Trying New Adult

This has been a mostly uneventful week, one of those that we all need every now and then (at least I do, preferably more often). It started out with me adding a plugin to my website that will enable users to get notification of subsequent comments on a post by checking a box, so now if you want to do that, you can! This plugin came with a bunch of other stuff I spent way too much time messing with, my favorite means of procrastination. Oh well.

One thing I did do a lot of–more than usual, it seemed–was throw the ball to Isis:

OK, I brought you the ball. Now what?

OK, I brought you the ball. Now what?

I do not care if you happen to be eating. Throw the ball, now!

I do not care if you happen to be eating. Throw the ball, now!

It has been one of those weeks where I feel like I was busy for most of it, yet I don’t feel like I got a lot done. So for now, I’ll move on to What I read this week. I finally got around to trying out a New Adult romance. I’d been wanting to try reading one of these for a while, but have always been put off because they are almost always in first person present tense, which I detest. Once in a great while, I can get past it with a great voice or really gripping story, but most of the time, it just serves to remind me that no, I’m not actually there with the narrator as the story events occur, and takes me out of the story immediately. So when I ran across this one on a blog, and for some reason decided to check it out on Amazon, I found that it was in past tense, and wanted to do a happy dance. I didn’t, because I was at work, and was also too tired to do any thing more than chair-dancing. But the premise looked interesting, so I bought it.

AtAnyPriceThe book was At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey. This is a book that big NY publishers offered a six-figure deal for at auction, that the author turned down to publish independently. And it is easy to see why they’d want it–it had an interesting premise (college student auctions off her virginity to pay for med school and mom’s medical bills) and a voice that did a good job pulling me in (in past tense, thank you!). It also has a very current feel, with obvious appeal to younger readers (main character is getting ready to graduate college, is into gaming as a hobby, and blogs about the latter). Like in YA, these characters did some stupid impulsive things, or sometimes refused to talk about stuff they should–things that seem obvious to those of us their parents’ age, but can remember engaging in the same kinds of stupid at their age. I liked these things, because it kept the book interesting and helped make the characters real, but what made it really shine was the emotion.

This book was in first person, which I’m normally not fond of in romance because I like to see both characters’ points of view. However, it totally worked in this book, because a lot of the conflict came from the female protagonist not knowing what the guy was thinking.

One thing that surprised me was to find that the follow-on to this book is about the same couple. It was surprising because At Any Price had a very satisfying ending, and felt very complete with no unanswered questions, to the point I’m not particularly compelled to get the second book. But I very well may anyway, just because the emotion was so well done, and to see where the author goes with it. My book Time’s Fugitive follows the same couple as its predecessor Time’s Enemy, but while Enemy ends satisfyingly (I hope), it definitely leaves some unanswered questions. At Any Price is free on Amazon right now, so if you’re curious as I was, this is a good time to give it a read!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to go through my WIP and find all the notes about where I needed to add or change something in another scene, and move those notes to where the changes would need to go. It didn’t feel like I did much, but I did get that done (and identified two more new scenes the book will need). This week, I want to go through the whole book and make sure each scene holds together (protagonist, antagonist, conflict, setting, and something that changes), and then begin the in-depth markup of the first three scenes, more if possible.

What about you–how was your week? Have you ever read a New Adult book, whether romance or another genre, and if so, how was it? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Hidden Treasure and Surprise Gifts

As the title says, this week has been one of hidden treasure and surprise gifts!

The hidden treasure actually came last week, but goals were filling my mind so I forgot about it then.

My husband found it in our new (to us) student rental house, while he and my dad were there doing some electrical work. They had to remove paneling in the attic room to add some outlets, and found a magazine and a postcard. No big deal, right? Except these were from when the house was new: the postcard was postmarked Dec. 1, 1954, and the magazine was a copy of Collier’s, November 26, 1954.

The postcard was from someone asking a bible study question (maybe the house’s first resident was a Sunday School teacher?), and was on plain postal stationery–the pre-stamped stuff the PO sells, which can be worth a lot of money to collectors. This is pretty faded and stained, so probably isn’t, but it’s still interesting.

But the Collier’s–wow, awesome find for someone who loves early 20th century history and writes time travel… :D

(Click on any of the magazine images for a larger view)

Collier's cover

Most of the front cover was missing, and I haven’t read the cover article, but it looks like a criticism of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor–which is especially funny given 2014’s similarly-whitewashed Exodus. Apparently Hollywood never learns some things. And check out the ad on back! Most of us under 50 can’t remember seeing cigarette ads in current magazines.

Collier's short fiction

There was this gem, reminding us of when short fiction was a significant part of magazines, and authors could  make a good living writing for “the pulps.” And another cigarette ad–with tons of small text! Wow, so different from today’s ads, where advertisers have to grab readers in a fraction of a second.  I haven’t read the story yet, but I probably will, just for the LOLs.

And what’s not to love about this Chevrolet ad? And what an awesome car, even before fins became all the rage!

IMG_20150111_121157927

My daughter’s favorite was this political cartoon, and I have to agree that it gives us a great view of one common fear in the fifties: the spread of Communism. Interestingly enough, the Calvert ad isn’t unlike today’s ads for alcoholic beverages.

Collier's political cartoon

 

Radios, turntables, and electric alarm clocks were also a big deal in 1954

Radios, turntables, and electric alarm clocks were also a big deal in 1954

Colliers MetLife ad

In this “infomercial” ad, readers could request a booklet from Metropolitan Life on preparing for their golden years.

There was also a really funny one for a toaster from General Electric that cost $54.00. Which doesn’t sound like that big of a deal… until one realizes how much money that was in 1954: almost $500 in today’s money! My daughter had recently seen an episode of The History Channel’s Modern Marvels about “retro tech,” and toasters were one of the topics. Apparently, they were quite the luxury item in the early 20th century, to the point of being a bragging point for the wealthy. This certainly backs that up. And to think that now, a toaster might cost $20…

I got a surprise gift this week, too–because of this blog! And wow, what a surprise. It was an email from a Shutterfly representative, thanking me for mentioning their custom photo Christmas cards in my “Be Kind to Yourself for the Holidays” post. She offered me a free 5×7 glass photo print, if I would make “Shutterfly” into a link. So I did, and she sent me a coupon code. I still had to pay shipping, but got a nice gift worth $40. Of course, I chose three photos of Isis to put in the print. I’ll post a picture of it when I get it!

Isis enjoys watching dog videos on YouTube

Isis enjoys watching dog videos on YouTube

Isis has not yet figured out that at nearly 90 pounds, she’s not a lapdog. And I admit, we allow it. She refused to stop chewing her butt while on my daughter’s lap one day (which is very annoying), so DD found some Rottweiler videos on YouTube. Isis was fascinated–and stopped chewing her butt.

A couple days later, Isis fell asleep on my daughter’s lap. DD didn’t want to disturb our 90-pound goddess, so she tweeted about it, and just browsed the web for a couple hours on her phone. A while later, Pet Supplies Plus responded to her tweet: “You’re a great dog owner!” and offered her a $7 coupon for Nature’s Recipe dog food. We do shop at PSP, but don’t feed that brand, so I will give the code to a coworker who does–and is looking for another place to buy dog food, since the SuperPets near her closed.

The point to all this? I guess it’s just that it’s never a bad thing to share about a product or service you really like, but it needs to be genuine. We didn’t expect either of these goodies–it was just honest, real conversation, and those companies’ social media reps picked up on that.

What I read this week: Still not quite done with the novel, and this is getting long, so I’m going to delay that again.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I went through the rest of my WIP and timestamped each scene, since I realized I wasn’t sure when one needed to take place. This is tricky with all of the time travel involved, and especially since in one spot, several weeks pass between scenes. I needed to know how much. So I figured all of that out, and am now firmly headed into revision territory. I didn’t get much else done, but I’ll be OK with that, since I now know where I’m headed. There is still new writing to be done too, but I need to do a real revision markup to figure out exactly where. So that is my goal for this week–to go through the MS and find all the notes about where I need to add or change something in another scene, and mark those changes where they need to go.

What about you–have you ever received a surprise gift out of the blue, whether as a result of social media or otherwise? Have you ever found “antiques” hiding in your home? How are you doing on your goals this week, whatever they may be? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

New Year, New ROW80, New Goals!

It’s been a second, welcome week of only two days at work, and my second five-day weekend. Our furry houseguest is still here as I write this, but scheduled to leave tonight.

She has been a lot of fun, both for us and for Isis. (The gerbils are still not too sure.) If the neighbors were to come back and say, “Oh, why don’t you just keep her,” neither my husband, our daughter, nor I would be a bit disappointed (and a trip to the pet store for more indestructible toys would be in order).

The girls "wrestling"

The girls “wrestling”

Isis afterward

Isis afterward

It’s also that time of year when we tend to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished over the last one, and what we hope to achieve in the coming one.

If I look at my writing in terms of pure production, it’s kind of disappointing. I intended to finish a short story by March; I ended up with NOTHING. But when I look at what happened (story turned into a novella, then a novel, then a longer novel!) and count up how many words I wrote (close to 100k, counting work on other projects and stuff that got cut), and look over how much I learned, including most importantly, how to have fun with my writing again, it’s not so bad. Not at all. And also hopefully a lot of which will set me up for a good 2015.

I do best breaking goals into manageable chunks, and ROW80 Round 1 starts tomorrow (Monday, January 5), so it’s time for some quarterly goals. (For those who don’t know what ROW80 is, it’s “The Writing Challenge that Knows you Have a Life” and lets us set goals that work for us. More info on the ROW80 blog.)

ROW80Logo175So here are my goals for Round 1:

  • Finish the WIP, get it revised, and out to beta readers
  • Prep work for next one, which includes a self-directed workshop (I want to do some of this concurrently with the above, so I’m  ready to start getting words on it when the above goes out)
  • Make changes to the Love’s a Beach anthology for my publisher–Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America shut down at the end of this year :( so those references need to be changed in both the text and cover I designed for them
  • Read one craft or business book (already started)
  • Take one online workshop or video series (already started as part of “prep work” above)

For this week, that breaks down to:

  • Quick review the rest of the WIP for major-major changes OR write one new scene (I think will be needed)
  • Do one set of worksheets for the next WIP workshop
  • Bonus: Finish writing craft/business book
  • Bonus: any work on the anthology changes

What I read this week: I am about halfway through a novel, and also about halfway through the craft/business book mentioned above, so I will discuss one or both next week. As a side note, I read 43 books last year, a half-dozen of which were short stories, and another half-doze were Dean Wesley Smith’s Smith’s Monthly magazines, each of which includes a full-length novel and about a half-dozen short stories. There were three nonfiction books on my list that I didn’t finish, one because it was really long and I had to return it to the library before I finished, and two because they just weren’t that interesting and I wasn’t learning anything new from them. There was also a novella I didn’t finish that was very good, but kept me awake afterward, so I’ll finish that sometime when I want to read fiction some time other than before bed (which I don’t have a chance to very often).

What about you–how was your past year? Did any of your accomplishments or things you learned surprise you? And what are you looking forward to this year? Whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, or are even a writer, what are some of your goals for this year? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Holidays and Houseguests and Books!

We had a nice Christmas, but like always, I’m glad it’s over. I am blessed in that there is not a lot of drama in my family, and though I host dinner, everyone chips in with the food and no one complains about anything (well, nothing related to dinner or each other). My husband and daughter went to Staples to shop for me, LOL. They got me a new desk chair for my Internet computer, which was sorely needed, and filled my stocking with things like pens, sticky notes, and a few small treats. Money from my parents will undoubtedly go for writing workshops–always appreciated!

She borrowed Isis' clothes

She borrowed Isis’ clothes

Isis got a candy-cane-shaped rawhide, which allowed everyone else to eat without being bothered.

The next day, we got a houseguest–a furry one with four legs and a tail. We are dog-sitting for a neighbor, and their dog and Isis get along well together, so we just brought her back to our place.

They had a sleepover

They had a sleepover

 

Our guest really enjoys GerbilTV

Our guest really enjoys GerbilTV

She enjoys TurtleTV too

She enjoys TurtleTV too

Isis is ready for a nap

She wants to play, but Isis is ready for a nap

cd-hersh-cover-blood-brothersWhat I read this week: One thing nice about having a few days off work is more time to read! I read several short works, both fiction and nonfiction, that I’ve had for a while. I also finished the novel I started two+ weeks ago, Blood Brothers by C.D. Hersh. This is urban fantasy, and the sequel to The Promised One, which I really enjoyed, and discussed here. I like the shapeshifter mythology in these books, because it’s different: rather than people who shift into one type of animal (i.e., werewolves), these folks can mimic other people as well, so you can imagine the kind of havoc that power raises in the hands of less ethical folks. Add in a good twin-evil twin scenario, and things get even more interesting. In addition to continuing the relationship between the main characters from the previous book, it also had a nice romance subplot featuring an older couple, which I find I like more as I get older LOL.

Forever32I also read a couple of short stories. One I’d been wanting to get to for a while, “Forever Thirty-Two” by Stacy McKitrick, was the prequel to her vampire romance, Bite Me, I’m Yours, which I beta-read probably a year ago and really enjoyed. So I knew this wouldn’t disappoint, and it didn’t. “Forever” is the story of how the vampire hero in Bite Me was turned, decades before the novel takes place. Fun to see the background, and I loved the bit of justice in the circular plot ending. You can download “Forever Thirty-two” for free from Stacy’s website.

HunkyElfI’m not a big reader of holiday stories, but I do like one occasionally, and on Christmas night, I was in the mood for one, so I downloaded Meg Cooper’s erotic romance short story “The Hunky Elf.” Very cute, and definitely a fun read that perfectly fit into the Santa mythology and feel-good spirit of giving, along with some good steamy stuff.

In nonfiction, I went through some of the books from the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Pack that StoryBundle offered a few weeks ago. These included Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith, The Pursuit of Perfection and How it Harms Writers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland. The first two are collections of blog posts but updated and organized, which made for a very worthwhile read even as a repeat. The Resonance book brought up some concepts I hadn’t thought of or even heard in workshops before, and while not as immediately useful with my writing process, was also worthwhile.

ROW80/Writing Update: ROW80 is on hiatus until January 4, but I’m still writing! Why? Because it’s fun! Of all my writing goals for this year, one of my primary ones was to find the fun in writing again, and I have. I’ve written something every day this week and the one before, even if only a couple of sentences, and on Christmas, I got 1500 words written after my family left, my daughter went to visit a friend, and my husband and brother went to the garage. Other than that, it was one of those weeks where it didn’t feel like I got much writing done. But when I checked my log, I’d completed a new scene, and it added up to 3500 new words. So a big win! So this week’s plan is to keep up that pace. I only have to work Monday and Tuesday, so that will help.

What about you–did you have a nice holiday? Any houseguests? If you celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts, what did you get and/or give? Read any good books lately? And what are you looking forward to in 2015? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

ROW80: Fourth Quarter Summary

This week has been all about holiday stuff and writing. There were two work parties, which were held during work–the best kind! On the home side, I still need to get stocking stuffers, but otherwise, my Christmas shopping is done, and the last of my gifts arrived from Amazon yesterday. So all I need to do now is wrap them.

I also got the Christmas cards out–hopefully in time for them to arrive on or before Christmas Eve (with the exception of one that goes overseas–they’ll understand). The cards arrived from Shutterfly last week, but I put off sending them because I wanted to do a holiday newsletter, which I haven’t done for the past couple of years.

 

It's hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April--now she's over 80 lbs!

It’s hard to believe Isis looked like this when we got her in April–now she’s over 80 lbs!

I didn’t feel like I got a lot of writing done, at least in words added, because I was doing a lot of editing and deleting, to make the newer stuff fit in with older stuff. (I have new respect for writers who write out of order!) But when I added it up, the new words came out to over 4700! And that’s in addition to those that made up for the ones I cut, which is probably 1000 more.  Let’s not talk about what my house looks like at the moment. :D

MillionProdWhat I read this week: I wanted to pick up some nonfiction, so I read one of the books from the NaNoWriMo Story Bundle I got last month, Million Dollar Productivity by Kevin J. Anderson. This was fairly short–so you can get back to writing!–but had some good tips. I found it especially interesting how the author manages to write a half million words a year on his fiction while also editing anthologies, doing several cons and workshops a year, and he revises his fiction too. What he does is go on long hikes, and dictates his fiction, then sends it to a typing service,  at times to the tune of over 10,000 words/day!  8-O But most of his tips work for any process, no matter when and where you can write. Recommended!

I am close, but not finished with the novel, and it’s promising to have an exciting end, so I’ll come back to that next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: This week marks the end of ROW80 for Round 4, and for the year. Actually, the end falls on Christmas Day, but I normally only post on Sunday, so I’ll give my end-of-round update now. My primary goal was to finish my current WIP and get it to the beta readers. That has not happened, in large part because it just keeps growing larger and more complex. Just this week, I identified three more scenes that need to be added, one of which I wrote this past week, and started another (see note about about writers who write out of order!). My other goal was to write five days out of every week. There are 11-1/2 weeks in 80 days, and I hit this seven weeks. Looking at it monthly looks better: I wrote 21 days in October, 22 in November, and so far 17 in December (and haven’t written yet today as I tend to do more writing at night). I didn’t mention it in my blog, but I also wanted to establish a more regular writing routine and most of all, have more fun with my writing, and I consider both of those a success! So even though I didn’t meet my main objective this Round, I consider it to be one of “failing to success,” as Dean Wesley Smith likes to say. His discussion on that is very worth reading, especially if you want to increase your output and have more fun with your writing.

What about you–how’s your year-end shaping up? If you’re participating in ROW80, how did your round go? Your year? Or heck, even if you don’t do ROW80, how did you do with whatever goals you might have? Have you ever failed to meet a goal, yet still consider it a success? Please share–I’d love to hear from you! And if you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful one!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

A Visit with Santa Paws

It’s been a busy week–that time of the year, of course!–so this update will be short.

We took Isis to see Santa, even though she’d been naughty last night. My husband figured she’d been trying to email Santa a letter preceding her meeting with him, and had a bit of trouble. Let’s just say we owe our daughter a Google Nexus 7 tablet or equivalent. At least they’ve come down in price!

But we’d planned to see Santa, so off to Pet Supplies Plus we went. While waiting her turn, Isis met an interesting furry friend:

Isis and Rabbit

Then, she got to see Santa. We don’t know what she asked for, but we spent enough money at PSP I can guess that she got it!

Isis and Santa

When we got home, some neighbors stopped by to introduce us to their new “baby.” Just wait until summer, and that baby will be bigger than Isis–she’s a Great Dane!

Isis and Jules

What I read this week: I started in on another novel, but am only halfway through that, so will discuss when I finish (or get close). I did get most of my Christmas shopping done! It helps that my family is small, and the friends I exchange gifts with, don’t do so until after Christmas. I got my cards from Shutterfly, although I still need to write up my note for friends I don’t correspond with all the time to catch them up, before sending them out. But that’s a big load off.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I also managed to hit my writing goal this week. I not only finished my scene, it clocked in at 4400 words! So quite happy with that. This week, I hope to get the next scene fixes done, and start in on writing the next new scene, which comes after that, to the tune of 1,000 words.

How about you–if you celebrate Christmas, do you have your shopping done, and cards sent out? Have you ever taken a pet to see Santa? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have this week–or the rest of this year, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

 

Be Kind to Yourself for the Holidays

The holidays are the most stressful time of year for many of us, with all of the extra things to do on top of our already too-full to-do lists, plus all those things we want to (or have to) tie up by year-end.

Adrenal fatigue is largely caused by stress, whether a single event, or more commonly, chronic overdoing it, so those of us who’ve reached this state need to be extra mindful when dealing with more stress. So, the best way to begin to heal from adrenal fatigue (or prevent it in the first place) is to avoid unnecessary stress whenever possible.

So to that end, here are some things I’m doing to be kind to myself–and reduce stress–for the holidays:

  • Decorating: stop worrying about outdoing or impressing anyone, and just put up those decorations that are meaningful to us and those we care for. Less is more!
  • Cooking: Nothing wrong with simplifying! Again, stick to those dishes that are particularly enjoyed, and skip the stuff we’ve been doing just because we’ve been doing it for years.
  • Parties: Go to the ones we enjoy, skip the ones we just feel obligated to attend when at all possible. And do we need to bring something? If not, don’t. If so (or if we really want to), get something easy we can just pick up. No need to bring a “famous” homemade dish that takes a lot of time and effort, unless it’s one of those things those we care about will really miss.
  • This year's Christmas card photo

    This year’s Christmas card photo

    Shopping: I hate crowds and traffic, so I do as much as possible online. And whether we go out or online, planning ahead helps us not only do the job faster and with less stress, but also helps us to spend less money we didn’t intend to (another source of stress).

  • Cards: This used to be one of the most stressful aspects of the holidays for me, because I used to design fancy, custom ones and printed my own. Invariably, the designing took far longer than necessary, and the printer would jam several times before I got them all printed, and maybe would run out of ink, too. I now just upload a few photos to Shutterfly and order them there. Not cheap, even with the special offers, but still uniquely ours and sooooo much easier.
  • Addressing cards: I buy Avery shipping labels (or similar) and use Word templates and a mail merge to fill ‘em in. Much easier than hand writing!
  • Gift wrapping: I still can’t stomach paying Amazon $3.49 to wrap a gift, but my wrapping has gotten much simpler over the years. When I was in school and had much less stress (not to mention no job), I loved to wrap fancy gifts with tons of extra ribbons and bows. Now they get wrapped, and maybe a bow, and about half just go into a gift bag. I remember one high school friend whose parents used to wrap each kid’s presents in a one specific paper. No gift tags; everyone knew which was theirs just from the paper. And it was the gift that mattered, not the wrapping job. Brilliant!
  • Treating yourself: I got a haircut this week. That may be no big deal to many of you, but I hadn’t taken the time to do this one simple thing for over six months! So I went to Square One Salon, where they include a mini-facial with the cut, which was so relaxing and worth it. I will not wait so long to go back.
  • And yes, I also spent plenty of time reading!

Speak of LoveWhat I read this week: I finished the novel Speak of Love by Linda Madl. This is a historical romance set in the 17th century Scottish isles. The characters were well-drawn, interesting, and believable for the time period while still sympathetic, but what I especially liked about this book was the real history that was worked in. This did not have a lot of steamy stuff in it, but was definitely not a “sweet” romance either–IMO the sensuality level was just right for the story, the characters, and the other things going on. If you enjoy historical romance, pick this one up!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m going to consider this week a “failing successfully” week. I was completely not thinking when I set a goal of making the big picture changes in the rest of my WIP. Turns out it needs two more scenes, which I realized as I reworked the last one, not to mention that making the big-picture changes is more of a job than I thought, given the scope of the major change introduced 3/4 through the first draft. So my goal for this week is to complete one of the new scenes, or 1500 words–a reasonable goal, as I also still need to finish Christmas shopping, and I have a party to attend that I am really looking forward to.

What about you–do you find yourself stressed over the holidays, or are you good at being kind to yourself? And in what was do you do that? Got any additional tips or ideas? How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, whether writing-related or not? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Traditions, Old and New

Holidays invariably evoke a sense of tradition, regardless of the form our family takes. That’s certainly the case with Thanksgiving, and probably more so with the upcoming Christmas (or whichever winter holiday you celebrate).

One thing nice about traditions is they make planning easy. For Thanksgiving every year, I know I’ll be cooking green beans (just like my grandma used to make them), biscuits, and gravy. My mom knows she’ll be bringing mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, vegetables, and cranberry.

But other traditions have changed. Some of that is due to family members no longer with us–for example, my Grandma Powell used to fix the things I now do–and some is due to shifts in kids growing up, marriages, or divorce. One person who’s soon to be an ex used to bring the desserts. My daughter has grown to love cooking and baking, so that’s now her contribution, along with stuffing balls. A cranberry salad recipe that my other grandma used to bring, seems to have passed on along with her. My mom couldn’t find it, so she tried a different one last year. Funny thing is, most of us like that one much better!

The turkey’s also gone through some changes. Mom used to get up early to get it in the oven every year. But about 15 years ago, a friend introduced my husband to deep fried turkey, and he’s refused to touch baked turkey since. For a while, we had two–my mom still baked one, since a fried turkey requires marinating, and all of the marinades seem to be Cajun spiced–and half our family can’t eat or doesn’t like spicy stuff. Then my husband tried injecting half the turkey with plain melted butter. It was a hit!

Some of my friends have gone even further in changing traditions–they’ve ordered their entire meal out! I wouldn’t mind this at all, especially the reduced cleanup. But for now, I do enjoy my family’s way–and knowing it can change when it needs to.

Probably the best current tradition, though, is having my daughter home for a few days. Isis seems to agree:

Isis Thanksgiving

book-smallWhat I read this week: The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, by Fawne Hansen and Dr. Eric Wood. Ms. Hansen emailed me a few weeks ago after seeing my blog, and offered me a free copy of her book. When I clicked over to her website, www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com, I recognized it as one I’d found several good articles on while researching adrenal fatigue earlier this year. This is one of the newer and more comprehensive books on the subject, and while much of the same information can be found in the earlier books, it’s put together in a clear form that’s easy to understand for someone who’s not a healthcare professional, and is also neatly tied together at the end to help the reader put together his/her own plan for recovery. Some of the other books I’ve read focus more on reducing stress, or on diet, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Many don’t even mention hormone replacement therapy, which is important because all of these systems work together, and may be the missing piece, particularly for people of a certain age. This book is nicely balanced, and what I really liked was its reasonable approach to exercise that recognizes that someone with adrenal fatigue is too tired to do much physical activity. This book gives a good baby-steps way to begin a workout routine that won’t overtax the adrenal glands, and even gives some simple deep-breathing starter exercises. Recommended for anyone who thinks they may be dealing with adrenal fatigue, or who simply wants to learn more about it.

I also am almost done with the novel, but this is getting long so I’ll share that next week. I’m still working on The Indie Author Power Pack, too, which is why the novel’s going so slowly.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I got almost halfway through my book in fixing the big-picture changes required by the big plot change I started 3/4 through. I don’t feel like I did much, but I did meet my goal. This week, I have to finally start shopping and doing holiday stuff, but I still am going to shoot for working the big-picture changes through the rest of it.

What about you–what are some of your holiday traditions, whether for Thanksgiving, or an upcoming holiday? Have you started your winter festivities preparations yet? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Tying Up Loose Ends

This has been another week of closures, of varying types. We closed on our student rental house on Thursday, which was delightfully easy compared to the last purchase. Having to deal with one incompetent, ball-dropping person on the last one dragged out the process; luckily there was no one like that this time. So now we’re looking to see if we can find some short-term tenants to occupy the place until our next-school-year’s committed ones move in.

We celebrated with–wait for it–a trip to the pet store. We bought Isis a giant rawhide bone, which occupied her all evening. We were both tired afterward–my husband had run around doing errands all day, and I was my normal tired–and my husband decided it was the “best $20 we ever spent.” LOL!

"This is gonna take awhile..."

“This is gonna take awhile…”

Yesterday was somewhat of a beginning, for an end that came a couple weeks ago: the last meeting of my RWA chapter. We have no one qualified to run for president, so the November meeting was our last. We’re having a holiday party next month, then we’re done–at least as an RWA chapter. But there are other writing groups in the area, including a very small one my friend Jim Winter started a while back. We invited another of my writing friends yesterday, and for the first time ever (since I’ve attended at least), everyone was in attendance (well, except for the guy who moved to the west coast). Four professional writers and two relative beginners eager to learn, talking about writing and business and all sorts of nerdy stuff--great fun, as always.

What I read this week: Still going to wait on that, because I’m not much farther through any of it, and all is good and deserving of attention. I’m still working on The Indie Author’s Power Pack, and also started a new book on Adrenal Fatigue that the author offered to me for free after seeing my blog a couple weeks ago. That has some good info I haven’t seen before, so I will be discussing it when I finish. I’m still working on the same novel, too. Enjoying it, just slowly due to the nonfiction reading.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: The writing was also a finishing up of some loose ends–I completed not only the scene I was working on last week, but the next two as well (none were long scenes). My goal was to finish one of them and write at least 3,000 words; I exceeded that and wrote around 4,000. So a big win for me! However that brings me to a turning point. I have now finished all of the completely new scenes the book needs, and now need to go through and start working in changes elsewhere throughout the book. Some of this will be deletions, too. So my goal this week is to get through 1/4 of the book–at least marking where new sections go, if not actually writing them. I am hosting Thanksgiving, but my family is small and my mom, husband, and daughter share in the cooking, so it’s not stressful, and am hoping the time off will help.

What about you–have you tied up any loose ends lately? Or see any in your near future? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Trying New and Old Things

Isis in computer room

Isis relaxing in the doorway of the computer room

This has been a week of catching up, on several fronts. I’ll hit the writing further down, but it’s also been a recovery of energy for me. Last weekend was such a busy one, it really took it out of me, energy-wise, so this week has been a lot of rest until yesterday. Fortunately, my energy levels had improved again by then, because my husband and I hosted a birthday dinner for one of my best friends from college and her partner.

This may not seem like a big deal to many people, but when you’re one of those not gifted with the hostess gene (I’m convinced there’s such a thing), it’s not trivial. Add fatigue to that, and a spouse who normally helps but is hindered by having the use of only one arm… well, let’s say I’m glad I know these friends well enough that I don’t worry that my house wasn’t spotless for them.

Which was great because that left my energy free for food preparation. My college friend went vegan about three years ago, so that involved a bit more planning as far as the menu went. Being vegan is something I can’t imagine doing–just getting enough protein is something many find difficult, but my friend is healthier and more active that she’s ever been in the 25+ years I’ve known her, so that doubles my interest in being supportive of her choice. Meanwhile, her partner, whose birthday was a week before my friend’s, was really looking forward to a good steak.

So while my husband was literally single-handedly grilling steaks, I was grilling Cilantro-Lime Tofu on the George Foreman grill. That’s definitely new to me, as neither me nor my husband like tofu, so we’ve never cooked it. I’d found the recipe a few days earlier and it sounded really good (even to me), so I figured I’d give it a try. My friend scarfed it, so it must’ve been good. :) I tried a bite, and indeed, it wasn’t bad at all. However, the rest of us enjoyed our steaks.

The other somewhat-new thing I fixed was roasted squash. My daughter introduced us to this a few weeks ago, last time she was home. She went to a farm market and bought a butternut squash, and an acorn squash, and fixed the former that night. Yum!  We still had the acorn squash, so I did the same with it. There wasn’t much of it, but what there was, was good.

For dessert, my husband had requested apple pie. He loves Mehaffie’s Pies, which are an old Dayton standard, but they don’t list ingredients on their website, and when I researched, I found that most store-bought pies and pie crusts contain lard, whey, or both. So to ensure our pie was vegan, I went back to another old standard–my grandma’s pie crust (aka Classic Crisco pie crust), and made it myself. It was a bit of work, but well worth it–the pie disappeared quickly!

IndiePowerPackWhat I read this week: I started The Indie Author Power Pack, by David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Johnny B. Truant, and Sean Platt. I’m about halfway through the first book, Write, Publish, Repeat, by Truant and Platt, and have already picked up a ton of good ideas to put to use once I ramp up production and get more books out. I believe this is a limited edition, and is currently $.99. If you’re an author–regardless of publishing path–there is a lot of useful stuff in here. Highly recommended.

I’m also reading a novel, but am not far enough in to discuss, so leaving that for next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to go through my WIP to see what I have, where the new scenes fit in, and what’s still needed. That’s done, and a big relief to see I only need three more new scenes, unless something pops in and surprises me–which would not be a surprise. I also finished the scene I was working on, which only needed a few paragraphs. So this week, I want to get back on track with producing new words, and finish a new scene or 3000 words.

What about you–what new things have you tried lately? Any old favorites you’ve dug out after a long time? Read any good books lately? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, writing, ROW80, or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.