#NaNoWriMo Deconstructed Jeni Style

It’s National Novel Writing Month! It’s also Jeni Month since my birthday is right around the corner. But, back to the first.

NaNoWriMo is a great source of inspiration, but it’s also a test of my ability to procrastinate. Having only participated in my first NaNo last year and flunking out like  on my b’day, I’m back to doing it again this year. Only this time around, I’m mid-way through an 8,000 word update to book 1, 8,000 words into a women’s fiction book, and 16,000 words into book 2. So, while my goal is still 50,000 words any new words will count. Because if I manage my time wisely, I should be able to finish the edits on book 1, finish the rough draft on book 2, and maybe in my spare time during the time I should be sleeping I can get some decent progress made on the women’s fiction piece.

All over the internet you can find tips and tricks to completing NaNoWriMo. What I have to offer is the prospective of someone who never finished. In other words, a ‘how not to blow NaNo’ list if you will.

1- Don’t get overconfident about your ability to write 50,000 little words. Come on, how hard can it be? In a good weekend I can easily add 8-10k, so a whole month to do 50k will be a cakewalk. NOT!  I swear that everything that can possibly pop up in one month will if you keep this cocky attitude.

2- Procrastination is not your friend. I may have redone my Jamberry’s this morning for Dia De Los Muertos, but seriously, I was NOT procrastinating because I hate editing more than going to the dentist–and my dentist is a looker, but still a tooth-drilling sadist I’m sure, so I dread going. Okay, so maybe I was procrastinating a little this morning. Heck, this blog post might even be a way to put off doing my edits.  Ugh, the truth is painful. Seriously, don’t procrastinate it will beat you every time.

3- Don’t stress about typos, bad grammar, and punctuation that can/will go awry. I’m not saying these things aren’t important because they are, but you can fix them in December after you finish your NaNo. I’m just saying I am already -2 words into NaNo. Why? Because I wrote something yesterday, hated it and then hated some old words too. Yeah. -2. Envy me yet? I didn’t think so. Just write. That’s the point of NaNo. Save the editing for later.

4- Don’t panic over the word count. Sounds easy enough, right? It really isn’t. There’s something about having a certain number of words I HAVE to write that is enough to dry up every creative fiber in my body. If you have the same issue, then only do your word count at the end of each week. It will make you less of a slave to the damn word count at the bottom of your screen.

5- For those of you who are working on juggling multiple projects like I am, change the color of your font to something other than black in your WIP. Why? Because it makes it easier to later go back, find your new words, highlight them and count the buggers. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. And speaking of later, it’s easy enough to change all your work back to black with a select all then font color change to black.

6- Make a plan. Then make a plan B. Then make a “when all else fails” plan. When you log in to the NaNo site, it gives you this very manageable word count per day to hit your goal. And then when you miss a day, the daily goal gets bigger to make up for it. Here’s the thing. Your kid will get a raging case of vomiting and diarrhea this month or break their foot and need to spend a few hours in the ER or worse yet, multiple hours a week in PT. Either that, or you will decide that this is the year you should host Thanksgiving with 100 guests and you are determined to create every delicious morsel with your bare hands. I kid you not. These things happen and will derail you. So plan A is the goal on the NaNo site. Plan B is to put my butt in my chair for 8 hours a day until I hit 50k. When all else fails is that I’ll lock myself into a closet for a week with a supply of Swedish Fish and  SmartWater with a decaf coffee drip in my arm. It won’t be pretty, but it will work. I hope.

7- Celebrate your success. And celebrate your failure too. Regardless if you hit 50k during November or not, you should celebrate the fact that you made writing a priority even if the world intervened and you didn’t hit the mark.

I hope that helps for this year.  And if you need a NaNoWriMo buddy, I hear that Jeni Bee is pretty nice to work with, so feel free to hit her up.



September’s here. Finally.

I feel like the title of this post should be back on the wagon, but in all honesty I didn’t fall off a wagon — it just seems like I did.

Over the summer I edited my book, not once, not twice, but three times. I pitched it (successfully I might add), submitted it, and even got some responses. Now, I’m playing the waiting game. Waiting to see who will send revisions first or if another contender might drop in with different ideas.

Besides all that going on, it’s also been back-to-school time. It’s the time of year I both look forward to like a kid at Christmas and dread like a convict walking toward the death chamber. Yeah. I love that the kids are off to school all day every day, but I have a unique situation with my oldest kid. He’s brilliant. Like the kind of brilliant that makes me believe he’s got the potential to cure cancer some day, or something equally amazing, because he’s got this intense focus on things that interest him. For example, he’s learning Java, and no, not the coffee to this proud mama’s chagrin, the coding language. Why? Because he wants to personalize his Minecraft mods. Did I mention he hasn’t have a double-digit birthday yet? Yeah. Super smart.

Of course I was a smart kid too (not his level of smart mind you, but not too bad if I do say so myself- which I do) and being a smart kid doesn’t always make you a popular kid. And it sure as hell doesn’t make going to school an easy task. Sure school is easy work-wise, but it’s B-O-R-I-N-G as hell and sometimes kids are mean to people who are smart.  I get it, it’s tough. So, the beginning of the year has a unique set of parenting challenges that differ from year to year. Thankfully, we are making it through these weeks with the love and support of my amazing family and friends. Without them, I’d be hairless and he’d over caffeinated, because when all else fails, have a coffee, right????  Not winning mother of the year over here. I’m well aware. But we are having a hopping start to the school year. And the youngest wants to literally climb the walls for her b’day celebration. Oh, and did I mention that she wants Groot cupcakes? You know, like from Guardians of the Galaxy. Yeah. I’m working on that too. And the PTA. And soccer.

Do you see my sucker tattoo?  Everyone does I think! 😀

But, the good news is that the first book I wrote (I feel like I mentioned it here a year or so ago) was crap. In fact it was so bad, that I shelved it with a dagger to keep it from coming back from the dead. UNTIL NOW.  I finally pulled it’s dagger and took a good hard look at it. And guess what?  It still sucks. So I’m rewriting the whole thing. New plot. Better characters. Conflict and torture galore. And I might be slightly in love with my hero, Charlie. I loved him before but now the book is his story so I get the opportunity to spend a good chunk of my day in my head with him. And he’s awesome.

Not to say Simon from the first book in the series isn’t great. He is. Just in different ways. Simon’s the sweet, nerdy type with a quiet nature and a stubborn streak. Charlie’s a larger than life introvert that masquerades as an Alpha extrovert who will go to any lengths for the woman he loves even though he knows he can’t have her.


There’s something awesome about writing these characters into existence. So, I am off to go spend more time with Charlie until I have to get the kids to bed. Then, I’ll curl up with him and we’ll chat until we’re both too tired to speak and fall asleep in the warm cocoon offered by someone who knows you better than you know yourself.

Cheers~ Jeni

P.S. What makes a hero speak to you in a book? I’d love to know.

What not to do before a conference…

It’s conference season here and I’m getting ready to head to San Antonio for my second RWA conference. After having one under my belt, I feel so much more prepared to have the best conference possible.  But because in true Jeni fashion, I have a small list of things NOT to de before a conference.

1. Don’t get poison ivy, sumac, etc on your face.  Conferences are all about putting your best face forward and it’s super hard when you are an itchy, hived mess. Trust me. I’m that right now.

2. Don’t go with a brand new hairstyle.  Sure it looks fabulous in the magazine, but the learning curve required to get it styled perfectly takes longer than the week you have before the conference. I really should listen to my own advice, but if I did, you’d never get this great advice.

3. Give yourself at least a week prior to the conference when getting your eyebrows waxed. Why?  Because inevitably the stress that goes along with conference prepping, with result in acne above your newly waxed brows. Learned this the hard way last year.  You’re welcome.

4- Don’t make a significant change to your diet. This is one of those things I recently did (almost 30 days gluten & added sugar free.) I’m still not sure how I’m gonna make it work next week, but I’ll figure it out.  But if you run into me and I’m grumpy, assume I haven’t eaten in a while or the ‘roids they put me on for the poison ivy has finally gotten the better of me. Pretty sure handing me a cuppa decaf will fix it. 😉

5- Don’t take steroids before and during your conference. I’m totally gonna be the ‘roid rager this year thanks to the poison ivy. So, while I have gained weight since last year’s conference, (I’ve actually lost a bunch recently) but my face is ‘roid puffy. Super sexy, but better than the itchy, welty, poison ivy look I was sporting scaring people with yesterday. 😉

6- Don’t pack too early. You will overpack this way. Wait until the last minute and pray you didn’t forget your laptop charger. Last year I brought everything but the kitchen sink. This year I’m flying to RWA so I need to scale back my luggage and I haven’t even done laundry let alone packed. Feeling pretty good about it too!

So, if you can manage to not be the same walking disaster that I am before your conference, I’m sure you’ll do just fine! And if you have a bad conference day, come find me and stand by me for a bit. I’ll either make you laugh or at the least be a bigger disaster than you so you’ll look fabulous by comparison.

Hope to see some of my fun writer friends there next week!


Friday Randomness

I spend a lot of my time daydreaming. I like to think it’s a writer thing, but more than likely it’s a Jeni thing. But I digress.

So recently, I’ve been spending a lot of butt-in-the-chair time, which is important to a writer. After all it is hard to write while moving around. (Although, don’t tell George, my shower goblin, that all the talking we do while I’m in the shower doesn’t count as writing… I’m pretty sure he’d take it badly and then you’d regret it. ) So while it’s been good for my WIP (and a little bad for my bank acct since online shopping is my favorite form of procrastination. Did I mention my unicorn slippers will show up today??)  it’s made my fitbit, Frenchy, (yes, I’m a huge Grease fan) question my motives when I tuck her into my bra each morning. (I swear I’m not insane. It’s a fitbit one and I’m afraid if I clip it to my pants I’ll lose it, probably in the toilet or something, so I happily tuck her in with the girls in my favorite Vickies bra.)

Until last night. Last night, I made a concerted effort to get my tired butt out of said chair and go for a walk. Of course, I brought the beast with me and a bestie for moral support (yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve made myself exercise. I’ll blame any number of factors on the reasons, but whatever. Right?) and I took a nice long walk. All the stress that had been weighing on me totally evaporated. I was inspired and motivated by the time I was done.

And I was exhausted. Did I mention I walked in the evening? Yeah, sometime a year or so ago I sorta made the reluctant switch to morning person without really signing off on it and now it’s coming back to bite me in said butt. So, yeah. I went directly to bed. Didn’t pass go. Didn’t collect $200. Didn’t add a single word to my book. But Frenchy was happy. And then she mocked me to walk some more. Grrr.

Now this morning, I’m up early. Sitting in a local joint with a jumbo coffee writing this post positive that I’ll be productive today. Especially because all the stress of self-imposed deadlines has evaporated so I can actually stare down the headlights coming my way. 🙂

And worse case if I get unmotivated again, I can just go back and re-read this gem that my FWLMLRN and I bickered via text earlier this week. And by earlier this week I mean whatever day I ordered the unicorn slippers. That might have been part of what provoked her into threatening me with editing… I try not to hold it against her.


Grumpy Cat Says No

Grumpy Cat Says No

So, now I’m off to work. You  know, real work. But don’t tell George. He thinks I already started this morning at 6:58 when I hopped in the shower with him. Oh, and for the curious, I’m pretty sure George looks sorta like this…

My Shower Goblin, George.

My Shower Goblin, George. Found here

Only smaller and green. Don’t judge. He was born that way.

Happy Friday!



What’s the magic number?

I have about 7 weeks left of school. Which means in 7.1 weeks my little monsters darlings will be here with me all day long every LONG day of summer. I’m already panicking!

How the heck will I get anything done? I know, camps. Yeah, I’ve heard that before, but those add up. Have I mentioned I’m not selling books yet? My budget is small. Tiny in fact. And last I checked it’s frowned upon to set them in front of a tv for days on end hide them in closets from sun up to sun down ignore them turn up my headphones loud enough to drown them out and make me deaf simultaneously go into hock to pay for someone else to watch the darlings all summer.

I’m also at the point where I’m considering finding a cave to hide out in all summer. You know like people that are hermits, but I need a cave with wifi. Do you think those exist? I wonder if bears also live in them. Because that’s where I draw the line. I’d room with pretty much anyone over the age of 18 who can take care of themselves–unless they are a bear. A LITERAL BEAR…

That’s how desperate I am to have a productive summer this year.

Which brings me back to my original question; what’s the magic number? The number that keeps me out of both the poor house and the looney bin? (Although, I hear the people in the looney bin ‘get’ me in ways most people don’t so that’s a upside of all this… Right??)

I might have to invest in having a few teenagers come and occupy the rugrats monsters darlings so I can keep up the momentum. Either that or find a good Realtor who can get me an amazing deal on a wifi equipped cave- bear free of course.



Coffee, poop, & unicorns… Oh MY!

I was going to title this post “The Magic Numbers,” but my friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the criminally insane pooper  guilty) pointed out that coffee, poop, & unicorns better summed up my morning so far. It might be because she got this text message at the butt crack of dawn (okay like 8:30am, but earlier for her since we live in different time zones):

Jeni: I woke up too early this morning and I think I’m gonna need about 107 cups of coffee to get me moving on anything productive. Which is pointless for me to have that much coffee anyway since it’s all decaf. All I’ll wind up with is a case of the craps. Which fits my unproductive mood though, so maybe it’s be worth it? lol Random thought of the day # 527.

See, people. This is what being my friend gets you. Wake-up texts complaining that I’m awake, can’t drink caffeine and the side-effects of too much coffee. Yup. Poop. I do lead a super glamorous life, so these tidbits are not as far and few between as they should be. Unfortunately for my friends.

The best part is that said friend called immediately to talk me off the edge of the slippery slope that is drinking way too much coffee (even if it’s decaf) and inspired me to work. Probably because I mentioned a fun activity that I could do, call it work, and then get down and dirty with the hard-core writing that I want to accomplish today. (Of course, you are all reading this blog post so you already know I’ve strayed some from adding a new chapter or two to my current novel. Yeah. Good times.)

Then not more than 20 minutes later I followed up my coffee & poop text with this gem.

Jeni: I may or may not have just ordered these… 

THEY ARE MAGICAL! (not really, but a girl can dream, right?)

(not really, but a girl can dream, right?)

Maybe here’s where I should mention that my friend has a real job. The kind where you show up every day, work, and at the end of a pre-determined amount of time they give you money. I don’t. And I’m not talking about giving her money, I’m talking about having a job that gives me money. At least not yet. I’m working hard now so it will hopefully pay off in the future. Anyway, it’s good to know this about her so when you read her reply it makes sense to people with real jobs people like her anyone other than me.

Friend who loves me less right now: LMAO! That is NOT what you call work.

Wait, what? I’m pretty sure buying adult-sized unicorn slippers constitutes work.  So, what else could I do?? I sent her this response…

Jeni: True, true… but they look magical. As in might HELP me work

It’s been crickets ever since. (With the exception of the title suggestion for this post. I can only imagine she rolled her eyes when I told her I was writing a blog post instead of writing 2 brand spanking, shiny, new chapters like I said I would.)
So, instead of writing the blog “Magic Numbers” today, I’ll leave you all with this instead. I’ll go work on writing some chapters so the FWLMLRN (friend who loves me less right now) can stop rolling her eyes and get some actual paying work done. Tomorrow I’ll write the Numbers blog. I’ll try to make sure that one doesn’t include poop. But I make no promises.

Oh, and for those of you that are curious, I’m on cup #4. Damn Decaf!

Before cup #4

Before cup #4


My awesome coffee spoon this morning. It says, "Not your average joe." c/o Stink & Mrs. Stink (aka my brother and SIL)!

My awesome coffee spoon this morning. It says, “Not your average joe.” c/o Stink & Mrs. Stink (aka my brother and SIL)!

After cup #4

After cup #4

Hope you have a Magical day my friends!



It’s been a day…

…where I really miss my mom. So I wrote her a letter.

See it here.

Other than that, I’ve made some huge changes with my writing. HUGE, I tell ya!

I stuck a dagger in a book I loved to hate, revamped a book I hate to love, and am now working furiously on making every word count. I sprint with writing partners in the evenings and work with a gassy dog during the day. (Feel free to join us for writing sprints in the evening on Twitter @JeniABurns . I’ll be there tonight at 8:30 sharp!)

I have eaten my grief for the last 2+ months so I resolved to cook real meals again and be healthy overall. I even found a Greek yogurt I liked ( I would’ve sworn it would NEVER happen, but I’d have been wrong). I’ve found new music that inspires me and art that makes me happy. I bought a piece of jewelry to make me smile and think of my mom. I’m singing and dancing around my house on good days and snuggling with the stinky dog on bad ones, but I’m here and remembering that life is too short to waste it away being scared of failure. This affirmation has given me power in  a way I never truly realized until today.

So, writers, join me tonight with your fingers ready to type and your stories ready to spill. Friends, join me in remembering my mom and have a glass of something that isn’t water for me today!

Love to you all!

Let’s Catch Up…

Since I last posted anything on my blog, a whole crapload of changes have happened here.

First,  I got a year older. Yup, that’s right. I’m still in my blissfully false twenties but another year older in them. Of course if you ask one of my kids, they will tell you my actual age which makes me cringe a bit. Although for superstitious reasons I’m glad to no longer be at an age that ends in the number 3.

Second, I made a mean Turkey-day dinner and no one got food poisoning. This shouldn’t be a hallmark achievement, but I feel with how crazy things have been it really is.

Third, I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo. And I’m okay with it even though I didn’t think I would be. Instead, I spent my days basking in time with my mom while she felt well.

For those of you who might be new, my mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in mid-2011 and was re-diagnosed with it late 2012. She had 4 months in remission before learning she was terminal.

Fourth, I managed not to forget anything on my holiday shopping list. This was a miracle of epic proportions this year because mom started feeling bad and I did most of her shopping for her this year.

Fifth, I pulled off a nice birthday/Christmas Eve celebration for my mom even though I wasn’t getting much sleep because she wasn’t feeling well. She spent a good chunk of the day up and smiling with all 6 of her grandkids and the rest of us.

This is where it gets a little sad… Those of you not ready to read something sad this early in the year can feel free to stop now… I’ll see you in a week with a big announcement. Those of you in for the whole pound, let’s get on with it.

On Christmas Day, mom was admitted to the hospital for what we thought might be an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia. Turns out it was her cancer taking over her left lung. She had been undergoing a new treatment that was in the phase 1/2 stage. Unfortunately, in her case, the medicine wasn’t working. The day after Christmas, her oncologist, our much loved Dr. C, came in to see her in the hospital while on vacation to review her options. It was then she announced with certainty that she was done. She was discharged the following day under the care of the great people of my local branch of Hospice.

Less than a week later, I had the honor of being by her side as she passed from this world to the next.  She was surrounded by people who loved her in her last hours and for that I will always be grateful. Because she died as she lived, being surrounded by love.

In the almost two weeks since her passing, I’ve managed to get most of her affairs settled, but there is still much to do. Last weekend, surrounded by family, she was laid to rest. But, it was the hours after that will stay with me forever. Instead of a traditional funeral, my mom had asked that we throw some life celebrations. So, I was able to see friends and family I rarely get to see and celebrate her life. It was an amazing experience to see and hear so many wonderful people and listen to their tales of how she touched their lives…

And I get to do it again this coming weekend because she had two places where she lived over her short 56 years on this planet. But as the RSVP’s come in I am touched by how many people she has touched over the years. That, and how many wonderful friends I have that have made her passing so much easier to bare.

So, to all of you who have sent me a text, email, or called over the last 4 weeks while I’ve been going through what I can honestly say has been the hardest moments of my life, THANK YOU! Without each and every one of you I’m not sure I would’ve made it through this with my sanity in tact.

Oh, and to the friends who send me pictures of hunky guys, coffee, and dirty jokes; I  LOVE YOU!!!  You guys have the best remedies for the blues. Thank you!!!

So, I leave you all with this picture from last winter of mom and I prior to the pink hair…

Rest well tonight and know that another angel is keeping watch over you… 
I do.
Hugs and happiness in the New Year ~ Jeni

Day 3

It’s Day 3 of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I am slightly over 6,000 words at this point. Yesterday was my CRW (Carolina Romance Writers) meeting and I regret to say I didn’t get much actual writing done afterward. However, the pantser in me took a quick breather and let the plotter that I have locked away in the deep, deep recesses of my brain out for a minute to grab a breath of fresh air and check plot points.

Then the pantser roared back to life, locked the plotter in a closet, and drank a cup ‘o decaf. Actually, it was more like, she called on one of her writing buddies and said, “Help! My plotter got loose again! Bring some rope!”

Naturally N. R. Ratcliffe came to the rescue and reminded the pantser that plotters never prosper when pantsing. (I swear these are all real things… I haven’t lost my mind… yet.)

Anyway, today I meet the day renewed and ready to write as soon as I get a few things taken care of family-wise. Then I am off to the land of Elemental strife that exists only in my head and on my computer. 😉

I hope that those of you taking on the NaNo challenge are having as much fun as I am!

~Jeni Bee

50K or Bust

It’s November 1st. This same time last year it was just the day before my hubby’s b’day; just another Thursday.

But this year is different. This year is the first day of Na No Wri Mo (National Novel Writing Month). So, for those of you as unknowing as I was this time last year, it’s a 30 day challenge to write 50,000 words. Essentially the rough draft of a novel as I see it.

Thanks to other great writer friends like VJ Burke, Natalie Ratcliffe, Denise Leton, and so many more I decided to take the plunge and sign up. It’s no secret that my writing time has been less than usual in the last months, but I need to get back in the game and I’ve set myself up to have November (my birthday month also, send gifts in the form of decaf coffee, please) as my comeback month.

So once I click publish here, I will officially open and start my first-ever Na No Wri Mo document.

Once I have some words down on the page, I will add a word count widget here so we can all keep track of my progress together. If you are also participating in Na No Wri Mo, feel free to comment here and we can “talk shop”as the month moves along!

Best of luck to those writing. May your words be thoughtful and your fingers be swift!

~Jeni Bee