll find slip-on shoes and forgo sneakers with laces. I think that'll get me down to two or three bins. Sheesh.


Lots learned on a variety of levels.

What's your least favorite thing about traveling?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Conference Impressions, continued... SWAG

Two things you find A LOT of at conferences, especially writer and/or reader based conferences, aside from drunk people, are books and swag. Swag in the publishing circles consists of, at its most basic, bookmarks, pens, and postcards with author name and web address--something a potential reader can walk away with that may or may not entice them to purchase your book if they didn't walk away with one of those as well.

I think about swag a lot. Most of my writer group friends attend conferences or book signings or whatever and purchase swag to take with them to entice people to buy their books. I'm not personally a big fan of swag.

Never have I ever dug up a pen or a chip clip or a compact mirror in order to find a book to read.

But 1) I'm not your standard "end user" and 2) I know you have to have it. People expect some sort of swag.

Swag seems like a waste of money. Thanks to my friend, Regina, I like to ask, "what's the return on my investment?". In the case of swag, sometimes there's just not one. You have to have swag, but there's no way to ever know if that pen or bookmark enticed a sale at any point.

But...bearing the swag question in mind and knowing almost from the beginning I wanted to attend next year's GRL, I studied all the swag on display. What did I find personally appealing? What did most people bring? What was unique? What wouldn't end up the trash when Jane Reader gets home?

Some of the swag I walked away with...pens, small notebooks, lip balm, a letter opener, and rubber bracelet, an emery board, eye glass cleaning cloths, postcards, and free books. Now, I love pens, so I will usually voluntarily take a pen. I did intentionally swipe lip balm this time because my lips were hollering at me and I'd left my own in my room. I also took two mini composition notebooks--purse-sized I mean, because those are always handy. Everything else was pretty much just handed to me.

Swag items that caught my attention included...personal fans, flash drives, and a jumbo postcard with an image to color and a crayon to color with. At a previous conference, I walked away with a chip clip, a compact mirror, a bottle opener, and a band-aid keeper. I didn't see sticky-note pads, but I like those too.

I don't mind free books, but I don't, personally, want physical books. It would have been nice to have been given a business card or post card with a QR code for the free e-version. (Note to self, eh??)

I have a lot to ponder between now and next spring when I'll have to start thinking about ordering whatever I decide to buy.

Anyone have any other ideas or care to share what you personally like to walk away with?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Conference Impressions

To quote Tim McGraw--"these are my people."

We all have multiple aspects of our personality, and different groups of friends and acquaintances that mesh with/feed on those various aspects or not. At GRL, I met another group of my people and it was marvelous. I met a lot of people, but really only got to a know a few, which is fine. There were just over 400 people at this conference, and you just can't become bosom buddies with everyone or anyone in four days.

My friend Char, who invited me in the first place and offered her room to share...
Thanks so much, Char!!!

One thing I loved the most about this conference was the visibility afforded to newly published authors. You do have to pay a slightly higher rate for "sponsored author" status, but if you have even just one book published, you qualify. Unfortunately, I didn't qualify at the time of my registration, but I enjoyed going, getting the lay of the land, and meeting people. I fully intend on going back next year as a supporting author.

Themed dance party on Saturday night--this is me in my random costume...

Another thing I appreciated about this conference is that it changes cities from year to year, so any time I decide to go, more than likely, I'll get to travel to a new place. Next year is Portsmouth, VA, which is about as opposite from Denver as you can get: sea level, humidity, military vs wild wild west history.

Unlike, say, Romance Writers of America, this conference wasn't non-stop, back-to-back workshops either. Choices were limited and you were able to pace yourself. You're still pretty tuckered by the end of the day, but it's not brain exhaustion from too much information.

Various folks also organized outings as well. Like one author used a local restaurant as a setting in one of his books, so a dinner field trip was organized to that eatery. Something like 70 people were interested in going, and I think more than 50 actually did. There were also fun events like bingo and trivia games, and an author version of Match Game.

So, yeah, as long as finances work out, I'm planning to go next year. More thoughts on Friday.

Have a good rest of the week.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rocky Mountain High on Colorado...

That's a phrase that might be familiar to John Denver fans...and one you can't help having when faced with the amazing beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

I've been in Denver since last Wednesday for a reader/writer conference--there will be more about that later--but I had a chance to sight see yesterday, and how could I not take it, because who knows when I'll make it back here. So!!

My first foray out was actually on Thursday evening when I was able to attend a Colorado Avalanche game, because, well, hockey, so yeah. It was a fun time even though the home team did end up losing.

But yesterday...first stop the Red Rocks Amphitheater which is about ten miles west of Denver proper. Some very notable greats have played in concert here, including Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles, and David Bowie.

The amphitheater is just there below where I'm standing and there were a lot of folks in exercise attire jogging back and forth or going up and down the stepped seating. A dog barked from way down at stage level and as you can imagine the acoustics were amazing.

Next stop was Boulder's Pearl Street Mall...several blocks of indie shops and restaurants. My companions and I walked it and enjoyed a fantastic lunch and conversation along the way.

Patrice (in white), Nora (in purple), and myself at an indie brewery and restaurant.

After that, we trekked out to the Flatirons and hiked up to a small summit at around 7K feet and had the most spectacular view of the Rockies.

There was snow in the last couple of weeks so the higher peaks had snow. So so gorgeous!!

Headed home today...conference impressions coming later in the week.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hellooo...! from the Mile High City

aka Denver Colorado!

 (From the Denver Colorado Wikipedia page)

Heading out later this morning to attend a reader/writer convention for my genre of choice and I'm so excited. I'll be looking forward to a fairly early night before the first day of festivities.

Tomorrow night, I'll be taking advantage of the fact that Colorado's hockey team calls Denver home. The Pepsi Center is just up the road and I got lucky enough that the Avalanche have a home game while I'm in Denver. I'll just have missed the Stars being in town, but I'll enjoy watching the game anyway.

Have a great rest of the week. I'll try to get something posted for Friday, but if I don't, forgive me. :0)

Monday, October 16, 2017 Subscription vs. Cable Upgrade

Last year, I subscribed to in hopes of being able to watch Stars hockey, but alas, because I live in the local area, I was in the "blackout" zone and got to see maybe one "free" game via the app...We had the lowest level of cable because it came with our Internet package, which did not include Fox Sports Southwest where Stars games are aired here in North Texas.

Sadly, I saw more Stars games in person last year than I did on TV. Really. Well, not sadly about seeing them in person, but you know what I mean...

This year, though, I wanted to be able to watch Stars hockey on TV, so after all of last season's frustrations and research, I realized the only way to make that happen was to upgrade my cable.DH agreed, so when the hockey season was just about to start, I made the phone call.

We are now a week and a half into hockey season and I've seen one game live and in person, because it was opening night against a brand new team. Hockey history and I had to go, you know? I've also watched the first period of two games and the whole of another -- not to mention seeing various other teams play in whole or in part because I also have the NHL Network now, which is not the same as a subscription.

Watched the whole game against the Colorado Avalanche this past Saturday and they won!!

So cost-wise, the cable upgrade will end up costing a chunk more than the subscription, but I've already seen more Stars hockey on TV in the last week and a half that I did all of last year, so I can't really be sorry.

Also can't be sorry about seeing this!! My favorite player's first(!!) hockey fight of his career (513 games). I love hockey fights for the amusement factor more than anything else. They usually just make me laugh. (My guy's in green...) The fact that he was defending his teammate and captain's honor is also amusing to no end. (Bromance for the win!!)

So happy Monday to me!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

I guess it's time to do this publishing thing...

Book six arrived back from the proofreaders this past was with some trepidation that I checked email everyday looking for it. After all the struggles I had, I really doubted that I'd sent her something at least on par with the first five.

As luck would have it, Ms. Proofreader had lovely things to say about the book as well as my writing--things I find hard to believe. Not because I'm trying to be humble or modest at all, but because I have doubts every time I sit down to write a book, because pulling a plot together and weaving any and all threads is a challenge each and every time, because plotting in the first place is not intuitive to me.

I don't have beta readers or critique partners that I run chapter by for feedback. Yes, I have my group of peeps who I ask for brainstorming help or their opinions or for help when I'm stuck, but they don't read my work. My proofreader is also my first reader. Which means not only does she find all my errors--of which there were many this time around--but her initial impression of the book is, I don't know, "pure," maybe? I mean...she doesn't know me. She's not obligated to encourage me.  I pay her to be honest with me about my words, to tell me if there's a flaw in my plot.

So, no, she doesn't have to love my characters or their particular tale, nor does she have to enjoy the genre I'm writing in order to praise my ability to actually tell a story. The fact that she has means a lot.

Anyway...all that to say that pulling the trigger on publishing my books hinged on book six being done. Well it's done and back in my hot little hands. So I guess it's time to get my little ducklings in a row and get them ready to go out into the world.

Look out world, here they come...

Well, in November!

Have a great weekend! I'll be busy checking and double-checking books 1 through 3 in preparation for creating the ebook files. But it's a task I'm suddenly looking forward to a heck of a lot more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

It's True by Garcia Lorca

It's True

Ay, the pain it costs me
to love you as I love you!

For love of you, the air, it hurts,
and my heart,
and my hat, they hurt me.

Who would buy it from me,
this ribbon I am holding,
and this sadness of cotton,
white, for making handkerchiefs with?

Ay, the pain it costs me
to love you as I love you!

by Federico García Lorca


Heard this on a TV show and liked it enough to want to save it somewhere for posterity. Lucky you.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Hockey Season Has Begun...

Unfortunately, we haven't gotten off to the start we wanted...

Friday's game: Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights

Saturday's game: Stars vs. St Louis Blues

I was disappointed by Friday's loss especially since I attended the game, but it's still early in the season. The team is still learning the new system from their new coach. He's not expressing too much worry yet, so I won't worry so much either...

Fingers crossed they start picking up some wins.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Do we really need a play-by-play...?

Granted national / local news and tragedies are way more important than sports, but does the American public really need a play-by-play of every. single. thing. about ongoing investigations and natural disasters and the clusterf*ck that is the American political system?

Some people are newshounds and. you know, they have every right to be. I'm not. I like to know what happened when it happens and then update me every so often, but hourly is too much. Daily is pushing it for me unless it's *really* important.

Now, I don't watch the news by choice. But--there is a bank of TVs at the gym, several of them turned to national news channels and another handful on local news. I can't hear what's being said, because you have to plug into the system to hear those. But I see the headlines constantly scrolling by.

I can ignore it, look away, concentrate on the music that plays and on my workout, read on my phone while on the treadmill and the stationary bike. But it's still there.

And I have to wonder when is it too much?? Does the bad news propagate itself?

I wonder...what would happen if there was a 24/7 national broadcast of good news?

Like successful return of any number of our military ships and our troops.

Like animal shelters being low on animals.

Like a peaceful protest--no police needed to be called.

We might have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get started, because as I'm trying to think of good stuff that everyone would be happy to hear, it's hard to come up with stuff.

But you know, things like the Cajun Navy showing up Houston.

Like two little boys who went out in the rain to bring in the American flag one day at school getting soaking wet in the process because it was the right thing to do.

Like people paying it forward, like those Soup Ladies I mentioned Wednesday.

What if the nation were inundated with glad tidings instead of bad each and every day??

What could happen?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Who helps the helpers...?

Y'all know how much I love Mike Rowe, right? Well, he's got a new series out called Returning the Favor, where little Internet birdies whisper in his ear about some do-gooder, and he bounds off to help that do-gooder do even more do-gooding.

Yeah, I know, but keep reading please...

This weeks episode is about the Soup Lady--a woman who feeds first responders on scene. These first responders are usually stuck with MREs (meals ready to eat) and/or granola bars. Not the best way to replenish energy during high-stress emergencies. This woman and her retinue of Soup Ladies makes a batch of high-carb, high-protein soup and can generally feed up to 100 people out of one of her "go-trucks." She has at least two.

I thought this episode particularly fitting considering all the horrific things going on in our country right now where first responders--from Citizen Joe to the professionally trained--have stepped up in a big big way.

We definitely need more soup ladies across the country.

Here's to Momma Ginger and her Soup Ladies for the blessing they bestow upon those who run in when most of us run out.

And thanks to Mike Rowe for blessing her so that she can help even more people.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Quarterly Update...

I really have something to celebrate this time around!!!

After several years of yo-yoing and over a year of gym attendance, I have finally reached my goal weight. HAHAHHAHAHAAAAA! I'm so excited. My list there on the left says between 120 and 125 pounds. I've reached 123.2lbs and I'm terribly happy about that. I need to celebrate for sure.

I started my journey in January of 2012 at somewhere around 165lbs. I knew it was going to take a long time, and it has, but I'm finally here. That's not to say there's not a new goal in regards to all of this, but the weight part is done.

So let's visit the rest of the list...

--> I've gotten off schedule of writing to my grandmother and I really really really need to write one and get it in the mail. BAD JEN.

--> Call my moms. I've been doing pretty well. It's almost that time. One mom is on vacation though, so I'll probably wait a week or so before checking in. I should probably reach out to the other this week.

--> Cook and eat better. Well, this one kind of goes hand in hand with the weight loss, but not entirely. However, while I may not necessarily be cooking better because I don't cook--as in prepare ingredients and then prepare a meal over the stove--I am eating better. I mentioned that lavash bread awhile back which was a huge boon to helping me reduce the number of not-good carbs in my diet. I eat more salads and include spinach and kale in them and rarely do I use iceberg lettuce. I'm staying balanced between fats/(good) carbs/protein.

--> I cleaned up my writing room a little, but not the really concentrated sort/discard/clean I've intended.

--> Cleaning plan. HAHAHAHA. 'Nuff said.

--> Publish six books by September. Well, September ended two days ago and I just finished book six, like, a week ago. So that one's definitely a bust. But book six is now done and the new goal is to start publishing in November.

--> And guess what??? I actually started walking the dog. I needed a little more activity in the evening and she needs the exercise. we probably go five out of seven days, so doing better that my goal. Except now she's limping because she sleeps on the same side all the time on the hardwood floor and I think she's sleeping on a nerve.

So YAY for me for accomplishing two more very important goal. Still working on the rest.

My thoughts go out to the victims and their families as well all the first responders in Las Vegas.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Conflicting advice...?

I read two different articles in the past twenty-four hours that really resonated with me. At first glance it seemed that they are contradictory, but upon reflection they aren't.

The first article I read talks about taking that next step to becoming a master of your craft and seven habits that shackle your ability to do so. The one that struck me the most was the lack of in-depth learning. Really "deep-diving" into learning as it were. Not sharing your attention with TV or social media or whatever, but eliminating distractions and focusing hard on the task at hand.

You know I had to do that to get book six done. Noise-canceling headphones, going in my office and closing the door, focusing. It got done and I was pretty happy with myself. Now why I didn't get my act together sooner is something to ponder on another day, but the book got done.

There are many areas of writing where I need/want to improve. Looks like I need to pick one and spend some time studying. I have a friend who chooses one thing each year to focus on. That sounds like a good plan.

The second article talked about staying healthy, physically and mentally, as an author. Full time authors spend a lot of time sitting. They spend a lot of time eating quick and easy meals, which usually means carb-based foods. They also spend a lot of time worrying about marketing and writing enough books to make money on top worrying about the house, the spouse, and the kids and whatever else is going on in their life.

The point of the second article was that your health, any aspect of it, is worth more than a dream. If you're not having fun trying to achieve your dream, then what's the point? I get that there a lot of exceptions and everyone has their own balance. But if worrying about trying to write 10 books a year in order to make X amount of money leaves you an anxious mess, then is it really worth it? I mean how good can your books be at that point?

Life is meant to be lived and how can you write good characters and interesting plot lines if you don't go out and interact with people and have fun? I don't think you can.

So the combined lesson is...yes, by all means, spend the time you need to learn something specific, study hard, focus. But that's not all you have to do until it's done. Watch the rain, take a walk, smell the roses, go to a hockey game, go swimming or boating, enjoy other crafty endeavors.

Have a great weekend y'all. See you Monday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Book six is (mostly)(probably) done and off to my lovely proofreader.

About three months late. Since I'm planning to indie publish, the fact that it's late doesn't have a whole lot of consequences, it just means that my whole publishing schedule was postponed. Potential money earning postponed too. That's the worst consequence.

My plan had been to have book six done and in the proofer's hands in June and that I would start publishing the previous books in the series around that time.

But I wanted book six done before I started down the publishing road.

Unfortunately, I struggled and struggled with that story for some reason--I still don't really know why. Writing it was still mostly a chore when I finally just put my nose to the grindstone and made it happen. I have no idea if it's as good as the others or if it makes sense or if there's some major plot hole that's so large I just can't see it. My proofreader will definitely let me know.


It's finally done and out of my hair for the time being. Now I can turn my attention guessed seven.

Hope you're having a great week. Mine is looking up. :0)

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Stars & Stripes and Sacrifice

I don't care who you are--you don't get to protest the President of the US by taking a knee during the national anthem.

In my opinion, you spit on the flag, the country, and the military members who fought and died to give us the freedoms we enjoy here in America. Not to mention whatever fans you have who are patriotic or perhaps served their country.

I'm all for free speech and having an opinion, but you spout whatever you want on your time and your dime.

What this group of NFL (and other sports) players is doing is absolutely wrong. What the celebrities did at the recent awards show is wrong.

Hold a press conference if you want to tell the world how much you hate the sitting president. That sporting event and that award show is the everyday American's venue, because without them and their hard-earned dollars, athletes and celebrities wouldn't be where they are.

I'm so heart-sore right now over this.

My son's life is on the line for those pinheads and they're disrespecting him and his willingness to serve.

May GOD BLESS Alejandro Villanuevo for standing tall in the face of all this bullshit. He served as a captain in the Army, serving as a Ranger and receiving a Bronze Star for valor.

I think any player taking a knee should be suspended one game and fined. Let's see how long they hold the moral high ground.

May God Bless America...

Friday, September 22, 2017

So I went to a funeral yesterday...

It wasn't for a person I knew well. I attended out of respect for my father-in-law as it was a member of his family. I did get to spend some time with my mother-in-law, which was nice and which I don't do often enough (so maybe an item for next year's goal list, eh?).

Anyway, the point of today's post is--I know what kind of funeral I don't want. That's not to say yesterday's service wasn't lovely, because it was. If it reflected the person it was for, then great. But a service like that wouldn't reflect me.

So I got to I need to sorta-kinda plan my own funeral? Leave a package of notes as to what I want, even though, as my mother-in-law pointed out, funerals are for the living, for those left behind, and not for the person who died?

I'd like to think my kids would be pretty sad if/when I die--I mean, I was sad when my dad died, and I was there when choices as to caskets and music and stuff were being made, but I didn't know my dad that well anymore-- We'd lived so far apart for so many years. --and while I wasn't so overcome emotionally at that point, I didn't know what he would have liked.
My kids may or may not know me well enough upon my death. I hope they do, of course, but they may not. Or they may be so emotional that it'd be hard to think past how they're feeling right at that moment...

So maybe some general notes and a letter to each of my kids. That sounds like a good place to start.

Happy Friday!! Hope you have a great weekend.

P.S. ~ Please don't take this as me being morbid. The fact is, we're all going to die. Making the process easier on the people I leave behind isn't a bad thing.