Monday, December 26, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

December is so close to be over, and so is 2016. And thank goodness for that—is it just me, or has year been supremely sucky for just about everyone??

For me, it seems like I've hit a new speed bump every time I thought I had caught my stride. I said goodbye to my beloved Maxie Cat, my friend I've had for half my life. Quite a few relationships have fallen apart. I'm lucky that I haven't encountered any major setbacks, but I've had a bunch of smaller inconveniences: computer problems, a stolen credit card, break ups and broken hearts, death and illnesses, apartment disasters, unexpected expenses.... You name it, I'm sure I've experienced it this year.

But that doesn't mean this year has been all bad. Two new kitties, Flynn and Anna, have adopted me. I got a new Dallas Comets book published. An amazing friend invited me to see the Pens home opener and banner raising. I've made a lot of business decisions relating to my writing career including some big things for 2017—especially my first reader event in March that I'm really excited about.

My new year's resolutions fizzled out, although they did last longer than I had anticipated! (I think blogging about my adherence to them and progress definitely helped in that department.)

1.) I am significantly more organized than I was this time last year. My office is all set up, my documents and paperwork are filed away, my closets are neater than every before, and my planner is perfectly color-coded.

2.) I didn't consistently hit the gym three times a week, but I probably had more visits this year than last—which of course was good, even if I didn't hit my mark.

3.) I did fail miserably at my goal to release three books in 2016, though; I only got one new release and boxed set out.

So, as I reflect back on the year and look towards the one to come, I realize that I made a mistake when it came to that resolution of mine. I focused on OUTPUT (what I should release) instead of focusing on INPUT (time spent writing). My priorities were wrong, and I felt worse when I realized I wasn't going to meet my goals. I let my readers down, sure, by not giving them the three books I had planned—but I also let myself down, which is never a good feeling.

My two other goals were about effort: making efforts to organize my home and life as well making efforts to get to the gym and spending time on the treadmill. I didn't set a goal to lose X amount of weight; I set a goal to show up.

So I'm reframing my writing goal for 2017. It's not about output, it's about input: instead of expecting a certain number of releases, I'm going to spend a certain amount of time writing.

My goal for 2017 is to spending at least fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, in front of the keyboard. I know that it doesn't sound like a lot, but sometimes fifteen solid minutes of writing can be more productive than an hour staring at a blinking cursor. Plus, I'm planning on a minimum of fifteen minutes—in reality, I'm hoping that it becomes more than that. (I was going to make it fifteen minutes every day, but there will be days where writing is impossible.)

Okay, so that's resolution #1: write fifteen minutes a day, five times a week.

I'm only making one more resolution for the coming year, and that's to focus on my health. I know that sounds very broad; it is. Specifically, I've been having some stomach issues that have gotten worse, and I'm hoping to get them sorted out. Generally, I hope to continue hitting up the gym, making better food choices, and engaging in as much self-care as needed. Because if I've learned anything in 2016, it's that I've got to have my best interests at heart! Otherwise, I'm no good to anyone, including my readers.

That's it! Just two resolutions for this coming year, but they're just as important as last year's. These are simple resolutions, but that's the genius in them! They'll be easily attainable throughout the entire year.

What are your new year's resolutions? If you want to share, leave them in the comments! And whatever they may be, I wish you all the luck in the world when it comes to achieving them!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Grand Total

Welp, I have the final calculations for how much Home Ice Advantage has made for the Seduced by the Game cancer charity anthology and my charity of choice. Ready for the grand total?


Once all the royalties get paid through, I'll be making the donation to The Mario Lemieux Foundation and of course report on that.

All I can say now is a huge THANK YOU to all who purchased Home Ice Advantage and supported the Seduced by the Game cause.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Forgotten Holiday

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday! I have so many memories of cooking in the kitchen with my mom, helping however I could—considering I refused (and still do!) to stick my hand in that turkey to stuff it.

I'm always disappointed when the stores start playing Christmas music on November 1. I know people are excited for Christmas, but it's like we're all overlooking the wonderful, forgotten holiday of Thanksgiving.

I'm going to get a little political in this section (so you can skip it, if you want). Thanksgiving represents a time when people come together, despite their differences; they help each other and celebrate what their cooperation has reaped for them. Of course, I am thinking of the "first Thanksgiving," in which the Native Americans helped the settlers at Plymouth, which lead to a bountiful harvest. Together, the settlers and Native Americans feasted. It is so pertinent to be reminded of this during the current turbulent condition of the U.S., between the division caused by the 2016 presidential election and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (I stand with Standing Rock). This time of the year should remind us how we need to band together, and yet we are farther apart than ever. As we forget the importance and observance of Thanksgiving—beyond a delicious meal and time of overindulgence—we are forgetting the true meaning of the holiday and how we should approach each day.

[It is not my intention to impose my opinion on anyway; I prefer to focus on the aspect of my job as a writer that brings joy to people, through the creation of worlds and characters for entertainment purposes.]

Of course, Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect on what we are thankful for.

I must admit that, in preparation of writing this post, I have struggled to think of that for which I am thankful. Of course, I am always thankful for the support and love of my friends and family. I am thankful for my readers who encourage me to pursue my passion. I am thankful for my furbabies, who drive me crazy yet shower me with love and affection.

But this is also a bit of a trying time for me personally. I'm dealing with health issues, both of my own as well as in my family. My day job is always stressful this time of year, and it will be moreso when my assistant finishes out her two weeks' notice. A few relationships have been tried and tested only to fail and disappoint.

These struggles remind me of what I do have to be thankful for: the people who have stuck with me when I needed them most: comforting me when my heart needed respite, kicking my ass into gear when I didn't realize I'd stopped moving forward, and straightening my crown it was lopsided. The 9-to-5 job that permits me enough freedom to spend my nights and weekends pursuing my true passion in life. And the fact that, despite how I may feel some mornings, I am thankful for the fact that I will (1) get out of bed, (2) feed my cats, and (3) take care of business like the strong and capable young woman that I am.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Home Ice Advantage: Series Cover Reveal

A year has passed since Home Ice Advantage was released as a part of the Seduced by the Game charity collection. It will take a couple of months to get the final totals for donation, and I'll report that number as soon as I have it.

So now it is time for me to introduce the series cover for the book, as designed by the amazing Deranged Doctor Design:

Gorgeous, isn't it?

I've been in the process of getting everything updated—from the vendor sites to my website to this very blog—so the new version should be available soon. And if you've already purchased the Seduced by the Game version, you should be able to update the book on your eReader.

Here are the links (Not all of the sites have updated yet, but hopefully will be by the end of the day):

Happy reading!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Covers Galore (and More)!

I've been doing a lot with covers recently: new cover reveals and unveiling some redesigns as well.

Those who are subscribed to my newsletter have already gotten the sneak peek of the upcoming Dallas Comets novel False Start, projected to release in 2017. Here's the public reveal:

Check it the new and improved Play the Man:

This new cover follows the redesigns of Shots on Net and Game On:

That's not all on the cover front! Soon, Home Ice Advantage will be getting a new cover to fit in with the Dallas Comets series, since its year-long run in the Seduced by the Game charity collection anthology is coming to a close on October 28. But I'm not going to reveal that to you just yet. I need to keep some secrets to keep things interesting ;)

The new cover for Home Ice Advantage will be revealed—and available for purchase—beginning November 1, so be sure to keep in touch with me to see that!

Keeping Up With the Jacobses:
October 2016

  • All Month Long: Any Kobo readers out there will be interested in the Romance on Ice for $4.99 or Less deal going on, to help all of us hockey lovers celebrate the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Be sure to spread the word and stock on some hockey romance to get you through the season!
  • October 12—13: A group of hockey romance authors (myself included) are celebrating the beginning of the 2016-17 hockey season with a two-day Facebook bash full of games and giveaways! Join us for The Puck Drops Here. I'll be taking over Wednesday, October 12, at 7:00PM. You don't wanna miss it!
  • Thursday, October 13: I'll be at the Penguins' home opener and banner raising at the newly named PPG Paints Arena. I'll surely post pictures of the game and event, so stay tuned to my social media outlets to experience it with me!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lessons Learned: First Drafts

I learned a lot over the past months as I worked on Breakout Play.

My life has been full of ups and downs so far in 2016, which has affected my writing time. And then, when I sat down to write, I struggled with getting the words out of me. Since I'm a relentless perfectionist, I wanted the first draft to be, well, perfect. I wanted every sentence to be well-crafted and full of detail. So of course I painstakingly agonized over every. single. word.

The prose didn't flow; it trickled slowly onto the page.

Once it was finished, I sent it out to my critique partner and beta readers for notes and comments. They pointed out what they thought didn't work and what worked, and I dove back into my draft to make it better. To make it the book on your eReaders today.

That's when it hit me: being a good writer isn't in writing a good first draft. No, being a good writer means being able to craft the story over the course of several drafts.

Writing a first draft is like making clay. It's making mud, making substance, that you can use later; it's getting words on a page that you can delete or add to during the coming phases of revision and editing. This should not be the hard part about writing a story.

So when you work with the second draft (and every, you're shaping the clay that's already been made into a form. This is the hard part. This is where all the work is, when you use your muscles to knead, roll out, and assemble the statue and use your brain to envision what it is you're planning and then execute. It's carving the lines and details that will reveal the true beauty in the art. It's cutting out sections or chapters that don't help to advance the plot or define the characters, and instead layering in details and emotions that you missed the first time around. It's shaping the story into something smoothly written but what tells the story that was inside you all along.

I learned that the only thing that matters about first drafts is getting them finished.

Because once they're finished, that's when the real work begins.

But you can't work with something that isn't there. You need words on the page in order to mold the story into what you want it to be.

With this lesson learned, I hope to crank out first drafts more quickly with the intentions of spending more times on the revisions. I'm thinking that this can help me publish more quickly—but I'm hesitant to make any guarantees! After all, I did make a resolution to publish three novels this year, and I've only been able to tick one off my list.

As always, I will keep you updated!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Party Continues!

I'm so excited! Breakout Play is finally out, and yesterday was a great release day!

The celebration continues today at Toni Anderson's iBook Club "Sweet Romance" August Party. Join me and some other great sweet romance writers! It starts at 3:00pm, and the contests will be open for 48 hours. Be sure to check it out and enter to win some iBooks.

And check out the Rafflecopter giveaway going on for the next month (until September 20). You can win a $100 iTunes gift card!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Finally! The News You've Been Wanting to Read...

Happy August 1st! Usually I'd be lamenting that another month has come and gone, but that will not be the case today. You see, July was a busy month, and I've set a date for Breakout Play to release! Are you ready? It'll be coming to you on... *drum roll* August 22!

That's three weeks from today!

I'm working on getting all the preorder links. Once I have them, I'll blast them all over social media. You won't be able to miss your opportunity to preorder.

Be sure to add Breakout Play to your Goodreads to-read list.

Want a chance to read Adam and Ally's story before August 22? It's possible as long as you're signed up to be a part of my ARC group. If you aren't and would like to be, find out more info and how to sign up here.

I'm also giving my newsletter subscribers a chance to read Breakout Play for FREE. Yes, that's right. I feel awful about how far back this release date has gotten pushed, so I want to make it up to my fans. If you aren't on my mailing list, here's where you can do that. To get in on this offer, though, you have to be signed up by August 8, 2016.

So that's one big announcement on the books. I have another one, too!

Next year, I'll be doing my first author signing. I'm part of Angels and Sirens 2017, which takes place on Saturday, March 4, at the Meadows Casino in Washington, PA. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area or are planning to be in the spring, this is not something you want to miss.

Not only will I be there, but so many other authors will be too—including some hockey romance authors who I know or am excited to meet! Melody Heck Gatto, Lisa B. Kamps, Jennifer Lazaris, V.L. Locey, Samantha Wayland, and probably others I'm forgetting.

I'll be giving away tickets closer to the event. Tickets can also be purchased here.

Wow, can you believe it? What a year 2016 is turning out to be. It sure was slow going in the first half, but things are finally happening in the second.

Keeping Up With the Jacobses:
August 2016

  • Wednesday, August 3: I'll be hanging out with V.L. Locey and friends at her Tape to Tape release party on Facebook. This should be a really fun party, and I can tell just by looking at the list of authors taking over throughout the night.
  • Monday, August 15: I'm going to celebrate Melody Heck Gatto's newest Renegades release Shutout with her and some other awesome hockey romance authors during her release party on Facebook. I'm taking over for an hour starting at 7:00pm. You'll need to be a part of the Tall, Dom, and Dirty group to attend and participate.
  • Monday, August 22: I'll be in the Sin Bin and hanging out on social media ALL DAY as I celebrate the release of Breakout Play
  • Tuesday, August 23: I'm going to be a part of Toni Anderson's iBook Club for August! The party is on Tuesday the 23rd. I will be with several other awesome authors celebrating the theme of Sweet Romance and giving away iBooks of Breakout Play. You'll also have a chance to enter to win a $100 iTunes giftcard, so you're definitely going to want to check out the event and Facebook group.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Resolution Update: Midpoint Progress Report

So it's July 1st.

The first of 2016 is done and gone, and I'm in disbelief that these six months have flown by like they have.

I want to take the time to recap my three 2016 resolutions and see how well I adhered to them.

First, there was:
This is the resolution I've stuck with fairly well! My office has been redesigned, I've added shelves and compartments around my apartment for extra storage, and I still have more plans that I've yet to set into motion.

I'm pretty proud of the way I've continued to tackle this big goal by chipping away at small projects. My latest was to add a shelf to my closet. I went to Lowe's, picked a board, and had it cut to fit the measurements I'd taken. While this wasn't necessarily the hardest thing, it was definitely more involved. I'm glad to have it done, at least!

 And second on the list,
Okay, so this one I was not as consistent with. I was going well at first, but then life took away my spare time or ability to work out. Right now, I've got some severe sunburn on the tops of my feet, so wearing socks and tennis shoes is out of the question. I'm hoping that, by next week, I'll be able to get back to the gym. Better yet, I can pull my bike out of storage and go for a ride!

Eep! This is the one I have definitely failed at. I can say that because, at six months in and zero books published, it would take a miracle or a thunderbolt of inspiration (and free time) to make it happen. As it is, I'm struggling to get a completed manuscript off for final read-throughs. I'm looking at an August release date. I'll make an official announcement when I have a better idea.

So that's my 2016 update. I want to hear from you! Have you kept up with your resolutions? Or maybe you're making new ones to finish out the year. Tell me all about it in the comments!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Holy Cow It's June, Free Stuff, and an Excerpt

I really don't know how it became June already.

Sure, I understand how time works, and I follow the days in my calendar/planner, but I still can't believe that it's June. We're almost halfway through 2016 already!

My publishing schedule has officially derailed, and I hate admitting that. I knew it would be hard, but I really didn't expect it to be as hard as it's been to meet my self-imposed deadlines.

I don't want to be a complainer; I've learned from experience that dwelling in negativity only breeds more negativity. When I complain, I focus on all the bad stuff, and I need to focus on on the good stuff instead, because that makes me happier sooner than if I had vented and fumed.

Every author has time constraints and issues that pop up that hold them up, obviously. Whether a full-time writer or part-time writer, we all have other stuff that gets in the way. For me, I work a full-time job, which can be very mentally draining, and also do some independent contracting on an irregular schedule. I'm a single cat mom to two very sociable cats who need a good bit of attention and love. And of course, I have to factor in time to see friends and family.

Some days, it's really hard to forget about the real world and jump into the fictional one in my head.

Writing is fun. For me, it's a necessary outlet. But that doesn't negate the fact that writing is also work. And sometimes, it's hard.

I wanted Breakout Play to release early this year. Obviously, it's June and the book isn't available yet. The best part about being a indie author is that I make up my own deadlines and can push them around—up or down the calendar—as needed.

Right now, I'm aiming for late July or early August. I feel like, at this point of progress on the book, that's a fair estimate to allow me to create the best possible story and still have time to have the book available for preorder. The closer I get to my target, then I will announce a for-sure release date.

I do feel quite bad that I'm so behind that I'm going to offer free copies to those who have signed up for my newsletter (so if you haven't signed up, do so now!)

And to try to tide you over until release day, here's an exclusive excerpt: the entire chapter one of Breakout Play.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Finding the Words...

I struggle with writer's block quite a bit; that's nothing new.

But it's not very often that I want to say something but have trouble finding the words.

That's how I'm feeling right now, for the sake of my new kitties. Particularly Flynn.

They love watching birdies.

When I adopted my cats from the shelter, the individual who was in charge went over their medical histories with me. I was told that Flynn had originally been adopted out but returned by his owner after one year due to aggressiveness. I could hardly believe my Flynn could be called aggressive at all! He's been nothing short of a sweet companion. The only issues I've had with him... well, I'll get to that part.

I was not told that Flynn was originally rescued from a hoarding situation. I only found out this information once I took Flynn to the shelter's clinic, when the vet recognized him.

Apparently, when cats (or any animal) are raised in a hoarding situation, the neglect they face can cause impaired immune systems as well as stunt, or prevent, proper development. Because of this, these cats are susceptible to diseases, infections, and chronic issues for the remainder of their lives.

Even though they've been rescued from their horrible living conditions, they will be always be affected by their past.

So Flynn is a special needs cat. No biggie; I'll make sure he gets the care he needs.

What bothers me is that the individual who took care of the adoption paperwork and went over his medical history didn't tell me this. All I was told was that he had mild gingivitis and would need his teeth cleaned in the near future. His condition is much more severe than this. How am I supposed to give a cat special care if I don't know he needs it? This makes me furious.

Perhaps the individual didn't know his long-term history. But I can't believe there wasn't a note in his file or something in his history to indicate he would have ongoing issues.

This is on top of the fact that Anna had worms when she was adopted out, which means the shelter didn't properly treat her.

She likes to "hold" paws.

The shelter was absolutely careless in their cases, at a detriment to the cats. The shelter is supposed to be on the cat's side, not their own.

If they won't act as his advocate, then I will. I will take action, although I haven't decided what I'll do, whether I will stop by the office in person to talk to someone or write a letter to the organization.

You don't wanna mess with this white girl!

In Flynn's case, we've established two conditions that we have to treat:
1. Ear Infections. He will always be at risk for ear infections, due to improperly formed ear canals (probably due to long-term ear mite infestation in the hoarder house of horror).
2. Stomatitis. This is an inflammation of the mouth, which makes eating, drinking, and grooming painful and difficult. The cause of Flynn's stomatitis? A severe autoimmune reaction to plaque. The vet informed me that this is also common in hoarder cats. It's almost like the cat's mouth is rejecting its own teeth. In the most severe cases, the cat needs a complete extraction of all its teeth. This is absolutely a last-ditch method of pain management for such kitties.
When Flynn visited the clinic two weeks ago, the vet gave him some steroids and antibiotics to help with the stomatitis. In a little over a week, he'll go in for a teeth cleaning to remove all the offending plaque. Afterwards, I will have to try to "brush" his teeth. And then we wait and see how he feels after that to determine a further course of action to manage any pain.

Such a sweet boy. He deserves a happy future.

Everyone wants to adopt the cute kittens, which leaves the older cats, and those with special needs, stuck at shelters. Flynn is so sweet and Anna is cuddly, and they really liven up my life. Even though we've had some hurdles early on in our time together, I can hardly imagine my apartment without them.

My goal is to improve shelter life for all the kitties who are still awaiting their forever homes.

If you are considering adopting, I urge you to consider adopting a rescue from a shelter. They truly need the care that only a loving home can provide. I can suggest names too! Mario LeMeow, Sidney Clawsby, Evgeni Meowkin... :)

I'd be remiss if I didn't end this post with a rousing LET'S GO PENS!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Resolution Update #3

It's been a while since I updated my blog, which is just because life has been so crazy. My Maxie has crossed the Rainbow Bridge after her struggles with chronic renal failure. That was a very devastating day for me, but the positive side is that I was able to welcome two new kitties who needed a forever home. Flynn and Anna have their very own Instagram account, because I'm a crazy cat lady who needs an outlet to share all their adorableness!

There was a lot of stressful change in March and April, but I feel like my life is slowly starting to even out again. One of my resolutions was to get three books published this year, and the past two months have definitely thrown a wrench into my writing schedule.

I was able to get a lot of writing done this weekend—enough to get the first half sent off to my critique partner. So, while it's taken a lot longer than I had planned, BREAKOUT PLAY is moving along.

Another resolution of mine was to go to the gym three times a week. I stopped going once Maxie was sick and needed to receive medications and fluid therapy. And once the Flynn and Anna came home, I wanted to be home to make sure they were adjusting well. I hope to pick up my gym routine again soon.

My third resolution was to get organized. I'm still working on that, too. Since my last update, I've:

  • hung my purses and scarves on hooks in my closet, to organize
  • worked on getting a shelf installed in my closet and also some additional shelving in my living room as well.
  • given away items to the local Goodwill, in the hopes that someone can use the things I don't need anymore.
  • cleaned out some of my fridge and freezer and organized my kitchen cupboards.
  • moved my hobby/craft area into my office and organized that as well. I have some scrapbooking I'd like to do, but that is a project for another time.
  • built a cat tree for Flynn and Anna in the space where the hobby/craft area was in the living room, and set up a window seat against the sliding glass doors overlooking my balcony, giving them a space and furniture of their own. I also rewrapped the cat pedestal with new sisal rope for scratching.
  • reorganized my linen closet.

That's pretty much what I've been up to; not exactly very exciting!

As for May, I plan to do a lot more writing. I'll post some teasers and short excerpts from BREAKOUT PLAY on my Facebook author page as I have them, so you can see what I'm working on.

And of course, to see what else I'll be up to this month check out below for a schedule of events!

Keeping Up With the Jacobses:
May 2016

  • All month long: I'll be in the Sin Bin all month long as the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue. If you're not a member of this Facebook group, you don't know what you're missing!
  • Monday, May 23: Some awesome hockey romance authors (and myself) will be hosting a Facebook event, For the Love of the Cup, from 4:00 to 11:00 pm. We're gonna celebrate the Stanley Cup playoffs, the teams who've made it, those who haven't, and the hot hockey players who devote themselves to the game.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Crazy Cat Lady Is Crazy

Everyone who knows me know that I totally own being a crazy cat lady. I constantly post pictures of my beautiful diva cat, Maxie.

Well, I was constantly posting pictures of her. I haven't in a while because, well, she hasn't been well.
She's taken to making the closet her favorite place, so I made it comfortable for her. She's got her heating pad and her fleece blanket.
Background info: this tiny gray cat adopted my family when I was 16. She finagled her way into our home and has never left. She's always been my baby cat, choosing me as her cat-mom by meowing at me loudly late at night, even though no one believed me that this otherwise quiet kitty was a noisy nellie. She's been spoiled rotten from the very beginning, when my mom bought her special cat food because she turned up her nose at what the other kitties were happy to wolf down. She got special treats and special treatment.

She's the queen of my castle. A total diva.

Friends of mine know that she has been dealing with chronic renal failure (CRF) for a while now. This is an all-too-common affliction for cats. She's 17 years old (at least), has had a bunch of teeth removed, but she's been a trooper through it alland has even become a snuggly lap kitty in her old age.

A few weeks ago, she suddenly lost her vision. My Smokey Cat was blind, so I recognized the signs immediately. Smokey gradually lost his sight as he got older, but Max seemed to lose hers practically overnight.

I scheduled her an emergency vet appointment that day, and the vet told me exactly what Google had: her retinas had mostly detached due to high blood pressure. She was still able to see some light, so she can still kind of navigate my apartment by sight, but the most we would be able to do is try to save her eyes from getting any worse. (If you noticed the weird eye reflection in the above picture, the detached retina is the explanation.)
Yes, I installed a nightlight for my cat. I have never denied my crazy cat lady status.
While at the vet's office, they checked her renal function. It was, to say the very least, not good. In fact, some of her numbers were so high that the machine couldn't read it. The vet was so surprised that she was still acting like her regular self with those numbers! My little cat is invincible.

To help with her renal function, she is now receiving subcutaneous fluids that I must inject into her once a day. This is not the easiest practice for cat and cat-mom, but it's for her own good so we must both soldier on. Some days Maxie's a good little patient, and some days I'm a very good cat-nurse. We make due with what we must.

She was also prescribed a minty liquid that would help with nausea and her phosphorus levels. While we worked out a system that relatively painlessly—for us both—for her to get the full dose orally twice a day.

So, for those of you who aren't keeping track at home, that's two meds and fluid therapy for my diva cat.


Now that you're all caught up, you'll see exactly why I've been a Stress Mess who's avoided social media for the past two weeks. I wish it was because I was writing, but alas. I've become a crazier cat lady.

Today, Max had her follow-up appointment. I'm so happy to report that she appears to be doing so much better. Some of the vision in her left eye has returned! She's responding more to light, which is helpful for her to navigate the apartment.

(It's nice to know that nightlight was not in vain!)

We've made some adjustments to her care. First, we're officially taking her off the minty liquid that she hates. It wrecks her appetite, which is the opposite effect that we intended.

The leading cause of HBP in geriatric cats is hyperthyroidism; however, Max's tests revealed that she's on the low end of the spectrum, so there is no obvious cause for the HBP. That means she needs to take a HBP medication—but, in true feline style, she refused the majority of my attempts to pill her. I've given her antibiotics in the past, but these pills have to be quartered, and they're too small to manage to force-feed her. Anyone with a diva cat knows my struggle.

Second, instead of struggling to pill her with a quarter of a tablet of her HBP meds, we're going to compound those tablets into a liquid, so she can get that orally—since that's somehow easier than pills. Because cats.

And third, she's continuing on the sub-Q fluids, since that appears to be helping her.

In another week and a half, Maxie will return to our vet (who I must admit is super awesome) for yet another follow up. This time, once she will regularly be taking the HBP meds, we will retest her blood pressure and renal function.

I like my role as cat-mom much better than I do the role of cat-nurse. This is not an easy time on me; I sometimes feel like I am torturing poor Max more than I am helping her. I'm trying to maintain her quality of life in her old age. I give her meds, I dote on her, and I worry over every move she makes. She gets treats and tons of head scratches.

And in between those moments, I do a couple of chores, try to make myself relax, and maybe write a bit. This is not exactly how I expected my March to go. But we soldier on.

I felt like I owed my readers a bit of an explanation about my absence. I realize that I said, just a few weeks ago, that I was going to disappear so I could write, but that's not the case. I'm still dedicated to Breakout Play, but I am more devoted to my baby cat. And I hope my readers understand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

List of Things I Accomplished This Week

Last week, my good friend and writing buddy Melanie Ting, in her endless efforts to support my current writing crisis, has suggested that I check out Mr. Chris Bailey, an expert in productivity. Mel is already an incredibly productive person, so if she recommends something, I sure as hell listen.

I checked out his website and was immediately drawn to his post about "10 productivity lessons I learned writing an 80,000-word book in 6 months". Seriously, doesn't that sound like the most perfect title for an article for a writer pressed for time to write?

There are a lot of great lessons from Mr. Bailey's article that I'm going to implement during this month of creative productivity (as Breakout Play begs to be written), so I recommend checking it—and the rest of his website—out for all of his imparted wisdom.

One lesson that particularly struck me was to take time to reflect on your multiple, smaller accomplishments within the larger and singular accomplishment of writing a book. Makes total sense! By acknowledging all the little things that have been done to lead up to the accomplishment of one big task, you get to focus on some positivity.

Instead of saying, "Damn, another week went by and I didn't finish that book," I get to say, "Look at the things I did to put myself closer to my goal of finishing my book."

And what's more validating than creating a list of accomplishments and posting it on the Internet where, hopefully, it won't get trolled. (Seriously, I doubt I thought this through!)

Without further ado, I present my:

List of Things I Accomplished This Week
  1. Added scenes to my storyboard.
  2. Won a free eBook cover from my amazing designer. Okay, so that's not really something I can accomplish, but that's still awesome and definitely helpful in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Found a Google Docs add-on word counter (aptly named Better Word Count) to help me track writing goals and totals
  4. Wrote every day, even if it was just a few words here and there.
  5. Acquired an Accountabilibuddy: Pusheen. Pusheen watches over me at my desk to make sure I'm writing and not checking on my virtual cats in Neko Atsume.

Okay, so, that's an odd list. But it's something!

I'm off to go add to my word count for the day, and maybe I'll add that to my Accomplishment List for next week.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March Madness

I had hoped to have Breakout Play published by now.

Obviously, that is not the case, and I am sad about that.

I watch too much South Park.

I don't know if I should admit this or not, but here's why: I haven't written it all. I've got a beginning, sections of the middle, but definitely no ending. The story's not even done, and it still has rounds of edits to go through, polishing, and proofing before I feel ready to release it for your reading pleasure.

I should also admit that I don't know how long it will take, so I don't feel comfortable putting forth another release date in case I don't make that one either.

If you're bummed by this news, please know that I am too. I'm excited about this story: I'm excited to tell it, and I'm excited to share it. Unfortunately, I'm running short on time during the day to devote to the project. I won't bother with listing excuses reasons why, because those don't really matter anyway.

Besides, it's more proactive to focus on writing my story than writing a list of excuses reasons, right?

But I would like to reassure everyone—and myself—that I am totally dedicated to this project, and I am spending as much of March as possible on the creative process. I've already deleted the Facebook app from my phone to minimize distractions, and my Facebook presence has dwindled significantly. I barely have time to keep up with The Sin Bin!

And no, Neko Atsume doesn't have anything to do with that, because it only takes a minute to check on those virtual kitties. It's not a time-suck kind of game.)

Well, I may disappear from social media even more in the meantime. I'm sure you won't miss me if the condition is that you'll get something new to read sooner. Right? Okay, well you can miss me anyway. :)

I'll update when I have updates—and as soon as I have a concrete release date and/or pre-order links, I'll plaster it everywhere so you can't miss it. Promise.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of hockey to keep y'all occupied. The race to the playoffs is starting. Is it too soon to start getting my Stanley Cup brackets ready? Not that I'll be watching. I've got some writing to do!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Resolution Update #2

My first resolution for 2016 was to get organized. That process is still ongoing, and I'm sure this whole project will take several months. But here is everything that I have accomplished so far:

  1. Went through my closet and shoes to find items to donate.
  2. Threw out old, expired items from my kitchen cabinets and shelves.
  3. Took my old, broken, ginormous TV to the recycler.
  4. Rearranged my writing room so the desk faces a wall and mounted a cork board to the wall.
  5. Went through old paperwork and organized my files.
  6. Looked into buying shelving for more space to display cool stuff and to store items.

Desk 2.0. Still a bit messy, but better than before.
And yes, I blurred out story details on the story board!
Gotta keep everything a surprise, dear readers.

I still have a lot more to do. I need to buy some hooks so I can hang purses in my closet and utilize the space fully. And go through my purses to donate any that I don't use. Also, once I have the shelving I want/need, I can install those and organize the limited space I have.

Resolution number two was to hit the gym. Well, there was a span of two weeks in January that I didn't go the gym. Shame on me! I could list my excuses, but I won't. There is no excuse!

But I've since restarted my new gym routine (at least 3x a week! and I'm back to feeling great.

I'm not going to pretend that it's not hard to talk myself into going to the gym. Even when I plan to go and pack my gym bag before work, I still want to flake out and skip. It isn't until after I've gone to the gym that I feel good.

Resolution number three was to publish three books in 2016. The schedule was to publish Breakout Play in February. Right now, my goal to release Breakout Play still stands as February 29.


However, if I have to push it back to March, I will. While I truly do want to meet my goal of 3 books published, I do not want to put out a sub-par story just to check it off my list. I will be keeping my head down all during February to work. I will keep my darling readers apprised of any changes to my release schedule, though.

How are you guys doing on your New Years Resolutions? Sticking with them? Given up?

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Need for Self-Love (Practicing Self-Care)

February is the unofficial month of love, all thanks to that pesky Valentine's Day. I don't usually do much to celebrate the "holiday" because it never seemed like a big deal to me. (Well, except for the years I was single. Then it seemed like a big deal!) In fact, my boyfriend and I might not even see each other this Valentine's Day.
Image result for chocolate hearts
"Love" that will go straight to my thighs.

So while I may not prescribe to the ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey brand of affection that chocolatiers and greeting card companies try to sell, there is one type of love that I am a big proponent of:


Just in case this all sounds selfish or conceited, let me assure you that it definitely is not. Loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself!

Loving yourself means knowing your boundaries and having realistic expectations of yourself.

In my own life, it means knowing when I'm feeling too stressed. It's knowing when to start saying "no" to other people and when to start saying "yes" to myself.

The best way for me to stay in love with myself is to practice self-care: doing the little things to make sure I stay happy and healthy outside of my work life, writing life, other relationships, and responsibilities.

Sometimes, when you're already feeling stressed, it seems impossible to block off time of the day for yourself. When there are a million things on your to-do list, how are you supposed to push that all aside and do something just for you?

I'm not gonna lie to you: it's hard. It's hard as hell, but it is essential. You will thank yourself.

How do I do it? Well, I'll tell you!

  1. Check in with yourself. The first thing I do, especially when I recognize that I'm feeling stressed or upset, is to mentally take a step back and check in with myself. I'll stretch my body to ease the physical tension, take a few deep breaths, and ask myself, "What's got you feeling this way?"
  2. Work out. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not especially good at keeping up with this one. It can be hard to hit the gym when there are a million other things that you think you should be doing. So I tell myself, "You only have to go for half an hour. Thirty minutes." A lot of times, I'll end up staying longer than that. I'll watch TV, listen to music, and/or read on my Kindle as I get moving on the treadmill.
  3. Eat something healthy (and delicious, but mainly healthy). When I'm feeling stressed, I want comfort food: mac and cheese, cheeseburgers and fries, fried chicken, anything with gravy, and CHOCOLATE. And while eating those things might make me feel better in the moment, I'll only end up feeling worse later. Most likely, my stomach will be queasy from overdoing it, and I'll be kicking myself for succumbing to the stress and overindulging. Sweets are treats, not medicine. But if I eat something healthy and filling, like an apple with almond butter, or some pistachios, it will make me feel better and I won't hate myself later.
  4. Treat yo self. There is something to the wise words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle. But don't let it be only one day out of the year! Treat yo self whenever you need a pick-me-up. How do I treat myself? Manicures, a new deep hair mask conditioner, taking a night off from writing to read a good book, going to the local theatre to catch a movie, spending some quality time with my cat, catching up with my friends, planning a fun date night... any of these things will lift my spirits.

The key is to listen to yourself. Know when you're feeling stressed, and learn what your stressors are so you can minimize your exposure to them or, hopefully, avoid them altogether.
How do you practice self-care? Share in the comments!

Keeping Up With the Jacobses:
February 2016

  • Tuesday, February 16: Sophia Henry is celebrating the release of POWER PLAY, the latest in her Pilots hockey series, from 12:00 noon to 11:00 pm. I'll be attending the Facebook party and having fun with Sophia and a great group of writers.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Making Progress...

A week and a half into 2016, and I've already made some great progress on some of my new years' resolutions. I'll be blogging about this as the month and year go on, as a way to hold myself accountable.

My first resolution was to GET ORGANIZED. I'm totally going to toot my own horn (toot, toot!) and say that I've made major headway in this regard. I've gone through the cabinets in my kitchen, took my old TV to the recycler, and made headway in my closet.

But I'm still not done! There's much left to do. I haven't even touched my desk yet! Eep!

I've had to change my approach to organizing: rather than tackling one project at a time, I've decided to devote a certain amount of time to organizing each day.

Part of getting my life organized includes getting better about time management.

My second resolution was to HIT THE GYM. I can happily report that I have upped my gym attendance, although not the three times a week that I had said I would. It's a new week, and I am re-pledging my effort. In fact, I'm going to go four times this week to make up for what I missed last week.

I'm not going to get down on myself for what I haven't accomplished. Negativity will only breed more negativity. If I let myself get discouraged, then I'd just give up. Nope. Not this time.

I spent 44 minutes on the treadmill today, and I'm feeling great! Next gym day this week is Wednesday. I can say I'm looking forward to it.

I'm not much closer to my goal of PUBLISHING THREE NOVELS in 2016 (my third resolution), but that's a marathon, not a sprint. I'm working on Breakout Play, and I have a lot more to write before I can begin to think about the publication phase. I hope I can still meet my February deadline, but I may have to push that back. I'm not worried about that yet; I'm just gonna keep on writing.

I'm adopting the same method here: instead of focusing on getting X amount of words done a day or so many chapters per week, I'm going to devote an hour a day to writing. From nine to ten pm today, I'm turning off the TV, closing Facebook, and putting my phone on Do Not Disturb. And writing.

That's my detailed progress of the past eleven days.

Follow my social media accounts for day-to-day updates on my quest to fulfill my resolutions:
Facebook Profile
Facebook Author Page

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hockey New Year 2016

Happy January, my lovely readers, and happy hockey new year! Hard to believe it's 2016 already!

Part of me realizes that January 1st is an arbitrary date, in the scheme of things. How is it any different than February 1st? Or the first day of a new season?

A new year means a brand new calendar, a brand new planner, and a blank page.

It also means making New Year's Resolutions.

There are plenty of things that I need to be better about doing. I need to get better about planning meals ahead of time so I eat less junk food, especially since I've been focusing on eating a mostly paleo diet. Also, I need to make sure I'm getting enough sleep every night. But there are more important things on my mind.

I'm making my resolutions public so I'll be held accountable for achieving these very realistic goals.

First, I resolve to:
Not only in my author life, but in my personal life. I will go through my closet and get rid of the clothes I don't wear anymore. And I will organize my desk so I can sit and write without getting distracted. And I've got to go through my kitchen cabinets and get them sorted.

I'm starting this today! So don't be surprised if you see progress pictures popping up on Facebook and Twitter.

And once I'm organized, I'm going to stay organized. This may be the hardest part of the resolution, but I'll work at it every day.

Second, it's time to:
I am publicly vowing to go to my gym AT LEAST three times a week. Since I'm spending today organizing, I'll be going to the gym tomorrow to begin my new and improved fitness regimen.

Third, and lastly, I will

Yup, you heard it here first. I've been planning future books in the Dallas Comets series. As it stands, I want to have Breakout Play (Comets book #3) available this February or March and False Start (Comets book #4) out in the fall. This summer, I hope to finally get The Back Up published. I've been working on that manuscript, off and on, for a long time now—and it's time to let it out into the world.

So, there you have it, folks. Those are my big resolutions for 2016. Now it's your turn. What are you hoping to achieve in the new year? Sound off in the comments here, or on social media, and let the world know!