In other news….

Did I mention that I recently started contributing to a writer’s blog?  No?  Oh my! Where has my brain been these days??

Well, here’s the skinny… I’m currently the Wednesday poster on Mimosa Mornings Writers.  It’s a great group of writers who post about writing, anything that inspires us to write, or the mimosa’s or Irish coffees we drink while writing! 😉  Okay, mine is the Irish coffee, but they let me in the Mimosa Mornings group anyway!  So, if you don’t get enough of me here, hop on over to Mimosa Mornings Writers on Wednesdays to see me.  And look around while you are there because otherwise you will miss the terrific posts by Christine Gasser, Denise Leton, and Natalie R. Ratcliffe. I’m completely honored to get to work with these amazing ladies and if I ever find myself needing some inspiration, I turn to these word wizards to help get my creative juices flowing!  Plus, Denise is great at sending pictures of my favorite actors that inspire me!! 😉

So, If you want to read my previous posts at MMWs… follow the links below.  If you want to read the bios of the amazing peeps I surround myself with (them with mimosas, me with my Irish coffee)- click the “about” link once you are on the MMW page!

I look forward to keeping up with you all on both pages, so comment away my friends!  🙂

Mimosa Mornings Writers

I’m Mary-Freakin’ Poppins

I’m An Introvert Who Plays An Extrovert In Real Life

Pitching Your Baby

To zip line or not to zip line

The title sounds random–I know, but I need some serious advice. I’m terrified of heights.  I should clarify that my fear is more in the “If I fall from here, I’ll die” way. It’s a little different from the “being up here makes me panic completely” way. In my brain it’s the normal fear that comes with evolution.

I mean, I love roller coasters. Being strapped into that cart that goes hurtling through the air while twisting, turning, and ultimately throwing me for a few loops (if it’s a good coaster it does all of those things!) gives me a rush that I eagerly anticipate each and every time I get in line for my next coaster ride. I DO NOT do drop towers, free fall rides, or that haunted elevator in Disney that makes me have nightmares about any random elevator dropping me to my death. See, there’s a huge difference in my neurosis fears.

That being said, I have the opportunity to go zip lining in a couple of weeks and a part of me is totally in. However, a bigger part of me screams, “falling off the side of a mountain is what crazy people do!  And paying to do it is even crazier!”

So, I’m looking for some feedback here (preferably from those of you who’ve done this and lived to tell the tale…) that can tell me if I should xanex up and go for it or sit it out with a glass of wine at the bottom of the mountain.

Leave me a comment and tell me yay or nay… I need the advice!

Thanks! ~ Jeni

It’s 1 am… Do you know where your manuscript is?

It’s one am. I have edited the first three chapters of my manuscript for an entire week. You read that right. Words that it took me mere hours to write originally took me a week to edit and re-edit and ask trusted friends to help edit again.

And now it’s as done as I can get it. So, instead of waiting until morning (I know it’s morning now, but I mean the sane hours of the morning) I sent those three precious chapters with a heartfelt and genuine letter to the editor I met with last weekend.

I realize rejection rates for new manuscripts by new authors are high, but still I sent my baby manuscript with the hopes that someone other than me will love it.

With that, I am finally going to try to get some much-needed and well-deserved sleep so that I don’t sleep-walk through mom’s chemo tomorrow.

Before saying goodnight I have to thank some very awesome friends and family for taking time to read, comment, and edit with me this week. So thanks to all you wonderful people who’s names have been changed to protect the guilty!

Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

~Jeni <3

Pitching

I’m not talking about baseball here… I’m talking about making an actual pitch to an actual editor or agent.

This weekend I have the opportunity to pitch to an editor and it will be my first ever pitch.  So, what do I do to get prepared you ask…

Simple. I panic.  That’s how I roll ladies and gents.  I take an entire day to meltdown in full-fledged panic mode.  I write a pretty good pitch at 1 in the morning then I spend the following day telling myself I’m crazy for attempting to do this.  I distract myself with editing and writing.  Then I write a kick-ass chapter for the book I’m pitching.  (A chapter I didn’t initially see being in the book, but now I can’t imagine the book without I might add…)

And now I can’t not pitch the book, right?? I mean that chapter is probably one of my favorites now… so I can’t let it sit home with my ‘balls’ right??  No!  I will not be that nervous nelly!

Instead I will pitch to the kids until they roll their eyes, pitch to myself in the bathroom mirror until I can count my eyelashes as I do it, and attempt to pitch to the poor, unsuspecting UPS guy who I’ve already scarred for life anyway when he delivers my new book today…

So, yeah.  I picked out something professional to wear and I am working on memorizing a pitch that I wrote so feel like I should already know like the back of my hand (but apparently I don’t).

Yeah, I think I’ll go edit again for a couple of hours… then I’ll work on it.  Tomorrow there’s a good chance I’m going to pitch my book to my mom’s whole oncology team while I’m there… yeah.  I’m that desperate!  lol!!

Wish me luck and let’s hope I don’t strike out!

My Alter-ego Is A Superhero…

She saves the world with literature.  She saves trees by editing on-screen instead of on paper.  She recycles all the bottled water she consumes (okay, so we are working on getting her to switch to filtered tap, but little steps people, little steps).  She hosts book clubs for the youth in her home and bribes the kids with foods and crafts for reading.  She ignores dirty dishes (and saves water) until they magically disappear.  She cures cancer with hilarious antics (not FDA proven or approved, but hey, it’s a work in progress).  She runs on decaf coffee and smartwater.  She does a mean load of laundry (although folding is her nemesis) and she can pack one heck of a lunch.
But even with all that going for her, she still is humanoid enough to be down and out with the flu for almost 2 weeks.  Yeah, she isn’t immune to the pesky little bug of fever, snot, and rib-cracking coughs.  DAMN.  What’s the point of being a superhero if you can’t be immune to the flu?  I mean the common cold, and she’s all “I’m kicking colds and taking names, so you better look out!” but against the flu she didn’t even stand a chance. 
Turns out, neither did my kids.  And did I mention that Ron was out of town for the week for work?  No?  Oh– in my post- fever haze I must’ve forgotten to add that tidbit.  Yeah.  He was on the other side of the country for his job while we all lay feverish and broken.  Each of us banished to separate rooms of the house while wearing facemasks in the common areas.  Why? You ask.  To keep Mom from getting the dreaded flu.  There’s nothing worse than having an aggressive cancer than having an aggressive cancer and a house full of people sick with the flu trying to take care of you.  I’m pretty sure that’s the stuff of nightmares for Oncologist’s and cancer patient’s alike.  But we managed to keep her healthy.  And we are all safely on the other side of this thing…  FINALLY! 
So, thanks for coming flu, but next time we won’t be sad if you skip our house… really.  It’s okay.  We’ll always remember these times with you… forever (probably cause I’ll still be coughing then…). 
Here’s to a healthy Spring and the return of my superpowers!
Be Well ~Jeni

Stabby, much? Nope, just quirky.

It’s common knowledge around our home that I have a BIG personality.  I can be quiet and reserved (when I’m asleep), but most times I “live out loud” as I like to say.  Poor Ron is on the receiving end of most of my tirades and eccentricities, but in my defense, he asked to marry me first.   Had he waited a bit, I’m sure some other poor guy would be stuck with me by now.
Of course, being a mom I need to reign in my “crazy” to not frighten the children (well, more like the neighbors’ children since I think my kids were born immune to me). To keep a lower profile around the kids, I tend to mellow out my overreactions.  So instead of yelling, “You dumbass!  Why, in all that is good in the world, would you think __________________ is a good idea?  I can’t believe you would insist on doing something so stupid!!”  Instead I glare at him and say casually, “Man, I’m beginning to feel stabby.”  Stabby = annoyed enough with you to potentially stab you with my fork or another sharp object*.  Or instead of letting a string of 4 letter and kid inappropriate words fly when driving; I’ll wave my arms like the lunatic I am (remember I learned how to drive in NJ folks, we’re lucky I wave my arms and not a middle digit) and yell, “that lady/guy are being REALLY goofy today.  They must have had a big bowl of CRAZY for breakfast this morning!”  You see what I mean; things that are slightly less prone to getting a phone call from the school after one of my kids repeats it on the playgroundoffensive.
 
I’ve also been known to be a little eccentric about things.  I enjoy life and feel like most people take it way too seriously.  So, I find things that are fun or quirky and enjoy them.  For example, coloring my hair.  We aren’t talking about something you can buy in a box at the local drugstore either.  I’m talking Manic Panic’s semi-permanent Ultra-Violet or Hot Hot Pink hair color.  For those of you wondering, purple suits me much better than brunette, but as a brunette a LOT of bleach is required to maintain said purple hair.  But sometimes to shake things up I’ll pull out a fuchsia pink wig and wear it out shopping.
I also am one of those annoying 30-somethings with ringtones like the teenagers use.  Unfortunately some of the “tunes” I am rocking out to are legitimately current tunes, but there is a greater likelihood you will hear These Boots Are Made For Walking, Come A Little Closer, Fever, Son of A Preacher Man, Smooth Criminal, Take A Little Piece of My Heart, or Fast Car. Yup.  It hasn’t been decided which embarrasses my kids more; when Son of A Preacher Man starts up or Let’s Have A Kiki.  Pretty sure it’s a draw.
So, in small ways, I find ways to express myself and enjoy life.  All the while, trying not to stab people*.  Yeah, life is good!  So, to all my readers out there, let your freaky/quirky/special/honest flags fly and be yourself and enjoy today!  We aren’t always promised a tomorrow…
Be well!
~Jeni
*For clarification purposes, I have never stabbed anyone… yet.  Check back in a week or so.

The many hats of Jeni

As I’ve said before, I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a volunteer. Oh, and a writer. Did I forget to mention that? Probably.
Life is a delicate game of Topple where I try to balance all of my jobs equally without letting the board spill, scattering all of the pieces all over my dirty hardwood floors. Yeah, dirty hardwoods.  Because I forgot I also am supposed to clean. Let’s not even talk about the chef hat that is buried somewhere beneath the frozen foods in my deep freezer.  I guess what I’m getting at is that on any given day I wear multiple hats. Some I can find easier than others and some I enjoy wearing more than others.   
I’ve recently added a nurse’s cap with taking care of my mom during her cancer battle, but as she says, “You were meant to be a writer and the only way you’re going to be a writer is to write, so get to it!” Needless to say, I’m not going to argue with my cancer-ridden mom (Her words, not mine. She’s getting really good at playing the ‘cancer’ card…) Far be it for me to upset her, so I’m taking some classes to help me along in the ‘getting published’ realm of things and I’m scheduling a week’s worth of writing at a time.
So far this week I’ve made what I like to think is progress. I finally got myself signed up with the Romance Writers of America, which was a goal of mine for a while that I kept postponing thinking I wasn’t ‘good-enough’ yet.  However, I have a finished short sitting here on my hard drive that begs to differ and I am about 10,000 words or less away from a full-length paranormal romance that agrees with the short. In the cliché way of thinking, it was more than time to shit or get off the pot (that gem is courtesy of my grandmother).  So today I bit the bullet, pulled the trigger, or whatever else sounds better than ‘got off my ass’ and did something that terrified me.  I joined a professional organization for writers. WOW!
Honestly, it feels like a weight I didn’t even know I had has finally been lifted off my shoulders. Once I finished a writing assignment for a class I’m taking, I will be completing a submission packet for my short.  My short that another publisher was interested in if I would consider making it a full-length.  So, I need to get over my horrible nerves and just suck it up and submit the darn thing.  Why?  To prove it to myself that it’s good?  Well, sure.  But also because the only way to go from being a writer that just writes to a writer that gets published, is to actually submit works for publication.  
Wish me luck, my friends, because this girl is planning on making it happen this year. As my mom keeps reminding me, she’s not gonna live forever and she really wants to see my name in print. (I told you she was getting good at playing that cancer card, didn’t I???  lol  )

Until next time– Jeni

Stupid Cancer

You may remember a while back me mentioning that my Mom had cancer.  In fact she had inflammatory breast cancer which is a rare form of breast cancer that is really aggressive.  Last May she was given a clean bill of health and sent on her merry way back to her “normal” life; work, friends, her house, etc.

This past October we all took a trip to Disney to celebrate her awesome accomplishment of kicking cancer’s ass.  Only to find out a week later that it was back.  And that she was now considered to be terminal.

Stupid Cancer.

Just writing the words makes my heart sink all over again.  My Mom has cancer again and this time it will kill her.  And I’m supposed to find a way to be okay with it.  Which I am.  Some days.  Other days I’m not.  Other days I spend time trying to hide my tears and sadness as I wonder what I’ll do when she’s gone.  And as selfish as it sounds, she’s my “person”.  The one person I have in the whole world that has known me forever, loves my without question or conditions, and always has my back (even if I don’t always deserve it).  I used to have more of these “people,” but between cancer and heart disease those people have all moved on to the ether we call heaven.  I don’t mean to be so doom and gloom for my first post in over 6 months, but sometimes you just have to get things off your chest ya know…  And I do have other people in my life.  I have Ron, my kids, a bunch of great friends, and a brother who is awesome; but they will never be the same as my Mom.

Stupid Cancer.

So everyday I try to fill myself with her.  We have meals together, talk about politics or current events, or what stupid thing I just did while we laugh so hard that we cry; and it’s not enough.  It will never be enough.  And there’s nothing I can do about it.  She has decided to give herself some more time by doing some chemo treatments to slow the cancer down and to help with the side-effects of the cancer that was giving her pain, but the chemo itself is hard on her.  Watching her be strong through this is what motivates me to be a better version of myself each day, but I hate to see her suffer.

Stupid Cancer.

And I hate that my best friend/ favorite sounding board/ confidante/ conscience/ Mom is going to die.  I know that none of us make it out of this life alive, but still.  She’s young.  She just celebrated her birthday and finally became a senior citizen by McDonald’s senior coffee or soda qualifications.   And she might not get to see too many more birthdays.

Stupid Cancer.

The worst part of all of this is knowing that we aren’t the only people going through this.  So today I make a wish and say a prayer for all of the patients fighting this fight that today they get a break and have a day of peace.  And I will continue to pray for a cure so that no one has to go through what my Mom is going through.

Stupid Cancer.

Thanks for letting me vent today.  I will try to get back to more normal posting as my schedule allows.

Invasion of the Body Switchers!

I know it’s usually the “body snatchers,” but here in Burns-gra-la, it’s the “body switchers.”

I’m a self-proclaimed “night owl” while Ron is a (proven time and time again) “early bird.”  In the last few weeks however, there has been this weird and very subtle shift.  This morning though was the proof.  6:02am.  That what my clock said when I rolled over and bounced out of bed.  I have never “bounced” out of bed.  Ever.  Except maybe that one time years ago, before having kids and a job, before early morning classes in college, before having to drive 20 minutes to get to high school, back before middle school morning primping,  even before elementary school “mandatory breakfast mornings” that I once bounced out of bed with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  Quite frankly for all I know, that might have been some weird dream I once had that I’ve now adopted into my delusional state of reality.  Possibly.   Probably.  Okay, let’s be honest here.  Definitely.

Moving on…  So this morning I literally bounced out of bed, smiled at the day, took my meds like a good girl, and contemplated all the things I could get done before the rest of the house woke up this morning!  (Hence this blog post)

But before moving down to my office, I gazed lovingly (for a moment I forgot that this isn’t a work of fiction) questioningly over Ron’s blanket-bundled form and it occurred to me; we’ve completely switched sleep habits.  I was out too early to recount last night.  (Seriously.  Soooo early it’s embarrassing for this “night owl” to even own up to even considering this time of the “evening” as a “bedtime.”)  Only to awaken at the ass-crack of dawn.  I never willingly wake up early.  Meanwhile Ron apparently was up until after midnight (also, NEVER happens.  He’s usually snoring away by 10pm with a few exceptions) and set his alarm clock for 6:45am.  Then hit the SNOOZE BAR!!!  TWICE!!!  What is going on here?  He usually bounds out of bed between 5:45 and 6 am to put in a hour or more of work when the house is quiet.  This morning he shuffled downstairs, grunted at me with his hair all sleep-tousled (again I say, NEVER happens.), mumbled something about coffee and finally getting his expense done for work.  It was like watching a rare breed of animal at the zoo.

Never in our almost-13 years of being shackled together have I seen him look so disheveled in the morning while I have myself (almost) together.  Kinda strange.

I wonder if this is a trend that will continue…  I mean so far I wrote this blog post, had my coffee, read the book for my son’s next book club, and talked to my kid brother TWICE!!!  Not too bad for this “night owl!” So, while you are all just getting your day started, I’m going to go hack back the bushes in the front of the house that have been bugging me!!

Have a great day!

“It’s been 2 weeks, where have you been?”

I’ve been here, just slightly missing.  Thanks to what I hope was a chemical imbalance due to my thyroid meds dose being “off,” I’ve been having panic attacks.  Huge panic attacks.  Thankfully it seems like cutting all caffeine is helping.  That and the ativan as needed.  But on a serious note, I am waiting for the call for the doctor’s office where they tell me the new lower dosage for my meds.  Then I should start feeling normally again.  Once my Fibro decides to quit.  And my PCOS goes back into the background where it belongs.

One day I will post about the living nightmare that is having multiple hormone issues and fibromyalgia, but not today.  It’s best to talk about it when they aren’t in the foreground of my mind simply because on days like today (and the last 2 weeks) all I can do is complain and whine about them.  And let’s be frank, (even though I’m Jeni)  whining and complaining is annoying and frustrating.  So, instead I’ll give a recap of the fun (non-annoying) stuff I’ve been up to in the last 2 weeks!

Last week was the first meeting for my son’s book club.  It went surprisingly well.  The kids (all 7 years old) talked for a little over half an hour about Junie B.  I was shocked at how excited they all were!  Next week we talk about Captain Underpants!  Should be great as well especially since I have a fun project in mind to go along with our discussion!  To go along with Junie B.’s Aloha-ha-ha we made little beaches in a bottle.  The kids liked it and had a blast trying to shove smaller sized shells into the bottles!

Also, got to see two movies in the last two weeks in the actual movie theater. This is usually unheard of for me.  I’m more the kick back in my pj’s and rent a movie kinda girl.  First I saw Brave with the kids.  It was much darker than I expected based on the previews, but it was a good story.  Once the kids got over the crazy bear fighting scenes, they agreed it was good too, but no one has asked to see it again like they did with other moves like Despicable Me for example.  Also, a girlfriend and I went to see Magic Mike the other evening.  If you are a woman reading this you probably already get the appeal of this movie although the men roll their eyes about said-appeal (like Ron did).  I will honestly say it was an amazing movie.  And much like men claim they read mags like Playboy for the articles, I will say the adorable cast was eye-catching and a bonus that added to a great plot.  (Of course Joe Manganiello (especially) and Channing Tatum added to that awesome plot 😉 !!)

Okay, on with other things…

Oh how about some randomness that’s been heard around my house lately…  Some of these gems come straight from the mouthes of my children, some were heard out and about, but all stuck in my head.

~”Today is the best day ever because there are no boys around shaking their penises, wearing (only) their underpants, and making us crazy.” – my 5 yr old daughter.  Not sure what boys she lives with but apparently they are more interesting than the boys I live with!

~”The longer it’s in, the better it gets.” – overheard during a software pitch by a sales professional.

~”Daddy, I know this won’t happen, so don’t say it can’t happen… but if you get eaten by a bear how do I find my way back out of the forrest?” – my 7yr old son before going hiking / camping

~”What are we having for dinner?” “Stroganoff” “I don’t know either.” – my 7 yr old totally checked out during this one… either that or he thought stroganoff meant “I don’t know”

~”911, call 911!!” – my 5 yr old when Ron gave me a morning kiss in the kitchen.  Apparently grown-ups kissing is an emergency…

~”Why did you stick the toy up your nose?”  “To see if it fit.”  – my 5 yr old at the Urgent Care answering the PA who had to remove said toy.