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Hey, I’m moving!

I know I haven’t been at this place very long, but this was sort of an experiment. Now, I’ve got my own digs at jensako.com, otherwise known as The Mood Swings.

Hope to see you there!




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Too Stupid To Love?

If you’ve read enough romance novels, you’ve seen this particular heroine. The one who has been hurt so badly in the past by love that she will NEVER LOVE AGAIN. She can’t trust herself, because, obviously, she makes bad choices in men. Usually, she throws herself into her career determined to stay away from men. All men.

All of the men.

Meanwhile, there are pages and pages of inner turmoil because she is forced to work alongside, or otherwise socialize, with a (sucks in breath) man who curls her toes inside her work shoes. They flirt and she usually manages to fall into him at least once a chapter so that there is physical contact. Breathy thank-yous and bitten lips are peppered throughout the story.

About a third of the way in, there is an almost kiss. Half-way through, she admits to herself, and perhaps to others, there might be a way she can get over herself enough to get some hot action. But hot action is ALL it will EVER be because of THE PAST.

By the end of the book, she’s engaged.

Nope. Sorry. Can’t buy it anymore.

Aren’t we all a little scarred by our past relationships? If all relationships were magical and fulfilling, we’d marry before the 8th grade. Relationships are hard and the endings suck for everyone. But, in the morning, you put on your lipstick and face the world.

More and more, I’m finding it tedious to read about a twenty-something heroine who knows herself and the men so well, that she’s sworn off finding love. Forever. (What?)

I’d like to read more (and write more) about a woman who learns about what she wants and doesn’t want in a relationship with every disappointment.

She remains open to possibilities.

A story needs conflicts and obstacles, but they need to be more realistic than, “too stupid to love.”

Make her smarter about love. Then drop a piano on her head as she’s running out the door to meet the man of her dreams <-writing prompt.


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Story Songs

My story ideas are always inspired by songs. My soon-to-be published debut novel, What The Heart Wants, is the story of a struggling songwriter torn between two men. With her career in the balance, she faces the limits of her morality and belief in herself. Although, no single song inspired the storyline, I had a playlist going with selections by Alecia Keyes, Janis Joplin and Tori Amos. Sort of a bluesy intimate soundtrack.

I found myself often queuing up a particular song when revising a scene. I thought about tagging the song in the scene notes. I may still do this. It put me right in the character’s thoughts and feelings.

Do you do this?

I’m now about 10,000 words into novel number two, Knowing You. Its playlist is a little more hard rock. My decade is the 90’s and early 2000’s. Lots of Coldplay and U2.

However, the scene I’m currently writing finds my heroine having a drink with a cowboy in a saloon in Montana. I searched my song catalog for inspiration.

I found, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” recorded by master story-teller, Kenny Rogers and written by another master, Mel Tillis.

Oh, yeah.

I love country music. Read the song titles and look at the lyrics. The good ones tell a complete short story in the span of three to five verses with a chorus to pull the theme through. Every line, every word does its job.

In this song, Ruby is not a very nice lady who, on a nightly basis, breaks the heart of her wounded Korean War Veteran husband. Not even close to my plot. But I still like the story telling and the guitar work. It also reminds me to write tightly. I must think of the reader and earn every moment of her precious reading time.

Oh, and if you haven’t purchased a copy of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s Once Upon A Christmas , please do so immediately so you’ll have it by Christmas Eve! It’s one of my favorites 🙂


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The One Where J. B. Quits

Just kidding.

I’m not quitting.

But the submission process for a novel is haarrrrrd. I’ve just started the process, so I’m whining. Feel free to think that or even tell me, “toughen up, muffin-butt.”

I ‘preciate ya. Much obliged.

So, I was kicking at cow poo in a Christmas tree field today. Just walking about picking one for Sweet Husband to cut down for us, much as the pioneers did in days of yore. As I walked up and down the rows, I would barely glance at each tree before marking them rejected. About three trees made my, “cut.” Ha!

But I only needed *one* tree. So I made the Boy and SH stand by two of the trees while I ran through the poo back and forth between them, squinting my eyes and picturing each tree in my living room all bedecked and a-sparkle.

Finally, I made my decision for THE ONE.

SH held his saw up to the thin, winter sun where it glinted and then fell to his knees and cut that sucker down.

He grabbed the trunk end and I picked up my end to pay for the pleasure of cutting down our own tree and tying it to our own car by ourselves. See, I’m naturally a whiner.

But as we walked back, I looked at all the rejected trees. Some were ugly. Some were sparse. Some were just too big. And nothing was wrong with a lot of them.

They didn’t fit my house.

They fit someone’s house. But not mine. So they will keep living in the ground until they find their, “forever home.”

Unless they don’t.


At least we don’t have to put all the unsold MSs into the chipper. They have a mission! A Christmas destiny!

And our queries must have hooks.

Happy holidays, y’all. Thanks for listening.


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In It to WIN It—Preparing for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month)

My first completed manuscript is behind me. Nanowrimo comes at a good time for me because I’m starting my next. Who’s with me?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Today we are going to talk about a GLORIOUS time of year—NANOWRIMO—which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is meant to support creativity and encourage those who say they want to be authors to give it a go and write a novel (50,000 words) in a month. Notice the challenge is 50,000 words. No one said they had to be good words. Or publishable words. Or polished words. Or edited words.

This is actually why I believe Nanowrimo is very useful for all levels of writers. It trains out perfectionism. No half-finished novel ever made the NY Times best-seller list, but some crappy slightly-less-than-glorious novels have. The biggest threats to your finished novel (and mine) are Mr. It Must Be Perfect and his evil sister Editina.

Preparing for Nanowrimo

Have Fun and Fuel Up

Anyway, whoever chose November as National Novel Writing Month was seriously brilliant, because…

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Author Colleen Myers New Cover

My good friend and author, Colleen Myers, stopped by this weekend to show me the cover of her book coming out next month by Champagne Books. It is gor-juss (just like her). I asked her if I could show you and she said, “surely.” I told her not to call me Shirley.

must remember

Isn’t it beautiful? Now, look at her author pic:


Red-head beauties!

And, her bio…

Colleen plays many roles. Not only is she a veteran, a mother, and a practicing physician, but she is a writer of science fiction and contemporary romances. Colleen’s dreams include surviving her son’s teenage years, exploring every continent on this planet, except Antarctica, cause that’s way too cold, and winning the Nobel peace prize. Dream BIG! Currently she is getting ready to publish her first novel, MUST REMEMBER in November of this year.
Make sure to connect with Coleen at Facebook, Colleen Myers, and at @ColleenSMyers on Twitter.
She also gave me the book blurb.
Nineteen-year-old Elizabeth ‘Beta’ Camden is a survivor.
When the E’mani—those pale alien freaks—destroy Earth with a plague of madness and scoop up the remains, Beta is one of the ‘lucky’ ones. For years, she endures their tortures, experiments and games. Then one day, she manages to escape their ship with her life, and no memory of her time with them.
Stranded on their world, Beta wanders the mountains, looking for a way home. She stumbles onto the Fost—the E’mani’s ancient enemy.  Their war with the E’mani is old and rooted in magic that the Fost once had and the E’mani crave. Magic Beta soon discovers she’s developing along with strange tattoos and disturbing glimpses of her past. The Fost take her in and train her in their ways. As she spends more time with them, she falls in love with their culture and with Marin—he of the hot hands and slit eyes.
But the E’mani took her for a reason and they want her back—dead or alive. If Beta doesn’t remember that reason soon, they’re all going to die.
And bonus excerpt! Squee!
Oy. No more weekday frat parties for me, no matter how
noble the cause, especially when I have a test the next day. What was
I thinking? And last minute cramming with a headache was not a
good idea either. Forget it. My eyes drifted to the clock.
And now I was late. Damn it. With a sigh, I threw down my
pencil and scrambled up, my head throbbing. I traded my Eeyore
jammies for skinny jeans and a fitted white t-shirt. Shoes, where
were my shoes? Gah. I ducked and rooted around in the deep, dark
spaces under my bed. Hmm, the green dress I borrowed from Sarah.
Mental note: I need to return that. English book, various dust
bunnies of uncertain lineage…there.
Sketchers on, I grabbed my backpack, turned up my iPod,
and ran out the door. No time to primp.
Good thing the campus I lived on was small. There was a big
central courtyard—the quad—filled with towering oak trees and
wide-open spaces surrounded by squat school buildings and
classrooms. If I hurried, I’d make it…
I raced into the quad out of breath and slowed, turning in a
complete circle.
No one around. Unease skittered through me on soft paws.
The courtyard was always busy. I pulled my headphones out of my
ears. Was there some sort of event I didn’t know about going on?
The unnatural silence pressed in on me for a second as the
echoes of my steps faded.
Then screams—men’s and women’s—poured from Main
Street. I broke into a run and shot between the buildings toward the
Cars littered the intersection. Some guy rear-ended someone
else, causing a chain reaction down the road. A horn blared nearby
and a faint breeze blew the smell of gasoline, smoke, and copper my
way. Clusters of people stood among the wreckage.
Thanks, Colleen, for your visit. I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing!
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Hate Winter…Can’t Write…But This Is Something

“Isn’t it ironic, don’tcha think?”

If you’ll be singing that song all day long now, you’re WELCOME.

She said, ironically.

I’m a big fan of the ironic, but in my winter melancholy (S. A. D. S.), I’ve avoided my passions. Today, the sun is shining, the boy’s in school all day, and despite the teen temps, I was inspired to read a couple of essays on irony (this is a good one) which led me down a rabbit hole.

David Corbett wrote about the cliche of irony and I had to think about what I’d written and what kind of irony I used. I squirmed as mentioned by others in the comments of his post, but I also got excited because each of my characters are working toward goals that, if reached, would destroy them. In an ironic way, of course. Should keep this in sight and even note on a Scrivener board.

But now is passion for irony, in fact, ironic?

“I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
― Steven Wright


Clothing Optional?

If you like the sensation of standing naked in front of people, then writing might be the life for you. The exposure, of course, is what this is about. I either need to be okay with this or quit, because if a writer has any hopes at all of audience for her art, she needs to stand up and be naked.

The first time I stood up sans protective ego-clothing, it was to show my screenplay (see Why I’m Here) to an agent. She read my nudity and gave me feedback. I didn’t die. Didn’t even catch a cold. I was uncomfortable. Simply uncomfortable.

Since then, I’ve been taking my clothes off more and more. I keep thinking the more I do it, the easier it will be until I’m a pro swinging on a pole in a bar out by the airport. But no, still cold, still uncomfortable.

Still standing.

My last critique group was interesting. One of the members suggested my protagonist have a Happily Ever After with a different character than I had intended. I crossed my arms in front of my goose-pimply skin (because of my nekkidness) and stuttered that my novel was written, including the ending.

We went over the plot together but I think she’s dubious. And she thinks she’s right and I’m wrong. No feeling like the feeling of doubting your naked self.

I’m following my instincts, though. I hear her argument that an audience likes tropes. I’m breaking trope. Now I don’t get too crazy and am confident the readers will see and trust I can take them to a satisfying ending. I’ll just be uncomfortably exposed as they read it and subsequently judge it. And me. In the nude.

The theme ~

My trope is divorced woman learns to love again. I was playing the, “what if,” game with this and I came up with:  what if she made the same mistake? How far would she go? What would it really take for her to, “learn to love again”?

What’s hot on TV these days? Naked and Afraid. Dating Naked. Buying Naked.

Naked Writing? Yeah, that a thing.



Why I’m Here

I had a crazy idea a couple of years ago. Actually I’ve had crazy ideas all my life. But what I thought was simply daydreaming, in fact, was plotting.

Plotting, not in a nefarious, revenge-seeking sort of way, but plotting stories. Some of them good. A lot of them not fit for public consumption. But I thought all of them worth writing down somewhere. I tried journaling, video diaries, dictation apps, etc., but none of those scratched my itch, so to speak.

I confessed this to a business coach with whom I was working. She asked me what I was reading. I had to admit to nothing from the fiction section in a long time. She gave me some suggestions and told me to explore the urge. That it would awaken my creativity in my business. M’kay.

So I asked my mom for one of her old Kindles and loaded it up with everything from Historicals to Contemporaries. Inspired, I did what authors did in the olden days. I sat down at my laptop and opened up a Word document.

I start to write. My first effort was only dialogue, like a screenplay. I even formatted it like a screenplay and networked with screenplay folks. I ended up with a credit as a script consultant on a sitcom pilot. That experience only garnered me the knowledge that I’m not cut out for showbiz.

Oh. My. Stars. No.

I put the “screenplay,” away and quickly outlined another plot. I read everything I could get my hands on about “craft.” I was never the cool chick with the tortoise shell glasses who edited the school newspaper or lit mag with loads of poems under the sash of her vintage dress. I needed an education STAT.

Well, the thing’s written. We’ll see.

And here’s the pitch:  A divorced songwriter chases love and creativity to the edges of success before she crash lands and is forced to explore her true desires.

Any suggestions at any time about anything on this blog is welcome. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.