Sunday, January 6, 2019

Thoughts on Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

 OMG! This book is All The Things. Except one, but I'll get to that later. Since I know I have a lot of YA readers on my blog the mom in me has to say, "Not for younger readers."
And now that we have that out of the way let's move one. Because I finished this book just before 4 am and am dying to talk about it.
It could have been about me and my husband. Straight-laced Asian boy wonder and a white bread American girl who is doesn't fit the mold. Any mold.
It's one of the things I love about this book. Books about interracial relationships are so rare that when I'm writing I usually can't find stock photos. We have to go with legs or shadows.
Both characters have a really strong voice and I admire Hazel's voice because she's so energetic that had to be hard to keep consistent for 300 pages.
And most important for any romance, JOSH IS HOT!!! REALLY HOT. And bonus points here, but it in some ways reminded me of meeting my husband in grad school all those years ago.
Like I said, all the things. Except one. Interracial, intercultural relationships are very hard and that was never shown. I get it. Not every book has to be about the challenges of intercultural relationships, but because they are so rare it would be nice to catch a glimpse of that, like girl, you're not alone. And I also thought Josh's parents weren't that consistent. In some ways, they're very traditional. "Korean kids don't disobey their parents." (Umm...I know lots of second generation Asian kids who don't believe that, like at all. Kinda wish they did actually.) **Spoiler Alert** And then when Crazy Hazie is pregnant at the end of the book Josh is thinking about how happy his parents are going to be. Just doesn't seem consistent, and it's one of the places where I felt like cultural differences should have played a role.
What are you reading?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Thoughts on A Diamond For a Duke

A Diamond for a Duke: A Regency Romance (Seductive Scoundrels Book 1) by [Cameron, Collette]"Jules, Sixth Duke of Dandridge disdains Society and all its trappings, preferring the country’s solitude and peace. Already jaded after the woman he loved died years ago, he’s become even more so since unexpectedly inheriting a dukedom’s responsibilities and finding himself the target of every husband-hunting vixen in London.
Jemmah Dament has adored Jules from afar for years—since before her family’s financial and social reversals. She dares not dream she can win a duke’s heart any more than she hopes to escape the life of servitude imposed on her by an uncaring mother. Jemmah knows full well Jules is too far above her station now. Besides, his family has already selected his perfect duchess: a poised, polished, exquisite blueblood.
A chance encounter reunites Jules and Jemmah, resulting in a passionate interlude neither can forget. Jules realizes he wants more—much more—than Jemmah’s sweet kisses or her warming his bed. He must somehow convince her to gamble on a dour duke. But can Jemmah trust a man promised to another? One who’s sworn never to love again?"

I have no idea how to rate this one, so I'm going to give two separate ratings. Here goes. I really loved Cameron's writing style and it was super cute and oh-so sugary sweet. All the things I look for in romance. This baby could be realistic historical Twilight. Yeah, that cute. So on the Jen adores scale 4/5.
Now, on the craft and story structure scale 2/5. I know what you're thinking. How can a book Jen adores be so low rated. I'm about to explain. There was no conflict. Nowhere. At all. I'm at a time in my life when I'm happy to read zero conflict and laced confectioner's sugar, but it's the cardinal sin of story structure. There was also some clumsy sentence structure here and that was a much smaller problem. And if conflict doesn't matter to you, you'll find this book amazing. However, if you're into the thriller ride this might not be the book for you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Balance and Rebuild

My theme for 2019 is balance and rebuild. Pretty much every area of my life.
My biggest problem has always been that something is being neglected which leads to a write who isn't writing, a mom whose kid is saying, "Why don't you quit working? Daddy makes enough money for us. You don't play with me anymore," a dirty house, and an unhealthy body.
So my goal for 2019 is to get balance in all aspects of my life. Then when the foundation is strong start rebuilding. Rebuild an organized home, a happy child, some kid of paying day job, and an artistic soul with time to create.

What's your focus this year?
I made a list of 100 goals for this year here. I knew I wouldn't accomplish all of them. I even wrote goals that seemed impossible, just because if you don't think it, you might miss it when it happens.
For this month, I've pulled from the list to make a January micro-list to focus on.
I also categorized them to make the goals seem less random and more doable.
What was really interesting is that some goals fell in more than one category.
I also realized some things I'd chosen were specific ways to accomplish other goals I'd written.
Health
  1. Lose 9 lbs.
  2. develop a healthy mindset
  3. be able to cross my legs comfortably
  4. learn yoga
  5. minimize sugar
  6. NO cokes
  7. form a yoga or meditation HABIT
Community
  1. build my community
  2. Find friends to dance with
  3. volunteer at least once
  4. find a local activist group
Self-care
  1. wash my face 2x/day
  2. develop a healthy mindset (this one matters for everything)
  3. read affirmations daily
  4. quit venting
  5. use a moisturizer daily
  6. give myself a bedtime
  7. Remember to use the "suckies" list
  8. let go of worry
  9. be content with what I have
Personal Development
  1. finish Crafting a Life You Love
  2. Make a weekly goals list
  3. Reward myself for accomplishing goals
  4. Finish The Art of Extreme Self Care
  5. Read Traffic

Writing
  1. take a formatting class
  2.  check blog analytics
  3. check blog settings
  4. query woman's world shorts
Household
  1. read a book or organization for ADD ppl
  2. organize master bath
  3. organize closet
  4. organize bedroom
  5. organize office
  6. organize kitchen
  7. organize elf's room 
  8. organize garage
Financial
  1. pay off phone 1/9/19
  2. apply to stitch fix
  3. sign up to sub 1/4/19
What are your goals this month?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Goals and Dreams

For the past two years, I've used this planner which was a lot of fun but doesn't change from year to year. So I've decided to do the best part of it right here. Bonus points. It creates no paper waste.
2019 My Shining Year Life Goals WorkbookThe goal is to write down 100 goals for the year ahead. Some of them are realistic and will easily be crossed out. Some of them aren't realistic, but I believe words are powerful.
As a writer, words always seemed magical, but my brain is a large part logical and I think I always tried to talk myself out of this.
The first year I used this planner I wrote that I would like to buy a piece of investment property. I didn't really think we would. Or I thought we might, but it was going to take seriously increasing my income which mean someone would either have to pay me for my writing--FINALLY--or I needed a much better job. 
Neither of those things happened, but we received a small amount of money (larger than a couple of hundred but not a enough to even make a dent in my student loan). And my husband stumbled across a piece of rural land priced very low. 
This piece of land didn't work out and wasn't ideal. But it did make us realize that there had to be similar pieces of land. On Halloween day 2017, we signed the title for our (hopefully) first piece of investment property.
So, 2018 came around and I wrote taking my daughter to Disney as a goal. I didn't expect it to happen. I'm trying to Dave Ramsay my budget like hell right now, and have been for a while. But I thought why not? You never know. For basically the first time ever we got a nice tax refund and went to Disney World. It's my favorite family trip ever.
With that being said, some of these will easily be crossed off. Some of these won't and some will be gifts from God and the universe.

  1. Lose 25 lbs.
  2. Lose 50 lbs.
  3. Develop a healthy mindset
  4. Lose 75 lbs.
  5. Lose 100 lbs.
  6. Have no sagging skisI know dream big, right? 
  7. Learn yoga
  8. Find friends to dance with
  9. minimize sugar
  10. eliminate coke-cola
  11. wash my face 2x/day. Okay, so it's a little embarrassing to admit this on a blog, but my self care is like non-existent
  12. Take a word formatting class
  13. finish another book (can be novella)
  14. sell a book
  15. Make $500 writing
  16. Find a career I love that contributes to society
  17. Create a passive income stream
  18. pay off van
  19. pay off husband's truck
  20. Go back to Disney
  21. Go to Dublin
  22. Go to Edinburg
  23. Go to Cancun
  24. Go to London
  25. Go to Rome
  26. Go to Madrid
  27. See the Rockettes on New Year's Eve
  28. Volunteer at least once a month
  29. Find a local activist group
  30. Build my community
  31. organize the master bath
  32. organize my closet
  33. organize my bedroom
  34. organize office
  35. Organize kitchen
  36. organize elf's room
  37. organize garage
  38. Lose no loved ones--I realize I have no control over this, but words have power so...
  39. Go to Hawaii
  40. Read affirmations daily
  41. End 2019 with a thriving family
  42. Pay off student loans
  43. Pay off house
  44. Donate $1000
  45. take ballroom dance lessons
  46. take a trip just me and the ELF--good luck talking Emil into this one. LOL
  47. Take the Emils to AR
  48. Pay cash for a couch
  49. Pay off phone
  50. Top Secret
  51. Top Secret .2
  52.  Outline a self help book or workbook
  53. Write a financial planning book aimed at youngish women
  54. start an initiative to minimize traffic accidents in the US
  55. Give a TED talk
  56. Finish reading The Extreme Art of Self Care
  57. Read Get Rich Lucky Bitch
  58. Find another book by Denise Thomas
  59. Use eating zones
  60. Take a mindful eating course
  61. Get a door for the master bathroom
  62. Go to Australia
  63. Become a USAT bestseller
  64. Become a NYT bestseller
  65. Keep ELF in an IB school
  66. Read a parenting book on discipline
  67. spend more time with my Emils
  68. I honestly can't believe there are 31 things left to do in the world.
  69. Make $4000 w/ gigs this year
  70. Read Traffic
  71. Take an HTML class
  72. Sign up to sub 
  73. form a morning yoga/meditation habit
  74. take a technical writing class
  75. apply to stitch fix
  76. Check my blog analytics
  77. Check my blog settings
  78. read an add organization book
  79. investigate the benefits of creating an online guide
  80. Research inbox $$
  81. Research Swag bucks
  82. Create a dream board
  83. Quit venting!
  84. Use a moisturizer
  85. Give myself a bedtime
  86. Go to a belly dance class
  87. Remember to use the "suckies" list
  88. Have lunch with a friend I don't often see once a month.
  89. start a journaling project with the ELF
  90. Take an Irish dance class
  91. Let go of worry
  92. Finish craft a life you love
  93. Be content with what I have.
  94. Make a weekly goal list 
  95. Reward myself for accomplishing goals
  96. Get Kavitha, Katie, and Ruth together for a girl's night
  97. Send ELF to dance camp
  98. Send ELF to art camp
  99. Query or package "All I Want For Christmas"
  100. revise and query women's world shorts from 2017.

Wrecking the Roads

It was 1990 something. 90? 91? 92? I can't remember, so we'll call it 91 since it's in the middle.
One warm and sunny February day--dude, it's TX. What did you expect?--my life changed.
My mom came and picked me up from day care early. When the teacher called my name I jumped up excited. I hated day care. I loved my mom, and I rarely went home early.
But mom stood in the hallway crying. I don't mean just a few tears running down her face either, although even that would have been disturbing. Mom was standing in the hallway all out sobbing. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong. She kept saying she would tell me and Josh together.
But the day care center couldn't find my brother, so mom's crying and refusing to tell me what was wrong went on for a while. But probably not as long as it seemed in my head.
After the little kid class had been located, Josh popped up saw Mom crying and asked "What's wrong?"
She said she'd tell us later.
She put us in the car and drove to McDonald's. We had no clue what was going on but weren't turning down happy meals. She bought two extras.
And then she told us. Her 24 year old little brother was in ICU in a coma and would likely die. The Tracks van he drove had flipped a few times and he'd been found in the curb behind my house. My uncle was driving poor and old people to doctor's appointments when he died.
Saying my life changed this day might seem overdramatic. It was my uncle, not my dad. But I'm not wrong, although that story is a different post.
Because this post is to say 2 years later, a friend of my parent's died in a car wreck. The whole car load died.
And 5 or 6 years after that, two my cousins--both high school aged--died in an automobile accident that left the other driver paralyzed.
The years proceeded, and I watched friends lost parents and siblings in car wrecks.
Time went on.
2018 struck with a vengeance. My mom's SUV was T-boned. My grandmother and nephew were in the car with her. My grandma broke 5 ribs and fractured her back in two places. My 7 year old nephew came out of it with a broken arm and a broken hip. Mom didn't come out of it. At all.
I didn't get in a car for a week. I'd known too many people who had died in car wrecks.
Three days before Christmas another family member died in a car wreck.
"You're being ridiculous..."
"It just seems like it right now..."
"Jeni, you're overreacting..."
But I'm not wrong. More than 40,000 people died in car wrecks in 2017. Accidental injury--thanks largely to car wrecks--is back up to the 3rd cause of death in the US.
I want to do something to fix this. Change it. It's too late for my family. But it's not too late for someone else's.
So, I'm crowd sourcing ideas. What's the best way to prevent these tragedies? Lower speed limits? More stringent traffic laws? Demanding our municipalities enforce current laws? Where is the best place to focus time and resources to save lives? 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fiction in 2019

Dear Jeni,
You must bBe gentle with yourself.
I must Remember this is a work of art and love to feed your soul and make your mark.
This is not a job. Marketplace vitality doesn't matter.
No one else's opinion matters.

But...
In 2019, I would like to finish The Capital Hill series and query Silver Lining.
And if you can't, there will be another year.
The ELF will still eat dance  thrive.
Your husband will still fight with you.
Your house will be clean some days and not as clean others.
You will survive, because you've survived so much more.
What matters is that you keep the joy. You don't stress out yourself or your family with a lack of success a perverted culture's definition of success.
All you need to be, all the ELF needs you to be, is happy.

Peace, hope, and love.
The Real ~J~