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2016 Reading Challenge




I've given up on the official Goodreads challenge, although I have borrowed their logo. I'm going for 3 million new words and the re-reading of whatever fics I decide sound interesting as well as creating pod fic. Everything will be listed on the other side of the blog and you can view the details and numbers here.

2016 Goals

  • be a better website person for my writing group
  • be a better treasurer for my writing group
  • get physically healthy and well
  • walk the dog/walk to the post office
  • reach that 120lb. mark (for real this time)
  • get the house clean(er)
  • keep cradfting/do a wider variety of crafts
  • create pod fic
  • read and re-read
  • writie 10K to 15K word book for Christmas box set

2016 NASCAR Winners

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The new bane of my publishing existense...


The parts are in motion for getting my publishing journey off the ground, and so far, so good, really. I have covers for book one and book three. The cover for book two is giving me fits because I have no idea what I want it to look like, what aspects of the book I want represented.

So I've spent a lot of time searching stock photo sites for ideas, using various search terms. Ugh. It's tedious and it makes me sleepy, which is not a good thing in the middle of the day.

I have basic graphic skills. Covers one and three were super simple. I found images that worked as they were and conveyed the tone of the book pretty well. All that was really needed was title and author and series name. Text isn't difficult. Basic effects aren't hard.

I printed the covers and showed a couple of my chapter mates at my meeting. The one thing they all said was to make my name larger. Size is easy.

One friend, who admits she is super picky and a cover whore, thought it looked too homemade. Another friend who actually makes all her own covers didn't necessarily agree. Not that she strongly disagreed either, but she wasn't as horrified by the prospect. We pulled up Amazon and looked at books in the same genre to see what they looked like. Some looked like they could have been homemade, but it's super hard to tell, because a third friend published three books with a specific e-publisher, and her covers for those three books are awful. So...yeah.

The whole conversation begs the question: How much do I care?

Looking objectively as I can at cover one, it is rather simplistic. Is it too simplistic?

When looking on Amazon, there were a few other covers that were also on the basic side, so okay. But now I'm thinking it needs a little something more. And I have a couple of ideas as to what that 'more' could be. Back to the drawing board.

Book three's cover is simple as well, but the cute factor and the title font/effects counterbalances it. I think so anyway, and I love it so much I can hardly wait to write the book.

Now that I've pondered things for a couple of more days, I've realized most books are gonna require multiple images, cropped and layered and other things...things I don't want to mess with or just don't know how to do. So...

Adding cover artist research to the list of things to do.

How much of a factor is the cover for you? Does a good title make a difference if the cover is less than optimal?

Monday, August 22, 2016

So...I'm a pretty decent writer it seems...


This past Saturday was writers group meeting day, and one of my favorite days of the month. I get to hang out with some of my most favorite people in the world and sometimes I get to hear a really good speaker and learn some stuff. The speaker (a Harlequin editor for 25 years) was worthwhile for many, but her topic, "What Editors Want" was of little interest to me because I'm not following the traditional path of submitting to an editor of a Big Six (Five???) publisher. I'm self-pubbing, which means I can write and publish what I want. I don't have to get past an editorial gatekeeper.

BUT

As part of her programming for the weekend, she accepted (in advance) one page of writing from a certain sub-group of our chapter (to which I belong) and critiqued it. I couldn't pass up a chance to have my work in front of a professional's eyes.

Her comments were minor and a couple of them shouldn't have/wouldn't have even been an issue if I hadn't cheated and sent, not the very first page of book two, but the scene where my two protagonists meet, a page two farther into the book.

What I'd forgotten--because *I* of course know what happens--is that a couple of off hand internal comments made by one of the characters only made sense if you'd read the pages prior to the page I sent. Duh.

What that means though, is that because I know those things make sense within the whole text, they're a non-issue. Her other comment was valid, and I'll tweak the verbiage to address the issue. Everything else she said was positive, such as thinking one of my protags sounded interesting and she wanted to know more about him. Score!

A lot of writers I know feel, at some point during any given book, is that their writing is crap. For me to receive minimal constructive criticism meant a lot and really bolstered my confidence.

I'm starting the week with an increased enthusiasm for getting words on the page and completing book two.

Woot woot!!




Friday, August 19, 2016

HTML what???


One of my little known hobbies is playing with websites. I like to build websites using images and code. :0) I don't do it enough to be super proficient from scratch, but I reference other other sites I've built for the basics and then I can tweak them to suit my purposes.

One of the first websites I ever built was a fan site for the TV show JAG. Here's the first version (snapshot Aug 2002 courtesy of the Wayback Machine) and here's the current version, designed probably a decade ago. Big improvement, eh?

As I mentioned last week, I've begun preparing for publishing my first book. That includes a website for the series I'm working on. It started off as one thing that I wasn't happy with and so I went searching for a design I liked and then began recreating that layout using my HTML/CSSing skills, such as they are. I'm not going to share the site now as it's a work in progress, but I promise I'll share the link when I've got all the bugs in my code ironed out.

What things do you like about websites? Things you hate?


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The colors of fall...


Found these on tumblr...they are not mine... But they are so beautiful and one of the reasons I love fall sooooo much. (Despite, of course, not living in a place that remotely resembles any of these images during fall.)







Monday, August 15, 2016

The Premiere League has returned...


Despite the on-going Olympic games, I'm excited to see the return of the Premiere League--which is English football or as we call it here in the States: soccer.


Leicester City, the champions at 5000 to 1 odds last year, return under tremendous pressure to win. Unfortunately they lost their first game of the season as well as it apparently being the first one they've lost since February! Shame. You know they wanted to start the season with a win.

So, baseball's just over halfway done, NASCAR, too, the Premiere League has started. All that's left is the getting to hockey season.

The L.A. Dodgers will always be my go-to team, but I'm at a stage where I want to watch and I'll pick a team to cheer for on a game by game basis.

My chosen NASCAR driver, since Sterling Marlin retired from driving, is Martin Truex, Jr.

I'll follow Leicester City for the season and see how they do, although most of my British friends think they're a one shot wonder.

As for hockey, I'm going to jump on the Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn/Dallas Stars bandwagon and see what happens.

Tyler is in the center, Jamie is on the right. I don't know the guy in the jersey.


Are you a sports fan? Favorite sport? Favorite team? Favorite player?



Friday, August 12, 2016

The Long Haul...


I've been trying to reach my weight loss goal of 120lbs. since January of 2012. Yep, four and a half years now. That was intentional. I knew that the slower I took it off and the longer I adjusted to new eating habits, the easier it would be to keep the weight off and maintain the habits once the weight was gone.

Those of you who've been here a while will no doubt remember some of the struggles. :)

Joining a gym has been a goal of mine. A reward, if you will, for reaching the target. I sorta jumped the gun. I haven't yet reached my target weight, but the idea joining a gym wouldn't leave me alone. And then advertisements for two different gyms began airing on the radio station I listen to, so maybe it was a sign. One of them was having a special, so...after talking to DH, I joined.

So I've been going to the gym three times a week, almost without fail, and I keep hoping to see faster progress. After the length of time it took me to lose the weight, I know it's going to take longer than a month. But shouldn't I get some sort of immediate gratification from hauling my behind out of bed and to the gym at 4am??

It'd be nice, huh? But getting this old body in shape is going to take a while too. I do know this.

Why 4 am you ask? Well, mostly because I don't have to fight a whole bunch of other people for the equipment I want, and also it's really just the most convenient time for me to go and get it done and out of the way. Right now--if I had schlep to the gym at the heat of the day, I probably wouldn't do it.

The test will be 4am in the middle of winter when it's freezing outside!!! Hopefully I'll have seen some results by then and they'll spur me on during those frigid pre-dawn hours.

One day at a time!!
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

So...after all these years...


I'm finally gonna (self) publish a romance novel.

I've been dabbling for over a decade. It's been a cycle of love and self-doubt and life getting in the way.

Much to some of my chapter-mates continual confusion, the drive to get a publishing contract just isn't there. Never really has been. It's not that I wouldn't love to make money with my writing, but that's not my motivating factor.

When I first joined my writing group, getting a contact with one of the Big Six Publishing Houses was still the be all, end all of writing. The landscape was changing, however. The first e-publishers had been around trying to make money, trying to gain respectability. Some have come and gone, many are still around. But the e-book market is booming. I prefer an electronic book these days to paper.

Much as I loved reading Harlequin and Silhouette romances growing up, I never really wanted to submit to them, or any of their brethren. I had some minor experience with an e-pub early on and that seemed like a good way to get some publishing experience--working with an editor, meeting deadlines, making editorial changes. But it still didn't feel quite right.

And for the last I don't know how many years, the self-publishing option has been on the table. For me, being more of a hobby writer, the ability to self-publish feels just right. As to why it's taken me so long to finally get around to it, well, that's a journey I've been on and here I am.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be sending my book, by no means the first one I've ever written, off to a content & copy editor. It's a bit nerve wracking. Yes, other people have read my work. I rarely get anything but complimentary comments. This particular book has even been read by a handful of others, including a chapter mate who also copy/content edits for pay. But sending this book to a person who doesn't know me from Adam, who I'm paying to give me her expert (?) opinion--well, I'm nervous about it. I know that even though I've been writing and learning my craft for close to a decade, that I struggle with certain aspects of story telling. So hearing what a complete stranger thinks of my skills--it's a good thing, but scary. Can I fix my mistakes? Can I strengthen the book's weaknesses?

It's time to find out!

Stay tuned for highlights of the journey. :)


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Olympics and oooohhh the memories!




Didn't watch the opening ceremony because well...not interested, but I had the TV on most of Saturday. Mostly it was on for company and noise, but I could no longer multi-task when the men's gymnastics came on.

How about those Brazilian men?? Apparently, it's the first gymnastics team they've had in the games in like forever or ever. And they did fantastic.

And watching the men's gymnastics brought back some memories. Really really 'wayback machine' memories.

Back in 1984 when the Olympics were in Los Angeles, I lived in L.A. Mom and I went and saw the torch traveling through the city! And then mostly I remember us watching the gymnastics, both men and women's.


It was the year for US gymnastics--the men's team as a whole took gold, the women took silver, not to mention the many individual medals. (Not quite as many golds there. :P)

Remember, Momma??

Friday, August 5, 2016

It's Friday, friends...


We're celebrating with a hockey meme. Here's Tyler Seguin (pronounced SAY-GEN (like Carl), for some strange Canadian reason).



Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Did you know...?


I realized while researching something that I'd forgotten to post this morning, and I came across in trying to find something else and was kinda impressed. Straight from Wikipedia, regarding "Transportation", so take it with however many grains of salt you feel are necessary. It's the second paragraph that impressed me.

Texans have historically had difficulties traversing Texas due to the state's large size and rough terrain. Texas has compensated by building both America's largest highway and railway systems in length. The regulatory authority, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintains the state's immense highway system, regulates aviation, and public transportation systems.

Located centrally in North America, the state is an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, trucks can reach 93 percent of the nation's population within 48 hours, and 37 percent within 24 hours. Texas has 33 foreign trade zones (FTZ), the most in the nation. In 2004, a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed though Texas FTZs.


Most things really are bigger in Texas. True fact. :)

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America

Read in Mar 2016

  • Omnibus by dhampir72
  • Lay It Down by dhampir72
  • Sleeping With James Bond by dhampir72
  • The Hand I Want to Hold Forever by dhampir72
  • Favours by dhampir72
  • Sigh No More by dhampir72
  • To the Sticking Place by blueink3
  • Wars We Fought, Things We're Not by blueink3
  • Crush by stereobone
  • Synchronicity by stereobone
  • Call Him Love by itsallfine
  • Sleep Deprivation is No Excuse by elenothar
  • When the Sun Goes Down and No Stars Light the Night by elenothar
  • Pitfalls of the Odd Pagan Holiday by elenothar
  • Wooing Rituals of the James Bond Variety by elenothar
  • How Q Hacked Online Dating by JayEz
  • Our Final Problem by JayEz
  • Five Years Isn't So Long by scioscribe
  • Amber by scioscribe
  • Home (and Country) by scioscribe
  • Cuckoo by scioscribe
  • Fallible Creatures by scioscribe
  • Dramatic Arts by scioscribe
  • A Pox on All Your Machines by scioscribe
  • Love and Other Hazardous Materials by Luchia
  • Amenable by resonant
  • Practical Angora Goat Raising by lavvyan
  • Tantalus by moonblossom
  • Whoredom in Egypt by ancientreader
  • Let Them Howl by alex_caligari
  • Rearranged by itsallfine
  • Order of Operations by patternofdefiance

Read in Feb 2016

  • Monetising Love by SamuelJames
  • To the Sticking Place by blueink3
  • The Wedding Past by bold_as_brass
  • John & Sherlock Get the Giggle by wendymarlowe
  • The Wedding Present by bold_as_brass

Read in Jan 2016

  • Practical Johnkeeping by what_alchemy
  • Unwasted by patternofdefinace
  • Chemistry and Crooked Shelves by 221b_careful_what_you_wish_for
  • Two Days by PoppyAlexander
  • Two Days by tweedisgood
  • A Sense of Scale by alphera
  • We Are Only Human by TennantsLittleKitten
  • Checkmate by TennantsLittleKitten
  • A Married Man by Persophones_Keeper
  • A Time of Beauty by akashathekitty
  • What Dreams May Come by danlef
  • No Bangs Without Foreign Office Approval by reckonedrightly
  • Save the Last Dance for Me by Lilith (Citrine)
  • Snapshot by saziikins
  • The Violet Hour by breathedout
  • Drunk With Your Kiss by Biswholocked
  • The Human Cipher by wendymarlowe