Now Available on Amazon!!

I’m pleased to announce that you can now purchase The Dallas Divorcee  in paperback or Kindle on Amazon!  It has been a long road to publish my first novel, and I’m so excited about the buzz already surrounding it in the Dallas area and beyond.

Click on image to Purchase!

My second book, “On Tilt” will be available in October 2017 with a preview of the first two chapters available on Amazon in August.

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Know Thyself…Aristotle

To thine own self, be true~ Shakespeare  (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3)

If I’ve learned anything over the past years, it is that the most important relationship that a woman can have is with herself.  It’s even more important that she trusts her intuition when dealing with others and remove herself from situations that don’t feel authentic or sincere.  


I’ve spent the majority of this summer considering these ideas and how they will affect not only the telling of my second novel, but how they will affect my life.  Over the past year, I have made personal and career changes based on these truths, and for the first time in a long time, I’ve exhaled.  


Summer is waning.  Fall approaches with new beginnings and as always a chance for anyone to begin again.  My second novel will be delayed for publication but expected around the winter holidays.  In the meantime, I will continue to blog periodically to engage with readers and explore the themes and ideas important to my readers. 

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Hello Fresh-Review

As a busy working mom of three, I would never have time to write without a little help!  So, I’m reviewing different products that make my life a little easier.

As such, the boys and I tried out the “Hello Fresh” ap.  Now, a few disclaimers for which you should take note:

  • My children are the easiest eaters ever-as long as the cook is competent, they will eat it.
  • Second, the lawyer, my oldest has learned to cook from me, and he’s pretty adept in the kitchen himself. He definitely knows the difference between cous cous and Israeli pearl cous cous as well as how to sear brined chicken-the fact he knows how to brine at all.  Seriously, this dude could teach a class.
  • Third, we don’t eat or buy pork and not because we are “allergic for religious reasons” as the politician so cleverly put on a school form screwing himself out of pepperoni on Pizza Day.  Our rejection of most pork products is because of religious reasons only (no allergies) but we aren’t full on kosher and yes, bacon sneaks in every one in a while.  I find pork as a meat repulsive looking thus, I don’t purchase or prepare it making our menu selections for Hello Fresh fewer than if we did but not at all limiting.

So with those disclaimers noted, here are the pros of Hello Fresh and why you might consider adding it to your rotation.


It’s so easy-a teen could make it.  The food for each recipe is delivered to you in a bag with clear instructions including pictures that even a novice in the kitchen can follow. My 15 year old made the above meal for us which I plated to mimic the Hello Fresh picture.  It was tasty and delicious.

All of the needed ingredients are sent to you requiring you have on the hand the most basic items-think oil, salt and pepper.  Everything is packaged separately, so it is easy to discard anything you don’t care to use.  We chucked the white pepper in one recipe and used our grinder for fresh black peppercorns.


The recipes are delicious and straight forward, and the ingredients are fresh and stay fresh for several days.   Something I learned–the meat is packaged separately UNDER the brown bags.  On our first delivery, we didn’t realize this, and our meat wasn’t refrigerated in time.  We had to buy additional meat which wasn’t the end of the world, but I felt the need to give a heads up.  The meat comes beneath the ice block at the bottom of the box!

Cost of meals is competitive particularly in our foodie forward society with millennials obsessed with using EVOO for sauteing when an oil with a lower boiling point like Canola is better with the EVOO being saved for finishing.  I’m a big believer in spending money wisely for quality products, and the money spent on these products is a wise purchase compared to eating take out!

The only con for Hello Fresh  is you still have to prep, prepare and clean up the mess, and this can make it a less viable choice for the super busy household.  If you have a teen like the lawyer who likes a clean kitchen as much as his mom, then it’s a win.  But if you have a teen like the lawyer who spends the majority of the late summer and fall in intense sports training, well-with all the moving parts from my job, other activities for two other kids, and only one parent doing all the work; it might not be the best busy weeknight in a pinch move for dinner.

However, in the end, being able to choose several meals that will arrive weekly with fresh meat and produce for you to prepare whether you purchase through Amazon Prime Now or the Hello Fresh AP, it’s a win!  It’s my understanding that bags are also being offered at Sprouts for those who shop in the store.  I’ve given up in store shopping for many of the above reasons which is a shame because I love grocery shopping but not as much as I love having all the gorgeous food appear in my fridge for me to prepare when I have time.

I will definitely keep the Hello Fresh option in mind for certain weeks and times when my nanny will be home with the younger two who can play sous chef to her cooking or a weekend night when I’m cooking for myself and another grownup.

I find the Hello Fresh option a weekly homerun for stay at home moms and dads, working parents with small children who aren’t involved in a lot of late night practices, work from home moms and dads, and young couples trying to curb the take out bill.

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Things I Learned from Publishing a Book

writer

It’s hard to believe that is has been a little over a month since I self published, The Dallas Divorcee which by the way readers, please leave me some love on Amazon if you haven’t already!  I thought I would share some things I’ve learned from this adventure thus far although I am sure there will be many more things as I move forward with marketing and attempting to create more buzz around the story for Book Two.

However, if you have ever considered writing a book or are just curious about the process and subsequent fallout of self publishing-Read on.

People Won’t Like the Book Or You

Some people will genuinely not like your book, and honestly, it’s OK.  You aren’t writing for everyone or you haven’t been true to your story.   Some people will assume it is a book about you and your life and either hate the story based on that or ridicule a total fiction beach read as representative of your actual life.  I will go on record saying, “I WISH I had the money these ladies have” in The Dallas Divorcee! Is that saying I don’t know ladies who can afford this lifestyle-not at all, but the idea that a person can’t write a book about things they know and fictionalize the story is small and silly.

As for the people who don’t like you, do you really have to care as a writer or human? You shouldn’t.  People hate others because they can’t understand them or they want to be them.  I frankly don’t care which category the hostile haters fall into and until they have the balls to write a book, self publish and promote it, well, they can sit the fuck down. No one finds them that interesting anyway.

As a writer, you shouldn’t care about the haters either unless their behavior might make for good writing, and you can write about the commonalities in human nature in an honorable way and not as a way to hurt or put someone down.  If you aren’t good enough to write about the motivations of others without separating their deeds and the person, eh-you’re a jerk too.  Don’t be a jerk.  Sit on the situation and gain perspective.

Own your story-the good and the bad.  It is the best you had to work with and guess what, your writing and abilities will improve.  I tell people all the time–I hope to hit my stride by Book Three.

People don’t write and publish because they think they are the best thing ever.  I AM GOING TO REPEAT–PEOPLE DON’T WRITE AND PUBLISH BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY ARE THE BEST THING EVER.  People write and publish to connect with other people who might say, “Me too” either to the story, the writer’s sense of humor or the writer’s lens.  If someone doesn’t say, “Me too,” it doesn’t devalue you as a writer.  If someone is nasty about your story, well see above. Not everyone can do everything.  Let them go with peace and light-they were never on your journey anyway.

I Wish I Used an Editor

So yeah, I did all of this myself, and I learned several things.  Editing your own book is hard, very hard, regardless of your English Lit and teaching background-you need readers and eyes.  With enough support could you make it without an editor, yes.  Would your book be better with one?  YES!  Save the money and hire an editor.

I didn’t use an editor for a couple of reasons.  The main one-I didn’t want to spend the money.  Was it a mistake? Yeah-not because of my skills as much as what happened after the publish button was pushed (more on that later).  Was it the worst mistake ever?  No.  A worse mistake would be not publishing at all.  Not putting myself out there and taking the chance on a story bouncing around in my head long before many of these other divorce books, shows and movies ever saw the light of day.   I love all of them by the way.  They all offer perspective and help me be a better story teller.  I will be highlighting and reviewing some of my favorites in subsequent posts.

So my advice to you, dear readers, is yes, use an editor.  My second book which is due out this fall will be professionally edited.  I am looking forward to the process.

Be Careful How You Publish

So, I made the mistake of using the Kindle Self Publish for my paperback as well as my kindle version.  Why was this a mistake?  One word–BETA.  Traditionally, Kindle allowed self publishing for only digital and the paper back version was published through Create Space.  Amazon in an attempt to streamline their services has started offering paperback services through Kindle.  However, this option is still very much in Beta mode-as in beginning mode as in not quite seamless.

Here is where I found issues, and why I will use CreateSpace for Book 2.  One, Create Space sends a hard copy proof of the book for your approval.  This would have been very helpful in editing even my self editing.  Holding the book or mock up makes it much easier to edit, and it presents the book in a way that doesn’t translate from a printout.

Second, you can order books at cost through Create Space.  With Amazon paperback publishing, I have to order all my books at full price.  Yes-the author pays full price for the books that he or she can then turn around and sell, but it is a little silly and cumbersome not to be able to order your own title at cost particularly when you can’t gauge how many might show at a signing or how many you might need for an event.

Last, the printing integrity including words, etc. is much better with fewer mistakes on CreateSpace.  I found incorrect words that were a result of a computer scanning glitch with Amazon because they were not on my manuscript.  CreateSpace seems to have those kinks worked out.  So pay attention to how you publish and have your editor close at hand in those final steps as well.

Don’t Stop Writing

The only way to improve is to keep writing!  Find some writing friends to share pages with or don’t.  Keep your pages close and share with your editor only.  Either way, you are only as good as your last story, and if you are like me, you have plenty of stories to tell.

After your book is published, it is normal to hit a little slump and have a “now what” feeling or even a self confidence crisis as you might see a nasty review from someone who obviously didn’t even read the book (yes there are review trolls so do yourself a favor-DON’T READ REVIEWS).

Take a break, refresh and get back into the process!  Stick to your schedule and write EVERY day.  It doesn’t have to be your next book, and it isn’t a race to get to the next book.  The reason I have Book 2 coming out so soon is that I have been collecting ideas for years while I sat on Book 1 and even wobbled on whether or not to publish at all.  You may have poured everything you had into Book 1 and need more of a break.  Honor that!  I blog to keep my writing juices flowing, and it has been a lesson in discipline just to get back to regular blogging and engaging with readers.  I had forgotten what is felt like.  Give yourself time, but DON’T STOP WRITING!

So in sum, I’ve learned a lot since publishing The Dallas Divorcee. It hasn’t been easy nor has it been perfect, but it has been worth it!

Whether you are reading because you enjoyed my book, hated my book or are considering writing your own book, I wish you well on your journey and may you stay as true to your path as I hope to stay to mine!

 

 

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Summertime…

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Summer in the Big D, and my boys and I are ready.  So ready for all that summer brings including some new habits and projects.

First, we have cut the chord on the tv once again.  I did it a few years ago, and I can’t say we really missed it at the time. Instead, we became more mindful about when we would stream a show or movie. We eventually slid back into the real time tv stupor, and it has zapped our quiet time. I think I’m ready to break up with cable for good this time!  More mindfulness less mindless entertainment…wish us luck!

Next, I’m training for my second half marathon.  Running isn’t my favorite form of exercise, but it’s the most effective for me physically and mentally.  I’m expecting the boys to move this summer as well.  I’m making the politician (11) go on a run with me in the AM, and I foresee copious whining and crying.  I hope he convinces me to stick with it through the pain.

Last, I’m working on Book 2 of The Dallas Divorcee.  I left quite a few questions unanswered at the end of Book 1, and I look forward to answering them as well as introducing you to some interesting new characters from friends to frienemies.  

It’s going to be a great summer filled with new stories, business ventures, and friends.  Plus Lord help me, the Lawyer (15) begins driving while the Caveman(13) heads to Costa Rica!  Oy Vey!

Talk soon!

Jen

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Ever Felt Like A Nothing?

I’m about a quarter through my final revisions and because I changed directions a bit with the story-ok, a lot, I am having to rework some chapters and add new material in with the old.   It’s exciting to see how the work comes together but even more exciting to see how my different characters are developing and expanding as I sit with them a bit longer and give them a larger part of the story.

The most flattering aspect of this journey is the love and support of my friends.  I am so fortunate to have the most real no bullshit women in this city who have my back.  We don’t spend time talking about others, rather we spend times talking about how to build each other up.  We are all at different life stages, but we all appreciate and understand each other as women and survivors whether it’s of failed marriages, the pains of motherhood or even diseases that wreck our very will to live.  We are kindred spirits with our backs against each other ready to defend our tribe against the world.

I can’t even quantify my gratefulness any more than I can quantify their loyalty.  I can tell you that when a women has friends who are this supportive and this real, she will move mountains, and she will achieve her dreams.

Whether you have supported me for years or shorter, close or far, please know, that I recognize you, and I appreciate you.  I didn’t think I was anything until you showed me; I am a writer.  I have a voice, and people who want to hear it.

Dallas Divorcee will be available for purchase before Mother’s Day!  Consider for your mother or yourself!

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Timing, Tiptoeing, Terror…Updated from Long Ago–More Relevant Than Ever

“Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43-18-19

The past six months have provided me with ample time for reflection on my life. My past mistakes, and my realization that the timeline of my life has ripped apart into a reality that I don’t recognize from the story that I had written ten, five, even two years ago.

Terrifying, isn’t it? To discover that no course of action can really separate you from the plan that God has for your life. Humbling to discover that your idols that you held whether they were monetary success, marital bliss, or perfectly behaved children-all of these will crumble like dust when held too tightly.

The course of my life that I plotted at 25 and at 30 has changed in a direction that I never expected. I had found immense joy and satisfaction from being Room Mother, resident cookie baker and occasional blogger who fantasized about writing the great American Novel. At least, I thought I did. Truthfully, I wasn’t living the full existence that God meant for me to live although my days were certainly full with activities and works that would argue to the contrary.

Since my separation and divorce, I have tiptoed around the precipice of what my life might be, how things might change, and what these changes might mean for my children, for me, for our future. Where I was once so confident on the simple path of my life when it came to marriage, family, relationships, and career, I began to realize that I was meant for more than a simple path or a simple existence–we all are really.

Why didn’t I realize this sooner? Timing. My life hasn’t revealed itself in my timing, but in God’s timing. I was journaling the other day, and it occurred to me that in letting go of one of my idols–being the loving, obedient stay at home wife while my husband conquered the world–I had set forth a defining catalyst to becoming the woman and mother that God has called me to be.

I finally understood that the “Work-Life Balance” that I had for many years begged my husband to achieve if not for him or us but to model for our children would now be modeled by me. This epiphany not only freed me from the terror of the unknown as I start my own business, but it freed me to understand that my example to my sons would have lasting implications.

I was free. I was found. I knew where God wanted to use me. Understanding this and also understanding that again, this is where God wants me NOW, but perhaps not forever, has allowed me to plant my feet firmly on the ground, look over the precipice and LEAP. I leap knowing that He will catch me no matter where I land.

Most importantly, I’m finally realizing my dream of supporting myself with my writing, and while, my novel completion is still imminent, I now, have ongoing work supporting clients with their social media needs. Amazing how God works, I can’t wait to see what he has planned for me next.

Update:  This has been an amazing few years where I have really focused on everything that I have needed to learn and grow.   I’m excited to be in a place where I am ready to publish my first book-we will see how it goes.  I was re-reading old posts and this one was so relevant with all the changes in my life.  Timing truly is everything and now-it’s time!

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“Love is the condition …

“Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”~Heinlein

It’s amazing how much you can learn from genuinely wanting the best for people for whom you care.  I learned that I have so much more to give than I really do to others, my children, or myself.  It has brought me full circle to the realization that I am not ever going to be happy in life unless I am able to share myself, my compassion or my life with others.

I would love to do this solely through my writing but other areas are calling me as well.  It is an interesting and exciting time as I figure out exactly what it all means.  It came through a painful path, but I hope in the end that it means something wonderful.

In it all, I keep thinking about Joseph (yeah..the guy with the funky coat as my dear friend and lapsed Jew pointed out!).  Joseph was hurt and betrayed by the ones that he loved most.  They threw him in a pit and went on with their day..never caring..  He was rescued by a caravan from Egypt shortly after being thrown in the pit.  Funny thing…that caravan had to be in motion…had to have started…long before  Joseph’s brothers let hatred overcome them.  God was in motion long before Joseph needed him…  

I think and I hope that is the case for me and my boys.   It helps make sense of a time that seems nonsensical.  I’m thankful for my friends who recognize the potential and good in me and repeatedly stress those truths to me when I’m hurting.  I’m thankful for my family who loves me fiercely and would never let me cry.  And most of all, I am thankful for the exceptional children that I have…who never cease to amaze me and complete strangers at their bond and loving goodness to others.  

 

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The Rarity and Value of Diamonds…

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. ~Confucius

I am having a hard time writing this, an exceptionally hard time.  At first, I couldn’t think of a thing to say, “Yes, me..” Go ahead and laugh but it does happen on occasion.  I guess it is because I feel particularly prone to criticism at the moment or rather..the barbs of criticism-spoken and unspoken.

Let’s face it, I know that there are people reading this who do not wish me well.  They have a smirk on their face wondering what “faux pas” of honesty or vulnerability that I might impart that will cause them to roll their eyes and dismiss me.  However, I don’t write for those people.  I am not even sure that I write for my supporters.

I am not sure WHY I write at all except for how it makes me feel which is purposed although for what-I’m not sure yet.  I’ve written about my sister’s life and death, my children, my ex-husband, and friends.  I’ve written about my books both of which are rather stagnant at the moment.   I’ve written about life changes  several of which are on the horizon AGAIN–struggling with those, too at the moment.

Through it all, one thing has remained..when I write, I shine…it is the best of me, and I’m not afraid to give it to you, you or even, you.  I would rather write, be vulnerable, and follow my heart no matter how imperfectly than be just another pebble.  If I’ve learned one thing recently, it is that not everyone will see your value, but it doesn’t make you less valuable, it makes them less discriminating.

I am thankful for the God-given insight that I am sometimes able to impart to those when they need it.  And I am thankful for all of you…supporters or not–because you encourage me to continue being the best person and writer that I can be and tell about it here.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Know How She Does It…

And frankly, I don’t know how I do it either. Some days life is a perfect dance of work, car pool, after school activities and a pleasant dinner and some days…well, you find yourself way-laid by a two hour dental appointment, over tired children running like maniacs through Whole Foods trying to stave off hunger by devouring samples with their filthy hands, and all the while the lady in the hemp dress and braids with ONE child that is immobile (and couldn’t talk if he or she wanted to because their mouth is on her boob) stares in abject horror at the cretins that ten minutes earlier had been lauded and praised in the dentist’s office for their behavior.

Hell’s bells..seriously, I was THIS close to punishing them with McDonald’s, but I was determined to make dinner and besides my thighs are becoming their own state since exercise has gone the way of the dinosaur. Seriously, if you see me in a tennis dress (And this goes to my tennis girls) NO I’m not cheating on you or getting one on one time with Pierre, the tennis coach. No ladies, I simply haven’t bathed yet today–don’t get too close.

My business is doing well, really well. I have been tasked a specific project as VP of Sales and Marketing for a dynamic speaker, and I really enjoy getting dressed, going to the office and cramming a full day’s work into 5 or 6 hours before car pool. I’m blessed for the opportunity that still allows me to be the minion to my children’s needs though. They are only young once.

My writing has been non-existent. There just isn’t enough hours in the day despite my hopes that school for the boys would give me more freedom. I’m working at a snail’s pace..a dead snail’s pace, but I’m determined to regain focus as well as get back to blogging on a more regular basis.

In family news, the perfectionist informed me today that he feels he needs to be staffed with security guards..not because he is being threatened but so that he will be used to them when he is famous. He has started Kindergarten and began his compulsory education by spitting in another little boy’s hair. I was so proud. He has learned his lesson and is trying very hard in his words to “not be wild.” The lawyer is playing his heart out in sports, and the professor is busy melting everyone’s hearts as usual with his kind gentle manner (which is a total bs act by the way because he will get a brother GOOD…if he wants to).

Life is full…boys, work, friends, charity work, and a few social media classes to keep sharp. Again, I’m not sure how I do it, but I’m just glad that I am. I am exactly where I want to be and doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Content? Never! Satisfied? Absolutely.

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