The Liebster Award!

LiebsterAwardThe Liebster Award circulates around the blogosphere every year around this time, and this year, it came to me twice! It’s a fun little exercise where the award “recipient” answers a few fun questions, then passes on the award to others. Fun fact: “Liebster” is German for “dearest” or “sweetest.” (I felt obligated to look that up, since my daughter is a German major in college.) There are also a few German characters in my WIP. They don’t ever use that word. :)

Rules-for-Liebster-Award-300x240I was given the Liebster Award by Michele Stegman and Denise D. Young. Michele also posted the rules, to the right. Since I got the award twice and most of their questions are different, I’m going to answer both sets of questions, instead of giving random facts. I’m sure there will be some random weirdness in my answers!

Michele asked:

1. Who or what most inspires you to write?

Fascinating people. Fascinating history. And Front Line Assembly!

2. Are you a daisy or an orchid? In other words, do you prefer the outdoors or being inside?

I like being outside when the weather’s nice, but I don’t like cold or hot. So I guess that makes me an indoor person!

3. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Which would you prefer to be?

I’m an introvert, and I’m okay with that.

4. Do you write with music playing or do you prefer silence when you write?

I can write either way–depends on my mood. Just no TV on, please!

5. Do you have a particular time of day you prefer to write?

I am not a morning person; after dinner seems to be my best writing time.

6. Do you have any pets? What are they?

Regular readers of this blog should be familiar with Isis, our Rottweiler who turns one year old this week! I also have an aquatic turtle (red-eared slider), three gerbils, and a goldfish.

Isis waits patiently for her walk.

Isis waits patiently for her walk.

7. What hobbies do you have?

I like to sew clothing, but don’t have much time for it any more.

8. Do you have a “day” job? What is it?

I am a software (web) developer, and have worked in that industry since 1997. Before that, I worked in graphic design for ten years, which is also what my college degree is in.

9. What is your favorite beverage?

Mountain Dew!

10. What is your favorite animal?

That’s a tough question–I love all kinds of animals! But probably dogs, if I have to pick one.

11. Do you have a writers support group or critique group?

I used to belong to a local chapter of Romance Writers of America, where I met Michele and many of my writing friends, until the chapter was forced to disband at the end of 2014 due to new regulations from National that made it impossible for us to field a president. Several of us still meet informally. I have also made many online friends from ROW80 (where I “met” Denise) and in Kristen Lamb’s WANA (“We Are Not Alone”) networking group.

And here are Denise’s questions:

1.) What most inspires your writing?

See above

2.) It’s a cold and stormy night. What book do you curl up with?

Whatever I’m currently reading, normally an ebook on my Kindle.

3.) What was your favorite book when you were growing up?

Just one??? Can’t do it. But a few that stand out are The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Obviously, I was a big fantasy fan (still am, but now want romance with it).

4.) Who is your greatest inspiration?

Again, too many to narrow down, so I’m going to weasel out of this one and just say a lot of historical people, people who’ve overcome adversity, and writers whose work I admire.

5.) What’s your favorite movie? What do you love about it?

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, because it’s time travel, it’s hilarious, and they’re great characters!

6.) Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or no chocolate? What’s your preference?

Dark. But they’re all good!

7.) If you could travel to any place, real or imagined, where would it be?

Australia!

8.) What do you do when you’re not writing?

Play way too many computer games, do business stuff and paperwork for my husband’s businesses, and of course there’s the day job…

9.) What’s your hidden talent?

I can curl my tongue.

10.) If you were a supernatural/paranormal creature/being, what would you be and why?

One who could be in multiple places at once, so one of me could go to work and do the day job, and another of me could write LOL.

11.) Finish this sentence: The perfect day involves…

Family, fun, relaxation, and writing!

Now, we’re supposed to make up our own questions and pass this on, but I need to save my creativity for my fiction, so my recipients can just take their pick and use either of my sets of questions. And my awardees, should they choose to accept, are:

If you aren’t into this, no worries. But if you accept, I look forward to seeing your responses!

What I read this week: I didn’t finish anything new, and this blog’s already running long, so I’ll catch up with this next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal was to write in the revisions for chapters 5-10, and I made that goal! This week will, I hope, be a quiet one, so I’m going to push to get chapters 11-17’s revisions written in.

What about you–do you have any fun answers to any of those questions you’d like to share here? 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.

New Stuff, and Old

Isis with tablet

You should be paying attention to meeeeeeee

Last week, I mentioned that I went to a write-in. I got 350 words written. Would’ve gotten more, if my sloooooowwww netbook hadn’t taken half of our meeting time to start up, and connect to Wifi, or recognize my flash drive. Not cool. I don’t do write-ins often, but it was fun, and I’d like to do something like that more often, so when I got home, I ordered a new laptop, a little 2-in-1 that can double as a tablet with the keyboard folded all the way back. It was on sale, and the special deal included a 7″ tablet for free. The laptop’s not due until March, but the tablet came on Thursday. My dog’s thoughts to the right… given what she did with my daughter’s tablet, I’m keeping this one away from her!

Isis waits patiently for her walk.

Isis waits patiently for her walk.

One thing that is definitely getting old is the snow and cold. At work, we have a whiteboard used for announcements. The only thing on it since after Christmas:

“It’s cold!”

Yeah. I don’t know who’s NOT tired of it, except maybe ski slope operators and enthusiasts. Although, I am grateful we have not been dumped on like Boston or other areas. I am also grateful for my winter tires!

Isis doesn’t care about the cold, and still expects her walk. OTOH, once out, she doesn’t seem to mind when DH cuts them short.

I spent much of the week collecting the information and reports I needed for our tax accountant. It was not difficult, because I keep everything in Quickbooks and in general am pretty organized with my filing. But it does compound, given the fact that we bought two rental properties and established a holding business for each, which means DH and I now own five small businesses when one adds in my writing. O.o Luckily, our accountant makes house calls as a matter of course and a little (or even a lot of) snow does not deter him–in fact, he was early to our meeting yesterday. There were just a couple of additional items I needed to look up for him (hence the reason he comes to his clients), and then he was on his way, taking a big load off of me.

Huntress2ebook300Huntress1What I read this week: Huntress of the Star Empire, Episode One: “Hot Pursuit,” and Episode Two: “Captivated” by Athena Grayson. This is a romantic science fiction story, and another new thing for me: it’s the first time I’ve read a serial as it’s released (or soon to be, as the case is with Episode Two), and it’s just what I expected: fast-paced, lots of action, and a complete story thread in each episode, but with other threads (and the main story) left hanging. (Which, since I expect it, doesn’t bother me.) Interesting characters, lots of sexual tension for the romance fans, and fascinating worlds for the sci-fi fans, this series has it all, and I can’t wait for the next installment! I’m also doubly glad I had the opportunity to design the covers, because it means I get the story segments in advance. Episode One is out now, with a new episode to come every Thursday through May.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My plan for this past week was to get two chapters of changes marked in; I was able to get three (having a work holiday helped). This week, there’s not a lot going on, so I’m shooting for four, with a stretch goal of six.

What about you–is it cold and snowy where you are? If so, are you sick of it? If you’re in the U.S. (or an expat), have you filed your taxes yet? Have you ever read a serialized novel? If you have, do you like them? If not, would you try one, or wait until the whole season (or novel) is out? And whether or not you’re a writer, how are you doing toward whatever goals you might have? 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.

A Week of Questions

On Monday night, I participated in a panel discussion at the Dayton Metro Library on romance novels and writing, along with Athena Grayson, Stacy McKitrick, Catherine Castle, and C.D. Hersh. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but the ones who did come asked some very good questions, and it was a lot of fun! Some examples of their questions, with my answers:

Q. Why and when did you start writing?

A. I’ve always loved to read, and decided to write when I read a really lousy romantic suspense, and figured I could do better. But I’ve always wanted to write. I used to tell myself stories to go to sleep at night (maybe that’s why I don’t sleep well to this day), and started actually writing in high school, and took a creative writing minor in college. It just never occurred to me to actually write for publication until I read that bad romantic suspense novel back almost 20 years ago.

Q. Where does “write what you know” come into fiction writing?

A. Most of it boils down to universal, human emotions and experiences, that don’t matter whether you’re in Dayton, Ohio today, or in the past somewhere else, or in a fantasy world, or in outer space. Some of it is “write what you want to know” and research it. But it’s not a matter of limiting oneself to writing about one’s own, actual experiences and knowledge, because for most of us, that would make for some pretty boring fiction! They also asked us to each read a passage from one of our books where we illustrate this, which was fun to hear and do.

Q. My daughter writes, and has written two complete novels, but struggles with revision because she hates it. Any advice?

A. (Athena and I answered this one in stereo, LOL) “Then don’t!” We directed her to Dean Wesley Smith’s website. Smith encourages writers to trust their own voice and only revise if required to by an editor, a la Heinlein’s Rules. Instead, just pass a work on to a trusted reader, and address any problems they find, then go to a copy editor and proofreader if one is self-publishing. This writer’s mom was really happy to hear that revision is not necessarily a must for all writers.

One more question: why does my dog always stuff her toys under the furniture (aka the ball graveyard)?

One more question: why does my dog always stuff her toys under the furniture (aka the ball graveyard)?

Of course, the panel was time to coincide with the week of Valentine’s Day, which brought up its own questions from my husband a couple days earlier:

DH: So, what do you want for Valentine’s Day?

Me: Uh… same thing you got me last year?

DH: Good, because that’s what I want too!

Then we both had a good laugh, because we don’t get each other anything!

Which was just as well, because I spent Valentine’s Day–at least a couple hours of it–with my writing friends. It was writers’ group day, and we had a “write-in.” Or more accurately, a couple hours of socializing alternating with some actual writing. Always great fun!

Ghostly LiaisonWhat I read this week: Ghostly Liaison, by Stacy McKitrick. This was a really fun and different contemporary romance/romantic suspense, featuring a matchmaking ghost. The ghost just wants the heroine’s help gaining justice for her own death so she can move on, but in doing, ends up helping the heroine do some moving on of her own. While it’s a light read, it still deals with some emotional issues such as moving on after personal loss and accepting love. While it does have a paranormal element, it’s not heavy-handed, and this book is something I think readers who don’t normally read paranormal would still enjoy. Highly recommended!

Huntress1I also mentioned last week that I designed a cover for another writing friend. Well, as it turns out, Huntress of the Star Empire Episode One, by Athena Grayson, will release this week! It’s a science fiction romance, about a female bounty hunter who’s after a psychic–which is illegal in their star system. Athena saw that this story lent itself well to the serial format, and has good break points throughout, so she is releasing this as a serial, with one episode coming out each week for the next twelve weeks. I’m about halfway through the first episode (I got a preview copy, :D), so will blog about it next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m still making progress on my revision, though not as quickly as I’d like. I realized one reason this book has been challenging is because it takes place in two historical time periods, not contemporary and one historical time, as my other books have. So there’s more research. And I tend to leave blanks and leave these details to fill in at the revision stage. This helps me do only the research I need, but still takes time on the back end. So with the panel on Monday night, and a lot of paperwork to do on Tuesday, that cut my week short, and I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. This week I need to collect all the tax info for our accountant, but I don’t have anything else going on (that I know of), so I’m going to shoot for getting two chapters revised.

What about you–do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do? If you’re a writer, what would your answers be to the questions our library guests asked? And whether or not you’re a writer, how are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward? 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.

More Time Tracking

After last week’s post, seeing where I spent only eight on my actual writing, made me think a bit. It seems I spend so much more than that! But it turns out, that’s mostly on other, related stuff. Granted, I have a full-time job, and that takes up most of my time. But still, eight hours in all the evenings and weekend doesn’t sounds like much.

This week was a fairly uneventful one. Which to be honest, is nice. Of course, there was still a lot of this:

OK, I brought you the ball. Now what?

OK, I brought you the ball. Now what?

And some of this:

Her head does not make a good window

Her head does not make a good window

And even a trip to the pet store, with a visit to Bunny friend:

Isis and Rabbit

But mostly, I just did writing-related stuff. And this week, I actually gave some conscious thought to how much time I spent on that:

I spent a couple of hours  reading a research book. Of course, that’s reading, and it’s an interesting book, so that’s also something fun.

I probably spent a couple hours doing blog-related stuff (I didn’t track this very closely)–as in, getting last week’s blog up, visiting other blogs, responding to comments on my blog. Also stuff I enjoy, so no big deal. I actually read a lot more blogs, but I do some of that at work while I’m waiting for slow software to load and reload, so I don’t count it in my timekeeping.

I spent about three hours on a marketing workshop–there’s always something new to learn in this writing world, and this was some good stuff, worth the time. Just not actual writing.

I also did a book cover design this week. Before I was a software developer in my day job, I worked as a graphic designer for over 10 years, so it’s good to be able to put it to use once in a while. This was a project for a writing friend and one of my first readers. That took about seven hours–the model had pretty wild hair, which is tricky to work with when putting a person onto a different background. But taking the time to do it right is what makes the difference between a book cover that looks sort of (or very) amateur and “cut-and-paste”, and one that’s professional. She’s very happy with it, so it’s definitely a success. I’ll post it here when she’s ready to reveal it.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: In addition to the above, I managed to spend about nine hours finishing the revision markup on my WIP. Which is where I wanted to be. This week I have a few things going on in the evening, plus I need to start collecting tax stuff for the accountant, so backing off on the goals a bit: I’ll just shoot for getting the first three chapters revised. Even that may be ambitious; we’ll see.

What I read this week: Still the same novel as last week. It’s going slow not because it’s not good, but mostly because I spent so much more time with the book cover. I’m about 3/4 through it, so I’ll discuss next week.

What about you–do you think about how much time you spend doing various stuff throughout the week? Do you ever feel like you haven’t done much on a task, but when you give it some thought, you’ve done quite a bit? 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.

ROW80, Superbowl Sunday

Short blog today, though not because of the game. Actually, I don’t care about the game–I’m not a big sports fan, and I don’t care about either of the teams playing. During the game would be a good time to go to the grocery store (I’ve done that before), but not this year, because panic shoppers probably cleared the stores out on Friday, because of all the snow we were supposed to get starting last night, which turned out to be a little rain and mostly nothing.

Even my husband isn’t really into the game this year, and he does like football–a lot. He did attempt to watch some of the pre-game countdown blather, but Isis wasn’t having any of that:

Her head does not make a good window

Her head does not make a good window

She did eventually move aside… just for a minute:

A favorite place to sit

A favorite place to sit

Sometimes I watch the game for the commercials, though this year, even that doesn’t interest me. I’ve already seen the news clips on the “controversial” one, that’s more about T&A than hamburgers. Apparently they don’t want my business. So I’ll probably be working on my revisions.

WriteEveryDayWhat I read this week: I saw this on a blog, or recommendation on Amazon–I can’t remember where, exactly, but it looked interesting and a quick read, so I bought it. Write Every Day by Cathy Yardley is a short craft book full of good productivity tips. As I expected, a lot of the content covered the same things as Dean Wesley Smith’s Productivity workshop covered, but in less depth. But all good reinforcement. One thing different about this book that I loved was that it recognized the need to “transition” between day job or mommy tasks and writing, and also the fact that not all of us are wired to take advantage of every 10-15 minutes spent waiting in line at the grocery store, to pick up the kids, etc. to get a bit of writing in. And best of all, she recognizes one life component I’ve come to learn is as much, if not more, important than time: our personal energy levels. And this book discusses how to deal with those, and recognizes the fact that we can’t always write when we’re at our best creative-energy times, because duh, that’s when some of us have to go to work! So if you’re a writer and you’d like some quick, encouraging tips on increasing your productivity that won’t make you feel like a slacker, get this book!

I’m also reading a novel this week, which I’m really enjoying, but am not far enough in to discuss much more than that, so I’ll give it until next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’d hoped to get the WIP marked up through Chapter 20 this week. That didn’t happen, mainly because I hit a snag at Chapter 16. I left a few details kind of vague, thinking I’d figure them out by the time I got to revision, and could address them then. Well, I had not figured them out, it turns out. So I had to spend most of Saturday noodling around and figuring out the motivations and whys of several peripheral characters, and who could do what, and who fit where, because it all impacts the ending (which I also needed to figure out). I did get it figured out, but it took most of yesterday, and a bit of this morning. Note to self: This stuff should be figured out at the outlining stage, or at least in the first draft! The good thing is, now that I have it figured out, I’m excited to dig back in, which is the main reason I probably won’t watch much Superbowl. So this week’s goal is to get all those changes marked in, and the rest of the draft marked up.

One other thing I started doing was more closely tracking my actual time spent on my writing, entering it on a spreadsheet each day when finished. Until now, I just estimated it each week for my Weekly Status Report. Now I know I spent 8 hours on my revision this week (not counting some of the sitting and thinking time), and 8 hours last week. Not a big surprise–my estimates generally ranged from 6-10 hours.

What about you–are you/did you watch the Superbowl? Any commercials you particularly liked or did not like? Have you ever put off a bit of planning, only to have it come back and bite you? Do you track your time spent writing, or if not a writer, on other long-term projects or goals? 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.

Post-holiday Catch-up

It has mostly been a quiet week around here. I’ve been making good progress on my writing (more on that below), and my daughter went back to university today. Isis has also been quiet and laid back, so we were starting to leave her out of her crate when going out for a short time, like to dinner. That worked out fine a few times, until last Sunday night she decided to chew up the AC adapter to the daughter’s Nintendo WiiU system.

We were not amused, and Isis got a good scolding. After that, she went upstairs to pout, as dogs do oh so well:

Naughty Isis

But within a few days, she’d made up with DD, and even allowed her to use her as a lapdesk while she watched the turtle:

Isis lapdesk

For DD’s last day before going back to school, one of my friends from college and her partner came over for our annual belated Christmas get-together. We always do this a few weeks after Christmas, so we can get each other stuff we didn’t get–great fun! Afterward, we spent a few hours at Carillon Historical Park, which is the place to go for Dayton history and to see what’s so cool about it. They live in Columbus and had never been there, and my husband hadn’t since he was a kid, and everyone had a great time. Then we went to dinner, which also turned out to be something special as it was Restaurant Week, which was a great chance to try something new and tasty at the Hawthorn Grill. Everything was wonderful, and we all went home stuffed (and with several take-home boxes)!

Smiths-Monthly-Cover-8-ebook3-e1396313431717What I read this week: Smith’s Monthly #8, which included the novel Life of a Dream. A really enjoyable issue, especially with the way the same character from the first short story ended up being one of the main characters in the novel, which took place some 15-20 years later. Amazing how a story that takes place in a nursing home can end up so positive and uplifting, and also very entertaining! Parts of the novel also took place there as well, and the same is definitely true for it. What’s interesting is reading it after reading about his process in writing it. This novel actually started out as four connected short stories, and it was obvious when reading it. Not in a bad way, and maybe it wouldn’t have been so much if I hadn’t known that. Just interesting, that’s all.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to do an overall scene review, then begin the markup for revision. The scene review went quickly, since I did a lot of notes on that after writing each scene, and I also grouped them into chapters. As for the markup, I tend to write fast first drafts (yeah, I know, this one didn’t feel fast, but it was), and jot notes where I need to fill in some research detail or whatnot. There are a lot of these since it’s a time travel, but one where the time travel is between two historical periods, not one contemporary and one (or more) historical, with one main character from each. So I have to make sure both time periods are accurate, and both characters say things appropriate to his/her time period. The good news is I got through 7 chapters, so making good progress there. So this week’s goal is to get the markup done through Chapter 20, or the end of the book (Chapter 25) if I’m extra-productive.

What about you–have you tried anything new or fun lately, whether it’s someplace to go, or something to eat, or something else? Read any good books lately? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, 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.

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.