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2017 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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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

NHL.com Subscription vs. Cable Upgrade


Last year, I subscribed to NHL.com 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 NHL.com 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 NHL.com 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 NHL.com 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 Tuesday...it 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

Finally!!!


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.

BUT

It's finally done and out of my hair for the time being. Now I can turn my attention to...you guessed it...book 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 thinking...do 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.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Night Shift, part 2


Last Wednesday, I mentioned a phone setting that disabled the blue lights that emanate from the cell phone screen and (possibly) interfere with one's ability to fall asleep and sleep well.

It's been a week and quite frankly I'm sleeping harder than I was before and I'm having a bit more trouble waking up when the alarm goes off. If DH is experiencing restlessness at any point during the night, it hasn't bothered me much or at all. He's changed a few things that may affecting his sleep as well (for the better) but not every night is identical.

But I think, over all, taking advantage of this setting has helped. :0)


Friday, September 15, 2017

It's Hockey Night in Fort Worth...!!!


This might be more familiar as "It's hockey night in Canada" or "It's hockey night in Pittsburgh," but as of Monday, I'll be able to watch all the hockey my little heart desires on the TV in my house--not on the iPad and not on the computer. I'll even be able to watch DALLAS STARS hockey, which I didn't get to do very often because of black-out zone restrictions.


With DH's blessing, I upgraded our cable TV package to include ALL sports channels. Of course, we'll get everything else aside from premium movie channels and DH is pleased about that.

So woo hoo and Happy Friday!!!

Hope you're having a great Friday and have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Night Shift


So I learned about this neat little setting on my iPhone. I've seen it pop up occasionally and didn't know what it was for and dismissed it, but I have learned what it does and it seems like a really good thing.

In the Display and Brightness setting on an iPhone, you can turn on the Night Shift and set it to come on and turn off at whatever time you want. I set mine to turn on early--6pm--because I read every night (yes, on my phone) before I go to bed.

But what does it do, Jen? Well, if you know, then skip this part, but if you don't, it does this: it swaps out the harsh blue lights emitted by the phone screen and offers up soft amber light instead. Blue light is apparently a "day-time" indicator to our brain and may hinder your ability to fall asleep and/or sleep well.

Honestly, I don't generally have trouble falling asleep. Or...maybe I do, but not for that reason. I don't think. When it's time for bed (8:30ish), I put the phone down and get comfy. With the help of an earbud and Benedict Cumberbatch reading in my ear, I'm asleep within five or ten minutes.

I originally started with listening to something to help me fall asleep because I suffered with tinnitus for awhile and it was very annoying. That went away, but often there's other noise in the house--we have no carpet to absorb it and it filters right down the hall and into my bedroom--so I try to block it out.

Anyway, I'm wondering how much better I'll sleep if I get rid of the blue lights before bed...

Tonight begins the new setting. I'll let you know if I notice a significant change.
Monday, September 11, 2017

Fan Girl Moment


This past Saturday, I drove down to Austin and back (a three hour drive one way) to meet, thank, and congratulate the creator of one of my favorite current fandoms: Check Please!


Check Please is the story of a small southern gay boy who chooses a college in the upper northeast in order to live his life out of the closet. The Check Please universe is filled with well rounded characters who all have a role to play within the narrative. The creator, Ngozi Ukazu, does all the work herself.

A panel from one of the early comics. L-R: Jack, Shitty, Bitty, Ransom, and Holster.

Anyway, her storytelling and artwork are amazing, and I wanted to meet her and let her know how much enjoyment I've gotten from her work as well as derivative works (fan fiction). Also, she's gotten a publishing contract and her work will be in bookstores sometime this fall.

Here is art of one of my favorite characters, Kent Parson, who Ms. Ukazu confirmed was based heavily on my favorite Dallas Star, Tyler Seguin. Oh, and, yes, it's hockey-based, which indeed launched my current hockey obsession.


It was a long day, but well worth the drive. :0)


Friday, September 8, 2017

To tear them down or not to tear them down...


Discussions about tearing down all Civil War related statues as well as changing the names of schools and other things...


I don't usually discuss politics or religion, but I thought I'd share my two cents for what it's worth, which probably isn't two cents.

At first, I thought, you know--if we erase everything related to the negative aspects of our history, we're doomed to repeat those mistakes and forget, right? And I think that's true to an extent.

This morning as I pondered it further, I sorta went to an extreme example...



So I thought, despite being on the bad side of a fight, Robert E Lee was a great general, right? Maybe. I guess. It's been a long time since I studied Civil War history, but all signs point to it. Why shouldn't he have a statue?

But, you know, there's be an outcry heard to the moon and back if anyone tried to put up a statue to honor Hitler.

I mean, all these statues are already there. Are they hurting anyone at this late date? Tearing them down requires money and manpower, but so does the upkeep in the long run, so...

Really, I'm torn. They don't affect me either way, but it's an interesting question to ponder.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Yep, I've been AWOL... and Happy Labor Day


Well, not quite AWOL I guess. I did officially take Friday off so I could make a weekend trip up to Omaha to see my family.

It's the first long-ish road trip I've taken on my own in twenty-five years. I had my daughters with me then, DH was 2 and the Brown-Eyed Girl was 4. They're 27 and 29 now... This trip, it was just me, although the Brown-Eyed Girl was supposed to go, but Harvey through a monkey wrench in our spokes.

A good time was had by all. It was good to see my brothers and my babiest sister as well as my little nephews. We went to the Henry Doorly Zoo on Saturday.

Sunday was a lazy day that included a Harry Potter movie marathon on TV and yummy delicious food.

Surprisingly, I came back weighing the same or less than when I left. (Since weight fluctuates throughout the day, I won't know for sure for another day or two...) My gym is nation-wide and I went while I was in Omaha, precisely so I could enjoy my uncle's delicious cooking. Also the bazillion steps I took while at the zoo allowed me to enjoy my favorite item from Taco Bell guilt-free. :0)

Did you enjoy the long weekend?

Monday, August 28, 2017

My brain has been anywhere but here...


Between the fourth Navy ship collision in Asian waters this year (only August people) and Hurricane Harvey, not much has been on my mind except two of my children--Sonshine in the Navy in the Asian waters and my Brown-Eyed Girl in the vicinity of Harvey.

Sonshine is really the safer of the two as much of South Texas is getting submerged. There's just no where for the water to go. Luckily, the Brown-Eyed Girl and her roommate live on the third floor. But they're pretty much stuck there for the duration, which will probably three or four more days. In addition to the rain itself, Lake Conroe, located just north of where my baby lives is full, full, full and is overflowing/being drained, and because the earth is already saturated, it just runs down the streets and sidewalk. So yeah.

DD is safe and sound here with us, so that's good.

Please keep my oldest and my youngest in your thoughts and prayers.

Of course so many folks have it way worse, so also pray for South Texas, our leaders and our citizens. If you have any cash to spare, please give to the Red Cross.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weight loss update...


Last Wednesday I talked about fasting and the number of calories in a pound and what that meant to me...

So here we are a week later and despite two very calorie and carb-laden days (Sat & Sun), I have dropped 2-ish pounds. I promise I'm being safe in my choices. I'm eating enough calories for my body to exist and then some--did you know it takes everyone 1200 to 1600 calories a day just for basic body functions to keep you alive??--and drinking *plenty* of water during these dog days of summer.

What I did do was increase the length of time I go without eating. I've been waiting to 11 am to consume my first meal of the day to maximize my body's fat-burning mode. I do give it some easily accessible carbs right after going to the gym for a recovery boost in the form of my cinnamon/honey elixir I take for arthritis.

It's not always fun or easy waiting until 11 and, starting tomorrow, I will go back to a more normal schedule. I'd been in a pretty static eating mode and I think the increased fasting shook my body up a little bit. Made it adjust and pay attention.

I'm getting closer to my goal, which, after probably three years of being stuck with ten pounds to go, pleases me greatly. Once I get there, then it's muscle-building time. Not super huge ones, just nicely rounded muscles appropriate for my age.

Happy Hump Day...

Catch you Friday.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Who knew??


You might have, but I didn't and learning it gave me a boost.

Apparently, when tracking carbs, you're supposed to subtract the grams of dietary fiber from the grams of carbs and that's the actual number of carbs your body's going to absorb/utilize/store...


On top of that, I discovered this Lavash bread that has very low carbs to begin with. Subtract the fiber and now I've got a super low carb way to eat my tuna and fill my tummy. I can't begin to tell you how excited this makes me. This Lavash bread is also low in calories and high in protein and is made with flax and oat bran as well as whole wheat. So WIN WIN and WIN. :0)

How was your weekend?

All prepped for the solar eclipse?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Online friends becoming in person friends...


It's no secret--or it shouldn't be--that I'm what's called a fan girl. A girl of any age who has more than a passing or basic love of something--specifically things like tv shows, movies, books and the like or characters from those things. It seems that it's okay to be a rabid fan of sports or your country or the military (I'm passionate about all those things too), but being so crazy about a tv show or book or character that you participate in fandom culture, that's still a bit of a head-scratcher for most people.


But I digress...on Saturday, I get to meet a gal who is a part of the BBC's Robin Hood fandom that I've been involved in since 2010 or 2011. The show's been over for many years, but there's a few of us who still congregate online each week to say hi and catch up. One of those friends is in Dallas this week, and so we're going to meet at a local restaurant and do what we fan girls do--chat and share and chat some more.



I'm super excited about this. It's not the first time I've met someone from the Robin Hood fandom. Back in 2012, four other ladies all traveled from around the Mid-West to Fort Worth and we had a meetup at my house. It was a precious time to meet like-minded women and to get to know one another and share ourselves.

In fact, I'll be rooming with one of those ladies when I go to Denver in October for a writing conference. Can't wait to see her again either.

And then the other day, I sort of connected with another gal who's also attending the con in Denver. She wants to go to see the Avalanche (Colorado's hockey team) play as well and mentioned she was getting tickets to the Stars first home game against the Vegas Golden Knights and--bam--we're gonna meet somewhere at the American Airline Center and connect. And if that wasn't enough, she actually lives in Pittsburgh and already invited me to her fair city.

Which means what, Jen???

The Pittsburgh Penguins!!!! I can go see a game at some point on their home ice. woooot!!

Okay, so happy Friday to you and happy Friday to me.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Fitbit, weightloss, and me...


So I learned how to track my various exercises via the Fitbit and it seems the device does a better job tracking my heart rate when I do that, so yay. I guess the question still is...how accurate is the heart rate as gauged by the Fitbit in exercise mode versus figures provided by the machines at the gym?

I haven't done a detailed analysis of this, but the times I've compared the two, they seem close enough. As long as I'm in the heart rate range for fat burning, it doesn't matter much if the discrepancy is within five to seven beats.

There's a larger difference, however, in the "calories burned" figures. The machines always tell me I've burned more calories than what the Fitbit says. While I'd like to burn more calories, I use the Fitbit's figures just to be on the safe side. As long as I eat/log fewer calories that I burn, I'm always in the process of losing weight.

Apparently a pound is 3500 calories, so it would take a seven-day week to lose a pound if you consistently consumed 500 fewer calories than you burned every day.

I haven't been making as much progress as quickly as I'd been hoping, but learning that info the other day, has made it easier to make sure I keep at least that much of a difference between intake and outgo.

So new challenge for Jen--consume 500 fewer calories a day than I burn. Let's meet back in a week and see what's happened. :0)

Have a great rest of the week.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Please send your good wishes into the universe on my behalf...


Why you ask???

Because there's a chance I could sail aboard Sonshine's ship on its last leg home--IF IF IF a enough spots open up.


They announced the plan to the crew the other day. Unfortunately, Sonshine was apparently sleeping when the initial call went out and he didn't see the announcement until he showed up for work. He's got me on the waiting list (well, HE'D BETTER), so we just need enough other people to not be able to go in order for me to be able to.

So please-please-please keep fingers and toes crossed and send those happy thoughts out on my behalf.

I'll love you forever.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Just TGIF my friends...






Gotta dive back into my book this weekend!

Have a good one.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writers Retreat, Part II


Home again, home again, jiggedy jog, after a fabulous long writers retreat weekend with some of the most beautiful women on the planet.


 Clover, Jen, and Regina...

 ...Susie, Chrissy, and Michelle.



As I mentioned last week, we went to Lake Conroe. The house on the lake we stayed in belongs to the sister and brother-in-law of one of my writer peeps and they graciously allowed us to take up residence for a few days.

The weather was gorgeous, even when it rained. The food fantastic. The company unparalleled. Every single one of us got words on a page or some plot point figured out or both, but the real beauty of the weekend was the way the time together doing things other than writing bonded us all closer together.

 The lake from the house...

 ...and the house from the lake.

I've never had as close or as good of friends as this. I cannot imagine my life without any one of these special women.

While I was there, I also got to visit with the Brown-Eyed Girl as she lives just a ways down the road.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The wonders of technology...


I am still sometimes amazed by aspects of technology.

There's this lovely little app on pretty much every smart phone called Google Maps. :0) When I go places usually look up my route on a computer and have a fair idea how to get where I need to go. I like having the app, because if I get lost, I can pull over and figure out how to get unlost.

Now, I've never used the app to its fullest potential--that is, using it to actually direct me real time to my destination.

In Nashville, we used it to get to the conference hotel from the hotel where we stayed, but DH was driving and had used it before.

I used it to get to the lake house and from the lake house to the Brown-Eyed Girl's apartment and back and, holy cow, that was pretty wicked cool.

And a lot of you might already use that feature, but I rarely drive anywhere I've never been and I'm usually with DH and he drives or navigates if I am. This time, I was with my writer girl friends and none of us knew where we going, so it was time I used it for myself.

Now, I feel a little more confident about going out of town to events or just when traveling and visiting places like, say, Seattle where my kid is home-ported and we rent a car to get around.

How about you?? Do you use the maps feature on your phone to navigate.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Writers Retreat


Good morning, friends...today's blog post come to you from the shore of Lake Conroe in South/Central Texas, when my closest writer friends and I are enjoying a writers retreat weekend.


I even got see my beautiful baby girl last night as well.


Hope you have lovely weekend too!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Resistence is difficult, but not always futile...


I've come to discover the Fitbit has at least one snafu in it's something (I'm not sure what)--it won't always (hardly ever) register your elevated heart rate. Except it sorta does, sometimes? My higher heart rates from when I'm working out don't always register on the Fitbit's screen, but if I go into the dashboard and look at the data, sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not--weird.

In order to burn fat (my long-term energy storage/source) rather than my short term energy, I need to do two things: get into fat burn mode by getting my heart rate up to a certain level and do that when my body doesn't have easy access to short-term energy reserves--those that come from recently eaten foods.

Two weeks ago, I gave up tortillas and cold cereal yet again. I fell off the wagon once, but have been good ever since.


Last Friday, I was really craving cold cereal... But as I have seen progress in losing the weight I had regained, I held fast, as difficult as it was, and was able to successfully resist that delicious bowl of sweet crunchy goodness.

My willpower paid off and I have lost a few more ounces and am 17% of the way to my target weight.

I still have several adjustments to make to my diet, but all in good time and in moderation. I figure once I've been on the wagon for a while, I won't crave them so badly. That's my hope, anyway.

This is constant state of learning and adjusting--well, isn't everything in life??-- and eventually I'll find the right combination.

Have a great rest of the week!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights


So...in all the hockey talk on my blog, I haven't said much of anything about the NHL's latest expansion team.

This year, the NHL added a 31st team to the League: the Vegas Golden Knights. They populated their roster with one player chosen from each of the thirty other teams. Each team was allowed to protect a certain number of players/combination of positions. There were a lot of deals made behind the scenes leading into the expansion draft to protect additional players. To be honest, I don't remember who the Knights pilfered from Dallas and it's not important.

What IS important is that the Stars will be playing the Knights in their home/season opener and guess who's going to be in attendance??

Yep. Me. I'm so excited to see this match-up. One of the things I'm most excited about is seeing Marc-Andre Fluery in the net... I hope the Dallas crowd cheers him on when he's introduced because he's a beloved player across the league--in fact, he got a standing ovation from everyone in attendance at the expansion draft/NHL awards ceremony, players and fans alike.


Mr. Fleury was plucked from the back-to-back Stanley Cup winning Penguins (remember them, lol?) by Las Vegas. He's gonna prove a challenge to our boys, that for certain.

I'm excited, but I'm nervous too. The Stars didn't do so hot last season, and I just want them to acquit themselves well at home on opening day against a brand new team. It'll be kinda embarrassing if they don't, huh?

Keep your fingers crossed on their behalf, would you??

Friday, July 28, 2017

Welcome to Riverdale...


Depending on your age, you might or might not be familiar with Riverdale...


Riverdale is the home of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead of Archie Comic fame. I'm vaguely familiar with the comic, although I never read them as a kid.

But I was looking for something else to watch and finally decided to take a chance on this and was pleasantly surprised as well as pulled into the plot lines.

As far as I know, the original comics were about teens in high school and the related high jinks. Riverdale, while still focusing on our high school foursome, is darker and begins with the murder of the Riverdale High School quarterback, Jason Blossom.

 (L-R: Alice Cooper (Betty's mom), Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Cheryl Blossom,
Josie (of Josie and the Pussycat fame), and Hermione Lodge (Veronica's mom)

At least one parent of all four teens plays a role in the show. None of the characters, save for maybe Archie, Jughead, and Veronica are what they seem. Betty has a dark side we see glimpses of, and all the adults, except maybe Archie's dad, have some sort of secret.

The writers have done a fantastic of weaving this tale of secrets, lies, and revelations through the thirteen action-packed episodes of season one.

Has anyone else given this a try? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thank goodness for YouTube...


I'm sure y'all know that you can find many amazing (and a lot of not-so-amazing) and wonderful things on YouTube.
From yoga routines to car maintenance how-to's, you can save a lot of money. There are craft tutorials, music videos, audio books, old movies, new movies, news footage, video game analysis, and so so so so much more.

Honestly, I don't actually spend a lot of time on YouTube. I pull up the yoga occasionally and listen to music when I don't have access to my iTunes.

Do you know how hard it is to catch much of any kind of sports on regular TV with basic cable??? Nearly impossible.

Even with sports venue/network apps, you have to enter your IP login and if you don't have the right cable package, you're still S-O-L. Last year, I subscribed to NHL.com and got to watch any and every hockey team/game I wanted. EXCEPT the STARS... Why??? Because I live in their blackout zone or whatever the heck they call it. Yeah. Needless to say...I will be changing my cable package starting in September.

In the meantime, better cable wouldn't do do me any good because hockey season is over, but you know what there is? YouTube. :0)

I can find old games on YouTube. Why would I want to watch an old game? Well, first of all, beggars can't be choosers. Second of all, I just want to watch some hockey. Not always watch even, just listen to the play-by-play in the background is good enough. Why hockey over music? That I can't say.

But I can say, thank goodness for YouTube!

Have you used YouTube for one of the a-for-mentioned reasons??

Share a YouTube experience with me!!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Second Quarter Goal Review


With all the excitement of the 4th of July, I forgot to review my progress of my goals. Let's take a look!

Goals are just there to the left...

How'd I do?

Oh--I just noticed it still says 2016 Goals--oh goodness. Okay, changing to 2017.

Now let's gauge progress...

1) I've been writing Grandma in Denmark, but not staying as on schedule as I'd like.
2) I'm not doing as well calling my mom's either, though to be fair, the last time I tried to call my mom, I think she was camping and had no cell service. Will call both moms before the week is out.
3) Am I cooking and eating better? I might have been during the first quarter, but I haven't been so well as of late. But the Fitbit's capabilities have got me swinging back that direction, so during the next two grocery shopping cycles, I'll make changes as needed.
4) I haven't cleaned out my writing room/office/craft room. *shrugs* It's not a high priority.
5) Cleaning plan is nowhere in sight.
6) I have not pulled the trigger on the publishing journey. I've lamented my ups and downs in other posts, but the new goal is November.
7) Because of my lapse in exercise, I've gained back about 4 pounds, but I think I can lose that fairly easily and quickly and be within 5 pounds of the high end of my target weight.
8) No, I still haven't taken that poor dog out for a walk...


Friday, July 21, 2017

Getting enough sleep...


One of the things the Fitbit tracks is sleep. DH had mentioned several times over the last couple of months that he hadn't slept well and referenced the sleep tracker on his Fitbit.

Mostly, I sleep well. Or so I thought. And it turns out that I do.

I've reviewed the logs of my sleep for the last several nights and then had to do some research. My time in deep sleep was low compared to light sleep. I didn't think much of it seeing as how I sleep fine and usually have enough energy to get through the day, but I mentioned it to a friend and she wondered if that little amount of deep was good for a person.

The short answer is...it depends. Of course, it does. But for my age and gender, I'm right where I need to be. Article One | Article Two

Different things go on in the body during various stages of sleep. As I'm a grown woman in the second half of my life, I don't need all of the things or as much of those things as I used to, hence my time spent in deep sleep is less. Babies, children, and teens should have longer periods of deep sleep because growth hormones are released during this time.

I've always known that I require a certain amount of sleep, I've known what my window is, and I've fought hard to maintain it, because I know and I like the way my body functions and feels when I keep that balance.

How about you? 

Anyway, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Funny how small the world can be sometimes...


I've been struggling again with this whole publishing journey.


I know all the best practices from a money-making stand point. But what's best for me?

Sure, I'd love to have a steady income stream in order to pay off debt and fix up the house and leave something to my kids. Unfortunately, publishing on the type of schedule that maximizes my money-making potential is stressing me out. All my friends are very encouraging. "You can do it, Jen." "I have every confidence in you, Jen."

And it's not that I don't think I can--eventually. I just can't yet. I've still got some learning to do.

On one of the Facebook groups to which I belong, someone shared a blog post from an author who I created a series bible for last year. I enjoyed all her books tremendously. But, as it turns out, this poor woman suffers with depression and really struggled to meet the deadline of the publisher she signed a contract with.

She talked about pinpointing when the writing was fun for her, i.e. not a chore, when she was most productive. She talked about what it means to be a writer. What "THEY" say... and what the realities are.

The fact is, we're all different. We all have a personal ecosystem going inside of us which includes not only physical health, but mental health, among other things. Each writer gets to decide for him- or herself what their writing life looks like in order to balance that ecosystem and get out of writing what they want or need from it.

I love writing and I don't think I'll ever stop, even if it ends up just be fan fiction. But I also think I can make money with my writing. So I want to try, but I have to keep the process realistic for my abilities and needs at any given time. Do I think in the future I can write faster and get where I want to be in terms of output? Yes, I do. But just like getting the physical body in shape, getting your writing abilities in shape takes time and effort as well.

So, with yet another timely "tale from the trench," I'm gonna do need/what I want to do to have fun on this journey.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Happy Anniversary to me!


I got a FitBit for my annivesary... DH got one several months ago and he's really benefited from it. I don't really need something to encourage me to get up and move, etc, but the Charge 2 has some other functions and features that I thought would be helpful to track. Things like resting heart rate, fat burning, sleep quality. I've sort of plateaued in terms of motivation and I'm hoping this device will get me revved up and ready to step it back up again.

Anyone else using a Fitbit or similar device for health and wellness purposes?

Friday, July 14, 2017

I've been derelict this week...


There just hasn't been much to tackle via blog this week. But for the sake of a post, let's see...

Book six is trickling into existence. It's not coming as quickly as I'd like, but I average about two pages a day. It's not as much as it could be, but I'm gonna be happy with that over a big fat goose egg.

Hockey is mostly quiet right now. Most of the big trades across the league seem to have taken place and the Stars look good for the upcoming season. A few players are starting to train again. Pre-season starts end of September. I'm super exicted.

My cruise and all its attendant costs has been paid for--thank you DH and thank you fireworks.

Tomorrow is writers group and I'm so looking forward to seeing my core peeps whom I haven't gotten to see en masse since April. There will be a lot of chatter tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

Have a great weeknd!






Monday, July 10, 2017

Mall Shopping...


DD and I had a mother/daughter date yesterday. She wanted to check out a store at one of the local malls, so off we went. We had a fun time and I came home with a sore hip joint and a Build-A-Bear bear...


It was a tie between the hockey outfit and the Navy one, but ultimately they didn't have a Navy one, so hockey it was. I'll just have to order the sailor suit online.

It's not often I get to hang out with DD, so a good time was had by all. I hardly ever go to the mall because generally speaking I hate shopping. I mean I don't go just for the sake of going. I go when I need something.

Part of me had been wanting to people watch because I'm hip-deep in writing books and I really don't spend a lot of time out in the world. I see the same five people everyday and that's a very small sample group. :0) I got to do some over the 4th while down at the fireworks store, but then you get busy and you forget.

Are you a shopper? Do you like going to the mall?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Who's watching "The Ranch"?


It's a thirty-minute sitcom on Netflix starring Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Sam Elliott.

It's not for everyone, that's for sure, with its crude humor, but I gotta say, I laughed my way through the first season. The show, while still humorous, explored some more serious plot-lines through end of season one and into season two, so the laughs were fewer.

I've never paid much attention to Ashton Kutcher over the years, so I'm not terribly familiar with his body of work, but I like his boyish, dumb-jock charm and sweetness in this. He's not hard on the eyes either...


Anyone else seen this? Your thoughts?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Fourth of July


Happy Birthday America!!!



Sure, we have a lot of issues, but it's my country and I still love it.

Have a lovely and safe 4th of July filled with family friends fun food and fireworks.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Do you listen to the radio?


I don't very often and I've been reminded why-- And it's not the commercials!

Since we bought the new car and I have Bluetooth capability and can easily and automatically listen to my random playlists, I generally don't listen to the radio. I mean, why would I?

But I cleaned up my phone and was having difficulty getting my music on my phone via iTunes, so I left the issue for another day and selected the oldies station for my ride to work the other day.

And then I remembered why listening to the radio at least during the standard commute times is so frustrating...

Because there isn't that much music being played. There are morning shows and traffic reports and, of course, commercials.

I don't need traffic reports because I live ten minutes from the house and take back roads all the way.

The morning shows are filled with ridiculous prattle about TV shows I don't watch and inane chatter about things I don't care about.

Commercials...well, we all probably all feel similarly about them. 

Only the classical station really plays music all the time, with breaks for weather and traffic, of course, but it's not overwhelming, and I do like classical music.

Do you listen to the radio? What's your genre/station type of preference?



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It's not a race, it's not a race, it's not a race...and yet it is.


Wait. What?

Getting published is not a race. There's plenty of room out there for books. There are plenty of readers out there who will enjoy my books. I'm not competing against anyone here.

My journey is not a race. I get to decide "where" I want to go, what I "see" on the way, and what "route" I take to get there.


Over the last ten years or so--since I've been a member of Romance Writers of America--I've heard and read and listened to most of what the organization and its members have shared about writing and publishing in the romance genre. Granted, most of it has probably been more osmosis than anything, but if you hear something enough times, it sticks even if you're not an active listener.

As the years have passed and I sort of drifted (okay, not drifted--I served my chapter every year but one) along in my local chapter, learning and watching as my fellow chapter mates followed their own paths and published one by one, some to big six publishers, some becoming indie authors...

There are few people in my chapter not published, and those that aren't have been part of the group for a much shorter period of time. At this point, I think there are only two people who've been a member longer than I. My journey, my timetable. But I digress.

...I gleaned from fellow authors' trials and tribulations, as well as their successes, what kind of journey I wanted to take. I've kept my expectations realistic.

I get to decide when and how this journey begins and mostly the path I take, but once I start the car and pull out of the driveway, what then? Then outside forces get a say in my journey. Weather, traffic, road construction...

In publishing, I've learned that momentum is everything. This is where the journey becomes a race. (to a degree.) A race against time and outside forces. I have a schedule now for getting the books published in terms of length of time between releases, but I have to make sure all the books in the series are written or can be written/edited/finalized by the time it's any given book's turn to be published.

And then I have to be ready with the second series at whatever interval I decide is appropriate and do-able. Sustainability is the key.

But the thing is...I haven't held down a full time job in a decade aside from wife and mother. I know that the writing muscle becomes leaner and stronger and more powerful as it's used, just like the muscles of our bodies. Writing is going to have to become at least a part time job at some point. More structured, more focused, more deliberate. Writing can no longer be done just when I feel like it and am in the mood.

One of the reasons I haven't started my publishing journey is because I got stuck, somewhere, somehow, on book six--think of me on a large roundabout, to continue the driving metaphor, going around in circles and not knowing where I am or what the correct exit is. I'm working on the book again now, trying to string ideas for scenes together that tell the story I had envisioned, but I lost a month and it was important to me that book six be as complete as possible before I started publishing.

I'd prefer if book seven was at least started as well, and I think it will be, because I've got characters and plot pretty well hashed out. Book eight has characters with backstory and the basis of a plot. Book nine (last one) is a shimmery notion, but that's okay. My brain can only process so much data. Or the gas tank can only hold a max amount of gas at one time and must be refilled periodically. (Am I maintaining my travel/journey metaphor still? Or have I run off the road???)

Once I finish this series, how much time do I need for the next one...? I have the series premise. I know how many characters/books there will be. I know the basics of a couple of plot lines.

So it's become a race to do this in a timely fashion to get the best start and the proper momentum to keep the income stream primed and flowing for months and years to come.

 I guess I need to keep training.

Have a great rest of the week.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Advice from a tree...


Saw this on Facebook and thought I'd share here... I think I only have one or two cross-overs. :0)


Here's to a great week.
Friday, June 23, 2017

And next season's hockey schedules are out!!


I've been waiting and waiting for the NHL to release the game schedules for the upcoming season and they're finally available!

The reason I am so excited to see the schedule is because I'm going to Denver in October and I wanted to catch a hockey game while I'm there and now I know I can.

If the conference had been a week earlier or I wanted the expense of staying two more days, I could have seen the Stars. I admit I was hoping for those "stars" to align, but it's not like I'm not going to have plenty of chances to see the Stars play this season.

The match-up will be the Colorado Avalanche (obviously) versus the St. Louis Blues.



Now to find some people to go with. My roomie's not interested in hockey, so to find some fellow conference attendees who are. *fingers crossed*

Have a great weekend!!!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why the heck does it take so long for a package to arrive...?


On June 2, I ordered yet another Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt. I received an email on June 10th that it had been shipped with an estimated arrival date of June 13th. I originally thought the 12th, but I might have mis-read the email hoping for a gift actually on my birthday. :0)

I finally received my t-shirt on Monday June 19th--seventeen days after I ordered it, six days after it was originally supposed to have arrived.

(I just got the shirt, not the mug.)


Why????

No reason that I can understand except I realize it's a low priority package. I get that. Had they charged me TWO more measly dollars, they could have put it in a priority mail envelope at a US post office and I could have gotten it in about three days. How happy of a camper would I have been???

Instead, the company I bought the t-shirt from is using some sort of combination of shipping--USPS and DHL--I imagine to get much cheaper rates. I've experienced that before on something else I bought, but packages then take a meandering route to where they're supposed to go.

If they'd correctly identified the day of delivery, I wouldn't be quite as upset, but when my package sits twenty miles down the road for three days for no apparent reason, I have a problem. It's seriously ridiculous that a package coming from Denver took nine days to be delivered.

I get making a profit on the item, but charge appropriate shipping and get a product into the hands of the consumer even if all the shipping funds are used up. I doubt I will ever order something from this company again.

Has anyone had similar frustrations?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Christmas in June...


My BIL & SIL gave me a really neat waterfall aquarium for Christmas last year... It's taken me a while to get it setup, but I finally did. No fish as of yet, but the bowl is setup and the filter is running. I'm gonna let it run for the week, let the water adjust to the house temperature, and probably get my new fishies next weekend.




Here's to a lovely week.


Friday, June 16, 2017

TGIF


Yeah...I wanted to post something interesting and thoughtful, but it just wasn't happening, so have some eye candy...









Have a great weekend!


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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