Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jenkins, The Sky is Falling!

Actually, it's just the ceiling.


This year will be known as the Christmas where the ceiling fell down.


It was 7ish AM today when there was a *WHUMP* not a crash. Not a thud. A whump. It was loud, but also muffled. My first thought was that one of the kids fell out of their bed. The lack of confused crying directly after proved that was not the case. The husband person got up, went to investigate, and came back with the following bad omen: "You need to get up." then he added the even worse omen: "Promise you won't freak out."

I went downstairs and found what made the noise

70lbs of lathe and plaster from our 100 year old ceiling had fallen. Now, I now what you're thinking, water damage. Some kind of pipe leaked. OMG call the Mario Bros! Well, the joke's on you. First of all, the Mario Bros. aren't plumbers anymore. Also, the plaster was dry as a bone. .....also, also the pipes are on the other side of the house.

Yeah, it just...fell.

So. What next?

Well, if you're Ben, you call your super handy BFF, tear the rest of the ceiling down, and prepare to put in a new one.

Currently, the kids are at their grandparents' house for the night--it's dusty, cold, the husband and I are waiting for the house to heat back up to a comfortable temperature (I believe in you, you super old furnace, you can do it!), and we're watching Bob's Burgers in a room with no ceiling. 

It's a good time, but at least the floor is clean.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Holidays, Jenkins

Um, excuse me, we don't say happy holidays because this is America... and nobody is happy.

Especially during the holidays, it seems.

I should know. I'm one of those people.

I don't like Christmas, and it's not just because I'm a Halloween person (but seriously, Halloween is the best). Christmas is just too damn big. My family is pretty large which results in no less than 3 separate holiday gatherings usually in the course of 2-3 days... that's just my side. My husband's family has their gathering every Christmas we're up to 4. We can usually swing 3 of these gatherings. My in-law's, My Mom's side (featuring an elaborate assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins), and Christmas day at my parents' house.

It's a lot. It's a lot and it's tiring and no matter how many times we're told, 'oh just show up any time after lunch.' as soon as 12:01 hits we're getting texts asking us where we are.

And yes, we generally have a good time and, of course, the food is always stellar. But it's not my kind of thing. Which is why I'm glad we had Christmas Sausage Fest this year.

It's not what you're thinking.

Earlier this year one of our friends shot a couple of deer that he wanted to grind and turn into summer sausage. We offered up our kitchen, invited some more friends over, ordered pizza, put on some Muppets and MST3K, and had a party.

It's no secret that when my husband and his buddy, Jason, get together shenanigans are bound to happen. And happen, they did. We had an impromptu gift exchange. I got some sweet Dr. Who cocktail tumblers and some money toward publication costs. We ordered pizza (because, holy shit, I can't eat any more turkey), made bad jokes, and just had fun.


Despite the lack of cousins, the kids still had a blast. They played with the gifts they got, ate pizza, and even helped make sausage. Christmas needs more shenanigans.

Anyway, whatever you celebrate, I hope it was with people you like doing things that are fun.

Personally, I'm glad it's all over.
So is Oscar.

Hallelujah! Holy Shit. Where's the Tylenol?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A.J. and Jenkins vs. The Editor

I got my manuscript back from my editor today.

I had been dreading this critique. Dreading it because it was from someone whose life is writing and words and grammar and all that stuff that I pretend to be good at.

The results were not bad, but they were also not good. There's a good story in there, the characters are likable, the dialogue is top notch, and the over all premise is really promising. But, there are also...issues. Things that don't make sense. Things that are technical no-no's. Things that are just cliche and beyond belief. Yeeesh. Ouch. Blarg.

It was a lot to take in.

It was maybe too much to take in.

Seeing critical comment after critical comment is hard. I tried to channel my inner professional and take it in stride. Then, I remembered that I'm not a professional, and cried into a glass of whiskey while I watched Bob's Burgers, wondering what the hell am I even doing thinking I can do this.

Then my husband handed me one of my Christmas gifts.

It was a copy of my favorite book, by my favorite author.

And inside was just what I needed to see right now.

Angie, finishing your first book is no small task-- you should be proud of yourself.
Keep it up, never stop believing in yourself!
Peter Clines
Best gift ever.

Editors are a necessary evil. I would rather Will tear my work up now while I still have a chance to correct it, than some asshole on Amazon (not saying that won't happen but it's Will's job to do it.) 

So the next step is to take all the suggestions and arrange them chapter by chapter and start fixing the problems. 

This is what writing is. This is how it works. This is how a good book becomes a great book and a great book becomes fucking awesome. It sucks having one's flaws pointed out, and I may sulk and even cry about it, but I will take it and learn from it. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Where Have You Been, Jenkins?

Wow, so I haven't updated in a bit. It took a lot less time for me to say eff you to my proposed schedule of updating twice a week than I expected.  That said, I have good reason. I've been busy. Last weekend the kid people spent the weekend with their grandparents while the husband person and I got to be adults (in the fun way!) for a couple of days.

That means we went Christmas shopping and drank a lot.
Here's AJ modeling a pale ale that tasted strangely like pineapples.

It was pretty amazing. Batesville may not have much to do, but the bar at Little Charlie's is always a good time. ...Also I tried a burger with a fried egg on it and I just have to say, that is the only way I ever want to eat a burger from now on. 

Anyway, I'm still here. I'm still working on rewrites and edits... slowly, but surely. Between the day job, the family.....aaaaaand the fact there's a new Five Nights at Freddy's game out, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I tried to do editing tonight when the husband left for the gym and do you know how much I got accomplished? 3 paragraphs. 3. Because my children don't sleep. They just don't. And every time I start working it's "Maaaaaammmmm I want a juice", "Maaaaammm, I have to pee,", "Maaaaaaaammmm there are killer animatronics in my closet..." Jeeeeeezeussssssss!

So yes. This is my life. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Jenkins, Grab Your Wallet!

Fresh out of the box, it's my Black Friday fund raiser for Run. I'm venturing to raise money to cover the costs of cover art and formatting. You can visit the link below and check it out. If you like what you see, and have a few bucks to spare, you can donate.

This weekend only, from now through Sunday, any donation of $10 or more will get a $5 Starbucks gift card along with the applicable rewards.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Jenkins, The Internet is in Danger!

By now you all probably know that net neutrality is being threatened again. This is a problem...for all of us. From casual surfers to people who make their living off the ol' tubes. It's bad news every way you slice it.

For me, it means it'll be harder for me to sell books. What if Comcast or whoever decide that Amazon belongs in a separate "Shop Till You Drop" package (look, I worked for Comcast for 5 years, they would definitely give it a stupid name like that) and that package costs an extra $5 to add on, but it'll get you access to Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, etc... For you maybe 5 extra bucks isn't much, but for me, jeeze... I'm already spending $10 for my Netflix upgrade, another 5 for my Bloggers Delight package (again, yes, they'd call it that), and another 10 for my news package. Jeeze, Louise, I gotta put my kids through pre-school too, ya know.

So you're browsing and come across this super cool sounding book called Run. It's about sentient androids, mouthy teenagers and the shenanigans they get into. So you click on it and BOOM. You've got a face full of waiting, because your speed has been degraded. Then you get this neat little ad: "Love books? Get premium access to Amazon for only $5 per month! With download speeds of up to faster-than-this-crap." Or even worse: "BLOCKED! NO BOOK FOR YOU TILL YOU UPGRADE, SUCKA!"

You don't get your book, I don't get to quit my day job. We. Both. Lose. But on a more general scale, no one should get to tell you how you surf the internet. The internet is one of the few unifying things we have left in society. It doesn't matter who you are, what you do or how much money you make. On the internet we're all equal. I can access Twitter just as easily as my favorite celebrities and blog right along side my favorite authors. It's the great equalizer. No one knows you're a dog, or not a dog, or not, not a dog. And it needs our help to defend it.

How can you help? Glad you asked. Here are some helpful resources

Contact your representatives

Who is your representative? Find out here.

Find your senator

Contact the FCC

Now, go get 'em.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Jenkins, Your Work is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

Criticism is a thing. I went to art school for 4  years, so believe me, I know all about criticism. Project critiquing day was a dreaded day for me in every art class I ever attended. Not because my work was bad, but because I just couldn't stomach negative criticism. I didn't know how to process someone not loving my work and always took it as an attack. It would put me in a bad mood and make my doubt myself as an artist.

This resulted in me hovering over my sketch book like dragon on a mountain of gold. I didn't let anyone near it. And if I did happen to show someone my work, I pretty much went into panic mode until they gave the obligatory, "huh, that's pretty good." and went about their business.

"Hey! This is a writing blog! Not an art school blog!"

Yes, I know. But, the same principle applies. For the longest time I wouldn't let anyone read what I wrote because what if, *gasp*, they don't like it!? And that was just friends-- people who will be nice regardless of how much it sucks. Let's not even talk about editors.

Let's be honest; if people don't like my book I'll be sad. Nobody goes through the effort of writing a book in hopes that it will be okay at best. Everyone wants approval and everyone wants their work to be liked. It's not rocket science. So far, I've been lucky. Everyone who has read Run has enjoyed it. But I know the bad review is coming. It's not a matter of if, but when. And my reaction will depend largely on what kind of negative review I get. 

I am stubborn, by nature, and have a hard time thinking beyond "my way or the highway" when it comes to things I write or draw. My first reaction to someone saying, "Well I'd change X." is to tell them to write it their way if they're so smart. This is not a good reaction to have. I need to embrace criticism and work with it. This journey into authordom is teaching me how to do that...while my old habits kick and scream all the way. 

Let's say one of my editors or beta readers contact me and say, "You need to work on X, Y, and Z." Or they tell me that a certain part didn't make sense, or that a character was just not jiving. Well, that's a bummer to me, but as long as they provide valid reasoning for their criticism, we can work on it. This is good criticism. This is not me being attacked, or hated on. This is people wanting to help me make my book better. This is the type of criticism I'm learning to take and run with, because it's useful.

However, if one of them contacts me and says, "Robots suck, you suck, and your cat sucks." Well, then we have an issue. First of all, leave my cat out of this.
Seriously, how could anyone not love this guy?

Second, if someone can't back up their trash talk, then I need to ignore it. This kind of criticism was what got me into my one and only shouting match with an art instructor back at IU. I won't go into details, but calling someone's self portrait an "Oompa-Loompa in JNCOs" is not a good way to keep students in your class.

My point is, people will be dicks about my work. I need to prepare for it and ignore it. They don't want to help me. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. As for the other stuff, I'll take it and learn from it. And maybe get some serious XP.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hold Still, Jenkins. I Need A Target

When last we left our hero, she had just filed for copyright.

....thaaaaat's pretty much where I'm still at. 

I'm holding off on making any changes to the book that aren't technical until I get at least a few more reviews back, so let's talk about something else today.

Saturday will the Rocky Mountain Naginata Federation's annual seminar and kyu testing. I'll be testing for my san-kyu (you're welcome). For those of you not in the know, naginata is a Japanese martial art made especially for women. Specifically because the length of the was useful for keeping male attackers at a distance so their (usually) larger size wouldn't put the female at a disadvantage. They were generally used by women of samurai culture to defend their homes while their husbands were at war. Later on, they evolved to a status symbol and were used as part of a woman's dowry. The weapon itself is basically a pole with a big ol blade on the end. 

A modern, sport naginata (formally called atarashii naginata) is what is typically used today. The metal blade is replaced with bamboo. It cuts down on lost limbs. 

I'm part of one of the only naginata schools this side of the Rockies. They are really quite rare. Currently in my class there is just me and one other, plus our instructor. Our actual sensei is all the way down in Tennessee. Our seminar this year will have a whopping 9 people. Yeah. We're a small, wide-spread group.
We've got students and teachers from Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, Toronto (that's Canada, ya hoser), and California in this photo. Like I said, it's a rare art.

I started my lessons about a year and a half ago and we've had students come and go and come back and go again. It's a hard art to get into. It's a slow art. You may spend an entire month perfecting a single strike. It's perfection first, promotion second. I don't progress with half the speed I did when I was in tae kwon do, where we had a test every couple of months. No, I test maybe once a year.

Ignore the Korean flag...we share space with a TKD school

Sometimes it gets tedious, but when you see the people who have been doing this for decades, it shows. They are lightning fast, fluid, and just amazing to watch. It gives me the motivation I need to keep practicing when I get in a slump.

We also do the occasional demo. Our regular show is at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Nashville, TN. We have a booth and do a couple of demonstrations to show off and educate people about this rare art. If you've never been, I recommend it if only for the food.

If you're interested in learning naginata, let me know, I may be able to connect you with a school near you (or at the very least someone else who practices). Like I said, we're a small group, so the more the merrier. Or you can check out The US Naginata Federation for more information.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jenkins, Where's My Origin Story?

So, what's the deal? Why now? After so many failed attempts at my book, why is this time different?

I think it's different because I'm at a place in my life where it just works. I'm comfortable at my day job-- I daresay I even like it. I'm comfortable in my role as a mom and wife. I'm just comfortable. ... a little too comfortable.

Actually I think it was a midlife crisis. See, as comfortable as I was, I had basically been reduced (in my head at least) to a wife, mother, and data monkey. It was depressing. Luckily, my husband spotted my predicament and reminded me that I'm a goddamned adult, I only get one go at life, and I might as well have at it.

So I did.

I wrote for me. I didn't worry about technical stuff or anything, I just wrote the story. Then I got a reader. I friend of mine that I had met through my naginata class offered to read what I had and, whaddaya know, she loved it. She and my husband basically became my cheering section.

So for the last year my life has mostly been work, momming, and writing. Sometimes work and writing at the same time. (I should probably put my employer in the acknowledgments, considering I wrote about 75% of this thing on their time.)

One year later, and here I am. Prepping for self publishing.

Why self publishing?

Mostly it's about what I feel comfortable with. I have a friend/former co worker who is a published author, Gabriel Byers, who has done both traditional publishing and self publishing, and has opted to go with self pub. He shared his experiences with both and the self publishing road seemed more suited to my tastes. I basically do everything myself-- get an editor, find a cover artist, and everything on my own and pay for them on my own, but in the end I get 100% say in what happens and a larger part of the book sales. So for a control freak such as myself that's good. But for a full time worker, wife, mom, naginata student, etc... it means less sleep.

So far it hasn't been too hard. It's a little overwhelming but I found some really helpful blogs and websites (which I'll share another time) and it makes the whole process a little easier to swallow. Also, whiskey helps.

 Currently I have the book out to beta readers for story editing and technical editing. Once that's said and done, I'll be in touch with a cover artist. Once that's in order all that will be left to do is format it and upload it to Amazon. (lol it's cute that I think it's going to go so smoothly.)

But, yeah. That's the battle plan.

Waaaaaaaait a minute, what's this book about?

Ah, yeah, that's probably important, so, here you go. The ten-cent tour of Run.

Living on a military base is the worst. At least that's what 13-year-old Paige Bryan believes. After her parents accept a job researching the emerging sentience in the country's robotic population, Paige learns that life at Fort Thomas may be more interesting than she thinks. Especially after she befriends Alpha, the base's synthetic Director of Operations, and Monarch, a no-nonsense cat-lady.

But when soldiers start to malfunction, and a strange little girl arrives, Paige soon finds herself swept up in a mystery that, left unsolved, may mean the end of the already fragile peace between humans and synthetics.

Go check out Gabe and his work at his pageHe's been a world of help in pointing me in the right direction through all this. 

Jenkins, Get The Door!

I was told that if I'm going to do this whole author thing, I should probably get a blog. So, here it is. This is where you'll find my musings on life in general, thoughts on writing, and my progress on the publication of my first book.

"A book?" you say? Yes. A book. It's a story I've been actively working on since 2007 with characters that have existed since 1996. I've started and stopped, scrapped and re-scrapped the thing for the last 5 years. I got so wrapped up in technical dos and don'ts and fear of failure that writing was no longer fun. Finally, last year about this time, I just said, "To hell with it." and started writing for me. This past September it was finished and I sent it out to beta readers. The reactions so far have been positive, so here I am finalizing everything, prepping to self-publish on Amazon KDP by Spring.

So there you go. Welcome to my blog.