Sunday, April 13, 2014

In with the new

It has been too long since I've posted. And, everything has changed. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but a lot has changed. After working a lot of overtime for a few weeks, during which I had a book release and reading at San Antonio College and company and a few other engagements, I am again settling into a routine. I am a routine-driven person, and I believe it is within routines that I find my discipline, so this is a great relief.

So what has changed? A few things.

My book is out and in my hands (if you'd like to order a copy from me, let me know... if you'd like an eVersion, they're less than $3 on Amazon). Monkey Puzzle Press was fantastic to work with, so if you're considering submitting a manuscript to them, do! Not sure it's selling, but I think it is... we'll see.

I was offered and accepted a new position as a Best Practices Research Analyst with Frost & Sullivan (my current company). I will be researching the information, communication, and technology (ICT) industry, so I think it will be interesting as this is an ever-evolving space. This is an cool opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge because there will be a definite learning curve. Hard work pays off.

For writers, challenges in life are where we find the emotion, the catalyst to create, so my hope is that this new position will feed my writing, not distract from it. I am confident this will be the case.

I have had two (amazing) publishers show interest in my work. One has my short story collection and the other has my novel. We'll see what happens. I have learned not to count on anything just working out, so I can say I'm cautiously optimistic.

As for today, I plan to work a bit on my newest story and a new novel. I spent the morning at urgent care, due to a cold that hasn't gone away for almost two weeks. Urgent cares are a trip! My doctor introduced himself as June bug and after doing a few tests, diagnosed me with a sinus infection. I'm not big on antibiotics or any unnecessary meds, but I've been miserable (inevitable after all that concentrated work, entertaining, and little sleep). I'm on some steroids, so hopefully I don't turn into that guy ->

Life is constant flux. Thank goodness. I hope you have a beautiful week ahead, and if you have a Kindle, I hope you check out my five stories (if you do, please let me know what you think).

xo Jen

Thursday, March 27, 2014

5 questions about 5 stories

Hi all, I wanted to share this very short interview about my very short book. The part about my husband is not exaggerated. FIVE Qs 

I also wanted to remind folks in the San Antonio area that I'll be reading at the Library Performance Area at San Antonio College. I'll also have signed copies of my chapbook. More information can be found HERE.

I should be back to regular blogging about the oddities of life next week. Have a great weekend, ya'll, and I hope to meet up with some of you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Writing Process: Blog Tour

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged by Gay Degani to post briefly on my writing process. This is a sort of floating interview. 

Gay is the author of  What Came Before and Pomegranate Stories. Gay's award-winning writing has appeared in numerous online and print journals. Not only is Gay's writing amazing, but so is her contribution to the literary landscape; she is the founder of EDF's Flash Fiction Chronicles, and she works as an editor at Smokelong Quarterly. Thanks for the tag, Gay. Read her responses here

The Q&A

What am I working on? 

I'm polishing my first novel and beginning a new one that stars a recurring character in my short stories, Rattle. This work has been slow-going, but I'm very excited about it. I was writing very short stories for a long time (such as those that appear in Don't Tease the Elephants), but lately I've found myself writing longer stories. We'll see what happens there.

How does my work differ from other work of its genre? 

My writing doesn't sparkle. I write about Ohio. I write about fictional people who would never write about themselves because they don't think anyone would care (characters I like to prove wrong). 

Why do I write what I do? 

My goal is to write simple, clear fiction that appeals to readers in a way that stays with them. I'm not sure I always achieve this, but the WHY of my writing is to satisfy a younger me and those like the younger me. I write for those unsure that anyone could ever relate for a variety of reasons, and I write what I write because I believe it matters. 

How does my writing process work?

I write when I can. Accordingly, I write on weekends and in between classes, and I write a little at a time. When the writing gods are smiling on me, I write full drafts of short stories in a single sitting, but this is rare. Usually, I tinker away at something until it makes sense, and this tends to take a long time.

So that's how I work. Now, to tag others... I choose JP Reese and Gessy Alvarez.

JP Reese is the author of two poetry collections: Final Notes and Dead Letters. Her poetry and fiction has been widely anthologized. A senior poetry editor for Connotation Press—An Online Artifact and a fiction guest editor for Scissors and Spackle, Reese has been nominated for Best of the Net, and she won the first Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize for her flash fiction. Reese lives and works in Texas.

Gessy Alvarez earned her MFA from Columbia University and taught fiction in the New York City public school system and at Columbia University Medical Center. She is an alum of the Voices at VONA Workshop and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She interviews and posts about her new publications at Digging Through the Fat.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Don't Tease the Elephants

If you'd like to read it in e-form, it will be available exclusively this way on Amazon for a few months for only $2.99, click HERE.

If you want to read a sample, here's the link direct from the publisher: DON'T TEASE THE ELEPHANTS

If you'd like a signed copy, get in touch:

Spread the word! These are 5 of my favorite stories. I'm really proud of this one. 
Happy weekend, folks!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I was asked (in the corporate sense of the word) to work 16 hours overtime this week and possibly next week (job #1). It's putting me in a really strange headspace given the amount of work I do as a teacher and writer. I honestly didn't think I could be stretched thinner than I was. I won't say more about that now, but it does mean this post will be short. :-)

Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.

Meanwhile, here's some really great news: My first fiction chapbook comes out Thursday. Yes, DON'T TEASE THE ELEPHANTS will soon live (in ink and paper)! Mad thanks to Nate Jordon and Monkey Puzzle Press. This small book will be a compilation of 5 of my favorite stories, 2 of which star Rattle. I'll post more soon.

As Conan O'Brien says (according to some quote site), "Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen."

Have a beautiful week!

Monday, March 3, 2014


I returned to San Antonio from my trip to AWP on Saturday and got right back to work.

I miss Seattle. It has a certain vibrancy. I had amazing food. My husband and I ate at Etta's Seafood where I told the waitress I wanted to lick the plate, but there were too many people there. I was not lying. I almost licked it anyway, but I resisted. I am proud of this. I met up with my undergrad professor and friend, Shannon Lakanen, at the Whisky Bar and drank the best ginger cider (I can't handle whisky) of my life. We visited the original Starbucks, the Public Market, the Space Needle, and we walked the city until our feet felt as though they were about to fall off. I read as part of the Festival of Language at Rock Bottom and the Hot Pillow at the Roosevelt, which I partially hosted but all credit goes to Joani Reese. I ate conveyor belt sushi and gourmet cupcakes. I met up with brilliant writers, including Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, Mia Avramut, Meg Tuite, Aaron Dietz, Bud Smith, Sara Lippmann, Bonnie ZoBell, and Karen Stefano, Bill Yarrow, Jane L. Carman, Sam Snoek-Brown, Cynthia Atkins, Shaindel Beers, Christine Fadden, and so, so many more. I lived. I enjoyed.

Meg Tuite
Bill Yarrow

Joani and Len

We ate this....
...not that

Me with the glorious Heather Fowler

I did not sleep. I did not drink too much. I did not miss my plane, and I did not spend all my time nervous or gushing or networking. I did not stress out, and I did not get sick, and I did not hide out or get bored. I did not have the chance. I enjoyed the time I spent at the conference, but more, I enjoyed Seattle.

As I return to reality, I will take this experience with me. These writers give me confidence that what we all do alone, every day, is not done alone at all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tranquil energy

It is just now 10 a.m. I have no fiction to share this week, and even though I should be working, I feel compelled to post about my day so far.

I did something that I wasn't sure I could do this morning--I meditated for 2 straight hours. It was a group meditation that began at 4:30 a.m. and ended with grounding in the form of tea and cookies after 6:30 a.m. I have never meditated longer than 30 minutes, and usually I only do so for about 10 minutes. It's funny, but I could have sworn the 2 hours went by quickly. When we were done, I thought there was an hour to go. I suppose maybe I lost time somewhere inside my mind. Though my legs fell asleep and I had to readjust a few times, I believe I was never that uncomfortable.

If you know me, staying still for a movie or show is hard enough. When I started meditating, I had quite a bit of trouble with it, and I don't make a habit of meditating in groups. I've always felt it a personal thing. But, it was really nourishing today. When meditating this long, it seems similar to sleep. To me, it was almost as though I were in REM sleep only able to monitor it, watch it happen. I have a sizable question on my mind right now, and I found myself thinking that through without agonizing over it. I am still unsure about my answer, but I don't feel the anxiety surrounding it as much. To sum up, I recommend meditating for 2 straight hours. I doubt I'll do it again for a while, but sometimes during transitional periods, I can see it being almost necessary in my life.

So, my life being the comedy it is, my stoicism was later tested. As I walked my puppy around the 2.2 mile loop near our apartment, I felt fantastic. I felt energetic and calm, and the weather was perfect. Just as we were nearing the end of the loop, however, a large naked man caught my eye. There is a trail that divides the park so that if you only want to walk a mile or mile and a half, you can cut through. It was just as I was looking down that path that I saw the man. I happened to be speaking to my mother when I saw him, so I said, "Mom, there's a naked man in the park." I added that I'd have to call her back. The naked man bent down and slowly grabbed  his clothes after another person walked by. We shook our head back and forth as we passed each other. The naked man walked off, in the general direction of my apartment, so I asked my husband to come out. It is not due to meditation that I was not very upset by the sight of a naked man--nakedness is no big deal to me--but it did kind of bring me back to reality in a way I doubt much else could.

When I see people who have these sorts of obsessions/compulsions (which usually are not violent or correlated with rape), I feel really badly for them as well as the younger people who happen upon the sight of them. When I was studying psychology, I learned that sexual deviance is one of the easiest things to treat with talk therapy--it's a pretty straightforward reprogramming that needs done--but sadly, people rarely seek help unless forced into it. I am reporting this guy because I know there have been previous sightings in our neighborhood of him, and I do hope he gets help. I guess this is compassion.

I plan to write, if only for 20 minutes or so, after this blog. And as I began to reflect on my meditation, I realized just how much it is like writing and writing is like meditation. Writing is about examining the questions, such as: why do people do what they do? Here's to finding out and being comfortable with what I don't need to know... Here's to wishing that others figure it out, too...

Have a great week, all. Stay clothed.