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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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Monday, February 27, 2017

Now comes the fun part...


I'm being completely facetious...

In thinking like a publisher, I have to set publication dates and then make sure I hit all the deadlines leading up to being able to hit the "publish" button.

What that means is that I have to know how long it takes to get things done. Most things, I'll do myself, but there are things, namely cover art and content/copy editing that I'll hire people to do. I'm not worried about cover art. I have enough leads on cover artists, that that's not an issue.

But...content/copy editing is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. While my editor always tells me my manuscripts are clean as far as spelling, grammar, and punctuation goes, and I feel that I could get away with not hiring that out, I do rely on her for the content editing portion. At this point, I don't feel like I'm ready to forgo having someone read for missing plot threads or confusing plot points or what have you.

So I need to know how far in advance of my target publication date I need to get my books to her--which in turn will drive how far in advance I need to revise them, write them, plot and plan them.

While this isn't not fun, it's a bit daunting...and crazy. I mean, I know enough authors published by Harlequin. I know that for whatever book they're currently writing and turning in to their editors, it's a year to eighteen months to two years before that book shows up on the bookshelves.

And now that publisher is me and until I get into a rhythm and figure out how long it takes me to write a book from planning to completion, I may be in for either a lot of late nights or early mornings of writing to meet shorter deadlines or longer deadlines which means longer wait times between books. That's not always plus in the romance novel industry. Not unless you're Nora. :)

I've asked my editor how far in advance she thinks she needs a book, so we'll see what she says. I have a feeling that, right now, I'm slightly behind the time curve, but...since book five is already written and I'm working on revisions now, and my brain has just about enough information to start writing book six, I think I'll be able to publish on schedule.

In other "think like a publisher" news, I filed my assumed name last Friday. I'll reveal my publisher name later this week.

Hope you had a super weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2017

So who'd have thunk...


...that at any point in my life, especially my mom, I'd love raw onions? Only red ones, to be honest, but I eat them almost every day on anything that seems logical to put them on.

Other things that surprise even me...

Me running around in shorts in 58* weather at five o'clock in the morning on a day late in February. Yeah, I still get cold a lot, despite the change creeping up on me, but I think all my exercising and consistent snacking have raised my metabolism and my body temperature, so sometimes it takes a little longer to get cold. Weird. Me running around in shorts, not the why/how...

How about me just going to the gym in general? Not such a stretch, maybe, but at the butt crack of dawn??

Jen launching a publishing company/writing career at the age of forty-eight almost forty-nine years old? Not me for sure. But here I am.

It's been an adventure, that's for sure. But so far so good...I'm having fun, and I guess life should be fun at this stage of the game.

So Happy Friday, y'all.






Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bye Bye Carbohydrates...


It's been coming. I've know it and have been resisting for a while now, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE my carbs.

I have pretzels and tortillas pretty much every day as part of my regimented meal plan. Oftentimes I have pretzels as a snack before bed too. Any carbs I get from veggies or beans or what have you are bonus. And I don't mean that in a good way. Well, the stuff in veggie and beans are the good carbs, pretzels and tortillas are refined carbs...

So I've Google-searched "losing belly fat" because that's pretty much all I've got left aside from general toning. Each site I visited prescribed six to twelve things to help get rid of the nasty stuff.

I felt a bit discouraged because I've done quite a few of them...

...stop consuming non-natural sugars, especially soda (gave those up years ago)
...exercise (well I've been talking about my trips to the gym since August, so, yeah)
...eat more protein (eggs, cheese, tuna everyday; fish and chicken with green veggies mostly for dinner
...eat more fiber (see green veggies with dinner, but I've been thinking about daily salads)
...keep a regular sleep schedule even on weekends (I can't sleep in to save my life)
...reduce stress (only so much I can do, but I do what I can)
...a spoonful of apple cider vinegar a day (I have some at home, the good stuff with the "mother" even, so starting that tomorrow...)

So what's left...?

You guessed it--reduce refined carb intake. >>SOB<<

I've replaced the tortillas with some sort of wrap with half the calories. Not total elimination, but it's a start--I need some bulk to make me full. I'll also start having one of my daily tuna wraps in some sort of leafy green veggie, this week it's green leaf lettuce, but I like romaine and kale too. Red cabbage, maybe, we'll see how it goes.

DH also suggested a before-bed snack of beef jerky because the body has to work hard to break it down so it provides the right kind of energy overnight.

I've added yoga to my repertoire on days I don't go to the gym. I find that I have less energy those days too, plus it's good to alternate workouts--keep the body guessing, which is probably also contributing to this plateau.

Any other helpful hints??

Monday, February 20, 2017

What's next on the agenda...?


Many, many things, to be honest...

Sometime this week, I'll finally be able to get down to the courthouse and file my assumed name. I'm super excited about that. And once I have that, I can create my accounts with the various e-book distributors around the Internet. I'll be two steps closer to publication. :)

In my research of various things, namely pricing and book covers, I've come to suspect I might be  carving out my own little niche. From the look of a cover, you can generally tell a few things about the book; tone, feel, and genre or sub-genre being the relevant ones for this point. Like I said, this isn't empirical research. It's merely an observation from looking at a lot of book covers (had to see them when researching pricing too).

This series I've been working on doesn't appear to be much like anything else that's out there right now. A few are similar, I think. But, of course, no one's going to write exactly like me, so I've got that. I'm looking forward to seeing if those who are wishing for books like mine actually find them. I think the offerings in this sub-genre seem fairly small (compared to other romance sub-genres) since  I saw the same books from retailer to retailer with not a lot of pages of offerings. I have a feeling a new author on the scene is going to be noticeable/findable in a short amount of time. *fingers crossed*

I also heard from a fellow chapter mate that she'd heard of my cover designer and thought her work really good. Just the fact that someone else had heard of her was nice. I mean, I think she does nice work, but it's nice to know others have heard of her and agree.

Well, time to get the week started...see you Wednesday. :0)




Friday, February 17, 2017

TGIF My Friends...


I hope your week has been a good one. Mine has been pretty productive. I have no complaints. That being said, I'm glad it's Friday. Tomorrow is writers group day and I'm looking forward to spending a day with my peeps.

On a completely unrelated topic, let's celebrate today being Friday by talking about HOCKEY! Specifically, the greatest hockey player in the world right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins own Sidney Crosby. Last night, Sid scored his 1000th career point. That's what they celebrate in hockey--points. Players earn points by scoring goals or by assisting others in scoring goals.

A couple of pics...
Sid acknowledging the fans after he assisted a
teammate with a goal to earn that 1000th point.

 Sid with the puck that went in...

And that's it folks. Have a super weekend. See you Monday.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

And yet more research...


I've done yet more reading on how to write a business plan. The different kinds, what the different sections are, what should be included, how to write them. Mini- or micro-plans, internal plans, presentational plans...

The key is determining the sections that are going to be most helpful to me going forward. And what sections I don't need or, honestly, have no desire to figure out how to accomplish. :)

But I'm gathering the information section by section so that at some point I can compile it all into a single complete document.

I also researched front matter--you know all that info in the first several pages of a book? So I looked at books from seven different publishers. Several big dogs--Harlequin, Montlake, Carina Press. A couple of respected/reputable mid-sized epublishers. And one small epub.


I want my imprint to look as professional as possible, so I'll compare the lists and create a checklist of my own. Then I'll go grab the standard verbiage for things like copyright notices, trademark acknowledgements, the "this is a work of fiction" disclaimer, etc.

This is turning into a much more involved endeavor than I imagined, but it's nothing too complicated or overwhelming to tackle. At least not yet...

The production and distributions aspects are yet to be experienced...


Monday, February 13, 2017

Congratulations to me!


WOO HOO! The last I has been dotted and the final T has been crossed in book four (formerly three). That's not to say there might not be editorial-related changes later, after the editor has a look at it, but I'm finally pleased with the story I wanted to tell.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:The_end_of_Wikipedia)


I was tempted to not finish my last read-through, but I'm so glad I did. I fleshed a few things out and fixed some things at the end I hadn't realized weren't up to snuff. At the end of the day, I also added about 800 words. It's my longest book to date and I'm not even sure how that happened.

Now it's "resting." I'm taking a break from it for two weeks to get some distance and then I'll do another read-through before scheduling a date with my content/copy editor.

In the meantime, book five is now on my plate. It's written, but needs revisions. Maybe not as many as I thought, based on what I read yesterday. We'll see how it goes. I do have two other projects, one (very) short story and book six to write.

In my quest to start up this little publishing company of mine, a new but oh-so-important aspect of being a business owner has come up in my reading/research--bookkeeping. Yep. This endeavor isn't going to have to cover set costs yet (office space, electricity, Internet, etc.), but I do want it to eventually pay for the book covers and editing, as well as the things I stipulated in my business plan.

Anyway, I researched bookkeeping for small business and found some easy-to-fill out Excel spreadsheet templates. Income and outgo are going to be minimal for a while, income=owner investment, outgo=book cover and editing expenses, and they won't happen on a predictable schedule either, so I think even a plain old ledger would serve me fine. But I found a spreadsheet template with a whole bunch of formulas already built in. All I have to do is key amounts into the appropriate cells and the spreadsheet will do all the hard work. YAY!

A dear friend reminded me that sometimes we need a break from all the noise in our head. Something not writing- and not business-related. We need to feed our souls as well as our muses. So I celebrated finishing the book on Saturday with a lot of hockey watching and some cross stitching. And it was lovely. Almost done with my sampler and the Dallas Stars won--YAY. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets lost--HUH?? (None of these teams played each other.)

Hope you had as lovely a weekend as I did. :0)

Friday, February 10, 2017

I've been interviewed...


Yup. I've had my thirty minutes of fame.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman who has a segment on an online radio network. She interviews a lot of authors of various genres and somewhere along her travels through the Internet, she came across my author services website. She contacted me and we set it up and it happened last night and is now up the network website for all the world (ha ha) to hear.

Here it is if you're so inclined: http://www.speakuptalkradio.com/jen-fitzgerald-speaks-up/ (It's thirty minutes long.) For those of you who don't know me, you can hear what I sound like and there's a fairly recent picture on my interview page so you can see what I look like these days. My hair is a bit shorter now than it is in the picture and I'm a few pounds lighter, but that's it.

I've never been interviewed before and it was a little nerve wracking at first, but Pat was easy to talk to and the interview was recorded in advance so any major bloops could be edited out. I'm hoping to a few author services jobs result, but if not, that's fine too.

One thing I need to work on is all those "uh"s and "um"s, but most of us probably suffer from that same affliction, so I'm not sweating it too much. If you listen, let me know what you thought. :)

And happy Friday--hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Back to the Business Plan...


Okay, so...more reading and light research in the last couple of days and I came across some blogs and articles that say all business plans are not created equal. What ho??

For someone like me who's a one-woman shop and not planning on needing investors or to go to the bank for a loan, I don't necessarily need the traditional business plan. Oh, thank goodness, 'cause really, why???

There are some modified--simplified--plans for entrepreneurs like me who just need some basic direction and areas to focus on to get started. I dutifully answered all the questions on the form that spoke to me and they were helpful.

I'm still planning a more formal business plan with the vision, mission, and goals portions because I think those are important, even for me. As I said Monday, those things will help me make decisions later on down the line--will my decisions support and move me toward or away from my defined purpose?

Knowing what those are and keeping them in sight somewhere in my office will be helpful I think.

Now that I don't feel like I *have* to have some twenty page document full of research and revenue projections, I'm breathing a bit easier. My vision, mission, and goals are modest, but if I do someday need to approach the bank, I can certainly upgrade my plan and, by that time, I'll probably have some sales figures behind me to use.

Still some work ahead of me, but it's no longer as daunting or scary a task. :)



Monday, February 6, 2017

A Woman of Many Hats...


I spent some time yesterday contemplating the new hat I'm wearing...or planning on wearing. That of publisher. No, I'm not planning on becoming the next Avon Books or Bantam Dell or anything. I'm not going to be publishing other author's books, only my own, but creating a personal publishing company will open some doors that an indie publisher on his or her own cannot enter (at this point in time).

Being a published author as well as a publisher are both business endeavors, therefore I researched writing plans and business plans. I have to write books if I want to publish books, hence the writing plan. Publishing books is a business, hence the business plan. Even if I never need to approach investors or a bank for money, a business plan will be a useful tool in helping me make the best decisions in order to reach whatever vision, mission, and goals I establish for my little feifdom.

I found several different websites dedicated to writing plans and a slew of them dedicated to business plans. Now to read and compare and decide what the best way to go about creating these plans are.

Part of me feels a bit anxious that I'm behind the eight ball even though I know I'm not, and I don't want to rush and make mistakes--although I've learned that rarely are these kinds of mistakes fatal. I'm not a brain surgeon. I'm an author, writing books I want to read and putting them into the world for others to find and enjoy. I can make mistakes and then make corrections as needed.

DH is part of this advertising and promotion group specifically for IT companies and MSPs (managed service providers), and the head of the group says just to do it--whatever "it" might be at the time. Take a website for example--all it needs to do is serve its purpose. It doesn't need to be pretty, it needs to get the job done. You can go back later and give it a face lift when you have the time or the money.

The author/publisher who's put all these crazy ideas in my head says the same. So...while there's no rush, I guess I shouldn't worry overmuch about getting it wrong either. I can revisit and adjust--which I think businesses do on a regular basis anyway as time passes and things change.

My anxiety stems more from getting the four, five, six books ready to publish in June, July, and September and juggling all the tasks involved in that. I've decided to put the cart before the horse a bit and set my deadline for the business plan for December of this year...if I get it done sooner, great. If not, then I haven't busted any of my goals.

The publishing company however will be official in the next month or so...lots to do to get ready for the big release day. I've got the plan for that started. Just need to add some target dates for the various milestones and I'll be all set.

So...what'd you do this weekend??


Friday, February 3, 2017

Panhandling...and being kind and generous


We have plenty of panhandlers in my neck of the woods. I'm sure the same could be said of yours... In fact, I gave money to a guy Wednesday morning on my way home from the gym... Some of them get started early.

A few months ago, some friends and I had a (brief) discussion about panhandlers. I'm sure we can all agree that folks living on the street is a deplorable state of society. I know that some folks choose the lifestyle, but many don't and it's an awful thing. I wish I had a solution, especially for this country's veterans.

My point though, is not the hows or whys of someone who begs for money on a street corner, but my reaction to them....

I firmly believe that there are angels among us, and that some of those angels could be these panhandlers. It's not up to me to judge whether they are seriously so down on their luck that they're reduced to begging or whether it's their chosen profession. It's my job to open my heart and my wallet, if I have some cash to spare. And I always try to have some to spare. I cheerfully hand over four or five bucks and make someone's day. Yes, really. I give that much, because if they really need a meal, fifty cents or a dollar isn't going to get them far. I like to fund an inexpensive meal at a local fast food joint. Now if they're smart, maybe they'd go to the grocery store and get more bang for the few bucks I gave them, but that's on them.

What's on me is being as generous as I can even when I'm struggling. I still have a roof over my head head and regular meals and a car to drive.

Have a great weekend.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Adding to the 2017 List


We're a month into 2017 and things are going well, but I've come up with a couple more items to add to the list...

1) call my moms every month or so--I had this one last year and did okay for awhile, but then I slacked off. One of my moms pointed ought that I ought to put it back on the list, so here it is.

2) write to my grandmother every six weeks or so--this has been on the list before too, and I'm actually still keeping up with that. Mostly. I'm a week, maybe two behind, so gotta get this one done this week.

I thought there was another one, but if so, I can't remember at the moment.

These two bring the list up to eight.

Happy hump day!!

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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