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2016 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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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!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three-Peat??


The Pittsburgh Penguins won back to back Stanley Cups. The Stanley Cup is probably the hardest trophy in sports to win. Doing it two years in a row is feat that hasn't happened in nineteen years for various reasons, but mostly because hockey is a very fast and very physical sport. Hockey hits are generally speaking, 17% harder than football hits. As a result of being hit, a player may end up in the boards (the sides of the rink) or hitting the ice. Whether that's factored into that "17% harder"I don't know, but regardless... And I digress.

This year the Penguins overcame injury after injury of player after player, bringing in guys from the lower leagues to fill in. They brought in rookies who showed up and played big games.

This morning I watched the Penguins parade through downtown Pittsburgh, and what an event!!

Can they go for three in a row? Why can't they? But we'll see, won't we?

Some screen grabs of the parade, because why not? I can!

The owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins--without these guys there would be no Penguins.
Ronald Burkle on the left, Mario Lemieux on the right.
Mario won back to back Cups for the Pens in '91 & '92
(before he was an owner).

Marc-Andre Fleury (left) and Matt Murray (right)--the goal-tending duo of the decade.
Fleury was drafted by the Pens back in 2003. Murray was also drafted by the Pens in 2012.

Some of then Pens on stage at the end of the presentation after the parade. Holding the Cup is the best forward duo in the NHL, #87 Sidney Crosby, considered by most to be the greatest player in the world, and #71 Evgeni Malkin.

I hope that someday soon, the Dallas Stars will win the Cup. I look forward to celebrating a little more up close at that point and in person and attending their parade. *fingers crossed*

And if the Stars don't make it next year, I'll be rooting for the Penguins for sure.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happy Birthday to ME!!



What would I like for my birthday...?

Well, a visit with my son would top the list, but that's not feasible at the moment.

To be a successful self-supporting author. I'll do what I can do...learn my craft, learn my business, and put decent books out into the world. The rest is up to fate.

And maybe a nice dinner out with DH and DD. I think that, at least, can be arranged. :0)

One thing I did get...the Pittsburgh Penguins winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. What a treat to watch and learn about about this team this past couple of months.


Have a great week!!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Anyone else watching Chicago Fire?





DH and I decided to give it a try. We're only a couple of episodes in, but so far, so good.

There's an interesting cast of characters, and few things are more compelling than real life heroes.

Anyone else watching? You like? Don't like?

Have a great weekend...!
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A time for my first REAL vacation!!!


Royal Caribbean ship Liberty of the Seas 
(By Stephen & Katherine - Flickr: DSCF1152, CC BY 2.0
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21892394)


Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to me!! So, yeah...I'm going on my very first cruise with all of DH's family on a 7-day cruise to the Western Caribbean. Wow! Even DD has been on cruise. Sonshine's on a cruise on steroids right now. Not sure about my Brown-Eyed Girl.

Nope, I've never been on a cruise. I'm definitely excited, but I'm also a little nervous to be away from home for that long. House, dog, business... I know it'll be fine, but still.

Have you ever been on a cruise? Any suggestions, tips, advice?


Monday, June 5, 2017

To publish this year or not to publish this year....?


Benedict Cumberbatch doing the To be or not to be speech...


That's the big question...

I've been told that October/November/December is a good time to publish, but I'm no closer to a final decision at this point. I want to publish. I do. That lure of an income stream no matter how small is pretty strong, but I also know that if I can't stick with the schedule, I'll lose momentum, and it'd just be better if I can avoid that.

My options at this point are next June to coincide with and/or start off my 50th birthday/50th year with a bang, January of 2018, or Oct/Nov/Dec of this year if I can get my act together on the last three books.

The problem is Book Six is still a big muddled mess in my brain. But I am getting help with that, so fingers crossed. Also, I plotted out one of the remaining books--which may get bumped up to "six" status, depending on how it goes--so that's encouraging. I worked on one of the other books as well, but didn't make quite as much progress. Which is fine. I just gotta keep plugging away.

The other thing that was niggling at me was lack of ideas that really excite me for the next series. I have a few written down, but I've felt kind of meh about them. And then one came to me and I was instantly stoked about it and several ideas sparked right away. So that's the one. :0) The plan is another nine books. And, unlike my current series, it's gonna have some advance planning--way advance, since it won't start until the first series is complete. It'll take approximately seven months to publish a nine-book series on the schedule I've outlined, so yeah...

That gets me into 2019. I guess I don't have to worry about the next series for awhile.

Any words of advice?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Happy Birthday Momma


Hope you have a super day!!!




In other news, saying so long...

Sonshine's ship left on deployment yesterday. He won't be just a plane-ride away for the next six to nine months.



So long, Sonshine--fair winds and following seas to you and the entire strike group.

(Ships of the Nimitz carrier strike group steam together during training in March, 2017.
Photo: US Navy)



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Red White and Blue FOR THE WIN


I love this time of year for many reasons. I like the warming weather. May is Mother's Day, June is my birthday, July is America's birthday.

And because of Memorial Day and Independence Day, the stores are filled with temptation in the form of all kinds of themed household goods. From kitchen ware to beach towels to fairy lights, yard signs, flags, bunting, and flowers. It's a patriot's dream.

Look at all the stuff!!!



One thing I couldn't resist...!


And this might just end up in my cart next week, because, well...you know!!


Stay tuned for more evidence of my red/white/blue fetish--um--I mean weakness. :0)


Monday, May 29, 2017

Celebrate, Honor, Remember...





Friday, May 26, 2017

The Pittsburgh Penguins are the Eastern Conference champs once again...


The Penguins celebrate their 2OT victory over the Ottawa Senators...


For the first time since 2009, an NHL team has returned to the Stanley Cup finals for a second year in a row. In fact, in 2009, both teams were repeat finalists. The Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins played each other both in 2008 and 2009. The Red Wings won the Cup in 2008, the Penguins in 2009.

Now that The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the second year in a row once again, they're trying for back-to-back wins. The last time that happened was in 1997 and 1998 by none other than...the Detroit Red Wings!

As a side note, for the first time in twenty-five years, the Red Wings did not even make into the playoffs this year. That's kinda sad.

My second favorite player, Justin Schultz, got a goal and an assist in his first game back after missing several games with a shoulder injury... Now I really need that shirt I ordered. :0)


The Stanley Cup Final starts Monday night. Can't wait...


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Decisions, Decisions...


A couple of weeks ago, I shared that I was rethinking the timing of publishing my books. It's been on my mind since then, and I'd pretty much come to the conclusion that it would be August or September before I sent my books out into the world.

But this weekend I spent some time talking to an author friend of mine. An author friend whom I consider very successful in terms of the income she's making, which is three times my monthly goal...!! I asked a few questions and got her talking and she was off to the races. She told me the secrets to her success, and while our genres are different, I think everything she said applies to mine.

She also got me to thinking about the timing and intervals of publishing each book...and I'm wondering if I shouldn't have all nine books written, if not completely ready for publication. (I've pretty much decided my first series is going to be nine books.) If I decide to do that, then I probably can't begin the publication process in September. She suggested October or November...but I still don't think I'd be able to get all my ducks in a row by then...

(My rubber duck collection...)

So now the notion of waiting until next June is now under serious consideration. That's a year to get those other four books plotted and written. I still don't really want to wait that long, but that wait might mean the difference of thousands of dollars. And I've waited this long, right?

So, in between writing and revising, the day job, my side job, and just generally living life, I've got to determine what the best path for me is.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Annual JAG weekend...


It was JAG weekend again--the one weekend each year when a group of women brought together by the love of a TV show (JAG 1995-2005) gather and enjoy a weekend away from home and family.

Two ladies came from out of state (Michigan and Tennessee), several from south Texas, and the rest of us in or around the DFW Metroplex.

Here's this year's group photo:

What a great weekend of food, fun, and conversation... Not as much drinking occurs these days as did in previous years as we're all getting just a little bit older. :0)

But a grand time was had by one and all. I love these ladies.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Mike Rowe, at last...


My sole reason for tagging along to Nashville was to see Mike Rowe--narrator of Deadliest Catch and host of Dirty Jobs and Somebody's Gotta Do It, as well as executor of the mikerowe Works Foundation. He has a deep love for our country and it seems as though he's the only one with a realistic view of the work force situation playing out in America.

His foundation offers scholarships for trade schools and training and apprentice programs in fields like plumbing, welding, electrical, etc. There's a huge skills gap in our country and he's single-handedly trying to fill it. I try to help out by sharing stories from his Facebook page.

His presentation was everything I'd hoped it be, and he looks and sounds just like he does everywhere else. I will never *not* know his voice until the day I die. I was able to get my picture taken with him although, sadly, he had limited time which meant no chance to chat with each of the one thousand people who wanted a picture with him. It was get pushed to his side, smile at the camera, and scurry off. (But I was 4th in line. :0) I was not missing that opportunity!)

The story goes that in order to apply for your Screen Actors Guild card, you have to have an acting job, but in order to get hired for acting jobs, you have to have a Screen Actors Guild card. You can see the problem. There are a few exceptions and way back in the day, Mike Rowe found a gig that would qualify him to get the card, but didn't require one to get hired: bit player in an opera.

There are clips on YouTube, but after the Q & A with Mike at the conference, the MC asked Mike if he'd be willing to sing a little opera. And he agreed! I was so thrilled. So anyway, it's hard to see him well, but the audio is all right--I was right next to a speaker.


And have a great weekend!!!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

America the Beautiful...


The trip to Nashville is mostly a pretty one. Driving through the big cities, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville are interesting, but the open highways in between always speak to me.

I find all terrains beautiful--mountains, beaches, even deserts, but open prairies and farmed fields are my favorite. I love the grand sweep of land, especially in spring and summer when things are green and actively growing. When the sun shines brightly and the sky is so blue it hurts to look at.



I love to see homes, from single-wide trailers and small bungalows to traditional farmhouses and sprawling ranch houses, set off the highways and nestled in a copse of protective trees. I like to see pickup truck and mini-vans parked in gravel driveways. I like to spot dogs and cats in swing-setted yards. I like to see cows in the fields.

The other thing that really struck me this time as I navigated my way across the south-eastern U.S. is that our highways, biways, spurs, and farm-to-market roads are the arteries of our great nation. (It has a lot of issues, but in the grand scheme of things, I still think it's pretty great.) I shared the road with a ton of big rigs on the way east. For several hours, it was pretty much truck after truck after truck after truck after truck.


I've heard it said that the trucking industry is the backbone of our nation. And while I get the metaphor, I think a better one is that the trucking industry is our nation's blood cells. The roads, from nation-traversing super highways to that small two-lane highway through Small Town America, are the arteries and the trucks are the blood cells delivering the gamut of goods from food to clothing and mail to gasoline to even the most rural small town. Most of them, anyway. My mother-in-law lives in a small Texas town, population approximately 200. I think all it gets is mail. There's another small town, though a bit larger in scope, about ten miles up the road that has gas stations and convenience stores. According to Google Maps, it also sports a bar, a couple of repair shops, and a restaurant.

Yeah, so the open road got me a bit thinky...

Hope you're well on this gorgeous Wednesday.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reassessment...


My publishing journey is just that...mine. I've been of a mindset to publish the first three or four books in June as a sort of birthday present to myself. Disappointingly, I don't think that's going to happen.

Two things are at play and both are a subset of my friend and yours: TIME.

First--

If I want to publish my books on or around my birthday, I have five weeks from last Friday to ensure books one, two, and three are ready to go. That includes all final revisions based on comments from my editor, as well as having all file formats ready to upload, and having my website capable of processing payments. Those are just off the top of my head. There are probably a few more things I could come up with.

Twenty-eight days after that, all that same stuff for book four needs to be in place and same for book five twenty-eight days after that.

I'm struggling to get book six written (that plot issue I mentioned last Wednesday) so that it can go to the editor at the end of June.

The best recipe for success with indie publishing is to be able to publish something new every twenty-eight days for five or six months. I don't have enough "stock" yet. I'm in a better position than a lot of debut authors, especially ones that aren't part of any sort of writers group and don't get the benefit of learning from others paving the way. I could go forth with what I have and everything would work out fine. I know this. I'd still need to postpone at least a month though.

But I just don't feel like I'd be starting out on as firm a foot as I would like.

Second--

If I worked eight hour days just at this writing/publishing gig, I could probably get everything done and ready. But I can't work eight hour days just at this writing/publishing gig. I have a day job and a life. There might be a trip to Seattle in my near future before Sonshine's ship deploys for real. Fireworks season is also around the corner. Two of them actually--the State of Texas has added several and one of them falls over Memorial Day.

Plus if I want to work on my plotting skills, I need to read books or take workshops, and that requires time too.

I've also mentioned how I don't want to be a slave to the writing either. I know other writers who, it seems, are always chained to a deadline and a keyboard. They're grumpy and tired and have little fun.

Since it is my journey, I get to decide when to pull the trigger. I thought of waiting a whole 'nother year and doing it to celebrate my FIFTIETH birthday. I don't necessarily want to wait that long, but it's not off the table.

Seems like I have some serious thinking to do and some important decisions to make.

I'll keep you posted.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hockey time takes about three times as long as regular time...


First off... CONGRATS to the Pittsburgh PENGUINS.

(image courtesy the Pittsburgh Penguins)


As of Wednesday night, they made it to the Eastern Conference Final-- There's a Western Conference Final too, and the winners of each play each other for penultimate hockey award: the Stanley Cup.

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

So this last series the Pens played against the Washington Capitals was a tough one and it took all seven games to result in a winner. (All playoff rounds are best of seven.)

During the regular season, I watched only Stars games. They didn't do so great and every game was a nail biter, hoping one of two things would occur: they could hold onto the lead they had or they could rally enough in the time left in the game and win it.

Since the Stars didn't make it to the playoffs and my second and third favorite teams did, I've continued to watch hockey. In the first round, said second and third favorite teams played one another, so it didn't matter much who won. I did have a preference, but it wasn't that big of a deal. Watching the games wasn't stressful. It was just fun to watch.

Once the Pens won that series and took on the Washington Capitals...well...it was a whole new ball game and every minute of play seemed to take three times as long. The last half of every third period felt like half an hour instead of ten minutes. This time for similar reasons to Stars games.

These two teams are long-time rivals. Last year, the Pens beat the Caps in the second round in six games. This year, the Capitals wanted redemption, the Penguins want a repeat.

I know that one minute takes sixty seconds, one hour takes sixty minutes and so one, no matter what's going on in life or on TV. It's just interesting how it seems to bend depending on what's going on...

Time expands when (maybe) you're watching an important game of some random sport. Alternately, time contacts when you're spending time with a cherished guest or family member. Like when Sonshine comes home on leave. His ten days go by in a flash.

Is there a point to this post? Maybe to cherish every moment, because you can't get back time.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Anti-Motivation...?


As mentioned on Monday, I went to Nashville last week. In addition to MIKE ROWE, I heard a guy named Larry Winget speak. He's marketed himself as "the pitbull of personal development" and "the world's only irritational speaker." He was funny and personable, but most importantly he was real and realistic. (Much like Mike Rowe...)

In fact, he poked a little of fun at some of those other inspirational messages. He points out that some of them don't even make any sense. For example...

1) You can be successful if you give 110%.

-->Larry says you can only give 100%. That's all there is.

2) If you can think it, if you can say it, you can achieve it.

-->Larry says he'd be Halle Berry, if that really worked.

3) You can be anything you want to be.

-->Larry says short, overweight people will never be runway models or ballerinas. Just. Ain't. Happening.

And so on.

What he does say is that honesty, integrity, and just plain old hard work will get you so much farther than just believing in feel-good claptrap. (That's my paraphrasing, he didn't put it quite that way.)

Everyone wants to believe they can get something for nothing. Everyone tries to get more for less. Even me. Probably even you.

But if you want to be successful at whatever you're trying to do, you have do it right/be good at it, be nice, and keep your word. Easy to say, easy to aspire to. Not always easy to pull off. C'mon, let's face it, we're all human.

And even though he was speaking to a roomful of IT guys, his point was applicable to everyone. Even me as an author.

Now I can't be as good a writer as Shakespeare or Hemingway. Patterson or Brown. ROWLING. Roberts or Steele. But I can strive to be the best writer I can be.

There's always something to learn and I'm still trying to get a grasp on plot. Some plots come easy, some don't, so for the foreseeable future, I've got to figure out how to consistently cobble out a decent plot.

So...the point of this post? I don't even know, other than if you get a chance to listen to Larry (check YouTube maybe?), you should.

And try to be a better, nicer person. Me, I mean. I need to work on that.

Hope you're having a great week!!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

And speaking of music...


I traveled to MUSIC CITY last week-aka Nashville, Tennessee-with DH. Which was why there was no post on Friday.

And the reason I went to Nashville was to see... MIKE ROWE!! You may be familiar with him strictly by name or you may know him by his voice. He's been narrating Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" for twelve years now. He's also been host of "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It."

So not only did I get to see and hear Mike Rowe in person, I got to hear Mike Rowe sing opera, and I got to take my picture with him!! Sadly there were a lot of people and limited time and I didn't actually get to chat with him during the picture session except to say "Thank You" for so much more than his talk earlier in the day.

I'll share pictures and opera and some of the meat and potatoes of what he said later...for now, have some random pictures of my visit.


About 2.5 hours into the drive, my car asked me if I wanted to take a rest. I really did, but kept driving for another hour before stopping for gas. :)

This is obviously the AT&T Building...I however call it the Batman Building. It made me laugh during my first trip to Nashville in 2013, and it made me laugh again.

Being the hockey nerd I've become, I wanted to see the Nashville Predators' arena up close and personal, so a trip to the fan shop was in order.

While Bridgestone Arena was just up the street from the hotel where DH's conference (and Mike Rowe) was being held, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is attached at the backside to the hotel. And actually, the photo was taken from right outside the fan shop!

I didn't go through the museum this time, though I did the last time. I ducked into the gift shop to buy a little something for DD. Here are my pictures from the last time, if you're so inclined.

And last but not least, the Mississippi River as we crossed over on the way home, leaving Tennessee and entering Arkansas.


More from Nashville coming Wednesday and Friday and possibly even next Monday.

Have a great week.


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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