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Jenna Patrick

So Long, Farewell….

Bad Girlz of the world…I’ve been keeping a secret.  A secret that is exciting and scary all at the same time, kind of like a record breaking roller coaster.  A secret that is bound to change my course forever.  A secret that it’s time to share with all of you.

I, Jenna P, am retiring from Bad Girlz Write.

This has been a difficult decision for me.  I love our blog.  I helped find our blog.  I love every writer and reader and faithful follower of our blog.  But for the past year or so I’ve been feeling a little out of touch, a little – one of these things is not like the others, if you will.  No one has made me feel this way but myself, and I’m not really sure why all the sudden it’s happened either.  Maybe it was the Women’s Fiction debacle with RWA a couple years back that got me to thinking.  Maybe it’s that I’ve seen most of my fellow bad girlz get their well-deserved book deals and move on in their careers, while I’m still stuck in limbo back in the pre-published world.  Or, maybe I’ve always felt this way but was too afraid to admit it aloud.  All I know is that something had to change.

So, I spent the holidays doing a little bit of soul searching and coming up with a plan.  I’ve been revamping my website and reaching out into the writing community to find other women’s fiction writers to connect with.  I’ve talked to some of the other bad girlz about my feelings and rediscovered what amazing, supportive friends I have.  I’ve also been asking for advice from authors who have been where I am and come out on the other side.  And what I’ve realized is this:  in order for me to find my place in this industry, I need to fully submerge myself in my market.  In order for me to fully submerge myself in my market, I need to let go everything outside of it.

Unfortunately, this includes Bad Girlz Write.

The lovely ladies on this blog all write fantastic romances with amazing careers behind and ahead of them.  And though I’m confident that I too will have an amazing career in upmarket women’s fiction at some point, I’ve come to accept that the path for me will be much different than my fellow bloggers.  And for the first time, I’m really okay with that.  Yeah, it’s scary.  Yeah, it’s going to be a challenge to go at it alone.  But it’s the right thing for me.  I believe it.  I can feel it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m leaving the group all together.  Jeanette has made me promise to be a “Bad Girl Emeritus – like those professors who retire and don’t teach anymore but still show up all the time.”  And I will be back from time to time to guest blog should my lovely friends ask.  If you’ve enjoyed my blog posts here, please come check out my new website and blog at jennapatricknovels.com.  My first official blog post went up today!

It’s been a blast!  Until we meet again, this is Jenna P signing off.

7 Comments

The Santa Conspiracy

happy-holidaysI feel like I should write something in the spirit of the holidays, being that I’m the last bad girl to blog before our annual holiday break.  You’ve already seen the best gifts to give the writer in your life, and I wrote the funny twelve days of Christmas adaptation last year.  So this year, I decided to go off the cuff and just tell you a little holiday story.

We’re driving home from dinner tonight when my youngest daughter turns to me and asks, “Mommy, do you still believe in Santa?”

“Of course, I do,” I say.  “Don’t you?”

“Part of me does and part of me doesn’t.”

“Well, what part of you doesn’t?” I ask.

And then the tears come.  “It just doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t see how reindeer can fly, or how he gets to all those houses every night.  And sometimes he gets me things that I don’t ask him for.”

“Magic,” I say.

She raises her brow.  “Magic isn’t real.  I’ve seen Now You See Me!

That’s it.  I have GOT to quit letting her watch PG-13 movies.

I can’t blame her, really.  She gets it’s honestly.  I’m a logical thinker and I use logic when trying to explain things to my kids because I want them to be logical thinkers too.  I don’t want them to grow up blindly to the ways of the world.  It’s why I think we should keep score in sports, and why I don’t believe that everyone should get a trophy.

But I digress, this is about a little girl believing in Santa Clause.

I’ll admit, this one took me back a little.  Here I am, a spinner of stories and make believe, but I couldn’t find the words to spin my way out of this one.  Instead, I found myself skirting around the issue, answering questions with questions, and avoiding it all together.  I don’t remember ever having the Santa conversation with my parents, and I never had it with my oldest daughter either.  So what do I do?  Do I lie – something I told myself I’d never do when the time came?  Or do I break my little girl’s heart – something I also told myself I’d never do?

So, I did what any mother would do – I waited for my daughter to get into the shower and I called my husband.

“Tell her Santa is more of a state of mind than a physical being,” he says.

Yeah.  That clears it right up.  Then I’ll pass her the peace pipe and we can sing Kumbaya.  She’s NINE, for crying out loud!  She doesn’t know what a state of mind is!

In the end, we decided I would stall a little more, and then we would find a way to talk to her together once he came home.  Luckily, by the time my daughter was finished with her shower, she had already decided Santa had to be real because, “NASA tracks his sleigh every year, and they wouldn’t waste that kind of money on something that wasn’t real.”

It took everything in me not to tell her my theory about the whole moon landing debacle.

I’m not sure if she really does still believe, or if she saw me fumbling over the question and decided to throw me a bone.  But I do know that I’m content to go with it for now.  I figure, what’s so wrong with letting her believe in it anyway?

After all, I sit in my office for hours having conversations with imaginary people.

How did you handle the Santa question?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

christmas tree

 

 

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The Best and Worst Days of a Pre-Published Author

First off, thank you SO MUCH to Sophia Henry for swapping blog dates with me at the last minute.  I was in the throws of jury duty (which was AWESOME), but I will need to save that post for another day as this cycle’s theme is my BEST and WORST day as a writer.  I guess let’s start with the best.

I know I’m supposed to say something uplifting here, but I can’t.  I guess I could lie, or turn something mediocre into something grand, but you all know that’s not my style.  Harsh truth, no matter how bad it hurts to hear, right?  And I respect you all too much to turn away from that motto now.  So, cue the violins.  Bust out the Boone’s Farm, Saltines, and Cheeze Whiz.  Shit’s about to get real in here, folks.

TRUTH #1:  I DON’T HAVE A BEST DAY AS A WRITER.

I haven’t gotten THE CALL (yet).  I haven’t made a best sellers list (yet).  I haven’t seen my book sitting on the stand at the Barnes and Noble (yet).  THOSE will be my best days as a writer, and I would be lying if I said otherwise.  Because isn’t that goal?  I mean, yes, we all write because we can’t not write, and yes, it’s makes us all warm and fuzzy inside (blah, blah, blah), but isn’t the goal to get our books out into the world and into the hands of readers?  Isn’t that the G in our GMC?  It certainly is for me.

That’s not to be said I haven’t had good days.  But usually, good days are negated by bad days.  I’ve gotten tons of requests for partials and fulls (YAY!), to the point where I don’t even get all that excited anymore when I get one (HOW SAD IS THAT?).  I’ve received many good rejections (there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one) stating, “You’re a strong writer and I loved your characters!” (YAY!), only to be followed by the, “but it’s a hard sell for a debut, so send me what you write next.” (OUCH).  I’ve received an email from an agent telling me a sub-agent LOVED my manuscript and would be calling me (YAY!), only to receive a rejection letter a week later from sub-agent saying she already had something too similar (KILL ME NOW).

So, to say I’ve been close to my BEST day is an understatement.  I’ve been so close I can smell the Vodka in my celebratory Cosmo.  And let me tell you…knowing I was that close hurt much worse than the standard “it’s not for me,” rejections I received on my first two pieces of crap manuscripts.  It sucked!  It just plain sucked, I tell you!

And you know what else sucks?  Watching all your friends having their BEST days, conflicted because you are so stinking happy for them and know how much they deserve every minute of it, but at the same time so stinking envious because you want it to finally be YOUR BEST day and you know you are just as deserving as they are.

Oh, just admit it, people!  You’ve been there!  And it doesn’t ever stop, either.  There will always be someone who gets a better book deal, or sells more copies, or wins more awards.

So you may ask…why do you do it, Jenna P?  You’ve been at this now for seven years (YES, I said seven!) and if it’s SO bad, why do you torture yourself?

I asked myself that same question a little over a year ago, right after I received the rejection letter from that sub-agent I mentioned above.  I thought long and hard about it.  Cried about it.  Drank lots of wine because of it.  I came within an inch of giving up on G because the C was becoming insurmountable.  I truly considered allowing myself to have my WORST day as a writer, because wouldn’t that be it?  Wouldn’t everyone’s WORST day as a writer be the day that they put down their pens or keyboards or their freaking sticky notes and say, I quit?  It certainly would be for me.

TRUTH #2:  I DON’T HAVE A WORST DAY AS A WRITER.

I wish I could say it was something uplifting and earthshattering that gave me the strength to keep going, but it wasn’t.  In the end, it was good old fashioned stubbornness. Utter pain or Total Failure – take your pick, Jenna P.  And I simply refused to fail.  It’s just not in me.  I know it’s not pretty, but when things get that dark sometimes the lesser of two evils is the only M you’ve got to keep going.

See what I did there?

So if you’re like me, and I think many of you are, I hope you will take this one prize token from the pity party I just threw….

TRUTH #3:  YOU CAN’T CONTROL IF OR WHEN YOUR BEST DAY AS A WRITER COMES, BUT IT IS ENTIRELY UP TO YOU IF OR WHEN YOUR WORST DAY COMES. 

Don’t let it.  Ever.

9 Comments

Tackling Tough Topics

This has been on my mind lately, as my latest WIP (okay…ALL my WIPs) combats a pretty tough topic.  How do I define tough topics?  Well, to me it’s all the things we don’t like to think about, but hear about on a daily basis.  Abuse, rape, childhood obesity, incest, a child’s passing (particularly if foul play is involved), mass shootings, murder/suicides, bullying, and whatever else makes you uncomfortable.

Even if we don’t like to think about them, these things happen.  For us as writers, they can make for some intense plots and intriguing characters when presented the right way.  But it’s a risky move that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Here are some tips on how to walk the line between inappropriate and thought-provoking.

Know the boundaries of your genre and your audience.

Not everything goes in every genre, and what is acceptable today may not be acceptable tomorrow.  I was once rejected by a romance publisher because my heroine was involved in an extramarital affair.  Call it women’s fiction, and you’re more likely to get some bites.  The same goes for your target audience.  It wasn’t so long ago that having sex or drug use in a book intended for teens was taboo, so know your limits and re-evaluate them often.

Lighten it up, but don’t be too light.

Some topics are pretty heavy, so be sure to relieve your readers’ emotions at points throughout your story.  One way is to add a secondary character that’s a little corky (some writers call this the jester).  His/her main purpose in the novel is to lighten the mood, but this character can also play a role in the plot.

Be careful not to make it too airy, however.  Jokes and silliness can easily look like poking fun if you’re not careful.  I walked that line in my last manuscript with a mentally ill main character.  His sickness, by nature, made him corky, so I had to be sure I wasn’t discrediting the seriousness of it with his actions.

Go All In

Don’t breeze past the hard stuff.  If you’re going to tackle a tough topic, then do it.  All in.  No holds barred. Otherwise, your reader may feel cheated, and your character won’t feel real.

The hardest scene I’ve ever had to write was a flashback to when my M.C. found his young infant dead.  As a mom, it KILLED me to write this.  But I knew I had to and I knew I had to do it well, otherwise the gravity of the situation wouldn’t be felt.

“Happy” is a relative term.

This, to me, is the problem with happily-ever-afters.  Sometimes, things just don’t end happily.  Sometimes, redemption and growth is all you can hope to get from a story.  It’s never going to be rosy and perfect for a mother who has lost a child, because she doesn’t have her child.  The goal shouldn’t be to make her happy…the goal should be to grow her into a person that can live her life despite her incredible loss.

Let your readers decide how they feel about the topic.

This one can be hard, particularly if you feel strongly about an issue.  Readers don’t want to be told how they should feel.  They want to see all the sides and form their own opinion.  You can certainly lead them to a path, but make sure they’re the ones who choose to step on it.  Otherwise, you may lose them.

Remember, no matter how careful you are or how hard you try, someone is still bound to get offended or decide not to buy your book.

Same goes for agents and editors.  I once queried an agent who rejected me because she couldn’t bring herself to read about a child dying.  Doesn’t mean I didn’t present it right, or that it wasn’t a great book.  It just meant that this particular agent, for whatever reason, couldn’t read about that topic.  Perhaps she had been through something similar, or was pregnant at the time.  On the flip side, maybe your book will convince a parent to spend less time at work and more time with their child.

Bottom line, tough topics are harder to write and harder to get published, but the payoff can be huge if it’s done right.  Hopefully these suggestions will get you on the path to making it great.

What are some other strategies that have worked for you?

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They’re Their, Suite Hart, It’ll Bee All Write – Commonly Misused Homophones

I thought long and hard about what to write for this topic – things we screw up all the time.  It’s hard to admit you’re not perfect, especially when you’re still trying to snag an agent or an editor. But since we intended this blog site to be a place to share in our trials and tribulations — and maybe help a writer out here and there — I put on my big girl panties and dug down deep.

While there were many things I could’ve chosen, I wanted to pick something precise and tangible that can be easily fixed.  It’s hard to tell someone how to slow down their pace or remove a plot thread (both of which I’ve been known to get comments from critique partners on – thanks JG).  Depending on what you write, the answers to both of these may be different or infinite.  So I wanted to pick something that applies to every single one of us…

HOMOPHONES

homophones

Since most of us haven’t done grammar since grade school, let me refresh your memories.  Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  And there are A LOT of them.  The title of this blog post has 14 words, and 6 of them are homophones.  Because apparently, somewhere along the way, the developers of the English language ran out of creativity.  Or perhaps they just wanted to trip us up, like they did with the whole who/whom debacle.

Most of us have the proper meanings sorted out in our heads and use them correctly without even thinking about it.  But occasionally these little boogers can stomp even the best of us.  And if you’re like me, even if you do know the correct word to use, sometimes your fingers just move faster than your brain can reach back to fifth grade grammar, and you simply mistype it.  I’ll admit it…this happens to me A LOT.

So, I put together a little list of homophones that I’ve come across in critiquing, and that others have nailed me on when I’ve been critiqued.

Peak/Peek/Pique                              Pedal/Peddle                                    By/Buy/Bye

Waist/Waste                                      Bare/Bear                                          Hire/Higher

Waive/Wave                                      To/Too/Two                                       Plane/Plain

Your/You’re                                       Their/There/They’re                         Weak/Week

Vain/Vein                                            Pray/Prey                                         Peace/Piece

Hear/Here                                          Presence/Presents                          Which/Witch

Affect/Effect                                       Passed/Past                                     It’s/Its

These are just a few.  Do a web search for homophones and you can find PAGES of them.  I thought about putting their proper meanings/uses beside each one of these, but I figure most of you know them already.  Looking at them side by side, I can tell you the differences between all of them, but still I get little flags in my manuscript from time to time.  Sometimes Word picks them up with a little squiggly green line, sometimes not.  But take it from me, it can be rather embarrassing when your critique partner says…I’m pretty sure you mean, “He put his hand on her waist.”

Well, yeah!  The other would be just gross!

What homophones trip you up?  Let’s add to the list!

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Jenna P Goes to AWC: The Tale of My First Non-Romance Writers’ Conference

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my very first non-romance writers’ conference.  That’s not to say that romance writers couldn’t attend, in fact the lovely Elizabeth Michels accompanied me for moral support (I swear I’m not balding.  The man behind me is. 🙂 )

AWC-pic

It really just means that the primary focus isn’t writing in the romance genre.  And I must say it was very different.  Good different, but different.  So, today I thought I’d put together a little list of the things I learned while attending the Atlanta Writers’ Conference (AWC).

1.  Not all writers spend as much time planning their conference shoe selections as they do their pitch.

I know.  Crazy, right?  Every conference I’ve been to up until this point has been a combination of worrying over pitching and worrying over my wardrobe.  I realize this is mostly due to the fact that RWA hosted conferences are primarily made up of female attendees and this conference was not, but I thought it was worth the mention.  I saw all levels of attire while there, and it was kind of a nice break not having to worry too much with it.

2.  Being an introvert definitely leaves you at a disadvantage at the mixer events.

Not only am I an introvert, but I am also a big believer in manners and etiquette.  It’s hard enough for me to work up the nerve to blindly talk to someone, let alone interrupt a monopolizer pitching their eighth book in a row to the one agent I want to talk to.  First off, if you are that person, just…don’t.  And second, if you’re like me, you’re going to have to find a way to do this if you want your share of the limelight.  For me, a couple glasses of wine helps.

3.  Always remember how subjective this industry is, and learn to adapt.

Okay, so this isn’t really something I just learned, but I was reminded of it.  I signed up for both an editor critique and an agent pitch from two amazing people.  The editor read my query and loved it – said it was perfect and not to change a thing.  The agent read my query and spent most of my ten minute pitch session editing it.  And here’s the thing – they were both right, just liked things a little different.  It reminded me that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

4.  It’s okay if I can’t write 4 books per year, because no one in my genre is writing 4 books per year. 

This one was HUGE for me.  I’ve been stressing out because most of my friends with book deals have three or four releases in a year and I’m not sure I could do this, at least not without quitting my job and hiring a taxi driver to get my girls to the gym.  However, one of the agents at the conference said to expect a release every twelve to eighteen months – which I can definitely do.  Then when I hit it big (because it’s GOING to happen, right??), I can quit my day job, hire a driver, and pump out three a year, if needed.  Of course, this is very specific to your genre, so make sure you know what you’re in for.

And the most important thing I learned at the AWC is….

5.  Be YOU, Jenna P. Be dark and be serious and be as heavy as you want to be.

That is what I’m good at.  That is why I write.  That is what makes me get all teary eyed when I’m going through revisions.  I try to offset the darkness with quirky characters and happy for now endings, but the subjects I write about are still heavy and the characters are deeply tormented by bad stuff.  For a long time now, I’ve been worried it was just too much and thought maybe I should try something new.  But then the editor who critiqued my first chapter told me to make sure I didn’t get too light later on in the book.

Say what?

I seriously could’ve hugged her right there if they wouldn’t have thrown me out.  FINALLY!  Someone wants me to be darker!  And I knew this would NOT be a problem!  EVER!

So, all in all, I would say the Atlanta Writers’ Conference was a success in my book.  It was very well organized and I loved the smaller, more intimate feel of it.  I also love that they hold two of these a year, one in the spring and one in the fall!  You should check it out.  I will definitely go back, so if you see me don’t be afraid to come up and say hi to the introvert in the corner prepping herself with a couple glasses of wine!

 

 

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Apples to Apples

Let’s face it, it’s human nature to compare ourselves to others.  Our society encourages us to do it, day in and day out, with the commercials and magazine ads and impossibly perfect women on that t.v show you love.  There’s the monetary comparison:  Why can’t I get a new Lexus for a Christmas gift?  You know, because so many people do.  There’s the self-image comparison:  Does my skin look as perfect as that chic on Game of Thrones?  Which is why I watch The Walking Dead, by the way.  I’m BOUND to be better looking than a dead chic with no eye, right???

And if that’s not enough to make us feel like a pile of manure, we as writers subject ourselves to a whole slew of other comparisons in which, more often than not, we come out on bottom.

So, when you’re feeling down because your critique partner just landed your dream agent or you BFF was nominated for the grandest of writing awards, here are a few things I tell myself before digging into that gallon of Chunky Monkey…

Compare apples to apples

I’ve fallen into this trap many times, traveling with my bad girlz to conferences.  Still do, actually, as much as I hate to admit it.  They’d come out from pitching, all jazzed because an agent wants to see the book they pitched and the four others in their closet, and I come out with an unenthusiastic 50 page request.  And while I was truly ecstatic for all their good news, I did start to wonder why I wasn’t getting the same vibe.  Was my story not as good?  Did I suck at pitching?  Should I have worn the red heels instead of the blue?

The answer to all three is no, of course.  I’m not subpar, I’m just different.  Turns out, agents and editors at romance conferences are actually looking for romances.  Crazy, right?  It seems like a no brainer, but I have to work at constantly reminding myself that things are always going to be different for me because I have to adhere by a whole different set of rules in a whole different market.

The measurement of someone’s success is not a measurement of your failures

ruler

It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed when you see others sitting where you want to be, but the truth is you just haven’t arrived yet.  So you didn’t make the best sellers list with this one – doesn’t mean your next won’t.  There’s always another story to be written, always another chance.  The only way you can fail at this business is to stop writing.

Don’t measure your success against others.  Measure it against yourself.  Everyone has different circumstances, different responsibilities, different expectations.  Work to be a better writer than you were the day before, with your own pace and your own process, and don’t worry about the others.

Don’t change into something that you’re not

I’ve spent hours listening to good advice from my critique partners on how I could change my writing into something that would sell.  I mean, I’ve tried everything.  And while they were all insightful ideas, in the end I had to decide who I am on my own.  It was changing my voice and my whole purpose for writing.  It felt like I was constantly battling between who I am and who I thought would sell easier.

But here’s the thing – I don’t want to write my next forty books that way.  I want to find an agent and an editor who love my writing the way it is.  Maybe in a different story with different characters and a different setting, but still my writing style and voice.

And I will, eventually.  I just need to keep writing and keep looking.

How do you deal with those dangerous comparisons?

 

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Getting Your Story Back on Track

Picture this…

I’m chugging away with E. Michels and Lori Waters on one of our Tuesday writing marathons.  My goal is to hit at least 1500, and this particular day I blew it out of the water.  By the time 3 o’clock rolled around and I had to put on my gym mom hat, I had just over 2200 words in.  May be small potatoes to some of you but this is a huge deal to me.  I was on fire!

Only…I wasn’t.

I should’ve been sitting at the gym that afternoon wondering what sort of wine I would drink when I got home, but instead I was trying to figure out what the funny feeling was in the pit of my gut.  No, it wasn’t gas.  It was my “writey” sense attacking my “you just kicked ass” sense, and I really didn’t understand why.  I mean, the words had flowed so easily that day.

So I texted my marathon buddies and asked if they’d ever written a killer scene that just didn’t feel like it fit.  E. Michels asks, “Were you forcing your characters or is it a POV issue?”  Without much thought I say, “I just don’t think my characters would do what I had them do.”

Truth is, deep down I knew that’s what the problem was.  But I’m a diehard plotter with boards and sticky notes and everything!  It’s hard to admit that maybe I need to re-evaluate my story.  What’s also hard is for me to except that I just spent six hours of my precious writing time writing a scene that, in the end, didn’t increase the word count on my manuscript.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, and I just needed someone else to get me to admit it.  I needed someone to give me permission to scrap it and start over.  And I thought that maybe some of you needed the same, so here are a few tips on how to make it easier to find your way back to where you need to be.

1.  The first problem is admitting you’re lost.

Look on the bright side.  So you wrote one scene that needs to go.  It’s better than ignoring your gut and writing the rest of the book in the wrong direction, right?  And it’s not necessarily wasted words.  Cut them out and place them in a “cut scenes” file.  With a few tweaks, there may be another manuscript you can use it in later.

2.  Get out of the map.

joeymap1joeymap2

I love this episode of FRIENDS, don’t you?  But where Joey needs to get in the map to find his way, sometimes I find I need to get out of the map to find my way.  I get so bogged down on word count that I don’t take the time to step back and look at the big picture.  Where are your characters in their intended arc?  Is the plot still moving at the right pace?  How many words do you have left and can you fit in what’s still needed.  A few quick checks may be all it takes to show you where you need to be.

3.  Remember the basics: GMC

This one is usually the one that gets me moving again.  Often times I’ve considered the overall GMC of the manuscript, but I haven’t spent enough effort looking at the short term GMC’s between my turning points.  Or maybe I did, but I’ve discovered something about my characters along the way that changes their goals or motivations at this particular turning point.  Remember, writing is a dynamic process so it’s okay if things change along the way.

4.  Check your threads

Perhaps the reason the scene doesn’t make sense now is because you’ve lost a thread along the way that was supposed to lead you here.  The more threads you have, the harder it can be to keep track of.  So write them down and check them often.

5.  If all else fails, stop and ask for directions

Talk it out with someone else.  It could be that you just need someone to give you permission to admit you’ve lost your way, like I did.  They may raise a question that leads you to find your answer. Sometimes someone who’s disconnected from your story will be the one to connect it.

I hope this helps you in some small way.  I’d love to hear any other ideas you have.  How do you find your way back to your story?

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Not Sweeter than Fiction, but Close

Some people have a “thing.”  A “thing” they’re known for.  A “thing” they go out of their way to make time for.  A “thing” they do only for themselves, with nothing much to gain except their own giddy grin.  I have lots of “things” that meet one or two of these categories, but only two that meet all three.  The first is my writing, but it would defeat the purpose of this blog series for me to choose that for my topic.  The second is college football, which I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me blab about.

So, I had to settle for one that meets two out of three – cakes.  Yes, I’m known among my family and friends for being the cake maker.  Yes, I’ll go out of my way to do it, even transported a cake nine hours to Florida for my sister-in-law’s destination wedding.  The third one isn’t so easy to answer, so we’ll come back to that later.

I love sweets – both indulging myself with them and creating them.  But most of all, I love making other people happy with them.  Yes, I’m the one who gives away 75% of the Christmas cookies (and calories) I make every December, and I’m the one who always volunteers to bring the triple chocolate something for dessert.  So for my first daughter’s first birthday, you know no store bought cake was going to do. Oh no.  I decided I was going to teach myself how to do cakes, because, you know, why the hell WOULDN’T I?

It was a long, sometimes painful journey, but I’ve really only had one cake that didn’t turn out to my satisfaction.  After Cinderella wound up looking like a hooker with WAY to much mascara and a glass eye, I decided that would be the first and LAST time I would try to do a face in icing.

Any who….here are some of my favorite successes.

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My older daughter’s first sleepover cake. The pillows are made of giant marshmallows.

 

 

 

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Sydney Carroll’s Bad Girlz baby shower cake.  I didn’t know how to make anything “naughty,” so she had to settle for cute.

 

 

 

 

 

My nephew’s first and second birthday cakes.  I was so excited to get to make boy cakes!  The barn is actually cake, the pig is playing in chocolate pudding, and the monster is just darn cute, ain’t he?

monster-cake        Farm-Cake

 

Hula

 

 

 

A luau party themed cake.  The coconuts are actually chocolate icing.  My husband got the giggles watching me decorate those.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the mamma jamma of them all…for my youngest daughter’s fifth birthday…the castle cake!  This one took 14 hours to bake, decorate, and build.  I even imprinted the columns with a cobble stone effect, because I’m cool like that (or crazy…whichever).

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Okay, so I’m no cake boss, but I think I do alright with it.

So back to that third criteria.  Do I make these cakes only for myself, with nothing much to gain except my own giddy grin?  No.  I do it because I love seeing the smiles on my family’s and friends’ faces when they see what I made just for THEM.

And then I clean up the mess and go back to doing my writing “thing.”

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Why the Hell NOT You?

Wow, it feels like forever since I last blogged last.  First, let me just say how excited I am for our new blog lineup!  I mean, seriously, have you checked these ladies out?  They are nothing short of dynamite, and I am truly honored to be blogging with them.  Every single one of them, both new and old less new (can you tell who has a birthday coming up?)  Our readers are in for a treat in the upcoming year!!

So, I’ve been a busy girl the past few months.  I quit a job, took a month off to write, and started a new job.  I made it through another compulsory season of gymnastics for one daughter and am heading toward another season this coming weekend for the second.  I fumbled through the chaos of the holidays and dug out last year’s New Year’s Resolution list, clenching my jaw as I changed the 4 to a 5.  Things were chugging along, business as usual, and 2015 was looking to be a repeat of 2014.

And then this happened…

Many of you know I am a HUGE Buckeye Fan, so this has been a very exciting couple of weeks for me.  And whether you like football or not, this season has an amazing story that we all can learn from.  So let me break it down for you…

A week before the season opened, we lost our Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback to a shoulder injury.  Most fans will admit (myself included) they tossed 2014 out the window at that point.  But then something happened…our backup quarterback grew into his own and ALSO became a Heisman Trophy hopeful who would lead us to the Big 10 Championship.  Until he broke his ankle in the last regular game of the season against our rival Michigan.  Again, most fans tossed out the rest of the season.  But then, here comes the third string quarterback leading the team to a shut out win in the Big 10 Championship Game against Wisconsin and then onto the playoffs where they beat Alabama AND Oregon.

**Churns a little butter while humming the OSU fight song**

I swear there’s a point here.  I’m not just gloating…

For me this was more than just a football game – it was an omen promise that 2015 is going to be a kick ass year.  It wasn’t a perfect season by any means, but the Buckeyes found a way to overcome all the odds and shut a lot of people up who’d simply said it couldn’t be done.  And it taught me a very valuable lesson as well.  When the Buckeyes took the trophy home on Monday night, I crossed all the crap off my New Year’s Resolution list and replaced it with one single question…

2015-motto

No, seriously.  Why NOT me?  Why NOT you?  Why NOT anyone who has the determination and the will power to push through and beat the odds?

Why NOT?

I get it, I do.  It’s more comfortable to look at this as a long shot so that the failures don’t hurt so bad.  If you don’t expect much, you can’t be disappointed, right?  But don’t sell yourself short.  You are just as capable as the next guy.  You have your own little special talents and you have all the potential in the world at getting them discovered.  And you WILL get them discovered.  You will.  It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN.  You might just be the third guy in line on the bench who winds up in the biggest game of the season and KICKS ASS!

That’s not to say it goes without hard work.  Maybe not blood and sweat (unless you’re into that sorta thing), but there are definitely going to be tears.  Lots of tears.  But as my daughter says, tears are just weaknesses leaving the body.  Let them go, look in the mirror, and ask yourself…

Why the hell NOT me?

Let’s ROCK 2015!

Jenna P

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