Those ADD Moments

Is it a Senior Moment? Or just a tendency to ADD?  Here’s two minutes of my squirrely brain this morning:

Head to the kitchen for breakfast.

Chilly in the house, do I want a sweater?

Look on couch to see if it’s there from last night.

See sunshine outside, need to feed the birds.

On the way to kitchen for birdseed, pass stairs.

Oh yes, my sweater is down there from last night.

But if I’m going downstairs, I really ought to take the laundry and start a load.

Turn for bedroom for dirty clothes.

Stop myself, “No, Jennifer, it can wait.” Turn back towards kitchen.

Need Scriptures to read at breakfast—where’s my iPad?

In kitchen, oh yes, bird food.

Feed the birds, notice iPad on DR table on the way back in.

Cold feet, think about socks.

Back to bedroom for socks.

See sweater on floor from last night, put it on. Forget the socks.

Back to kitchen, pull up Scriptures on iPad.

No socks, feet are still chilly, but ok.

Why am I here? Oh yes, breakfast!

At least I posted on Facebook that I want to give my cement planters away without getting sucked in for an hour. Even if it did have its own squirrely episode.

Posted in Humor, Misc | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Launch: Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time

Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time, by Jennifer Jensen

Come celebrate with me – my second book,

     Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time 

is officially out in the world!  Local details:

  • 7-8:30 pm, Friday, Dec 9.  
  • My house.  
  • Cookies will be involved.

If you’re not local, you can still celebrate!

  • Eat your own Christmas cookies and do a happy dance.
  • Share the good news with friends and on Facebook.
  • Head to Amazon for a print or Kindle version.  Print should also be available on other online sites.
  • For a signed copy, order through my website.  I can send them directly to you or to a gift recipient if Christmas timing is tight.
  • If you prefer iBooks or Nook, you can buy the Kindle version and send me a copy of the confirmation email.  I’ll send you back the epub version by return email.  (My current agreement with Amazon doesn’t let me have e-books for sale anywhere else online.)

I’ll also be at the Holiday Bazaar sponsored by the Brownsburg Older Adult Alliance, at Arbuckle Park on Saturday, Dec 3 from 1-5.

And it looks like I’ll be teaching a middle-grade creative writing class, followed by a signing, at 4 Kids Books in Zionsville in February.  Fun!

I know it’s not Thanksgiving yet, but you can tell I’m thinking about Christmas!

Posted in SHIMMER OF TIME | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo: Getting on My Crazy

nano insanityThis is the time of year when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world, including me, get antsy.  Stories flit through our heads, a few characters decide to burrow in and stay a while, and we can’t wait for November 1st to start writing.

NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month, is a time when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world get crazy and try to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  We even manage to go to work, school, holiday gatherings, and sometimes even make a few dinners for our families!

1,667 words a day, every day, or catch up on weekends.  If, like me, you take Sundays and Thanksgiving off, it jumps to 2,000 a day.  Why drive ourselves like this?  Jaime Raintree put her thoughts into a brilliant post over on Writers in the Storm, and she not only ticked all my boxes but graciously gave permission for me to share them here.  Here’s Jaime:

A WRIMO FOR LIFE

It never fails–every year, when the temperature starts to drop, my subconscious knows that NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I start setting my affairs in order for the month that I will be more or less dead to everyone who isn’t doing word sprints with me.

It’s not as easy as it once was to commit to NaNoWriMo, now that my schedule is not my own. I did have to skip 2014 because I was in the middle of edits on Perfectly Undone for my agent, and seeing everyone else letting loose with their novels while I sat woefully on the sidelines just about killed me. It convinced me that as much as it was in my power, I wouldn’t skip it again.

My passion for NaNoWriMo may seem a little disproportionate for an online challenge where you win basically nothing for hitting your goal (except, of course, 50,000 words on your work-in-progress and some nice writerly coupons), but here are just a few reasons why I’m a committed Wrimo…

1. COMMUNITY.

Writing in StarbucksI cannot stress this aspect enough. People who have never participated in NaNoWriMo think that the challenge is about hitting a certain word count. It’s not.

What NaNoWriMo is really about is the energy of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world chasing the same goal together. The NaNo forums are abuzz with excitement and caffeine 24/7. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with other Wrimos well past midnight, cheering each other on to hit our word count goal for the day. I’ve even met some of my best friends at Write-In events.

There’s simply no way to describe the electricity you feel of being so deeply tapped into the writing community. You have to experience it for yourself.

2. SERIOUS PROGRESS.

While community is the best part of NaNo, those high word counts are still priceless. It never ceases to amaze me when I look at my stats and see numbers like 15,467, or 25,008, or 42,124. In a matter of weeks! I know I’m capable of producing these kinds of word counts any other month of the year, but without the energy of NaNo, it’s much harder for me. I love stepping back at the end of the month and realizing that I have an almost complete draft. It may need a lot of work, but I know so much more about my characters and my story once I’ve completed the challenge that all the future revising is worth it.

Whether you hit 50,000 words or 10,000 words, the motivation produced by NaNoWriMo will have you impressing even yourself. You’ll accomplish writing feats you never thought possible.

3. TOTAL STORY IMMERSION.

Now that I have two kids in school, articles to write, workshops to plan, and deadlines to hit, it has never been harder to tap into my story. I get a solid 1-2 hours of writing in every weekday, but as soon as I close my computer, my mind is back on my to-do list and I’m off racing to the next thing. Yes, the book gets written, but I don’t as often get to experience that thrill of the days when I would be unable to fall asleep because my characters had something to say, or I’d wake up with a plot issue resolved and I’d jump out of bed to write it down. My mind is simply spread too thin. During November, though, I set aside as many of my other responsibilities as possible (unfortunately, the kids still have to eat), and I eat, sleep, and breathe my characters.

That kind of connection to story is what we writers live for. But how often do you feel that immersed on a day to day basis?

4. THE HIGH OF CHASING (AND HITTING) A SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE GOAL.

Sitting down on November 1st and staring a 50,000 word goal in the face feels impossible. No matter how many times I do it, it overwhelms me every year. It’s like running a marathon–who actually does crazy things like that? Well, we do. Just writing a book is a crazy, impossible thing and yet, we do it over and over again. Because there’s nothing quite like the high of an amazing writing day, and NaNoWriMo is a month full of days like that. Crossing the finish line, tired and delirious with effort, is a feeling like no other. Because you know you did something most people aren’t brave enough to even attempt.

And celebrating with your NaNo community afterward makes the win that much sweeter.

The camaraderie of a group, the push to write and keep writing, the sense of accomplishment – oh yeah!  I’m disappointed when I’m in the middle of edits or travels or something that keeps me from participating.  This year, I’m in again!

Oh, and the book edits that kept Jaime out of NaNo in 2014? That’s her debut novel, and it started as a NaNo project!  Also, if you’re a writer who likes watching your word count graph grow, check out Jamie’s Writing and Revision Tracker on her blog.

Are you a writer with NaNo stories to tell?  Do you have a dream of writing a novel and you’re considering taking the plunge?  Share with us in the comments!  Oh, and my NaNo name is JenJensen, if you’d like to add me as a Buddy.

Posted in WRITING | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Girls, Boys and Magazine Covers

What happens when you click on a Facebook link, then work backwards clicking on links in various blog posts?  You find yourself thinking about things that hadn’t crossed your mind in a long time – like marketing and stereotypes and what we’re teaching kids.

Here’s a picture comparison of current magazines at a county library, posted originally on Facebook:

Girls' Life vs. Boys' Life

Just what is that telling our girls?  

As writer Michele Yulo said at Women You Should Know, “You can read the copy and pretty much figure out that according to this magazine—a girl’s top priority is to “Wake Up Pretty”, and a boy’s is to “Explore Your Future.”

A colleague of hers, graphic designer Katherine Young, was just as appalled.  So Ms. Young  re-did the Girls’ Life cover to encourage girls in things far more important and life-altering than hair and fashion. (The new cover girl is  Olivia Hallisey, who won the Google Science Fair Grand Prize last year.)

Girls' Life Remade

Isn’t this awesome? What a world we could build if we focused girls on dreams, goal-setting, healthy bodies, service and scholarship!  Kudos to these women for spreading the word, once again, that we must straighten out our priorities.

For those of us who are small cogs in society’s big machine, what are we doing? What messages are we giving our girls in our conversations and our expectations? What magazines do we get for our daughters and granddaughters?

Posted in Awesome Womanhood, Goals, Home & Family, Misc | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time, Habits & Investing: Are We Undermining Ourselves?

Like most of the world, my life is filled with good and bad habits, which lead to good and bad situations.  Awesome things like writing a book or helping someone through a tough time are inevitably counterbalanced by things like a chaotic house or the pressure of not enough time.

A recent blog post by social media guru Kristen Lamb really struck home with me, not just with writing, but with many of my daily frustrations.  Here’s an excerpt, with Kristen’s text in green:

Are We Undermining Our Own Writing Success?

Tortoise or Hair: Investing Time

Image by US Fish & Wildlife Service, Flickr Creative Commons

I rarely reread books, namely because there are so many new titles I want to consume and only so many hours in the day. But, there are a handful of books I read and reread namely because they are areas I struggle in and so reinforcement is tremendously helpful.

The three books I seem to cycle through the most are actually about money and investing: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and (even though it is an older book) Stanley and Danko’s The Millionaire Next Door.

There are plenty of money manuals that promise to make me a gazillionaire overnight with no effort on my part and those kinds of plans frankly give me hives.

The books I prefer are far more salt-of-the-earth and they say the same things, though in different ways.

Fortunes made on a winning lottery ticket are rare and never last. Slow and steady wins the race. Never underestimate small actions done daily.

I know this. I know all of this stuff. So how is it I so easily get off-track?

Perception Matters

perception-reality-baby-sleeping-in-the-bedWhat is so fascinating particularly about The Millionaire Next Door is the very people we would think have vast investment portfolios actually are far more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck. Conversely, those who actually have accumulated substantial wealth often don’t “look” wealthy at all.

Here I was beating myself up because I use coupons and buy everything on sale.

What am I doing so wrong?

When I reread these books, I realize that I’m doing a lot more right than wrong. What I perceive as a truth actually isn’t (it’s a consumption shill propagated by pop culture). Most genuine millionaires don’t have a fleet of new luxury cars. They have a solid IRA instead.

But because my “vision” isn’t correct, it is then really easy for me to start accumulating bad habits that undermine my goals.

Well people with clean homes have maids.

NO, they wash their dish after eating!

In Regards to Writing

Often we writers can fall into similarly skewed thinking when it comes to our profession. We have a flawed perception of what a successful author looks like…and this opens the door for the little foxes that spoil the vine.

A successful author would publish her first book and be a runaway success with no social platform.

unicorn tapestry needlework

Image by Aimee Ray, Flickr Creative Commons

Noooo, that isn’t an author. That is a unicorn. A tortoise isn’t glamorous, but it is at least real.

In our minds, we can believe that we would do far more writing if we simply had more “time.” Since most of us don’t have the luxury of getting up, having coffee and simply creating all day long, we then fail to invest at all.

We will invest “one day.”

We believe that because we also hold a day job and “only” have an hour to spare in the mornings, that our situation is hopeless. The consequence is we end up squandering the most valuable resource that is available to all living humans.

Time.

Why I love books on fiscal responsibility is I hold a core belief:

Small truths reveal larger truths.

If I am not managing, planning and budgeting my money, odds are I am not doing that with my time either. I find that often when I work on habits in one area, other areas also improve. When I zoom in on waste in one area, I become aware of it in others.

If I fail to plan the meals for the week, the consequence is a lot of food I throw away. We end up eating out or rushing to grab a bite because I didn’t put dinner in a crock pot and I am tired and cranky and In-N-Out Burger is just so darn convenient.

The end result is I nickel-and-dime myself $15 and $20 at a time.

When we look at how we are spending our time, are we leaking it away 15 and 20 minutes at a time?

Planning matters. Using time deliberately is vital.

If I fail to plan my time for the week, I’m all over and time goes swirling down the drain. In fact, failure to plan can cost me BIG. For instance, last Tuesday, instead of getting my next day planned I was “tired” and decided that Facebook and watching Dr. Who was preferable to preplanning.

Wednesday morning, I was in the middle of working and feeling great about my progress.

Then…

OMG! Spawn’s camp has a field trip today! I totally forgot! And they leave in 20 minutes!

In a mad rush, I swooped the one remaining Lunchable into a Sprout’s bag so I could dash like a crazy person to get him there in time for the bus.

In my haste, I unknowingly threw my cell phone in with his lunch.

Shoot…me…now.

That three-second mistake (that could have easily been prevented with ten minutes prep work the night before) cost me an entire day and easily ten years off my life from stress.

A three-second error cost me four hours hysterically hunting for my phone and then two more hours at Sprint replacing the missing phone with a new phone. Then when the school found my phone? It cost me another two hours returning the new phone I didn’t need and reactivating the old one.

And a $35 restocking fee, or what I fondly refer to as a Stupid Tax.

How much writing could I have accomplished with only ten minutes of preparation the night before?

How Much Stupid Tax Are We Paying?

stupid taxWhen it comes to time, boundaries go a long way. Now, I’m no proponent of cramming activity into every waking second. But we can start truly seeing our days instead of merely wandering through them as bystanders.

Just as many of us hemorrhage money through tiny holes and unseen leaks, the same could be said of our time. But not being stupid with time is not the same thing as being wise with it, either.

Kristen goes on with specific writing/blogging-related comments, which you can read at her Warrior Writers blog, but does any of this hit home with non-writers?  

The lack of planning?

The scramble to find things?

Nickel-and-diming ourselves because of lack of time?

Those are the big ones for me, and I’m going to incorporate just a little bit more planning and deliberate-ness through my week.  Maybe the crockpot or cooking double meals, maybe putting things away instead of rushing on to the next, maybe sorting through my to-do list the night before.

What about you?

Posted in Goals, Guest Blogs, WRITING | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Time, Habits & Investing: Are We Undermining Ourselves?