Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forsaken by Keary Taylor

As you followers of my blog know, my friend Keary Taylor has self-published her awesome writing through Amazon's CreateSpace.  Book One of her series, Fall of Angels, titled Branded, has been out for some time now.  I keep telling you all to buy it and read it... raise your hand if you have!  I personally find it to be an amazing read, full of a new and terrifying take on angels and how real our dreams can truly be.

Well, happy day: Book Two of the series, Forsaken, is now out!  She originally planned for it to be for sale on 01-01-11, but when the product was finished and ready, she just couldn't wait.  Which I am happy for... because I want it!  I haven't had a chance to read the finished copy yet, and am biting at the bit to tear into it.


Here is the synopsis, because I know you want it:
It's been four months since Alex gave everything to save Jessica. Life should be perfect; she has Alex, she's been freed of the nightmares, and most of all- she's alive. But some things have changed, some things haven't. That's the problem. Alex still hasn't asked "the question". Jessica can't see the reason why and it's tearing her apart. He's keeping something from her.

Alex isn't the only one who has changed though. Something is different about Jessica but she doesn't understand what's happened. She just knows something's wrong, that she feels different than she used to, on a skin deep level. And it may keep her and Alex apart. Forever.

But while Alex and Jessica struggle to stay together, Cole is not about to be forgotten. There are a few things he didn't tell Jessica, about his past and her future. There are reasons why he came after her, reasons that are tied to his history that is darker than she could have ever realized. 

Everyone, seriously, go read this!  And that means you have to read Branded too... then eventually Book Three as well... Just do it!  And Keary: I am SO proud of you!  And excited for you.  And... and... GO KEARY!  (ok, yeah, I'm a stalker-friend, but she loves it... I hope!)

You can buy Forsaken at Amazon.com.  
Click HERE

If you do not own Branded yet, it is also on Amazon, 
in both paperback and kindle.  
Click HERE 

You can also order a signed copy directly from Keary.  
For more information on that, contact Keary HERE

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekly Update


Weekly Update.  That's just a horrible name for my updates, being as I really have not been doing them weekly.  But I will keep it.  Maybe it will encourage me to actually do a weekly update... soon.

I started in on editing PN.  Well, kind of.  I have read through chapter one and added/deleted things.  All in all, I managed to add about 300 words to it!  Then I dove into chapter two, noted the places to fix/change... and the baby started to cry, so I stepped away and haven't found myself stepping back yet.

I know, I know.  I need to just buckle down and do it.  And believe me, I want to!  What with the holidays though, and me getting this delightful cold that just won't leave, and my super non-confidence kicking in full swing... Someone light this dang fire under my butt, please!

We are hoping to head up to visit my family this weekend.  I have asked hubby to fix Word on my netbook so I can work on editing on the drive.  (Netbook came with a trial version of Word 2007, and once the trial period ended and I still hadn't bought a product key, it froze up the whole program.  LAME.)  It would be nice to have that car-time to sit and read it, so I am really crossing my fingers that my totally awesome hubby can wiggle his computer magic. 

My youngest sister-in-law has really been wanting me to change who I had "cast" as Millie.  I guess Emily Browning is a bit over used.  I don't fully like her either (a tiny bit too baby faced) but she was the best I could find at the time to portray the lady I pictured in my head.  So I give you all a challenge:  Find me my Millie.  Preferable short chin length or so hair (though hair doesn't matter quite so much...).  Pretty face.  Slim.  Looks around 18 years old.  I want to see who you all can find, being as my knowledge of the celebrity world is mighty slim.

On another note:  I have been plunking out a short story.  I recently read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Dead Tossed Waves (reviews to come... eventually) and it really got me thinking about what happens to the person after they turn.  I got a fun idea formed, but know it wouldn't work for an entire novel, so short story it is!  I started to write it last night, and am having fun with this total change from most anything I usually write.  Mental breaks are good.  And fun.  Plus, its zombie... come on!

Well, that about sums up my adventures at the moment.  I hope everyone had a great Christmas season.  My kiddos totally loved it, and my hubby spoiled me with giftcards to Powells and Kohls... I am set!  I was the awesome wife and got him World of Warcraft Cataclysm.  Yes, I rock.  Thank you, Thank you.

Oh!  One more thing!  I know a few of you have been spreading word to other friends and online places about me and my blog and noveling adventures.  THANK YOU.  It has been awesome to see a few more hits to my blog than usual, and meeting people I don't even know who think I have an idea worth reading.  Please, keep it up.  You all rock.  More than me.  Like... literally.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb 10 - Week 3

(Pretty late on this post, I know.  Blame it on the holidays!)


December 15 - 5 Minutes
   I am losing my memory.  But do not forget: You were pregnant.  You had your second little boy, in a record speedy delivery.  He is amazing... a little cuddle bug who flirts and loves like nothing else.  Your first little man started talking like nothing else.  Terrible twos suck, potty training is a non stop battle, but he learned to say "I love you" and it makes you float every time he does.  Your hubby did great at his job.  He is happy.  It is so great to see him happy.  Two nieces were born.  Adorable.  you won NaNoWriMo!  Guess what... You CAN write.  You even finished the novel.  And even though you keep chickening out on diving in to edit the dang thing, you did it.  You chopped your hair off too, donated it like you have always wanted to, and then dyed it red.  You red head you.  Life has been up and down.  Bills have been tough.  Friendships tougher.  But you... you are happy.

December 16 - Friendship
   Everyone I meet changes me.  The question though is if one friend helped to change a perspective this year.  Yes.  Of course.  Oh, pick one?  Well, I will leave names out, for privacy sake.  But this one friend had his life flip turned in every direction but the one he wanted.  Regardless, he has proved that life goes on.  He is making it work, and has proved that no matter what crap happens to him, he is still there and a friend to us.  Makes you wonder how often you ignore a friend who needs you just because you want to dwell on some small piece of unhappiness happening in your life.  Isn't that a part of being a friend?  Being there, no matter what, even if it means to stop focusing on your own woes for just a moment?  I learned that...


December 17 - Lesson Learned
   Again with the broken record!  But really... this is something I truly did learn:  I CAN write.  Well, I CAN finish a first draft of a novel.  Now on to the discovering what I truly wrote... but still.  I always doubted whether I can do it.  Now I know I can.  It really is hard to explain the feeling... but its a feeling I am happy I learned and cherish.

December 18 - Try
   I want to try to bake bread.  So simple, I know.  You just have to understand:  I am a yeast killer.  I do everything I am supposed to do, but the dang dough never rises!  Then in comes hubby and he makes killer dough that has to be punched down over and over.  How he does it, I never know.  I have even had him prepare the yeast for me... yet as soon as I touch it, it dies in agony.  I just don't get it.  So, I figure it is about time I solve this murderous issue and make me some dough!

December 19 - Healing
  What healed me this year?  This is tough.  What healed me... My kids.  They exhaust me.  Try me.  Make me mad and sad and frustrated.  But there is something under all that that I don't even know I can explain.  They love me.  Regardless of everything, all the time outs and no's and tantrums... They love me.  Its that unconditional love.  The belief that one mommy kiss fixes all boo boos.  The need to be held and the smile when they see my face.  No matter how bad the day was, I always feel my heart skip a beat in those moments.  I am needed... and they make me realize it daily (even though some days I wish I weren't nearly as needed as they insist...) 
   In 2011, I would like the healing of more patience... for all those moments I don't feel the love ;)

December 20 - Beyond Avoidance
   Oh, the list I could make of things I have avoided.  But do I dare?  I think I do not.  One thing I have avoided that I will gladly share is the decluttering.  I was so set on decluttering our apartment.  Gutting the closets, organizing, making it purty.  I slowly started, then pretty much came to a dead stop and called the slight messes still tucked behind closet doors good.  I am good at coming up with all the excuses I can for why I stopped... but in all truth, I just stopped.  Plain and simple?  Should I dare to set a goal to finish that project next year?  Uh...


December 21 - Future Self
  From me in 5 years:  Hey, Jenni, how you doing?  Remember that novel you wrote?  You will finish it.  Remember your kiddos that drove you nuts?  They grow bigger, so love them while they are little.  The year of 2011 will be tough, like every year.  Just remember to smile, to stick to your guns, and to remember your dreams.  You will do great.  Trust me, I know
   To me 10 years ago:  You are 14.  You think its love.  And it most likely is.  But just you wait until you experience the full love you will find in just four years.  All the pain and worry and confusion you feel now will seem like nothing, like a dream you had and barely can remember.  Your parents love you.  You will realize that, even though I know you are rolling your eyes now.  And yes, homework should be done... as much as you may say that it sucks.  Someday you won't have any homework, any sports practice or play rehearsals, and you will miss it.  So cherish the moments now.  They barely last.  Just you wait... your life ahead is an amazing one.  Oh, and don't cut your hair that short again.  It just doesn't suit you. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: The Well

The Well
By A.J. Whitten

Synopsis:  (From Powells)
If Hamlet thought he had issues, he should have talked to Cooper Warner.
His mothers normally sunny demeanor has turned into something—homicidal.
And whats worse, she has help in her hunt for Cooper: A ravenous monster living at the bottom of the old well in the woods behind their house. Shes determined to deliver her 14-year-old son straight into the creatures eager clutches. Cooper turns to his girlfriend, Megan, for help, but then, to his horror, the creature takes her prisoner.
Now, its up to Cooper to fend off his murderous mother, finish his Hamlet paper, and enter the putrid lair at the bottom of the well to rescue Megan. And when he confronts the creature, Cooper must make the toughest decision of his life: kill, or be killed.
Inspired by Hamlet, THE WELL puts a terrifying twist on the Shakespearean classic. 
Why I picked up this book:  I blame it on the synopsis.  In all honesty, I don't really like the cover.  But how could I resist a synopsis about a crazy mom, a monster in a well, and Hamlet?

My thoughts:  
I have to start with a bit of a confession here:  I am not a Shakespeare fan.  I know... I have lived my whole life acting on the stage and devouring books as fast as I can snatch them.  It almost seems an unwritten rule then that I must love and adore Shakespeare.  But... as much as his writing is amazing and his story lines have helped propel most likely thousands of other books, plays and movies plots... I just have never gotten into his works.  The only reason I know anything of Hamlet was because I half watched a movie in my english class in high school years ago...

That being said... I really did enjoy this book.  Certain scenes truly did touch back onto Hamlet, while others were obviously the author running off on her own.  Maybe saying I was "happily" pulled into the story isn't the right word choice given the horror-genre of the book, but I did devour it.  

There were moments when I was hoping for more.  As in more of an outcome, more of an explanation... more.  But even without those few moments expanded like I would have liked, I felt "complete" by the end.  Oh, and the end... yes, well, you need to read it I guess.  I connected easily to Cooper, while at times almost finding myself rooting for the monster as well. (Call it a weakness, I like a "good" bad guy who has a sympathetic back story.)

My only negative is the metaphors and similes used.  I would be chugging along, totally into the book, then a sentence would pop up like: "The forest crackled like a bowl of Rice Krispies."  And that's not the only one.   I do remember one about referring a group to a crowd waiting for a Miley Cyrus concert...  Every time I read those, I cringed inside and felt my attention to the story slip slightly.  They were funny, yes... but the story wasn't funny, making them feel very out of place and distracting.  All they did was... not fit.  Ok, my whining there is over.

Fun fact: A.J. Whitten is actually the pen name for romance author Shirley Jump and her daughter Amanda Jump.  I think its very awesome that they are writing together.

Even though I did not like the metaphors used, I loved the story.  It is something I am gladly keeping on my shelf and will most likely read again, sometime.  The Well is an awesome, modern twist on Hamlet, sure to grab both male and female readers looking for a quick horror fix.  I have already recommended it to friends to read, and yes, I recommend it to you too!  Watch out for the well...
My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
(Rating this one was hard.  I was battling between 3 and 4 stars, but I decided to be nice and let it edge up to the 4.  A few more of those metaphors though and it would have been bumped down... FYI)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb 10 - Week 2


December 8 - Beautifully Different

   What makes me different... What do I do that makes others light up...  Why is this such a hard question?  I am different because I want to see you smile.  I want to do something that makes you feel that surge of warm happiness inside, because I know how rare that feeling is.  I will tell you the truth.  Whether is showing you how beautiful you are in a photo I take, to sitting there online as you open up and vent... I will do it.  Oh, I probably say the wrong thing at too many times.  But trust me, when I do I feel even crappier than you do.  Does this make me different, and beautiful?  I don't know.  But its what I have.

December 9 - Party
   I have no true social life.  So, selecting which party "rocked my socks off" was a very slim selection.  Of course any social gathering I have with my friends is always amazing.  I miss them all, alot.  But I guess the only actual party I went to this year, that comes to mind at least, was the NaNoWriMo KickOff Party.
   Come on, a room full of other Portland peers, all there for one reason: Their love of writing.  How much better can that get?  Yes, we supplied ourselves quite nicely with candy and soda.  Then we sat and talked about our novel ideas, our triumphs, and our expected fails.  It was more than awesome.  It was the gathering I have been craving.  The permission to be the geek that I am.  

December 10 - Wisdom
   The wisest decision I made this year.  It would most likely have to be the decision to ignore all my fears and rational thoughts, and accept the WriMo challenge.  I know I talk a ton about it.  And for good reason.  I should have chickened out of it.  Come on... write a novel in 30 days?  While having two kiddos, keeping house, plus who knows what else?  Anyway, I never had finished any novel.  I knew I wouldn't finish this.  How could I?
   I ignored my thoughts though, and let the challenge happen.  What happened?  You should know.  I finished my first rough draft ever.  And I feel amazing, even to this day.  I am one huge step closer to accomplishing a dream I have had for my entire life, and that there makes it a VERY wise decision.

December 11 - 11 Things
   11 things in my life that I don't need in 2011.  Oh my...
   1.  My laziness.  How many bills have been late, how many dishes have stacked high, how many photos do I still have to edit... all because I sit and think "Oh, I am just... going to do that later."  I need to kick myself in the butt much more... and get off my butt in a sense and do the things I want and have to do.  Life is waiting people!
   2.  My weakness.  I feel physically week.  And its not cool.  I used to be in track, and good at it.  I liked my body (well, enough... who really loves their body?)  I even had some muscle in my arms that was a feminine flex worthy.  Now... I feel like flab.  So, I need to get back on my exercising bus.
   3.  Stacks of laundry.  You know the drill.  Let the basket fill up until its spilling out.  Wash everything.  Let the pile of clean clothes sit for weeks, until most are either dirty again or so wrinkly that they need to be washed again anyway.  And... repeat.  I am an expert at this.  Its an expertise I wish I did not have.  So, laundry, watch it.  I am coming for you.
   4.  Spending.  I am not a horrible spender.  But I do know I spend a few extra bucks here and there when I really do not need to.  Yes, we need our goodies.  But I need to make it a prize, not an impulse.
   5.  On that note... Debt.  We are in it, who isn't?  Well, I don't want to be anymore.  Credit cards were a BAD idea, and that idea is now being smacked upside the head and sent bye-bye.  come tax returns, chunks will be paid, cards will be snipped, and we will make our way out of the stress of the in debt life.
   6.  No Me-Time.  I am a stay at home mommy of two amazing little boys, and my husband works long hours at work.  I love my "job," but the issue with being a SAHM is... you never get time off.  Day, night, its all the same.  And I am going nuts.  I feel lost... Writing is one of my ways out.  But I need to actually GET out. 
   7.  Diet.  I do not diet.  I am very much so on the see food diet, and I love it.  My issue?  I don't eat the healthiest.  I skip meals... I eat lots of candy... Mt Dew... I love you Mt Dew.  This is most likely a leading reason why I always feel so weak, and lazy... So, "healthier" foods, whatever you end up being, time to be munched.
   8.  Exhaustion.  I need to get to bed earlier.  Enough said.
   9.  Finger biting.  This is my bad habit.  I don't bite my nails... but more so the skin around them.  It hurts, all the time.  And doesn't look pretty either.  It has been a bad habit of mine since late elementary school, and I hate it.  But I never seem able to stop.  I need to.  I have no idea how I will go about doing that, but now that I have stated it, I am bound.
   10.  Loneliness.  Granted, some loneliness you cannot avoid.  It is part of life.  But I could try to get out more.  Get to church more.  Arrange play dates more.  Go on hubby dates.  Lots of things.  I need to chase away the loneliness.
   11.  My excuses to not write.  Pretty much fixing everything I just listed will help with this.  I have been working hard on writing more, and it feels amazing.  This next year... I need to keep that up.  I am me when I write, and what is better than that?

December 12 - Body Integration
   Well, naturally, I felt pretty integrated with my body this year when I gave birth to my little boy.  That is probably one of the most in tune events you can experience.  Since then though... I have been at sorts.  Being chunky and preggo the first half of the year then spending the rest trying to get that to go away does a number on your integration.

December 13 - Action
   "Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?"  My next step is so obvious I feel like a broken record for repeating it as often as I do.  Ready?  EDIT!

December 14 - Appreciate
   I have truly come to appreciate this little family of mine.  Though they drive me crazy, wear me out, and try me every second of the day... where was I going with that?  No, really... I sit and watch my kiddos play and grow.  I kiss my hubby, listen to him talk and laugh.  And I realize how truly lucky I am to have this amazing family I have helped to create.  Baby number two wasn't planned, not on our end.  But with out him, our family was never complete.  I love all my boys, so much, and am so thankful every day that I got to draw this straw.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb 10 - Week 1


A writing friend of mine, Kim, posted this on her blog.  I totally love the idea behind it, so I am stealing it from her and doing it too.  It will be a great way to get my brain moving again, in prep for the mad editing I have laying in wait ahead of me.

According to their website: "Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what's next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10, we'll do both."

Simply, they give you a prompt a day, and you answer it.  In interest of the fact that I am still not a decent blogger, I am going to just do a weekly post of that week's prompts, instead of daily.  So, let's dive in shall we!

December 1 - One Word
   My one word for 2010 would have to be "showcase."  This wasn't the easiest year for me.  Aside from some personal issues that need not be delved into, we had huge bill problems, birthed a baby, depression came back full swing, both kids got dislocated arms, oh the list can go on.  Its no where near as bad as other people's lists, but still, it is my list.  The year wasn't all bad though.  We got our newest family member, who is one of the cutest babies ever.  I finished my first draft of my first novel.  Good things have happened.  And I hope more do next year.  Hence my word for the coming year to be "Hopeful."

December 2 - Writing
   "Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?" (Author: Leo Babauta)
   Things that don't contribute to my writing... let's see... First thing that comes to my mind are my kiddos.  I can't eliminate them, but I'm sure I can find a better balance that what I have right now.  Other than that: Facebook, StumbleUpon, the internet in general.  Reading books.  Wanting to sleep or just zone out mindlessly into television.  Yeah... I have a lot prioritizing to work on come 2011!

December 3 - Moment
   Its hard to pick a moment in which I felt most alive.  Do I pick the birth of my second son?  Writing the last sentence in my first novel?  They are so close to being a tie...So here, I will pick the one that takes up a little less time :)
   I sat at my computer, typing like mad, knowing how close I was to finally finishing.  Some how I had succeeded in getting both kiddos to take naps, and the apartment was silent aside from my music lightly playing and the mad tap-tap of the keyboard. 
   I didn't know exactly when it would end.  I had not fully planned it.  Until that final sentence was written and I stopped and stared.  That was it.  I couldn't go on.  This was the end.  My heart fluttered and jumped, a strange mix of pure joy and odd anxiety.  Had I said enough?  Not enough?  Did I really just finish the first draft?  I did it!
   I sat back and couldn't stop staring, a smile spreading on my face.  I could have ran for miles that day.  I felt like shouting in joy, bursting into tears, laughing like a maniac.  I was alive.

December 4 - Wonder
   Cultivating a sense of wonder... I do not need to cultivate.  I have two imaginative little boys that keep me laughing at the wonders of life every second of the day.  So I guess you could say I cultivated it when I conceived each of them... which wasn't this year... so it doesn't count.  Along with that, I did remake my dining room into my writing den.  I really do think it helped, a lot, with my writing adventures.  It is wonder...full...

December 5 - Let Go
   This is hard.  This is something I am still working on, and have not yet fully succeeded.  But what I let go of was: The battle for love.  I always feel like I need to try hard, to always get everyone to love me and want me around.  But the thing is, how often does that backfire?  How often am I just wearing myself out on a useless case?  This is something I have done my entire life, and just this year I realized that I needed to change it.  If they are going to love me, they will love me.  I shouldn't need to try so hard, every second of the day.  I am me.  Love me or leave me.

December 6 - Make
  This year I made a lot of things.  A baby for one. :)  And I have gotten back into baking and cooking.  Discovering a tuna casserole my husband will actually eat.  Banana chocolate chip cookies.  My first ever apple pie.  Oh yes, and I "made" a novel.  The first draft anyhow.  Materials: my brain and insanity.  What do I want to make next year?  Hm... the final draft?  Maybe?  Oh, and my first successful loaf of bread.  Yeast, I will not kill you this time, I swear!


December 7 - Community
   This has been something hard for me, living down here.  Up on the island I lived on my entire life, the sense of community was so strong you could eat it.  Here... not so much.  I have felt almost lost.  Then came November and I met my online, occasionally in person, community of writers.  They made me like this area, finally.  WriMos, I love you.  This next year I hope to stay in contact with them more, attend the random writing groups that are hopefully forming... in essence: Be a writer.

(even though today is the 9th, I want to only do one week's prompts at a time.  So... on the 14th there shall be more!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekly Update


Being as it has been about a week since my last post, I suppose I better bust out some sort of an update for you all. 

My hubby has been gone the last four days, helping to train some new workers in another town.  So, I have been playing the role of single mommy.  Oh man, am I tired!  I love my little boys to pieces, but really... the word "calm" means nothing to them.  We need a back yard... a HUGE back yard.

Needless to say, I haven't got much of anything done.  Even the house work is falling behind (though I did pull out the oven and wash behind it.  Note to self: do that chore a tad bit more often.)  Even as I type this right now, my oldest is spinning the chair I am sitting in and repeating "mommy, go byebye?" over and over.  I can't wait for Daddy to come home.

I chanced a look at my first draft the other day.  Scrolled through it and read random parts.  Can I be honest?  I am as scared as heck to dive in to this next phase.  I think I am gladly letting the excuses keep me away from it... In my head, I love the story.  But I am so freaked that when I actually read what I wrote, it will be horrible and only deserve the daunting, huge "delete" button. 

I feel at a loss.  Since I have never gotten to this point in my life, I don't fully know where to go from here.  Is there a right way?  Am I editing it to be better... or worse?  Do you have any idea how tempting it is to tuck it away into some hidden file and deny that it ever existed?

But I can't do that.  I love Prison Nation.  I really do.
And... sigh.

Hopefully my next update will be an actual update. 
Time to chase the boys around, again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I am a Novelist





Well, just a few minutes ago, I plunked out the final sentence of Prison Nation.


The first draft, as of this moment in time, is now done.
I have finished writing a book.

It is a surreal feeling.  I have been writing since I was three.  Literally.  And since I can remember, I have declared that I would someday be an author.  Yet every project I began, rarely even met its middle, much less its end.  I am sitting here now, scrolling up and down through my Word Document, and cannot believe that the 65,658 words saved in there are mine. 

I have lists of things to add in.  To edit and change.  Some to delete.  Who knows what the final word count will actually be.  But, I can proudly say, that Draft 1, the roughest and toughest, is now done.  In 31 days, I wrote my first novel.  And as crappy or horrible or down-right rotten some sections of it may be, I am proud of it.

Writing the final sentence, I felt this odd mix of heart-racing excitement and total nerves.  I cannot explain it.  But now, I am smiling.  And I just can't stop.

What is next you ask?  Well, take a few days off (maybe) then dive back in.  I have things to add, people to fix, verbs to change.  Editing, the dreaded editing.  *grumble, mixed with giddy "wee!"*

We will see where this goes from here.

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