Saturday, May 30, 2015


“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” - Seneca
This is how I feel sometimes, and I know I'm not alone. To work on various projects and keep up with everyone I love and like and to continue to exercise and keep up with chores... it's all quite wonderful but exhausting.

It seems that for a long time things just weren't working out for me. I was robbed, I kept getting sick, my doggie best friend died around my birthday, and I felt truly numb a lot of the time. During these few years, I reflected quite a bit on my situation.

This year has been, so far, quite the opposite. I am pursuing my dreams, I have been healthy and have felt secure. My animals are healthy and super happy, and my writing seems to be gaining some recognition.

But although I am incredibly happy to announce that this week alone I found out I am shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize (might get to go to Scotland!!!!), that I will be launching my short story collection Sunday, and that my new job at Gemini Ink is going well (although I have A LOT to learn), I realize I haven't taken any time out to sit and appreciate everything.

I think it is when things are going exceedingly well that we sometimes forget to pay attention. So that is what I'll be doing this weekend. I have chores, etc... sure, but it's time to concentrate on what's happening and truly enjoy. So, for the rest of the weekend, this is my one focus. If you live nearby and come out to The Twig Book Shop, I look forward to meeting/seeing you. I plan to be wholly present and to soak up every moment.

I hope you are able to take a few moments to reflect and focus on your own creative and positive doings this weekend as well. No homework today, but a new prompt is coming. :)

xo Jen


Friday, May 22, 2015

5 ways to bounce back from rejection

One of my students recently asked me how she was supposed to submit her work when there was the horrifying possibility that it would be rejected.

As a writer, I am well-accustomed to rejection. Most artists know a thing or two about rejection. Even when it is an ordinary occurrence, however, rejection is never easy. In fact, as it comes less often and the artist finds her stride, it may even have greater impact.

Rejection is rejection is rejection. It's not terribly fun and there's no way I can think of to spin it that way. So here are a few coping strategies I propose.    

1. You know that low attention span we're all accused of having in the digital age? Yeah, use it to you advantage! After being rejected, find distraction. Modern times may mean that we are multitasking experts, but it also means there's always media to distract. Time to finally watch Justified or Mad Men. Time to read the new Toni Morrison novel. Time to read After the Gazebo (shameless!). Time to workout. Whatever it is, look over there .... something new.

2. Keep moving forward! It's not always the right time or the right piece or the right topic for that particular publication. It often has nothing to do with your piece.

3. Listen to feedback. Sometimes rejection is an opportunity to grow.

4. Start a new project. Use your energy for good.

5. Print the rejection out, if it's in writing, and put it in a special place. Maybe buy a decorative box or do like Stephen King and pin them up on the wall. Keep rejections as mementos, so when you've achieved all you wanted and more, they'll be there to make you smile at how far you've come.

Prompt: Free-write for 20 minutes about one of your mementos, something you've kept longer than five years. If you're like me, a minimalist, you have very few to choose from and it will be easy. For those of you who are more sentimental, just go with what's nearest. Set a timer. Go! If the magic happens, go 10 more minutes. If it doesn't, consider it training. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Presto change-o

For a long time, I’ve been overwhelmed. I’ve worked as a research analyst while teaching fiction online, contributing to freelance projects, and trying to write creatively on top of all this. This ridiculous schedule has amounted to very little downtime, and over the last few months it has taken a toll. I haven’t been sleeping well for a long time, but I’ve been too scared to leave my day job due to worries over money. 

Well, a few months ago I decided not to let my fears surrounding money dictate my life any longer. I was making myself sick, and there’s really no greater cost. So, I said hell with it. I made a goal to change my lifestyle by June 1, and I’m so happy to say that the universe opened up. I am at the apex of change, and I couldn’t be happier. 

I have recently taken on a new position as the Writers in Communities Program Director at Gemini Ink, a literary empowerment organization that brings writing and reading to communities in San Antonio and beyond. Writing changed my life by allowing me to realize that I had a voice, and a voice that matters. This position will enable me to pay that forward in many ways. 

Being a WIC Program Director is drastically different than my current full-time job, and I’m in a whirlwind of emotion. This is me, making a move that is scary but necessary, and I am eager to get started. Because I am living my art now, in all regards, I also plan to dedicate more energy to my writing and building my writing career. After theGazebo will be the catalyst for this, I hope. I’m so proud of this book, and I hope you will read it if you read this blog.  I put my all in, and I did it for you.

Speaking of blog … since I will have more scheduling flexibility and a whole lot of new and interesting experiences, I will update here more regularly again soon. For real this time! I mean it!! I’m going to aim for every other week.

Image Copyright (c) Mark Knox, KnoxworX multimedia


Write a story about a character on the verge of making a major change in careers; for instance, a model who is taking on a new career as a real estate agent or research manager; a physician who retires and takes on a job at a cafĂ©; a retail worker who begins a career in mystery shopping… Have fun with it. Show the consistencies in character and how s/he changes with environment. 

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