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2018 Goals

  • Regularly write to my Grandma in Denmark.
  • Call my moms monthly.
  • Walk the dog three times a week.
  • Cook and eat better.
  • Re-institute the cleaning plan.
  • Work on my writing career--such as it is.
  • Reduce body fat and maintain current weight.
  • Take dance lessons with DH.
  • Do more crafts!
  • Take ballet and/or ice skating lessons.
  • Attend more STARS games.


Blog Archive

Blog Archive

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Monday, March 19, 2018

This latest online class is kicking my butt...

So I moved on from one online class to another in my quest to figure out how to improve my plotting skills.

What I'm learning is that I am not a plotter. Which I sort of knew before. The few times I've actually, really plotted, I didn't have any desire to sit down and write the book because I knew what happened.

So I guess my real purpose in taking classes is to figure out what kind of information I need about my two main characters and possibly the plot in order to start writing.

Class #1 is called Conflict Hurts and the lessons made enough of an impact that this was the second time I took this class. I still like those lessons, though some were a challenge too. They echo a book I read the year before last which also resonated with me.

Class #2 is called Plotting Via Motivation. The lessons start off easily enough and the information we're required to gather about our protagonist/s is good stuff. It's when we got to the part where we needed to summarize the overall plot of the book that I started twitching. I know it's the 20K foot view, but it's not clicking with me. Generalized concepts make little sense to me. I learn much better with specifics. With examples. Sometimes. Even though I've read the other participants' homework, I'm still having trouble coming up with the point by point progression of my own book.


Bear in mind, than much of the info in these two classes and in the book I read is the same, just referred to by different names and explained in a different fashion.

I'll do my best for the rest of the class. Even though I really want to give and quit because it's too hard.

And, YES, I'd love some cheese, thanks. Swiss, sharp cheddar, or pepper jack, please.

On a lighter side note, the weekend was good. My writer's group celebrated it's 35th anniversary and a fun time was had by all. Now it's time to get back to my own work, except...I'm struggling.

But no way out but through.

Have a great week.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The clock starts ticking at 5PM...

Once I leave work, I feel like I'm on the clock--more than I do during the day at work.

By the time I get home, I have three hours to cook, eat, watch tv with DH if that's what we do, wash dishes, do whatever else I might want/need to get done, and be in bed to read for a while and turn out the lights by 8:30--all in order to get up early enough to go to the gym.

Any night I might want to watch a hockey game means staying up way past my bed time and throwing the following day off track.

I've been thinking about going to the gym in the evenings instead, for a couple of reasons...

1) to switch things up and surprise my body. I've been going to the gym really early for going on two years now. My body might like a change of pace.

2) I might like a change of pace.

3) I can watch/listen to hockey games at the gym.

4) I can sleep later and not have to get up when it's super cold--not really an issue until we cycle around till next winter, but it's a consideration.

5) Summer's coming and it's going to light out and just generally "day time" for longer and I might want to enjoy that.

I'll keep pondering this question for a bit...

Anyway, it's Friday, so the weekend is upon us. Have a great one!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

So...Netflix anyone...?

Apparently Netflix is celebrating twenty years of DVDs... Have DVDs really been around that long? Probably longer for Netflix to think a mail order service was a worthy business model, so...

We've subscribed to Netflix since 2005 and the first DVD we received was...

And, yeah, I think that was the first show the whole family gathered around the tv to watch together. We've watched all the older Star Trek series (all four of them), save the original, several times since then. There's a new series airing, but that's a rant for a different day.

Netflix streams via the Internet now and we no longer get DVDs, but I still really love having it as much as I ever did. It was especially handy during all those years we didn't have cable tv.

These days, Netflix also offers exclusive shows. I guess with all the other streaming services, they needed something to keep or gain subscribers.

Are you a  Netflix subscriber?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Doing the Friday Snoopy/happy dance...

So it's Friday. :0)

The weather is easing, so it looks like it's time to head back to the gym. Tomorrow. Yep. My body is also griping about the lack of enough physicality. Sure, I've been using the home treadmill, but it doesn't really compare to a workout at the gym.

Writers group contest is winding down, so YAY for that.

Writers group 35th anniversary is this month. Guess who's in charge of that? Yep. That'd be me. In celebration, our group put together a continuity of short stories. The free book can be downloaded from Smashwords. I do have to do a bit more shopping for prizes and decorations for the meeting, but nothing major.

In other exciting news, I finally sold a couple of hockey jersey patterns from my Etsy shop. That was quite exciting. I finished a new pattern and will be working on the stitching this weekend so that I can get a picture of the finished project and make the pattern available online next week. Actually, I finished three patterns that are all variations on a single theme. I'll get around to stitching the others once I'm done with the first one, but one is Christmas themed and the other is winter themed, so there's not a huge rush, right now.

We had  a good visit with the Brown-Eyed Girl and her roomie. She/they opened b-day gifts and Christmas presents and now I'm staring down the calendar at Darling Daughter's birthday as well.

Anyway...time to get this up and start heading toward the weekend.

Have a great one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Happy Hump Day

Sorry, no post today. Just out of it. Busy. Lots of things on my plate... Have this instead.

Monday, March 5, 2018

All cinnamon is not created equal...

And Walmart sucks.

A goodly number of years ago, I asked the doctor about my undiagnosed arthritis. My mom has it, my grandma has it, so it stands to reason I have it.

She recommended a daily dose of one teaspoon cinnamon and one tablespoon honey as management for the joint inflammation and subsequent aches and pains.

If I was going to use this in lieu of an actual prescription, I was going to find the best of each I could. I researched cinnamon and discovered that Saigon Cinnamon was the way to go. I found a local honey and started my regimen.

It took weeks, probably, but it did begin to work and the aches in my knees became a thing of the past. Only on the wonkiest of weather days do I experience any aches.

So I'd been buying my Saigon Cinnamon at Walmart because that's where I shop, but a couple of months ago, my particular Walmart stopped carrying the only brand of Saigon Cinnamon they carried and started carrying some sort of store brand organic cinnamon... and YUCK!

And it's just not the same. It doesn't dissolve nicely and is kinda slimey and I don't even know. But I've kept on with it because I was too lazy to stop at different grocery store and get the good stuff.

But I finally stopped at the Albertson's between the office and the house and stocked up--the good stuff happened to be on sale, so I bought an extra jar while I as there.

So much better. The regular stuff is fine for cinnamon sugar on toast, but if you want to combat arthritis, use the good stuff.

This concludes my Walmart/cinnamon rant and my PSA for the week. :0)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy Birthday My Brown-Eyed Girl!

Thirty years ago, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl ever.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. I love you so much and so proud of all the you've become and overcome.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You want me to be a mentor???

My writing group started a program to get all our unpublished members published. It's called, unsurprisingly, GetPublished!. I didn't name it.

Sure, I've been a member of this group since 2006, but I've only been published since November of 2017. Do these people think I've listened to or retained everything I did actually listen to over the years? Do these people think I've done it by the book?


Y'all and I both know better.

The chapter prez called and asked if I'd be a mentor. After I laughed, I reminder her of my own rookie status, but she assured me it was more about encouragement and accountability than anything.

Encouragement and accountability I can do.

I've reached out to my mentee, but we haven't had a chance to actually talk about our partnership going forward and what she really needs from us working together.

I'm looking forward to getting to know my chapter mate a little better, though, and just because I'm on the mentor side of this relationship doesn't mean I'm not going to benefit.

So we'll see how it goes. :0)

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Royal Family

So... One of my random minor interests for a long time has been the British Royal Family. The quote-unquote fairy tale of Prince Charles and Princess Diana happened back when I was in my formative years. Most young girls probably had a passing interest, right? I mean, upper crust, but common girl meets and falls in love (maybe) with the heir to the British throne. What's not to get caught up in?

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

And like many, I bought into the Diana-as-a-victim portrayal for many years. There's no doubt she struggled and had issues and a horrible lack of education-in-dealing-with-being-royal and not much in the way of a support system. But Charles, too, faced his share of issues and challenges.

I recently watched a six-part documentary on the Royal Family and it really rounded out my knowledge of things. I'm not a super-fan/follower, but over the years, I've really gained a new sympathy for Charles and have come see/believe that he was never the bad guy that news rags and magazines made him out to be. Of course, it takes two to tango, as the saying goes, so he's not absolved of everything, but it appears Diana was a lot less innocent than she appeared.

Any other royal watchers out there?

Friday, February 23, 2018

GRL, here I come for a second time!

I have a conference reservation. I have a hotel reservation. I don't yet have airfare, but that isn't cheap enough yet. I was told (whether true or not, I don't know) that airfare is best bought 58 days from your departure date.

In October, I'm going back to one of the few cons that solely represents my genre. I had a great time last year and am looking forward to another enjoyable experience. I was hoping to go as a supporting author (opportunities to hawk my wares) this year, but those slots sold out in under fifteen minutes. I'm on the waiting list, so please keep your fingers crossed that they add slots or that enough current slots become available for me to upgrade.

This year's GRL will be in Portsmouth, Virginia; I'll get to add yet another city and state to the list of places I've been, so that's nice.

The other really exciting thing is that...I've earned enough in royalties so far to actually pay for my conference registration!!! That just tickles me pink. The goal as the months pass and royalties continue to trickle in is to pay for the whole trip. :0)

This is the fun and exciting part of the publishing journey.

The hard part is writing the next book. Working on that...

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How do you feel about peanut butter?

I love it. I've been eating a ton of it lately and I'm wondering why.

I've heard it said that when you crave a food it can mean that your body is missing something, and it's trying get that something by craving a food that contains it. Well, that was a circular sentence, wasn't it?

According to the nutritional info, the thing peanut butter has the most of is protein. But I consume a lot of protein from other sources, so that doesn't seem likely. Maybe my body needs one of the dozen plus vitamins and minerals found in PB. It's certainly not the carbs...although I understand these are the good carbs, not that bad kind. So maybe?

Any ideas?

What foods do you crave often?

Monday, February 19, 2018

A busy and disappointing weekend...

The Stars lost again in spectacular fashion on Sunday. They gave up five goals in the 1st period and only came back to grab two of their own during the rest of the game. It's like someone flicked a switch and turned their talent off. Ugh.

In other sports news, DH and I watched the Daytona 500 yesterday, which was fine. There were a couple of major wrecks, but as I haven't really picked a driver to follow they weren't as devastating to me as they could have been. :0) It's been a while since I followed NASCAR and the driver landscape has changed a lot. I'm not planning on getting super into the sport again, but most fans have a driver or two to pin their weekly hopes on. I've got my eye on a handful, including the guy who won yesterday, but will watch a few more races and narrow it down to 2 or 3.

Going to my writers group meeting on Saturday was the boost I'd hoped for, but that meant a lot of work for me yesterday. Our group is putting together a collection of short stories to celebrate our 35th anniversary. Guess who's in charge? Yes, me. Although I'd wanted to be in charge of it since the 30th anniversary, so it's fine. Anyway, I thought I was going to be able to parse out the proofreading, but a couple of my helpers sorta bailed, so I spent yesterday proofreading a handful of short (3500 words or less) stories. Then I remembered I had to like put together some specialness for the celebration, which is next month. Like ordering the memento, planning table decorations if any, starting a power point presentation for a thing I'm planning, and sending out emails as needed to accomplish all of the above.

On another note, I got my hind-end back to the gym starting yesterday. Went again today. I stopped going because of the super-cold temps that early in the morning and also because working the contest takes a good hour, so that's when I'd work on it. But the contest is running smoother, so I don't need as much time. Anyway, I was feeling the adverse effects of not going and now that it's warmed up, I had no more excuses and every reason to go. So...yeah. Back at it.

The next thing to get after is writing book 7. I just need to park my behind somewhere, fit on the noise-canceling headphones, and write.

How was your weekend?

Friday, February 16, 2018


This is how I'm feeling about life right now...

Not that I drink, but it's the thought that counts.

It's writing group weekend, so things are looking up.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Conflict Hurts!

I'm experiencing conflict right now!! I want to write book 7 and I'm struggling. UGH UGH UGH!!

About a month ago, I mentioned a class I'd taken last June and how I wanted to take it again... Well, I tried to contact the instructor, but I had her email wrong, so it bounced back and I was really bummed. But then an announcement for that very class came through me email and--yay--I'm currently knee deep in the middle of it.

I'm enjoying it as much as I did last time, but it's also challenging and frustrating in equal parts as I struggle through the psychology of my characters wounds, beliefs, and coping mechanisms.

Building conflict is a thing I really need to wrap my head around to tell effective stories. The instructor did say it took her years to get a handle on it herself, but she also has part of a psychology degree under her belt. So, yeah... I have a big learning curve when I get a lot of info thrown at me. It takes me a while to parse things. I feel like an idiot sometimes, needing everything spelled out for me, and that's frustrating because I'm not a stupid person. Not a rocket scientist, to be sure, but not stupid.

I really need to pinpoint my best learning style.

So, anyway, I'll persevere and study and try, try again. I may also take the class when she offers it again in the fall, but I don't think, in the grand scheme of things, this is the strict method for me. Many instructors say, "take what works/resonates and leave the rest." There are definitely things I'm learning, that I'll take away and apply, but as far as starting where she starts... I don't know.

Another class just came through my email that sounds right up alley, so I'm considering it despite the cost. But I really want to grasp this concept and how to make it work for me.

Well, happy Hump Day! See you Friday.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Sophie's Choice...

Time for some hockey talk. We haven't done that in a while. :0)

Over the weekend, the Dallas Stars had an opportunity to move out of the Wild Card slot for the playoffs and into an actual playoffs berth. True, they'll have to hold onto it, but they've had the Wild Card slot for a good month or so, so chances look promising.

One point separated the Stars and the team ahead of them in their division, the St. Louis Blues, going into the weekend with two games on the schedule for both teams. Did they make it??

Well, the Stars won Friday's game earning them two points, but so did the Blues, so there was no change as of Saturday.

On Sunday, the Blues played early and lost. The Stars had to have known this going into their own game. So what did they do? They lost in spectacular fashion to one of the five worst teams in the league. Ugh.

Granted, there were a couple of factors going against them, but they played like crap, even for them and even with the things they had to deal with.

Anyway, the answer is no, they didn't pull it off. They're no better off, but, on the other hand, they're no worse off. The team now has four days off to get their act together. On Friday, they play...guess who?...the St. Louis Blues. Someone's going down.

Now onto my dilemma.

I have three favorite teams, all in different divisions. The Stars can play both of the other two teams at various levels of the playoffs. While the Stars are my home team, the other two have very compelling story lines for why I would want them to win--

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going for a third Stanley Cup in a row. Due to changes in the league over the last dozen years, two in a row is difficult enough. Three would just be phenomenal. And as the saying goes, "If any team can pull it off, the Penguins can." Collectively, those boys have played a lot of hockey in the past three years--not just NHL, but other competitions as well--and they're tired. But after a questionable start back in October, they're lighting it up now in the last thirty or so games heading toward the post season. So, yeah, go Pens!

The Vegas Golden Knights are going for their very first playoff run in their very first year as a team. They've already broken numerous records for a franchise in its first season. They are, to pretty much everyone's surprise, first in their division at the moment and they've hovered near the top for most of the season despite a spate of injuries to their goalies--of which every team only keeps two on the active team roster. They've had three goalies come in this year from their minor league teams who've all done a yeoman's job of guarding the net. They could actually pull this off. What's not to love about this narrative? So, yeah, go Knights!

And then, of course, are the Stars--they've been to the playoffs only twice in the last eight years, losing once in the first round and once in the second. They've made it the Stanley Cup playoffs twice since moving to Dallas twenty-five years ago, winning only once in 1999. Would I love to see my hometown boys (I say hometown, but only four players are even American!!) get to the playoffs and win the Cup. Just because they're my team and it'd be super cool to have hockey eclipse every other sport in this state for a while. So, yeah, GO STARS!

What I discovered in watching Friday night's Stars game against the Penguins is that I definitely want the Stars to win right now, during regular season play. Why? Because they need to make it to the playoffs before my Sophie's choice can even be a choice. They need the points to climb the standings.

Any suggestions on how to choose when the time comes?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Six -- "Only For the Weekend" is now on pre-sale!

Now that this is out in the world, I'll be able to put a huge dent in my big fat to-do list. :0)

Then to get on with the writing of book seven. I really need to work on a final title. Its working title is "The Rancher and the Reporter." I bet you can guess the jobs of each of my heroes...

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Are you on Pinterest?

I'm not on it a lot, unless I'm extremely bored and every other avenue of entertainment has been exhausted.


I get emails several times a week letting me know that other people have pinned things I've previously pinned. I also get emails with tempting of images of things I've previously searched for.

Somehow, I got an email tempting with miniatures, which--wait, what??

I've always wanted to build/create/decorate a dollhouse. But they're not cheap and so I've just never been able to really get into it.

So I get this email and I click and look and look and look. I'm pretty good about not getting sucked down the rabbit hole to far or for too long. And a new world has opened up to me as far as miniatures go--

There are tutorials on making all the things you need, not just buying stuff. Making things out of cardboard--yee haw. I have plenty of that.  Making stuff out of household scraps. Got tons of that too.

I could build a single room, shadow bow or diorama style. No need to go whole hog on a whole house.

For now, I'll just keep perusing and saving until something leaps out and grabs me hard.

Are you a Pinner??

Monday, February 5, 2018

Productive Weekend...

It wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped--I'd planned to go to the Stars game with my daughter and her BFF, but I couldn't  find three or even two seats together on my last-minute-ticket app. I underestimated the popularity of Retro Night. We went to a local sports bar instead and enjoyed good food and hockey on the big screen. The STARS won and a good time was had by all.

 In other news, I finally came up the new title for book 6. The original title promised things that didn't happen in the book, so after some various searches through Amazon with keywords specific to my book, I found a title that didn't appear a dozen times in Amazon and that fit the story-line of the book much better. I was also able to finalize the blurb.

So TWO things off the list.

I've contacted my cover artist to see how soon she could change the title for me...but I haven't heard back from her yet... But it's the weekend. So maybe she's traveling or celebrating something. Fingers crossed I hear from her soon. I need to get this book out. And having the cover allows a whole host of other things to get done. I wish I was better at graphics.

Now that I have a new title and the blurb, I've been able to move forward much on several other items on the TO DO list. Whew.

I also added a few more hockey patterns to my Etsy shop. My traffic is going up--no place else for it to though. No sales as of yet, but *fingers crossed*.

Anyway, I hope you a relaxing and/or productive weekend.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Feeling the Pressure

Self pressure is still pressure...

There's a lot on my plate at the moment, most of it isn't terribly time sensitive, although the sooner I do it, the better it will be, but I need to shake off that need to try get everything done right now.

As soon as I can is good enough.

Although A.S.A.P. always seems to come with a sense of urgency. But if we take the phrase at face value, it means exactly what it says. It doesn't mean you necessarily have to push off other things to get something done, just get to it as soon as you can. When there's an opening in your schedule. When time allows.

I mentioned my BIG FAT TO DO list a couple of weeks ago and those things are weighing heavily on me to get done, but in addition to sorting out tasks for books that are already written, I do need to actually write the next one. But, of course, I'm struggling with that as well.

Nothing to do but take a deep breath and pick one thing on the list and do it. Then pick another and do it. And then the next and the next until everything gets done. Of course, there are another handful of things that need to be added, but I suppose, eventually, I'll run out of things to add.

The good thing about the list is that it's there and I don't have to add worrying about forgetting something.

The weekend's here, which means I'll have some time to work on the list.

How about you?? Big plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Get Lost In A Story

Today, I'm a guest on the Get Lost In A Story blog, run by my chapter mate, Angi Morgan.

Check me and the blog out!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Revenue Streams... and Why Am I Working On This Now...?

One of the keys to making money in publishing, as well as in life in general, is to have multiple revenue streams.

As an author/publisher, my revenue streams include, but are not limited to: e-book, trade paperback, hardcover, audio books, and foreign translations of all of the above. Right now, I have one. E-books. Eventually, I'll branch out to print and maybe audio, but we'll see what happens when I get there.

In general, I have my day job income, but I also have my little proofreading / website-updating / series-bible-creating side job. I have an ongoing website-updating client, but everything else is hit or miss. I had some proofing feelers, but everyone's gone dark for whatever reason. It's not like I don't have enough on my plate at the moment, so I'm not worrying about it overmuch.

On the other hand, I have enough on my plate to worry about at the moment, so why am I fussing around with cross stitch patterns to upload to my Etsy Shop?? Yes, that's another revenue stream I'd like to pump a little bit. I have one pattern up there at the moment--my BBC Sherlock sampler. I do have a pattern for my Harry Potter Spells sampler (which I apparently haven't posted about???), but it's not on Etsy as of yet.

And now I'm working on some small hockey related projects...

They're not very big, slightly larger than a coaster, but they are kinda tedious to stitch. I started #14 as a trial and discovered some flaws in my pattern, so I tweaked. Then I started #91 as the second trial run and ran into a few more issues needing resolution. So I tweaked the pattern a little more.

I also want to offer patterns for teams other than the Stars...but I sure as heck don't want to stitch one of everything, so I'm not sure how to resolve that just yet. to why now... Well, because I can't be writer & publisher all the time. I need time to do the other things I enjoy and to feed my creative side from a different angle. But to be honest, a) I started this project last year and b) I'm not spending excessive amounts of time on it. It's just nice to work on something different every now and then.

But, after a hockey-filled weekend, It's time to get back to the writing/publishing related things on my plate.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Friday, January 26, 2018

First World Author Problems

One thing that a lot of my author friends complain about is all the ideas they have that they may or may not ever get to turn into books.

I've never really had that problem. In fact, I'd worried that once I'd finished with the nine Ten Rigs Texas books, that I'd be S-O-L. But then a new series idea came to me. It was a relief because I'm thinking it'll be another nine-book series. Of course, I have to finish the last three Ten Rigs books, but it's good to know I have something new in the pipes.

I've created a file and I've been adding plot and character ideas as they occur to me. I'm not banking on my memory here. Scrivener, the writing program I use, is wonderful in this regard. I can import files and web pages too.

So that new series has been floating around in the back of my brain for a good seven months and it's comforting to have it there. It's not a ton of ideas like some people I know, but it's good for a few books at least, right?

But then...when I was working on my writing groups' contest the other day, I processed a Highlander book, and I thought to myself : "I want to write a Highlander series." Highlanders are always popular and I enjoy the heck out of them myself

So now I have two series ideas and, while it's still nowhere the number of ideas a lot of my writer colleagues have, I'm excited to have a second idea rolling around the old noggin.

Might have to start another Scrivener file...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The importance of good dental care...

I went to the dentist on Monday for an abscess. Luckily it was in the gum and not in the tooth and the tooth was spared pulling. For now.

Unfortunately, most of my dental problems could have been avoided if I had just been more diligent about dental care way way way back in the day. But money was tight for a while and so I just didn't. And now, well, my mouth is not in great shape.

I might have to give up a couple of those Stars hockey games and re-route those funds into the dental bucket because I do not want to lose anymore teeth. (I had two pulled 3.5 years ago.) While there may come a time when the back molar I went to the dentist to have looked at, or other teeth, will need to be pulled, I want to keep what teeth I have in my mouth as long as possible.

So... time for diligence in brushing, flossing, water picking, and mouth-washing, as well as in dental visits.

My 50th birthday is coming up. I still have a good chunk of life left to live. I want my teeth to be and stay in the best shape I can get them in for as long as possible.

So PSA for the day, the week, the month--take care of your teeth!!

Monday, January 22, 2018


Lookie what I got this weekend! As I mentioned Friday, I had writers group on Saturday. After close to a dozen years, I'm finally a published author and, as per our little incentive program, I received a jumbo pencil with each book's info written on it. I took four home because those were birthed last year. Book 5's pencil stays in the boots until next December. It's sort of a visual as the year goes on to see how prolific the group is a whole. Here are my pencils!!

Okay so they're not that exciting to look at, but I finally have them.

In addition to pencils, I also received charms. In honor of our group's 35th anniversary, we've been doing a charm program. Whoever writes at least 25 pages or edits 50 pages each month earns the charm of the month. Since I finished a book somewhere in there last year, I was able to get an additional charm.

Here's my book charm, which I chose more for the series as a whole than for the specific book itself.

Yep, it's rainbow cake. :0)

Here are the other charms and my full bracelet...

...four of them because it's been a while since I was at a meeting to receive them.

Most importantly, I saw all my lovely dear writer friends and had a fantastic time not only at the meeting, but at the post-meeting meeting with my closest writer friends who are the most wonderful women in all the world.

Also, my beloved Stars kicked much Buffalo ass on Saturday. :0)

Great weekend all around. How was yours??

Friday, January 19, 2018

Jen Through the Looking Glass...

The process of publishing six (and more) books gets exponentially more task-riddled as the days go by. I now have a  FIVE-PAGE TO-DO list, because for most of what I have to do, I have to do for six books.

When I became an independently published author back in November of 2017, I did so by publishing directly with major retailers where I could and using two aggregators (virtual distributors for all intents and purposes) for the the ones I couldn't, as well as for the dozen or so smaller retailers.

I had one file for everybody--meaning that purchasing the next book was a two- or three-click process rather than a one-click endeavor. At the time, I just needed to get the books out into the world, and I did that. The rest had to wait for the new year.

Well, it's the new year and it's time to do the nitty gritty grunt work of creating unique files for each book for each retailer so that if you bought your book for the Kindle, the link at the end of the excerpt of the next book is going to take you directly to that book's purchase page in Amazon. Same for iBooks, Kobo, Nook... Well, you get the picture. Six books, six retailers, plus a generic link for miscellaneous use... You can see that it's quite a project.

Back in November, I used an aggregator to get my books into Barnes & Noble because the aggregator offers pre-sales and Barnes & Noble doesn't when publishing directly through them. Fast forward to January, and I want to publish the live books directly so that as much of the royalties go into my pocket as possible. Well, shoot-- I didn't even think that doing so was going to render the original purchase pages/links (through the aggregator) unavailable because Barnes & Noble was going to generate a its own new purchase pages/links. Add a new task to the list: updating all Barnes & Noble links.

I'll have to update links again when I'm able to upload to the Apple Store directly... *sigh*

Of course, once I get all of this figured out and done, it'll be one book at a time and much less daunting.

As I mentioned a post or two ago, I may be called upon to talk about aggregators vs. distributors to my writing group... I think I'll call it "To Aggregate or Not To Aggregate, That Is The Question..." Anyway, I think the specific issue of transitioning books and the hassle it causes needs to be a talking point for sure.

Maybe there's an easier way, maybe I'm making things way more complicated than they should be, but...

I didn't pay much attention to this stuff when it may or may not have been discussed in front of me. It's not fair now for me to constantly beleaguer my friends for information. So I'm plodding through the best I know how, learning as I go. But maybe that's better. I'll certainly remember how to get things done!

On a more exciting note, I get to attend my writers group meeting for the first time in four months. I'm so excited to see my chapter mates and especially my writer besties. I published all my books during that absence, so I get to return as a published author. I get these really cool jumbo pencils, one to celebrate each book. I get charms for writing min 25 pages each month, as well as a charm for completing a book. I can't wait. It's going to be so fun.

Hope your weekend will be as fun as mine--!!

See you Monday.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I wanted to sell directly through Google Play, WHY?

There's a definite learning curve to this retailer platform. But Google Play could be a lucrative platform and one I need to figure out. It doesn't appear that either of the major publishing aggregators (Smashwords or Draft2Digital) is able to feed books into the Google Play store at this point, although one of them claimed to. But even if they did, it behooves me to not to use aggregators when I don't have to because I get a bigger piece of the profit pie.

Figuring this platform out sooner rather than later would be better. But as I mentioned last week, January is a bit busy. It's gonna be a month or so until I have more time to get a handle on things. My writing group has started a new program and I might be on the schedule to present a program on where and how to self publish in terms of retailers vs. aggregators. I better know my stuff, huh? Luckily, I won't be called upon for a few more months yet.

Hope you're having a good week. :0)

Monday, January 15, 2018

My birthday came early!!

My beautiful DD and her friend went to a local Jamba Juice to meet former STARS player Marty Turco and current player Devin Shore. The Stars were giving out free stuff and the girls brought me home some goodies! LOOK!

A Youth Large Jamie Benn jersey!! And, yes, it fits. :0)

A Stars pennant!

And some smaller goods...

And then they saw THIS at Target...

I've been wanting the Stars faux-LEGO zamboni for a while and the girls bought this for me too.

I am blessed.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hitting the ground running...why is this my life?

For the last five years, I've run one of my writing group's contests. Things ramp up in the middle of January.

For the last two years, I've been in some phase of getting books written or ready for publication.

At my day job, January is always hectic because it's the start of the new year and there are things that need to happen not only as a business, but as an employer.

And then there's fireworks season to wrap up.

Several times, I've been neck deep in proofreading jobs. Not this year, though, thank goodness. Although I do have a couple on the books...

I'm not keen on the beginning of my new year being quite so crazy, but what can I do?

I've tendered my resignation as contest coordinator, effective as soon as this year's contest is complete--sometime in June.

The writing/publishing thing is just a matter of timing. I'm the boss there, so I can decide if I'm taking an extra long holiday or not. But now that the first five books are out in the world, I don't think I'll have that level work going on at any given time anymore. That's kind of a mixed blessing though, yeah?

Unless I get fired or quit, there will always be the day job. And my tasks are generally spread throughout the month, so it's not really terrible.

I guess all I can do is roll with punches!

Hope your new year is starting off well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New collection...?

No, not really.

During my whirlwind Christmas shopping trips this season, I saw two separate sets of salt and pepper shakers that tickled my fancy.

I bought the first one almost immediately because I couldn't stop thinking about them as I was walking through the store after I'd seen them.

I actually went back to the store (a different one from the first, however) to buy the second set because, well, why not? They were cute and aside from being salt and pepper shakers, are of things I actually do have a collection of.

So what are these shakers of which I speak?

I loved these little barn shakers from the moment I spied them.
They're complimentary to my Charles Wysocki collector plates. :0)

Dala Horse shakers! Are they not super cute??

I'm really not interested in starting a collection of shakers, but if see others that hit my buttons as much as these two sets do, I'll probably break down now that I've already gone there.

Anyone else collect shakers? Feel free to share any other collections you might have.

Monday, January 8, 2018

I hate conflict!

One of my story-telling goals this year is to make my writing better. I mean, a writer should always be striving to improve his or her writing, so yeah. There's a best-selling, 60+ novels-to-her-name author in my writers group who said in a conversation several months ago that she still works to improve her writing. She's been at this for close to twenty years. If she's still working at it, then I, sure-as-shootin', should be too.

So the questions become--a) improve in what area? and b) how?

I had a vague notion last year and I tried to work on it, but I didn't stick with it. Not that it's an excuse, really, but there was a lot going on and I let my efforts fall by the wayside. I think the issue is intrinsically intertwined with the struggles I've been having in getting the last couple of books written.

So that means I need to figure something out. And quickly.

First thing I figured out is what I need to work on: plotting and conflict. I hate conflict in real life.

I know, I know, who does? Most of you deal with conflict like adults and that's a thing I struggle with. I hate it. I avoid it. I'm better now, but it's still a chore to communicate with the people with whom I have an issue.

So putting my hunky heroes into conflict?? Ugh.

But readers want to read about those same hunky heroes overcoming whatever obstacles stand between them and true love, not just sappy sunshine-and-rainbows-filled treacle. I prefer those kinds of books too--so there you go.

The next thing I need to figure out is where to find/how to create conflict between my heroes. I understand that conflict stems from each character: what their goal is and what baggage they carry, but beyond that, how do I determine what wounds to poke at, what paths to go down, etc. What makes for the strongest and most compelling conflict. Or how do I support the conflict I want to write about?

My options for education are blog posts (usually free), books, (generally not free), classes (generally not free), and brainstorming with others (usually free), and one-on-one consulting sessions (usually expensive).

While I love the concept of brainstorming, I don't have much success with it because I haven't yet found that one person whose thought processes gel with mine. Not that I don't ask for help, because there are still ideas to be gleaned from the effort. And maybe communicating my needs better is a skill I need to learn. But sometimes, I hate imposing on other authors to spend their valuable time on me.

Blogs are good, but sometimes the explanations or concepts are too abstract for me. Straight reading is not my best learning style. Also the posts are higher-level in concept than execution level information. Still helpful though, because adding new concepts and insights is never a bad thing. And one never knows where one will find the the switch that sheds light on everything else.

I like classes because I get a lesson. Information as well as homework and, most importantly, someone to explain more if I don't grasp something. There's also someone to evaluate my efforts and give me feedback.

I took a class last year that I'd love to take again. So I've contacted the author and asked if she's offering it anywhere this year. *fingers crossed*

But coming at an issue (how to develop/build conflict in books) from various viewpoints is a good thing, so I'll keep my eyes open for additional class opportunities on how to write conflict better.

I'm not opposed to books either, but, like blogs, they can be a bit abstract. And they're not cheap, so it could take a lot of frogs, I mean books, until I find something that resonates and makes sense to me. That would get expensive very quickly.

I certainly can't afford a consultation with a professional author--yet. But my writing group is putting together some programs, so maybe I'll get lucky and win a session of some sort or another.

For now, I'll be Google-searching blog posts and using tools already in my toolbox to plot out books 7, 8, and 9.

Wish me luck!

The USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart

Most of you know, I'm a fan of history and of the military. The Navy has been a target of my interest first because of the TV show JAG that aired from 1995 to 2005 and second because Sonshine is currently serving.

Because our ship, the Liberty of the Seas, was late returning to port the day we were supposed to leave, DH and I found ourselves with some unexpected free time. Seawolf Park and the above named ships turned up with a quick search of "things to do in Galveston." So off we went.

The USS Cavalla is a Gato-class submarine that served admirably during WWII and beyond. She was decommissioned just a few days before my birth.

The USS Stewart is an Edsall class destroyer escort that served from November '42 to October '72. It's the only one of its class to be preserved.

We toured both ships during our extra few hours in Galveston and wow. The conditions our sailors lived and live under when at sea are cold and cramped and most of us would be crying for our mommas. Even if you don't believe in the mission of the military, blessings and respect are due to every single man or woman who chooses to serve and protect in pretty mean / lean conditions.

Without further ado, here are a few photos I took of both ships.

The USS Cavalla--view from the rear of the boat.

Look at those bunks -- in the forward torpedo room!

Me in the crew's common area.

Looking into a torpedo tube...

To see all the photos I took of the USS Cavalla, click here.

Crew toilets. Yikes!

The ship's store--basically the size of a closet with shelves on three sides and a chair in the center. There's a cash register just on the left.

Those big vats are still used by the military for cooking to this day!

To see all the pictures of the USS Stewart, click here.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 5, 2018

I'm feeling the pressure...

It's been almost two months since I pressed the "publish" button for the first time. It's been a bit chaotic since then because of the Thanksgiving holiday and my cruise and then Christmas and New Years so I pretty much just pushed the button and focused on other things.

Now that the holidays are over and the new year begun, it's time to take a look at everything, get a read on where I am, and decide what I'm doing, where I'm going, and how I plan to get there.

There is still a lot of noise in the romance writing realm about doing this or doing that and following certain rules and making sure that all the Ts are crossed and all the Is are dotted--whatever the Ts and Is might be. But then I hear a few voices going against the grain saying the things that really resonate with me.

I have to keep listening for those voices.

There's so much that can be done, and maybe should be done, but that doesn't mean I have to try to do them all at once. And that's the pressure. I keep having to stop and remind myself that I have a plan. Does it need to be tweaked? Yes. Does it need to be expanded? Yes. But being a published author is not brain surgery. No one is going to die if I wait a year to expand to print or setup audio or translate for foreign markets.

Maybe I don't make as much money up front, but I also don't want to miss out on life because I'm chained to a keyboard trying to learn stuff and then implementing what I've learned.

As just one little ol' me, I only have so much time and brain capacity. So I learn what I need to learn for this part of the journey and take a deep breath when the pressure starts squeezing at me.

Despite all of that, there's one key piece to the puzzle: keep writing. Without new books, the rest doesn't matter much.

Hope your year is starting off right!!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Goals for 2018

Last week, I reviewed my progress or lack thereof on last year's goals. I didn't do nearly as well as I thought I had, nor did I have as many goals as I thought I had. But it's spilled milk or water under the bridge and there's no use in beating myself up. I can't go back. I can only move forward and try to do better.

Several of last year's goals are being carried over. They're that important. Let's start with those.

1) Writing to my Grandma in Denmark. This is important. The woman is in her 90s. She's not going to be around much longer in the grand scheme of things. In order to make this easier to accomplish, I think I'll find some postcards depicting Texas and send these along monthly with a few notes and then go for a longer letter every couple of months. Honestly, there's not a lot going on in my life, but I know my Grandma doesn't care that much and would like to hear from me, her only granddaughter.

2) Calling my moms monthly. Again, not much going on in anyone's lives, but you never know what's going to happen and not just to someone who's older. I drive the streets every day. I could be the one who leaves this world far too soon. So yeah. Monthly phone calls to say "HI" and "I love you."

3) Walk the dog three times a week. I took Rayna into the vet a few months ago for some reason or another and mentioned a limp she gave into seemingly randomly. It turns out she tore something in one of her "knee" joints and has developed arthritis. One of the ways to help combat the pain and stiffness of that, not to mention the excess weight she's carrying, is to get her on an exercise regimen. Plus I could stand to be a little more active at the end of my day, so Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are the days I'll take Rayna for a walk. These are all days I'm at home--so instead of driving home from work, I'll walk the dog. Good for her, good for me. Now if the temperatures would warm up just a little.

4) Cook & eat better. Honestly, we're doing okay. Not great, but okay. We usually eat fish once a week and chicken every one to two weeks. It's the "scrounge" days that get us, so I guess that means planning another one or two healthier-ish meals on a weekly basis. Maybe incorporate chicken weekly. Maybe adding a pork-based meal weekly as well. With leftovers, at least six out of seven days ought to be covered, right?

And the last carryover goal is...

5) Re-institute the cleaning plan. All I have to do is dig out the box of index cards, re-sort them, and get started. There's just so many other more fun things to be doing than cleaning. :0) I guess until I can afford a cleaning lady, I'm it, eh?

As for new or similar/adjusted goals, let's see...

6) Work on my writing career--such as it is. I'm not looking to be a New York Times Bestseller or support DH and myself with my writing, but there are a lot of areas to improve upon and that need my attention. The sub-list is as follows:

a) publish books 5-8 this year. Books 5 and 6 are written. They just need final revisions and formatting. Books 7 has been started, but I'm not very far along. Book 8 has characters and a vague plot line.
b) spend some time on marketing the series and the books.
c) enter a contest or two to increase readership.
d) choose an aspect of my writing to work on and, you know, work on it.

*There are probably a few more things, but they're vague notions at the moment.

7)  Now that I've finally reached my weight goal and have maintained that weight for three months, it's time to work on a different aspect of my physical health.

As a side note, I officially started my journey in January of 2012. It took me just under five years. I knew it was going to take a while; I was in it for the long haul, and I never got really discouraged. YAY me. :0)

My new endeavor is to reduce fat--not weight--just fat. I have way too many jiggly spots and losing weight does not automatically mean you've lost fat. Just as gaining muscle does not mean you've lost fat. Fat doesn't turn into muscle. They are made up of two different things. I started the fat burning process once I reached the weight goal and made a bit of progress, but my cruise and holiday hiatus has reversed the process a little. Again, come January 2, it's back to work and back to a stricter diet for a time.

8) Now I can't reach this next goal without DH, but I'm putting it on here anyway because he mentioned wanting to while on the cruise. And that's take dance lessons... DH took ballroom dance lessons many moons ago before I'd met him and he enjoyed them a lot. I just think it'd be fun and then we can dance at family events or on next year's cruise or even just go out dancing.

9) Do more crafts! This was on this goal list a couple of years ago and I didn't do much better, but I always get nostalgic for my craftier days around the holidays. I've been cross stitching some small hockey related things, so I need to keep on going. I also have some other, larger projects rolling around in my brain. And maybe I can get a head start on next year's ornament and make something decent, not only for my kids but for my close circle of writer peeps who also get ornaments each year. Another friend of mine (shout-out to N!) does felt crafts and she's made me some lovely felt ornaments the last couple of years. That might be a fun new craft to try.

10) Take ballet and/or ice skating lessons. Part of this stems from the "be more active" mind set, but also from a get-more-flexible and build-up-stamina thought process in mind of staying healthy and active as long as possible as I face my 50th birthday this year. Also, they look fun, and the ice skating, of course, stems from my new-found love of hockey.

11) And my fluffy goal for the year--attend more STARS games. I'll say five more games between now and the end of the season in early April. Fingers crossed they make it to the playoffs and that I can afford a playoff ticket. :0) Then we'll say three games once the new season begins in October. So eight Stars games in 2018. And if I travel to a city that has a hockey team, chances are I'll buy tickets to a game if there's one being played while I'm there.

So there you have it. A decently ambitious list. How about you? Have you got a goal or two on the record for 2018? Do share.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!!

Hope 2018 brings blessings and prosperity to you and yours.

Jen's Books

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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