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Category: humor

Resolutions Schmesolutions!

I have mixed feelings about resolutions. I mean when it gets down to it, they seem like a self-flagellating set-up for failure (by the way, I was going to post a picture of self-flagellation just for a laugh, but all the pictures I found were absolutely gross!). As if something miraculous happens at the stroke of midnight that means all of a sudden you’re going to eliminate sugar while binging on kale, exercise two hours a day, write masterpieces and publish them at a rate of one per month, master the fine art of marketing, and oh, while you’re at it, make world peace a reality. 

Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

I know some folks who are serious goal-setters, with annotated bucket lists (I really do not love the whole bucket list concept—it feels really trite to me), but if it works for them, good on ’em. I know one gal who is a bucket lister-extraordinaire: somewhere hovering around # 70 was this bold ambition: go to medical school. Well, last spring, at the age of 54, she completed her undergraduate degree, and now, at age 55, is enrolled in medical school. I can’t tell you how impressive I think this is–I mean, damn, what an undertaking. While the rest of us are lamenting hot flashes and praying to God for an early retirement, she has undertaken a whopping commitment that will have her busting her ass (and never sleeping, though maybe she’s maximizing the downsides to hot flashing all night)) well into her 60’s—and that’s before she even ends her training. WOW! That is A-MAZING to me. That said, she’s left teenaged kids home with her husband, which is something I could never do. Although what a cool example to set for your kids. But then again, you only have your kids with you for such a short period, it would break my heart to leave them behind like that. But that’s just me.

Okay so on to my resolutions. I do have writing goals that I am determined to achieve, and I do believe it helps to write them down, not only to just have it there in black and white, but to help you see it and remind yourself of it and even, if you’re lucky, tick off some of those achievements when they occur (usually a few years later).

Now’s time for you to laugh. I just took a look at my 2016 Goals for Writing (which I’d forgotten to look at since I wrote it a month ago). Top of the list?

  1. Organize my life

Well, crap. So far, not so good on that one. Believe me, if/when I achieve this one, I’ll let y’all know.

the rest are in no particular order, and I’d just like you all to light a candle or two on my behalf if you have it in your heart that maybe I can get through these this year:

2. Master Facebook ads (i.e. listen to, then apply my 50-hour tutorial on FB ads)

3. Build mailing list

4. Write lots more books (haha, don’t ya like how I didn’t write a number. Though I’ve got 5 slated to publish and in my fantasies I’d write at least 3 more. Operative word being “fantasies”. Perhaps this is how I maximize that failure to sleep that menopause imposes on us at this age.

5. Have books made into audio books (this will be when the money starts falling from trees, or when I master Facebook ads, whichever comes first)

6. Have books translated into German (see #5 as far as realistic goal)

7. Make bestsellers lists.

So there you have it. I have my work cut out for me. And as I scramble to meet my deadline with a book to my editor by January 30, again, I will put it out there that I wouldn’t turn it down if you all wanted to light a candle for me to actually get it all together. 

And if I don’t? Well, there’s always 2017…

Oh hey! I accomplished something I forgot to write down. It was really an overlap from 2015 but it happened, so yay me: I overhauled my website, and it just got finalized last week. Feel free to check it out and tell me what you think! http://www.jennygardiner.net (now wish me luck with maintaining it, technophobe that I am…).

While you’re over there, I’ve got an awesome free book for you if you sign up for my newsletter: Something in the Heir, book 1 of my It’s Reigning Men series! Sign up here http://eepurl.com/baaewn and you’ll be first to hear about deals and giveaways.

Also, Throne for a Loop, book 6 of the It’s Reigning Men series, comes out March 8 and is available for pre-order here:

iBooks                           Kobo                       Kindle

Now it’s your turn: what are your goals and aspirations are for 2016 and beyond?

La Bella Vita

We were blogging on a group blog recently about locations: writing locations, settings in books, etc. As luck would have it I’d just returned from an amazing month away on a working vacation in Italy and Morocco. 

Below is my post about working vacations. Keep scrolling for some fun pictures of my work venues for that month, and even further down, squeee!!!, you get a first peek at my latest book cover for book 4 in my IT’S REIGNING MEN series, LOVE IS IN THE HEIR, available for pre-order and set to release in late September.

Oh! And book three, BAD TO THE THRONE, releases on June 29. It is my favorite so far in this series, complete with a Harry-esque bad boy prince who I think you’ll fall for…

 And lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter–which will be going out next week. There’ll be a little special something in there for your efforts ;-) .

I recently returned from a lovely working vacation in Italy and Morocco. And the hard part of a working vacation is the work part.

I departed for our trip with a deadline pending for the third book in my It’s Reigning Men series. I had a lot of fun writing this book–the hero in it is a rakish Prince Harry-esque black sheep, and I just loved his attitude. So I didn’t want to rush to end the book, plus I was scrambling to get ready to leave, so I left the final third of the book dangling…

Which meant I had a few days during my trip in which I had to just hunker down, abandon the idea of being a tourist, and focus on writing. Of course this was a bit of a bummer, because I would have far rather wandered the streets of ancient Italian cities and settled in for a leisurely lunch of pappardelle al sugo di anatra (fat strips of homemade pasta with amazingly delicious duck confit cooked in a red sauce) and a glass of Chianti. Which would have led to the need for a nap which would have meant no writing.

So instead, I savored my “rooms” with a view, and hunkered down to finish my novel with some of the most spectacular scenery going.

We writers are so blessed that we can do our work pretty much anywhere. And over the years I have, by default, done that: in pick-up line at the kids’ schools, on the sidelines at soccer practices, with ear plugs in while the kids watched the television that is mere feet from my “desk” which is in the kitchen and basically means hardly a quiet zone.

So my designated work stations while away this time were pretty much unbeatable: at our B&B with a spectacular view of the Duomo di Siena, which is a breathtaking work of architecture; while sitting on the ponte di Santa Trinita in Florence, with a view of the famed Ponte Vecchio in front of me and the world’s most amazing gelato just steps away (Gelateria Santa Trinita—if you’re in Florence, go there and try the sesamo nero, which sounds weird, black sesame seed gelato, but is incredible).

I wrote at an outdoor bar in the delightfully colorful Piazza Santo Spirito (full of great people-watching, which sort of causes problems when trying to focus on writing!), in the Oltrarno, the section of Florence across the Arno River that is more residential and relatively less touristy.

Not for the first time I enjoyed writing in the Giardino di Boboli, the spectacular gardens that are part of the imposing Palazzo Pitti (hoarding headquarters for the Medici family), with a splendid view of all of Florence.

I regretted missing a fascinating tour of the city of Matera in the Basilicata region of Italy, down by the boot heel. My husband got to take that tour while I hunkered down on the deadline-iest of deadline days: I absolutely had to get my book to my editor on that day or it would screw up my publication date, which would make me an enemy of Amazon ;-) . Far be it from me to get on the bad side of Amazon…

Anyhow, the “Sassi” in Matera are a United Nations World Heritage site—originally a prehistoric troglodyte settlement, considered to be among the first human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are caves dug into the rocks, from which an ancient town sprung, one cave atop the other, until a warren of many thousands of caves piled atop and next to one another existed. Until the mid-20th century these caves were inhabited by the poorest of the poor, who were ultimately relocated to housing with plumbing and other modern comforts. Since then the area has been rebuilt to house apartments, hotels, restaurants and shops. It’s an amazing place, extraordinarily beautiful at night when lit up, too.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such an phenomenal opportunity to travel and experience the world and various cultures and incorporate it into my writing (and am grateful that my husband has afforded me these opportunities because trust me, writing isn’t paying these bills). On this trip also, we visited Morocco, and immersed ourselves in an entirely different culture there (and, um, learned the hard way that the closest place to the Sahara desert in which to find a tampon would be a rugged 10-hour drive through the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech…)

Along the way I also worked on my book while waiting for a grocery store to open in Siena as I needed to buy laundry detergent and was in a hurry to get it done before we traveled to Florence.

I love to incorporate things I experience while traveling into my books, and have used quite a bit of my extensive Italian travels in my current series, the It’s Reigning Men series, especially with the third book of the series, Bad to the Throne, which is available for pre-order now here and will be released June 29.

I hope you can enjoy a little bit of my journeys as you read my books! And please, do enjoy the view!


Gallery

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Rejection or High Praise? You Decide...

Rejection? In the publishing world? Ha! That is downright inconceivable! I mean, isn’t writing all about pouring your heart out into the novel of your dreams and then everyone loves it and you sell it for a fortune and land huge film deals and you earn enough money to quit your day job and take some fun trips and maybe pay off some loans and you all live happily ever after as you write subsequent bestsellers in your lovely Parisian artist’s garret???? Welllllllll….Gather ’round, kiddies, and let me dopeslap enlighten you! Not to complain, but just to burst your bubble open you to the potential soul-sucking vagaries realities of the publishing business… Rejection isn’t simply the rejection of your words by agents and editors and reviewers. It’s really more like the endless obstacles that threaten the potential success of your writing career/marathon. A sample of such things that you might well encounter along the way:

  • A director of sales at a publishing house who doesn’t like your book and therefore won’t do much to try to sell it (which means forget it, your book is doomed).
  • A publishing house that goes belly-up and you never see payment owed you (don’t quit your day job!).
  • Editors who are Goldilocksian in their rejection of your masterpiece (Too long! Too short! Not happy enough! Not sad enough! Lacking character development! Too much character development! Plodding! Too fast paced!). I think if the future of the human race relied upon editors loving someone’s work, the species would be long gone by now.
  • An agent who disappears off the planet after you sign with said agent, who then simply never does even the basics of what needs to be done to pitch your book, leaving you flapping in the wind and your career on default life support.
  • An editor who leaves the business halfway into the editorial process, leaving your book with no advocate (also known as Dead in the Water; see doomed book, above).
  • An editor who loves your voice and loves your book and really wants to publish it, but one editor on editorial board kiboshes it, so it’s not going to be acquired (Dead in the Water, natch).
  • A big name author who bails at the last minute with the cover blurb promised you for months.
  • You get so bogged down with marketing and publicity that you never write another book.
  • An industry that changes like the shoreline, leaving you feeling as if you are trying to capture elusive air between your fingers.
  • Life crap that decides to interrupt your creativity so that you fall off the planet and miss the myriad changes that have befallen the industry and, as an added wallop, lose your readers, while you were in a life-induced writing coma.

A career as an author is not for the faint of heart. It is for someone who has deep conviction in their product and one who is determined and hearty and perhaps a little foolish and—despite deeply-entrenched, occasionally self-sabotaging cynicism—holds out a bizarre scintilla of optimism in the face of overwhelmingly grim odds (this could simply be human survival skills at work). So my advice is this: ignore everything. Ignore it all. Because you can’t control one damned bit of it. Instead, just write. Get back to the basics: read and write and write and read and refine your craft as you so do, and to hell with the rest of it. In the early days of my career, writer friends and I repeated to one another this mantra: TPT—Talent. Persistence. Timing. Honestly, I can tell you from some books I’ve read that talent is actually optional (though desirable)—plenty of crap books get published, which still mystifies me. Persistence, however, is essential. And timing? Well, that’s the ingredient over which we have little power. If you’re lucky enough to have the fairy dust sprinkled over you and you write a book that becomes a blockbuster and you are the darling of the publishing world, well, hey, good on ya’. But if you don’t, it’s vital that you are able to maintain that very core of what started you on the process to begin with: you love words, you love stories, and you know you have an ability to combine them in a way that works. And sometimes, that’s all you can hang your hat on. I was quite frustrated recently, feeling as if launching a book nowadays is sort of like felling a tree in a remote forest—does anyone hear a thing? —wondering how anyone can hear about your book if no one is listening. And then, voila, I got a lovely review from a book reviewer, which helped me to remember what it’s all about: writing something that will touch others. Now go. Write. And to hell with all the rest of it.

The first of my IT’S REIGNING MEN series was just released: SOMETHING IN THE HEIR. Here’s the cover (alongside the covers for books two and three in the series–more to come!) … and some time soon I’m going to reissue Anywhere but Here—I’ll keep you posted. Sleeping with Ward Cleaver


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JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200 JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200 JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200JennyGardiner_BiteMe200 


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