Dinner and a show it is.

Let me set the scene for you, just sit back, relax, close your eyes and imagine…

Wait, scratch the close your eyes part.  This is a blog after all, you need your eyes to read this gem…

It’s Friday night.  You go to your local diner (or restaurant, whatever) with your awesome date (who looks like she really doesn’t want to to be there with you anyway) and you get seated next to 3 very normal looking women.  All is going awkwardly well as you peruse the menu while trying to figure out what the heck crawled up your date’s butt and died to eat.  When a roar of laughter louder than a jet breaking the sound barrier erupts at the table next to you.  You glance over to see one of the woman (who you now notice is wearing a shirt with a T-Rex chasing a stick figure saying something about exercise) with her face all contorted while her friend directly to her right is yelling wildly and waving her arms.  The third woman, slightly older but with less grey hair than the other two, sits by trying to understand all the gestures, face shifts and actual speech through a roar of laughter.

You look across the table at your date who is casually chewing on a strand of her hair and decide that the three crazy stunning women at the next table are much better entertainment than the woman you are with. Sir, you are welcome.  Please send tips c/o Jeni, Alice and Mom.  We are happy to have provided you a quality of service that had you laughing along with us and our amazing waiter that evening.

Okay, so an evening out in South Charlotte can be at your own risk if I’m out and about.  I like to laugh and wholeheartedly believe it’s good for my soul (plus it helps my anti-anxiety meds be more effective) and I like to share the laughter with whoever I’m with.  Sometimes it spills out onto the next table over at a diner or restaurant, but even when it does it’s contagious, infectious and usually has whoever is sitting next to me/us smiling a lot more when we leave than when they sat down.  (I realize it might be because I’m/we’re leaving, but I like to believe it’s because I/we entertained you/them.)

So, people of the world, while out and about anywhere on any given night, if you see me, try to sit at the table over.  It’ll be fun annoying entertaining.  And thanks to our amazing waiter for adding to our amazing night with your fabulous stories, I’m sure the couple next to us was sad you weren’t their waiter too because you totally rocked!

I live in a world where

people oftentimes refer to random things about me as “jenisms”.  My husband laughingly threatens to write them all down as a reference book for anyone who wants to learn how to speak “Jeni.”  I of course, usually threaten something equally annoying like calling the Geek Squad to park out in front of our house for hours on end to help with all the tech issues he never gets around to fixing for me.

But in his defense, he might have a good point.  (Okay, I say this to only you guys who are reading this.  If anyone tells him that I think he might be right, I’ll swear I NEVER said it.  Got it?)  

I realize as a writer I should be more eloquent when I actually speak aloud, but I find that I have a few conditions I like to call, filterless syndrome, fast mouth/slow brain syndrome, and the worst of them all is the unintentional double entendre disease.  Of course unintentional double entendre disease(UDED for short) isn’t too bad in and of itself, however, I seem to realize way too late thanks to fast mouth/slow brain syndrome that there was even a faux pas in the first place.

Of course nothing hammers one’s shortcomings home quite like having little kids that repeat most everything you say or copy your mannerisms.  Example?  I say “thinger” A LOT.  I didn’t before having kids as far as I remember, but after kids, thinger is a go to word.  And I don’t mean it in the slang for a man’s penis kind-of way.  I mean it in the “word I’m thinking of, but can’t for the life of me remember kind of way.”  As you can see though, this shows both my fast mouth/slow brain syndrome at work as well as my UDED.  Of course my helpful hubby likes to always say something smartassy like, “What thinger are you talking about this time?”To which I usually just grumble as my brain catches up to my mouth and thus am able to find the right word.  Well, my lovely 5 year old daughter has recently developed either a raging case of UDED and fast mouth/slow brain syndromes or she’s just a mini-me that says anything and everything she hears come out of my mouth.  It’s really unattractive on the thirty-something version of me that is me, but on her it’s almost adorable!

Of course that might be only from my point of view.  But it’s my blog, so my point of view is all that matters, right?  Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought too.  But anyway, back to the Jenisms…  I thought I’d lay of few out there for you as a way to get to know me better, like a first date only without all the pressure.

1- I almost always have a pair of glasses on my head.  They are either my reading glasses or sun glasses.  But I almost can never tell you which ones they are.  It’s always a disappointment when I roll the glasses roulette wheel and go outside, drop down the glasses and find out that I lose because not only am I squinting in the bright sun, but also can’t see distance through them for anything. ( I realize there is a simple solution to all of this, but I choose to enjoy the game)

2- I’m horrible with names.  Faces I can remember, but names I am horrid with.  So there are more times then I can count where I find myself re-introducing myself to someone I’ve previously met.  Of course this I blame on my fast mouth/slow brain syndrome.  Because it never fails that I moment I walk away from the person whose name I can’t remember, my brain kicks in and supplies the name I was desperately searching for.  Usually this is about 2 minutes after one of my kids has already asked me loudly 10 times or more, “Who was that Mommy?”  I kind-of wish everyone wore those Hello my name is…  name tags all the time.

3- I live in a world that exists in my head.  Not in the “I need a white padded room way” but more in the my slow brain is actually quite fast when it comes to creativity while only slow when coming up with facts and other useful things.  But for example, when I drive, I wish I could have a recorder for my brain.  like a tape recorder that records my thoughts.  Because while the part of my brain that makes me follow street signs and speed limits is busy working on autopilot (let’s hope no police officers are reading this), the other half of my brain is working out story arcs, character faults, scenes of mystery and romance and test driving dialog and character voicing.  I do some of my best “writing” while driving.

4- My characters’ moods bleeds into my day to day life sometimes.  Usually people say it’s the other way around, but I find that when I really connect with my characters, they bleed into my reality more-so than my reality bleeding into theirs.  It’s weird, my husband hates it, but it’s life.  So if you meet me and I’m acting a little strange and ignoring you when you call me by name, it’s one of those times likely.  Again, not in a call the men in the white coats kind of way…

5- I tend to start talking half-way into a thought.  Sounds counterintuitive with fast mouth/slow brain syndrome, but I somehow always assume whoever I am talking to can read my mind.  Because the creative part of my mind likes to think I’m an open book that everyone can read.  And that everyone has the ability to read minds.  I mean isn’t the world a better place because of it?  Hmmm, character bleeds again…

As I reread these I am thinking this might have been a bad idea…  I might be closer to needing the padded room and white coated men than I care to actually admit!  So with that being said, I’ll end here and say, “Hope that thinger is working out for you.” 😉

Progress is Being Made…

Collection of Works

…. finally!  Thanks to some help from Mom and 2 amazing first grade teachers at my son’s elementary school, I have printed, collated and bound copies of the book his class has worked so hard on!  If you ask me it turned out to be pretty awesome!  I was able to work with the entire class divided into 4 separate groups.  Each group came up with an outline/idea and then worked together to make a short story (book) or a collection of poems.

The best part was getting to watch the kids revel in the ability to use their imagination in writing.  At this age, the curriculum taught to children when it comes to writing reminds me of a technical writing class one might take in college.  Of course they are learning the basics like punctuation, using capital letters and parts of speech (ie nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) which is very important.  I am not discounting how important this is, I promise. Plus it’s been super cute listening to my seven year old tell me I used a lot of good adjectives when giving him a compliment this year!  (Have I mention recently how much I think my kid rocks??)

However, to teach these very important beginning principles, the curriculum uses writing nonfiction as it’s base.  In some ways that’s very good.  It helps kids to be more organized in their thoughts when they are writing, it teaches basic outlining skills, and it helps keep a wandering mind (like mine and my son’s) more focused on the task at hand.  However, nowadays, schools are getting more and more away from creativity.  Less music programs, less art programs, less crayons and markers in the regular classroom, less imagination.

Where would this world be without people’s imaginations?  Without imagination we would never have the wonderful inventions that we can’t live without!  (My ipod for example)  Anyway, I feel very honored that my son’s teacher was open and excited to offer the kids the opportunity to be creative!  So, I had 20 first graders that worked extremely hard on imagining, creating, collaborating, compromising, editing, and most importantly writing 4 unique works that are part of their “book”!  I am so proud of each and every one of them.  But I am even more grateful to our teacher who believes that children should be allowed to be creative.  That teaching creativity is as important as teaching the basics!

Okay, I will get off my bandwagon now.  😉  What the take-away from all this is that I am getting things done.  The books were one of my major items looming over my head as the end of school-year came around.  So it feels good to be so productive!  Also, I well-deserved thank you to all the kids and teaching staff that made this project possible in the first place.  (Let’s also not forget Mom for helping get this thing all together by collating and binding!)  YAY! for progress!!

Remember that time when…

I said I had a random stroke of genius?  It was probably earlier this week, although it’s been a long week so maybe it was last week??  Okay, when I went to find the link for the post I was surprised to see it was actually only Tuesday of this past week.  Time really does fly sometimes…

Anyway, the little stroke of genius I was talking about is turning into a fun idea for a full-length story which will eventually get written (once I finish my current full-length).  But, in the meantime I have written a small section of it that I will tidy up (edit) and post here as a writing sample.  So, be on the lookout for a new page in the next week or so called “See Me Write.”  Then you can be introduced to Summer.  She’s an artist with a guardian she never completely knew that’s a stone cold hunk of a man.  And that’s all I’m telling you for now.  You’ll have to wait and see when it gets posted…  😉

The Night I Met The Bloggess!

I should start this post by reminding people that I am married.  Have been for almost 13 long years.  Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about first dates (If you are wondering what this has to do with meeting The Bloggess, stick with me, I’m getting to it, I promise).  As a woman, I was always one of the tom-boy kinda girls, so while jeans and a tee are my usual dress code, for a first date I’d at least make sure I was feeling cute sexy attractive whatever and I’d take that age-old wisdom to “always wear clean underwear” that your mom grandmom great-grandmom was always touting on about to another level.  I’d wear some cute under-garments.  Irregardless of the fact that no one other than me was gonna be seeing them.  It was some weird confidence thing.

So yesterday, I was SUPER excited to go to a semi-local bookstore for a book signing of Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)’s book Let’s Prentend This Never Happened (mentioned in an earlier post), so I did what any superfan (with issues) might do.  I showered, shaved my legs/armpits, and put on my favorite cute underthings.  Now no one other than you and I know this (and even you didn’t know at the time but I digress…).

When I was all ready to go, my Mom, who is adorable, got all prettied up with her hair and make-up [while I had wet hair all twisted up in a clip and not a stitch of make-up on my face] so I could tell she was excited about our outing too!

Well, when I mentioned how nice she looked and she replied that I looked nice too…. I mentioned in the disjointed way that I usually do, that I had taken her (or some past female relative’s) advice and made sure to put on some cute underwear.

She looked at me incredulously and said, “CLEAN, Jeni.  It’s wear CLEAN underwear,” in that way that parents do when talking to young kids who may have misheard what they just said.

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied.  “You say clean, I say CUTE.  You know for confidence….”

After an eyeroll that I’m sure she will deny ever happened,  I added some lip gloss and my favorite awesome (and comfy) wedge heeled sandals.  But silly me, I was wearing the regular length jeans which is fine with (my standard) flip flops, but with heels look crazy since I’m slightly tall.  Not actually tall.  Seriously.  Just SLIGHTLY tall.

When I consulted dear ol’ Mom whether I could just pull off the short-pants looking jeans with the heels ( After all I was wearing my cute underthings for confidence, so short-pant jeans couldn’t be that bad right???) she gave me THE look.  You know the look I’m talking about.  The one only a mother can give that clearly says, “You are bat-shit crazy.” without actually saying out loud that you are bat-shit crazy.

So, I did a little mental physics and geometry to see if I could change my jeans without removing said awesome shoes only to realize I sucked at BOTH physics and geometry (see my World of Goo scores as further evidence!)!!

Okay, finally got ready in normal looking length pants, cute underthings, awesome shoes and head out the door with Mom.  As we’re driving in the car to the event, she asks quietly, “About the underwear…  explain that again??”

Yeah, I tried to explain it, but it just kept sounding crazier and crazier.  So, instead I opted for a better sounding, “Well, since I’m sooo excited to meet Jenny Lawson, if I pass out from excitement (or contact awesomeness or whatever) and the EMT’s have to cut off anything at least I’ll look good.”  She got kinda quiet before she burst out laughing.

It’s in moments like this that I think it’s a good thing she’s my mother, because in that exact moment someone with a weaker disposition would’ve probably just died disowned me.

iPad Cover!! No coffee stain!

Anyway, the event itself was amazing!  Jenny read one of my favorite chapters in her book (thus sending me to Amazon to buy the audio version this morning because her reading rocked sooooo much), she did a great session of Q & A, then the signing.  During which, I, of course, was my usual self, got completely sidetracked as she and my Mom waited for me to snap a picture while in giddy excitement I babbled incessantly to the BAM guy helping her out… (as Jen Lancaster would say, the shame rattle was a-playing in that moment – okay she probably wouldn’t actually say that but she coined the shame-rattle so I should give her credit for it.)  But I did get to get 2 copies of her book signed.  One for myself, one for my friend Leanne, and also my iPad cover.  But I had her do the back cover because honestly I didn’t want her to see that weird stain on the front from where I set it in some coffee the other week…  She was totally cool about it.  And gracious.  And just a beautiful person who inspires me and so many others!  If you get the chance to go to one of her signings, GO!!  Tell her I sent you.  It won’t make a difference because she probably won’t remember me, but it can’t hurt. Right?!?!?!?!?  (I’m pretty sure if/when Mom reads this I’ll get THE look, but whatever.  😉 )

Side Note for anyone who is interested…

While writing and editing this blog it occurred to me that I sounded nuttier crazier more insane than usual.  So I did the only thing I could think of and IM’d my BFF, Leanne.  It went just like this:

Jeni: ugh… hating the way my blog post is reading….

Leanne: WHY!?!?

Jeni: trying to explain the pretty underpants thing but it sounds crazy and weird

Jeni: lol

Jeni: which I admit it is, but it shouldn’t SOUND that way

Leanne: Um, but it IS crazy and weird

This is why she’s my BFF.  She totally gets me.  And keeps me around even though she knows I’m nuts.

So Much To Do, So Little Time.

Ahhhh!!!  School is almost out for my kids!!!  Now, if you read that as a terrified wail; you were right!  I love having my kids home during the summer, but the end of the school year is always a busy time for me.  One kid will be graduating preschool in 2 weeks.  The other will be getting all finished with first grade.  And why am I terrified that school is almost done?  Because I have to finish a project that the first graders have been working on since January by next week and I’ve been sick.  I have to get the preschooler’s graduation gift for the teachers together (and I have no idea where I filed the e-mail about all that!).  And I am trying to finish the rough draft of The Wind’s Solace, my first full-length novel.  (Ideally before the kids are home all day running crazy through my house with demands of play-dates and pool time!!)

And today when I was sitting in car line waiting to pick up the preschooler, I had one of those lightening strikes of genius that I just had to get down on paper.  But being the absentminded writer that I am, I was without my ipad journal notepad sticky notes receipt collection from my wallet ANYTHING to write on save for a few mostly clean napkins from my most recent run to Starbucks!  So with my precious 10 minutes of quiet, I jotted down all I could on the backs of 3 napkins with hopes that my failing memory would retain what I didn’t have time to get down on “paper.”

I am happy to report, the rest of the idea has stuck with me and will remain happily in my mac rather than on recycled paper napkins with stains from the white mocha with raspberry I had last week!!  Today, I am counting that as a win.  Considering the crazy last week I’ve had, I think it might be even more than a win!  It might be a hole-in-one victory or something.  Oh, and before I got a case of the icky itchies (Fifth’s Disease), a friend came up with a brilliant way to celebrate when the first Romantica book gets published.  Think bachelorette style themed cake! Brilliant right??  How many times in one’s lifetime do you get to order dirty themed cakes?  Maybe for a bachelorette party, but that’s about it.  And most of my friends are all married ladies, so this is perfect!  So, when The Wind’s Solace gets published, (hear my positive thinking!!) we will pass the penis cake and some lattes!  We can’t be too wild at Starbucks!  😉  Until later, I am off to get some sleep work done.

Books, books and more books…

Besides being a writer I am a huge reader.  So many people ask what do you read/ what have you read lately/ what new can you recommend?  Well, I was thinking it might be cool to list just some of the books I’ve read (are currently reading) once a month or so.  I have a kindle account full of titles that I’ve loved, enjoyed or completely hated. I can’t walk into a bookstore without buying no less than 3 books (to my hubby’s displeasure).  And I’ll honestly admit to today stalking the UPS man who delivered a book I was eagerly awaiting!  There is also a small chance I danced around like a fool exclaiming, “It’s here! It’s here!  It’s finally here!!”

I think it’s a good thing I’m married, because days like today when I make a complete ass out of myself to the UPS guy, I think to myself “there’s nothing cute about this moment in your life, Jeni.”  But whatever.  It’s a great book that arrived this evening written by an amazing woman.  So currently I’m three chapters into Asperkids!  

I’ll also admit that the next book in line is Charlaine Harris’ Deadlocked.  Gotta get my Sookie and Eric fill before the summer starts.  And I’m eagerly awaiting the newest Janet Evanovich book, Wicked Business, that will be out mid-June.  I also still must pick up a copy of Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster (she always knows how to get me laughing!).

But recently, I’ve had the delighted pleasure of reading Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (and if you check out her site, print yourself a cootie catcher and have fun reclaiming your youth for a while!), Colleen Helme’s Carrots, The Siren by Tiffany Reisz, the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James (and really who hasn’t read them yet??), and also Dale Alderman’s Big White Panties.  And that is all off the top of my head without opening my Kindle app to see the countless romances and shorts I’ve read in the last month.  🙂

I am a voracious reader.  So, I’ll try to remember to post some of my recent reads once in a while if you remember to shoot me an e-mail/tweet/or comment when you read something you love so I can read it too!   (Here’s my shameless pitch to ask you to check me out on twitter @JeniABurns or shoot me a message here!  Thanks!)

Oh, and for those of you who are interested, I am making some great progress on the writing front as well.  So maybe soon I can be stalking the UPS guy again when my book arrives!  😉  A girl can dream right?

Jeni from the blog….

The newest addition to my desk.  Currently my hubby is using my office so I think it will live near my fish tank, but when he moves outta there jeni and my magic 8 ball will be back in their rightful place!

All About Stink

Today is my brother’s birthday.  He’s FINALLY 30.  I don’t mean it in the snarky….  Ok, I totally mean it in a snarky, what-took-him-so-long way.  I mean I’ve been in my thirties for a few years and it’s about time he joined me, my husband, his wife (Stink’s not my husband’s) and a bunch of our joint friends at the “cool table.”

Of course when we were all in our twenties I’m sure we thought that was cool and I’m sure forty will have a similar “cool kids” thing, but for now it’s the thirties…   I digress.

But here’s the thing I don’t get.  I feel older today.  I have no clue how that happened, but seriously I woke up with a few extra aches and pains, grey hairs, and a little more hard of hearing than yesterday (I’m almost positive it isn’t from when I turned my headphones up so loud to drown out my kids hollering like howler monkeys, but who knows… and sorry to any howler monkeys I might have offended.)  Isn’t it bad enough that I get older 3 times a year already (once on my birthday, once on each kid’s b’days)???

But today, as I was driving home from Party City with a Star Wars balloon attacking me from the backseat, I realized that I was in fact getting older.  I should have been clued in sooner, but apparently I have a thick head.

Case in point; earlier this week at dinner with my mom, husband and kids; my husband says that he has to get more aggressive about something work-related, but I can’t tell you what exactly though because as he says it a cheer from my high school days pops into my head so he gets tuned out… Or at least I thought it was in my head, but apparently my filter (you know the one between my brain and mouth) failed miserably because I was doing the “Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive, B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!” out loud.  Sad thing is I wasn’t even the slightest bit embarrassed by my lack of cheering talent.  I was just THRILLED that I remembered it from over 15 years ago when a friend used to practice it!  Of course my husband looked slightly ill terrified horrified stunned shocked (not in a good way) while my own mother just rolled her eyes at me.

But looking back she was right.  I was nuts.  I was turning into that person that was so excited to have remembered something that I just randomly blurted it out to prove I could still be smart.  And consequently looking ridiculous!  Point taken, Mom.

Also, doesn’t help that I find myself telling my five-year-old daughter to turn down her music at least 3 times on any given day of the week.  Not that I mind the noise, but I’m sick of listening to Ke$ha.

Okay, so now that I’m totally off topic….  Stink, aka my brother (who does actually have a real name, but will forever be Stink thanks to a childhood nickname that stuck) is finally 30.  And I couldn’t be happier.  He’s an amazing man/dad/husband/uncle/brother/son/employee/person-in-general.  And I feel lucky that I get to know him.  (And to have blackmail photos of him in pigtails to show his kids when they get older!) But as always on his birthday it makes me miss when we were young without a care in the world…  (at least compared to what we care about these days).  But today I had a opportunity to see him for a few minutes to wish him a happy birthday in person and it was great!  He may or may not have danced along with the music in the musical card my kids got for him.  He also may or may not have sung and danced to the old-school mario theme song.  And he may or may not have quoted lines from Aladdin.  [You try to figure out which of these is true… I dare you… 😉 ]  But it was almost like old times and it was perfect!  So today my happy mood is brought to you care of Stink.  Happy Birthday, kiddo.  Thanks for finally turning 30.  Took you long enough!

My Magic Blog?

No, wait.  That can’t be right.  It’s a magic wand.  Not a magic blog.  Hmm, it must be all the excitement of hearing back from the publisher today that has me confused.

Don’t readjust your glasses, you read that right…  I heard back about ten minutes after my last post.  I was shocked, amazed, dumbfounded, thrilled.  Turns out since this is a publisher new to the fiction genres they are sticking with only full length manuscripts, but asked I would consider extending the story if I’d be willing to resubmit. YIKES!!

I am still pinching my arm to make sure it’s all real.  Tomorrow I will surely look like someone’s been abusing me, but totally worth it to keep realizing that a life-long dream is a step closer to being realized!  So tonight, I am working furiously to finish the last 3 chapters on a full-length that might “the one” to get published!  And tomorrow, I start working on the proposal package for the novella to send to a different publisher.  *pinch*  Ouch!!  Yup, it’s still real!!