Taking Back My House

NOT a photo of our toy situation - just one I found online. ;)

             NOT a photo of our toy situation – just one I found online. 😉

Anyone want a HUGE toy kitchen? Or the boxful of plastic food and utensils that goes with it? Because I’ve got one to give away. That and a whole lot more. Duplos and Matchbox cars. Little People and Lincoln Logs. Race tracks and dinosaurs. My kiddos are growing up, and while part of me is sad to see this stuff go, a bigger part of me is doing the happy dance.

Why, you ask? Because for the last eight years, the entire downstairs of this new-to-us house belonged to the kids. It was great knowing they had a dedicated play space. But now that Big Sis is more interested in computers, music and taking quizzes in girly magazines and Little Guy has to be dragged off the Xbox in order to go to school in the morning, I’m starting to get ideas. Big ideas. Not just purging the playroom of unused toys, but repurposing the room into a place hubby and I might actually get to use.

He wants a dedicated desk where he can set up multiple computers. Done. I want a corner for a piece of exercise equipment. I even have the exact one in mind: A Bowflex Treadclimber.bowflex-treadclimber-tc20-2

A reading nook would be amazing. While there isn’t any money in the budget for a window seat (because how cool would THAT be?), I’m thinking we can spring for an extra-wide comfy chair with ottoman. I’d suggest a recliner, but then how much reading would get done and how much napping? Let’s be realistic.readingchair

And once the room is set up the way we (the adults of the household) like it, the last touch? Finally hanging the Lord of the Rings movie posters on the wall. Can you believe these have sat on the floor in a corner for almost nine years? They need some decent new frames, but the posters are still in great shape.lord of the rings trilogy

Thanks, kiddos, for sharing your space with us old fogies. And I insist we dedicate the very center of the room to Family Game Night. We’ll turn off the gadgets we normally can’t live without and spend some quality time together, laughing and goofing off. Just because we outgrow toys, doesn’t mean we’re ever too old to play. family-board-game-celebrate-parents-day

Jumping On The 50 Shades Bandwagon

Yeah, I’m not too proud to capitalize on a market trend. Writers have to do what they can to be seen in an industry as oversaturated as the romance genre. Right? Cool. If you’re looking for my opinion on FSoG (the book), that’s not what I intended to post about. Nor will I be reviewing the film (I have no interest in seeing it – no strong opinions, just no interest.)50shades

What I wanted to discuss is the spectrum – the wide scope of choices in romance that range from inspirational to erotica and beyond, and where I fit into things. Yes, I say beyond. There is 50 shades… and then there are the stories being published about dinosaur sex and unicorn sex. Seriously. It’s out there. And I think “beyond” is exactly how to describe that particular subgenre. *shudder*

Trying not to judge... but seriously - who reads this stuff???

Trying not to judge… but seriously – who reads this stuff???

Ever since I learned I was to be published, back in the summer of 2013, my RWA chapter mates referred to my books as “sweet”. “Jenn writes sweet romance.” “Oh, Jenn’s books are so sweet.” And while I never told them that, I found the term offensive. I write sex scenes. They’re detailed. There might be only one or two in a book, but they’re there. Legally, my publisher has to classify them as “sensual” to warn readers of graphic content. So how could my friends call them sweet?

Me... apparently.

Me… apparently.

I was recently asked to join a few other chapter members in a magazine interview that explored the romance genre from the writers’ perspective. http://www.theeastsidescene.com/news_features/290581411.html When I read the final interview, I realized the journalist did a great job choosing authors from a wide variety of subgenres – and that really gave the article an authentic representation.

This made me stop and think about what I write. Does it matter if I’m labeled sweet? If I am writing what I want to write, what I feel comfortable writing, then no. I read some erotica. I read m/m. I read menage. There are certain levels of heat or content that I shy away from. I feel like I should be up front about this because I made a vow (a New Year’s resolution to myself) to try to review every book I read this year.) So while it might look bizarre for a “sweet” small town contemporary author to review something out of her writing range, the author that was brave enough to write it still deserves a review that helps them reach their own unique group of readers.

Channing Tatum. Yummy, much?

Channing Tatum. Yummy, much?

Everyone has preferences. And everyone knows what they are willing to read and what is just too much for them. The great thing about the romance market is that there is something for everyone. And instead of feeling offended that I’ve been labeled “sweet”, I ought to feel confident that I have found my niche in this market. I need to embrace it and spend my time looking for readers who enjoy a quick sex scene or two, instead of a book that wouldn’t be complete without the hero and heroine hooking up in every chapter. To each his own. Let’s just enjoy the heck out of reading, in general.

What is your favorite go to in the romance genre? I *love* time travel romance and have to give major props to authors that can pull it off. That’s my guilty pleasure because I KNOW I could never write a time travel. I leave it to the professionals. 😉 Way to go, ladies (and men). Thank you for the countless hours of reading enjoyment.

Pinterest – Time Suck or Lifesaver?

I’ll admit when a friend first told me about Pinterest, I didn’t understand the concept. (Which is probably why I haven’t done anything with my Tumblr and Instagram accounts yet.) Pin photos to various boards. Why? Though I’ll admit, going through all the pretty pictures was a lot of fun.

Where else can I tell the world about my love of all things pumpkin spice?

Where else can I tell the world about my love of all things pumpkin spice?

Then I set up boards for Scallop Shores and each of my books as they came out. I started to realize that Pinterest had a very real value for me. I could show people how I view my characters and my fictitious town. It was a way of turning my books into a 3-D reality. It made them…more real. At least that’s what I hoped. I realize every reader is welcome to their own interpretations and that’s great. But if I can show them exactly how I visualized something, that could help immerse them in the book, right?

Downtown Scallop Shores, complete with Civil War monument.

Downtown Scallop Shores, complete with Civil War monument.

 

And what about real life? The family’s got to eat, right? If you’ve read any of my early posts, you know I hate to cook. And when I do cook, it had better be easy or I WILL screw it up. (My mother loved to tell the story of how I once asked her where the “boil” setting on the stove top was.) So Pinterest is invaluable for locating crock pot and other fool-proof recipe ideas.

Hard boiled eggs in the oven – a school lunch staple!

 

Speaking of real life, Pinterest has saved my bacon when it came to school stuff. What to make the teachers for Christmas/Teacher Appreciation Day? What to make for the bake sale my daughter was kind enough to sign me up for? What to bring in for birthdays/last day of school goodies to serve an entire class?

Every teacher gets a scarf for Christmas.

And it is awesome for researching my latest series. I don’t have a board for that. Why? It’s secret. Okay, it’s about fairies and I’m super nervous that people who are used to my small town contemporaries won’t have any interest in a series that is more fantasy/supernatural in theme. Doesn’t mean I won’t write the series. And it doesn’t mean I don’t devour all the pins that really scream to me to be added into a book some day. I’m just not ready to share it with the world.

 

Inspiring, no?

 

Could I lose myself on Pinterest for an unspecified amount of time? Yes. Is it worth it? For the most part. How about you? Are you on Pinterest? What do you use it for the most? I’m always open to new ideas. 🙂 If you want to find me and my eclectic assortment of boards, I’m at: https://www.pinterest.com/mzdecuir/

Writer Mom – Crochet Addict

When does a hobby become an obsession? I have a walk in closet in my bedroom, and an ever increasing portion of it is full of yarn. I think I’m on a first name basis with all the cashiers at Michaels. I can quit any time…really… I just don’t want to. 🙂

yarn

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I tried to start my own crochet business. Creations in Crochet. Had a spiffy business license in a frame and everything. I belonged to a crafters co-op and did pretty well selling slippers, scrunchies and all manner of baby items in our little store on the grounds of a winery in San Diego.

I was so excited to finally be making an afghan for a girl after several years' worth of boy blankies.

I was so excited to finally be making an afghan for a girl after several years’ worth of boy blankies.

Then we moved to the Seattle area and I checked out a few craft fairs. I found that a LOT of people crocheted out here and it probably wasn’t worth my trouble to compete with the rest of them. But I still had that itch to scratch. Thank God for kids, mine, friends, preschool classes… I stayed busy making baby afghans for those of us adding to our families. Then I moved on to making Christmas stocking ornaments for my kids’ preschool classmates. Once they got into elementary school, I made scarves for the bus drivers and their teachers. And I am always up for handmaking booties or a precious little dress for a baby shower.

Can you tell I love crocheting for baby girls???

The baby-making seems to have slowed down lately. This past year my crocheting efforts went toward the non-profit group Hopelink. A group of friends decided to make felt stockings and bought goodies to fill them with. I know my strengths, and I should not be allowed near a sewing machine. So I crocheted as many scarves for the stockings as I could finish in about six weeks — which was exactly nine. This year I plan to do a lot more. I love to crochet while watching TV after the kids have gone to bed.

I know I have so many more pictures I could post on here of crochet-projects-past. I guess those will have to go in a future post. I even have an old business card floating around… Sigh. Another time.

What is your hobby/obsession? Leave me a pic in the comments of something cool you’ve made. I’d love to see it.

 

 

GHOST OF A PROMISE By Kelly Moran

I made myself a promise at the beginning of the year to do my best to review every book I read. Authors need as much exposure in this incredibly saturated market as they can get. And now that I have a blog, it’s my pleasure to spotlight the books I especially enjoyed.

My first blog review is for Ghost of a Promise by Kelly Moran. I’m going to be super lazy here and copy the book blurb on Amazon in here. (Hey, it’s my blog, I can be lazy if I wanna!)

moranA paranormal category romance from Entangled’s Covet imprint…

It might be love…but will they survive the night?

The ghosts of her family’s estate on the coast of Maine never troubled Ava Trumble. When she finally inherits the historic mansion, however, there’s a small string attached: Ava has exactly one year to solve a 200-year-old mystery of a missing girl, or lose her family’s home…

The lead investigator for paranormal TV show Phantoms, Jackson Granger, is prepared for any metaphysical encounter—until now. It’s not just the uncanny sense of “coming home” or even his reaction to the fiery redhead who seems to consume his every waking thought. No, it’s that the ghosts are using Jackson and Ava’s attraction to play out a centuries-old tragedy. Heartbreak. Loss. Overwhelming passion. Now Jackson and Ava must determine if they’re sharing something real…or if they’ve been possessed by a love that never died.

And because I’m being lazy, I’m also pasting in my review, verbatim:  A spooky old pre-Revolutionary war house. Ghosts with a tragic past. A hunky half-Brit celebrity ghost hunter and a woman desperate to hang on to her dreams of opening a bed and breakfast. If you’re looking for demonic, pee-your-pants kind of scaring, this book isn’t for you. But if you like getting that little thrill down your spine over spectral activity ranging from slamming doors to lavender perfume signaling an otherworldly presence, snuggle under the covers and enjoy a fabulous read.
Ava and Jackson feel an immediate connection when they first meet – but is it genuine, or a means of two souls trying to find their way back to each other through any means possible? The Trumble mansion has been in Ava’s family for centuries. Is it coincidence or fate that brings Jackson, a descendent of poor Sarah Kerrick to Maine after all these years?
Moran does a great job of showing her characters deepening emotions, even as they struggle to figure out if what they are feeling is real or part of a ghostly possession.
I LOVED visiting Maine through this book. I haven’t been back in so long. And BONUS points for finding my hometown mentioned – woot! I could almost smell the ocean. So nostalgic. Another winner for Moran.

Author Kelly Moran

Author Kelly Moran

And because this is my blog and I can do what I want, here is where I add in a buy link for this awesome book — because I know you’re going to want to read it. I know there are tons of ereader options out there, but what’s the theme of the day? Jenn is lazy! That’s right. So I am putting up the buy link for Amazon only. $2.99, folks. That’s it.  You want B&N, Kobo or iTunes, you’ll have to look those up yourself. Sorry. 🙁

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Promise-Entangled-Covet-Phantoms-ebook/dp/B00R6AVJM0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1423452176&sr=1-1&keywords=ghost+of+a+promise

Stay tuned for what I’m reading next. I’d tell you now, but even I don’t know yet. If you’ve got some great recommendations, shoot ’em my way.

 

Just A Regular Morning (This Is Normal, Right?)

You ever get the feeling you are living in a sitcom? You start to wonder where the cameras are hidden because, seriously, this is too crazy to be real life, right? Yeah, that was me this morning.

It started with me swiping a frosted brownie bite for breakfast and stuffing the whole thing in my mouth before the kids could see and demand their fair share. What they don’t know won’t kill ’em. Then coffee…blessed coffee and catching up on email. Holy crap! Little Guy’s teacher sent an email reminding us about early dismissal on Thu. and Fri. When was that decided? Did anyone else know? Thank God I actually read the dang thing. My kids would be the only ones hanging out waiting for the ‘no show’ parent. Good grief!overwhelmed

Let the dog out 15 minutes after she came in the last time. Does she need to pee? No, there are just some insanely awesome smells to investigate on the porch. Kids think if they don’t announce their presence, they can sneak out to the living room and get in a few minutes of video games. Busted! Could Little Guy please go wake up Daddy. Sure. Next thing I know, he’s flipped on the overhead light and screamed at the top of his lungs. What? You asked me to wake him up. Oy!th (1)

Big Sis heads to the bathroom at 7:15 to shower and get ready. 8 AM Little Guy is banging on the door, waiting to brush his teeth. 45 minutes? Really? And she’s only ten years old! What is life going to be like when she’s a teenager? OMG!

Putting lunches together for the kids. I notice the yogurt I just bought yesterday for Little Guy’s lunch expired on Jan. 31st. I throw an extra ice pack in the lunch box and tell myself he’s got a strong stomach. Mother of the year, folks! There is no room on the kitchen counter to maneuver because the dirty dishes still haven’t been loaded into the dishwasher. Big Sis, where are you? I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Sure you will.funny-mom-pic3

I have five minutes before everyone goes out the door for the day. Socks, shoes, coats. What am I doing? Forging a reading list for the month of January for Little Guy’s teacher. Total BS. Do I bother switching out pens to make it look like I was writing everything down the whole month? No time. Make stuff up. I call myself a writer and yet I can barely find time to read to my kindergartner. His sister read to him out of a couple of manga books. That counts, right? Write it down.

They’ve left for school/work. The house is quiet. The dog needs to go out and sniff again. I need another cup of coffee — and maybe another brownie bite. Is it Friday yet?mom1

Celebrate the Small Stuff!

celebrate

 

Yay! You’re published! Now you just sit back and wait for the money to come in, right? Wrong.

The very first thing I learned about having a book on the market is that I am ONE author in MILLIONS. Getting my books seen, reviewed and (one can dream) bought, is extremely hard and very discouraging. I’ll admit to trolling Amazon a couple of times a day — more if I have a new release — to check out my sales rank on a particular title. And really, the only purpose this serves is to depress me even more. So don’t do it, right? Easier said than done.

But one thing I find that gets me through the hard times (and there are a lot of hard times) is to celebrate all the small things. Successes, milestones, new things tried — there are more than we realize.

fireworks

 

I celebrate a new person that “likes” me on Facebook. I celebrate sending out my first newsletter, and the fact that I figured it out all by myself. I danced myself silly the first time I got a letter in the mail – an honest to goodness fan letter. And then the first one that I discovered in my in box.

When I guest blog on another author’s site and it generates a lot of comments – celebratory moment. When I update my website (OMG, I hate doing that!) and everything finally lines up correctly, that is a celebrate-with-chocolate moment. When I then learn that a friend of a friend of a friend was gushing about following said website? Swoon!

This past week I was in the dumps about sales on my recent new release. I guess January is NOT an ideal month to have a new book out. So I am trying new things, distracting myself with Twitter and experimenting with new hashtags. Lo and behold, I was followed by Starbucks. Much happy dancing and ignoring of sales ranks ensued.

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Some days it’s enough to celebrate that I got my word count in. Right now it looks like I’ll be submitting my latest book to my publisher at least two weeks ahead of my deadline. MAJOR celebrating there! Celebrating author accomplishments does not have to mean sales. Heck, I was thrilled just to receive a W-2 this year — something that I didn’t get with all $25 I made the year before. 😉

It’s the little things that make us happy. And there are WAY more little things than the built up big things we stick so much importance on.

So celebrate the little things. Eat chocolate. Dance in your underwear and sing into your hairbrush. And tell the rest of us about what you’re celebrating so we can join in with you.