Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Edits, dogs, Kickstarter, and fan mail -- random is how I roll

It's Wednesday which means I should have posted a blog first thing this morning.

But I forgot. (Sorry B.E. and Karyn!)

Forgot it was Wednesday.

Forgot to blog.

So I'm just going to blurt out the random thoughts that come to mind.


1) I'm working on the edits for the next Hitwoman book. (Hence my losing track of what day it is!) So much is happening in this book that I'm a bit overwhelmed, but I'm really excited on where it's taking Maggie and the gang.  With good luck and a strong wind, the book will be out next month!




2) I'm dog-sitting. It's great because my dog has a playmate for the day, but I'd forgotten what a pain in can be to walk two dogs at the same time.




3) I've become a benefactor of the arts.

Just kidding.

I don't really have the money to do that, but I have been backing some interesting Kickstarter projects lately.

Here's one I backed that was successfully funded for a book about Yellowstone National Park. (I'm kind of obsessed with Yellowstone.)





Here's the one I'm currently backing, a new album from singer-songwriter Jace Pawlak.  Because a day without music would be like a day without books!





4)  I've gotten some really awesome fan mail lately.  (Apparently the Hitwoman series is an excellent way to procrastinate...at least that seems to be the theme of some of the letters, lol.) I'm always so appreciative of those that take the time to write. It means so much to know that my work has touched them...I just hope they know that I'M so touched by their love and support.


Tell me Killer Friends:  What are YOU currently obsessed with? What are you reading? What are you listening to? Do you know what day of the week it is?

Monday, March 28, 2016

This, That, and The Other Thing

So I've been busy looking at Patrick Stewart memes planning my blog posts for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge I've signed up for and, of course, writing. The last time I tried (and failed) this challenge I went into it without a plan. But this year I decided on a theme. I have all my posts planned out except for J, X, Y, and Z. So, if you've got any ideas....


And I've been writing. Or more specifically, revising. But I've reached the last third of the book and am actively rewriting. How much do I love my hero? So, so much. He's focused and serious, working to put all his broken pieces back together again. Without the help of all the kings horses and all the kings men.
Mike put the car in park and waited while Chase went into Mary’s to grab some much needed coffee. They were both running on empty and a couple levels past grouchy. They needed caffeine and sugar. His fingers gripped the steering wheel. Lily was pissed because Grace was upset. Ergo, Chase was pissed because Lily was pissed and puking. And because Grace was upset. All of it made Mike’s head ache and his guts hurt. He didn’t know much about panic attacks, but he was pretty sure he’d come close last night.
And my heroine? She is loyal and tough and makes me laugh. But she's also a little sad, a lot lost, not literally, and her answers to the big life questions no longer seem like the right ones.

Grace sat back down in front of the ashes of past fires. The debris of happier times. What would rise from them? She raised her feet to seat of the old Adirondack-styled chair and hugged her knees. 

Have you ever felt like that? Like you knew every little nook and cranny, every dip and turn of the landscape? You see it, it looks the same, but everything has changed. That's where Grace is at.

The other thing? It's also the end of summer in my book. The air is ripe with harvest. Their having beach days, and barbeques and Labour Day parties. Flowers are spilling out of everywhere and the goodness from gardens are gracing tables.

And, damn it, it just snowed four inches here. We made a snowman.

What's your world look like today?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Freebie Friday!

Hi Everyone and Happy Good Friday!

To make your holiday weekend even better, I decided to make Accidental Death free today and tomorrow, so you have something to read if you're looking for something to distract you this weekend.  You know, if you don't celebrate Easter, or if you need a break from family, or you just want to wind down after a day of gathering together.

 Detective Dennis Haggarty arrives in Serenity, CO to attend a funeral, not investigate homicides.  But finding a corpse on the mortuary lawn wasn’t in his plans either. The townsfolk may be willing to ignore the facts, but Dennis can’t avoid doing his job—especially after his instincts tell him it’s murder. 

I hope all of you have a lovely weekend and a wonderful holiday if you celebrate.  I'll be gorging myself on ham and then editing my next SCIU book - Fertile Ground

What will you be doing?


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Joy Giver

So there's this guy who lives in my neighborhood.  Almost every day he drives around and feeds treats to pets.

(He even feeds the feral cats.)

Now, maybe it's because I've always got suspense on the brain, but when I first moved into the neighborhood, I was leery of him.

What kind of grown man rides around and feeds other people's pets?

Was he poisoning the animals?

Was he casing the houses he visited?

Then, after I got my dog, he stopped me while I was walking her on the street one day and asked if he could give her a treat. He was very respectful about it and didn't take out any food until I'd given him my permission.

Sure, there are people who feed their pets special diets and don't won't their animals to eat whatever he's handing out. (Milkbone biscuits for dogs, don't know what he gives the cats.) but my dog is a shelter mutt and she'll happily eat just about anything.

Now we're a regular stop on the treat giver's route. Even if we're not home when he stops by, he leaves the treats for the dog.

And I swear it's the highlight of my dog's day. She's figured out that this person is coming just to see her, to give her a treat and a pet and a kind word, and that he'll be back soon to do it all over again.

She gets excited if she hears his truck. She gets excited if she sees him on the street. She greets him with butt wriggling joy every single time I open my door to him.

I don't think my dog's special. I'm sure most of the dogs he visits do the same thing. But here's what I've figured out over these quick little visits of his.

It's not just my dog that's getting something out of it. The man enjoys them too. And watching both man and dog share a moment of joy makes me smile each and every time.

We need more people to deliver joy...even if it's in the form of dog treats.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hello Spring!

I'm so looking forward to spring. Even though the winter-that-wasn't is only technically over in these parts. There's the possibility winter like weather can rear it's ugly head well into the month of May. Nevertheless, the birds are starting to flock back. What does B.E. call herself? A bird nerd. That perfectly describes us. 



And this week we'll be dying eggs and getting ready to hunt for treasures on Sunday morning and cooking Easter dinner. It's going to be a busy week.  

Beginning April 1st I'll be doing the Blogging A to Z April Challenge at my own personal blog. I'll be blogging every day except Sundays for the month of April. For 26 days I'll be blogging about a topic inspired by the letter of the alphabet. I've chosen a theme: Writing and Reading Romance. I've got a schedule mostly worked out. I'm going to work on taking some photos of letters and images that represent my theme. 

Interested in blogging trends for 2016? Check Katy Widrick's blog post, Predicting the Future: Blogging in 2016 (And Beyond). Or this article: 5 Most Important Trends in Blogging for 2016.

Full disclosure: This blog post falls short of meeting the current blogging trends. 

Please weigh in! Assuming you comment on blogs, what favourite content do you like to see in the blogs you read? Let us know your favourite blogs. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

I'm a Mutt

With yesterday being St. Patrick's Day, I was doing a little revisiting of the old ancestry files.  Yeah, I don't know if I ever mentioned here that I'm a bit of a genealogy buff - when I can afford the time and/or the money to do research, that is.

Turns out, I'm a very minuscule portion Irish. Mostly, I'm German.  Prussian, to be exact.  The Irish in me is so small and so far back that it's almost pointless to say I have any.  I have 4 Irish ancestors who immigrated to the New World.  One on Dad's side, three on Mom's.  And all of them were born in either the middle of the 1600s or the 1700s.  A wee bit of the Irish runs in my veins.

Realistically, I'm a mutt. 

German/Prussian, Polish, Canadian, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and one tiny bit American Indian in the way way way back. 

Once they got here, they landed at different points on the east side of the country - NY, VA, MD, MA, KY... All coming together at some point in the 20th century in Michigan to make me.  Tada!

Basically, I'm a Michigander at heart, a mutt by birth, and an American by choice. 

What are you?

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Foray Into Bullet Journalling

So, apparently the time changed this weekend. That doesn't happen in the province I live in. The clocks do not go forward or backward depending on the time year. But every other province in Canada does as do many places in the world, and we deal with the rest of the world, so it's kind of like it happens here too.


To all of you who's system is completely screwed today, my sympathies. Keep chugging your choice of morning brew and...I don't know what else...but I'm sure you'll think of something, creative crew that you are.

I'm really here to talk about my new love. Get ready! Coming at you in ALL CAPS is my new love for BULLET JOURNALLING. Goodness gravy, it's delightful.


If you haven't heard of it let me direct you here. If you want to see how far some people take it, go to Pinterest and prepare to be amazed. There are some crazy talented artists out there who use it to create the most incredible journal pages. But don't be intimidated by all that, it can be whatever you want it to be and useful too.

And the whole process can involve craft and office supplies without becoming a Cirque du Soleil act.


Unless you want it to be. Just so you know, there are stickers. Stickers! For people like me, who can't draw worth shit crap.

Probably, the best place to start is to determine what you want to use it for or accomplish with it. I wanted a place that plays host to my creative side. It functions as a daily calendar and note station but I use an actual calendar for appointments. So, I'm doubling up a bit. But really I use my journal to record everything. I used to be a Post-It note keener. Also, I'd grab a piece of paper and tear off a piece and jot a note on it. Stick them in pile. Search through pile. I 'd also already started my own version of this by having a binder handy to write down quotes, ideas for on-the-go projects and future ones, and questions. But there was no organization to any of it. So again, a lot of sifting through paper.

And organization is my buzz word for the year.
*Just remembered that discipline is my word for the year. Yeah. But somehow in my mind they're tied together. 

Enhance my foray into bullet journalling. You start off by creating an Index. When you create a note or whatever in your journal you reference it in your index by page number. That way you know what page numbers to go to regarding a certain project or future ones, or, again, whatever. Then you come up with a Legend, Status symbols and, in my case, habits I'm tracking.


It doesn't need to be pretty, just effective. Also, washi tape is sooo much fun.


Do you journal? Have you heard of bullet journalling? If so, do you have any tips?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Child Genius and a New Idea

Hubs and I found this new show last year - Child Genius. It's a contest to see which of twelve kids is the most genius (out of the thousands who applied to be on).  Each week, two topics are presented and the kids - ranging from 9-12 - have to answer questions pertaining to that topic.  Whoever gets the lowest score out of those two categories gets a certificate of achievement and is sent home.  When it's down to three kids, they battle it out in a couple rounds of mixed questions - like, say, they have to give the answer to a difficult science question by spelling it. 

Now, I may not have mentioned this, but I am the Queen of Armchair Jeopardy.  So I know a lot of stuff, but these kids are amazing.  Not only that, but the winner last night was a cool kid.  Hubs and I picked him the first week as the one to root for, and we weren't disappointed.  Seeing this child excel was about the most positive thing out there on the tube these days.  The girl who won last season was pretty cool, too. 

Of course, not all the kids were cool kids.  (And by cool, I mean neat, interesting, well-behaved, level-headed, etc.)  And some of the kids' parents are whacko.  I swear one of the kids was mainlining espresso there for a while just to try and live up to mom's expectations. 

Sadly, a few of the kids were just bratty.  One of the contestants from this season, in particular, though, was so over the top, it sent me to bed with a book idea.  For one of my SCIU novels.  Not a killer kid, per se, but I could envision what this ultra-smart, uber-bratty child who had obvious self-control issues might turn out to be as an adult - you know, if I ratcheted it up a bit and left the behavior unchecked for a dozen or so years.  And Voila! book idea.

So, I climbed back out of bed, wrote the idea down, and then tried to sleep.  The idea's still with me this morning, so that's a positive.  (I usually forget about them by morning, which is why I write them down.)  A simple thing, a little twist, and a new book idea is born.  Tada!

Now, to do a little self-promotion on an idea whose birth is quickly approaching... In Deep Wish will be live all around the world on as many outlets as I dared to upload it to this coming Tuesday.  All the links are pinned to the top of my new Facebook page for the series - Once Upon a Djinn.  Stop on by, like the page, and join the fun.

Did you watch the show Child Genius?  Do you like shows like that or are you more a fiction watcher?  How are you at Jeopardy?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My book is a disaster, wine and Rick Springfield

Hi. My name is Jen and my book is a disaster.

I think there should be a support group for people like me.

Writers who stare at the screen,  reading the words they've written, and just think, "What the hell is that supposed to be?"

That's where I am right now as I work on HARM'S WAY, the sequel to UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

To be honest, I hit the "I hate this" phase in just about every book I write.

(And here you thought it was easy to just sit around and spin wonderful tales.)

But I hit  "this sucks" WAY sooner than usual in this book and it's taking WAY longer to snap out of it.

None of my usual tricks have worked.

None of my unusual tricks have worked either.

I was so desperate, I even tried the old tried-and-true writer's crutch: alcohol.

This was the first time in the 2.5 years I've lived here that alcohol has crossed the threshold. There's nothing "wrong" with alcohol, I'm just not a drinker.

But I was so desperate I was willing to give it a try. All I got was headache from my single glass of wine. Pathetic, aren't I?

The only thing that's helped a little is reading Rick Springfield's LATE, LATE AT NIGHT.  It didn't help my creativity, but it did lessen my feeling that I'm the most neurotic writer on the planet.

You know you're struggling when you look at someone else's struggles and think, "At least I'm not that bad. Yet."

Yet.

I'm frustrated because I know that the cause of my malaise has nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with another area of my life. But knowing it, and doing something about it (since I pretty much have no control over the life stuff) are very different.

Knowing doesn't help.
Alcohol doesn't help.
Sitting in front of the computer screen for endless hours doesn't help.

Time will help.
Distance will help.
Indulging my inner bitch would help (but I'm on the fence about that).

What's a writer to do?

Me? I'm listening to my favorite Springfield song... (I know how to pick the cheery ones, don't I?)


Tell me Killer Friends: How do you get past your "disasters"?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Green Smoothies and Naming Things

I've taken to drinking green smoothies most morning. Which means I add a handful of spinach to my usual morning fruit smoothie. Not exactly living on the edge. Did I mention it's green? And delicious? I can't help but wonder what's next? Making my own gluten free dairy free sugar free granola?

Seriously, if you have a beloved recipe for such a thing I'd love it if you shared.

I'm quite fond of my morning smoothies. They don't vary much. Ingredients: frozen banana, frozen mango, spinach apparently, almond butter, maple syrup, ground flax seed, and unsweetened almond milk.



I should give it a name. But I'm the absolute worst at naming things. Mainly characters, fictional towns, and every other thing that needs a made up name in a book.  Including the book titles

Basically, I subscribe to the concept of the universe providing. At some point (soon, I hope) the name of this current book is going to come to me. It's going to present itself and unicorns will dance and choirs will sing and it will be the best name of a book. Ever.

Not.

What's really gonna happen? I will sit down with a pen and paper and start free writing ideas. I will come up with pages of ideas. I'll keep these pages because they're going to help me with log lines, long and short blurbs, hashtags, etc. I will take the ideas I figure are the most likely candidates and I will present them to my writing group and get their take on things. Then I'll head back to the drawing board and start again. And then wait to see what my publisher thinks.

Interesting, or not so interesting, tip:  My two favourite resources for naming characters sports rosters and movie credits.

That's it for me today folks! Have a fantabulous Monday. What did you have for breakfast?

Friday, March 4, 2016

"You Can Relax Now."

Hubs: "You're all done with your book,?"
Me: Yep.
Hubs: "So you can relax now."
Me: "For a little while."

If he only knew.

Actually, it's not that he doesn't know.  He's watched me work my buns off for the past year and a half on this self-publishing thing I'm doing.  He knows I have about two weeks between the upload of this book and the receipt of notes on my next book.

I uploaded In Deep Wish for pre-order yesterday and then actually read last night.  Read other people's words.  Something I haven't done for about a month.  I inhaled about half of Killer Chick, JB Lynn's latest novel - The Hitwoman and the Chubby Cherub.  Next up is an urban fantasy I bought weeks ago.  Then Allison Brennan's latest Max Revere novel.  Then... well, you get the point.  I have two weeks to read, so I'm gonna READ.

And two weeks to either work on the first draft for my next Dennis Haggarty mystery or finish the read-through of Up Wish Creek.  Because I really don't have two free weeks.  What I have is two weeks without anything on deadline.  ;o)

So anyway, another thing I will be doing over the next two weeks (ad infinitum) is marketing.  To that end, In Deep Wish is available for pre-order ($2.99) at the following distributors:

Amazon
Apple - iTunes
Kobo

It should be at Barnes & Noble shortly.

If you're interested and you haven't read Wish in One Hand, it's on sale right now for 99 cents at the same retailers (the links are all here - scroll down).

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This month's goals!

Thank you to everyone who has helped to make the launch of THE HITWOMAN AND THE CHUBBY CHERUB  a success. 

Find it at: 
AMAZON
KOBO.

I'm really loving the initial feedback I've gotten about this book. I'm so glad so many are enjoying Maggie's adventures as much as I do.


Since it's my first blog post of the month, it's time for me to share this month's goals.


My writing goals:
My goal is to finish HARM'S WAY, the sequel to UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

That's the goal, but I'm really struggling with it. Not the story. It's all "perfect" in my head, but in the actual writing. I've got some real life distractions going on (some good, some bad) that are making it hard to focus on writing


My creativity goals:  I've taken up 10 minute timed writings again.  I forgot how much I've enjoyed them. They're far from perfect, but I'll be posting a few every week on Facebook.  Here's the first I posted.


My happiness goals:  Everything surrounding the presidential election is making me very, very unhappy. Since I can't vote in the primary (I'm a registered independent because everything about the election process makes me unhappy) I'm going to disengage from the election coverage. It's not like ANY candidate is saying anything  worth listening to yet.



Tell me Killer Friends: What goals are YOU working on this month? What's making you happy?