Monday, November 6, 2017

Life Is [Hopefully] Finally Settling Down

I like November. It means [American] Thanksgiving is coming—which is one of my absolute favorite holidays ever. And one of my favorite bands has a great lyric: I always believe in futures / I hope for better in November.

I've been waiting for November to roll around this year because it finally means a break in activity. September and October were especially busy for me, and it looks like all my medical business is winding down after I had my gallbladder removed in July.

So what does November have in store for me then? Nothing. And I can't tell you how excited that makes me. Instead of being bogged down with social events and obligations, I'm staying home!

In all honestly, I do have two major tasks on my agenda for November, which is to thoroughly clean my apartment and organize it, and to really sink my teeth into Dump and Chase. I have so many ideas, and I don't seem to have the time to get them all out.

That should all change, starting tonight! I did a lot of cleaning and organizing this past weekend, so that should free up my nights for writing in my office.

For those of you who aren't in my Facebook reading group, here's your first look at the blurb for Dump and Chase:

What happens when a dating pro meets a dating dud?
Ben Holmes has never had much success with the ladies, but that’s okay with him. As a forward for the Dallas Comets hockey team, he has a great life—and an awesome bachelor pad and sweet ride. Finding a girlfriend isn’t high on Ben’s list of priorities until his meddling, match-making teammates finally persuade him into signing up for an online dating site.
Lennox Jones has everything she could possibly want—except a fulfilling, serious relationship. She is the queen of worst first dates and horrible hookups. Her horror stories have been making her friends laugh and cringe for years, and now she’s telling all as the anonymous author of Chronically Single, a blog detailing all of her dating disasters and rocky relationships. But as the number of hits to her blog skyrockets, her romantic hopes plummet.
When Lennox gets a late-night message from a new match with no profile picture or description, she’s tempted to swipe left. However, his admitted inexperience with online dating makes her agree to meet him in real life. Ben is attracted to Lennox’s feisty spirit and relentless drive, and he can’t believe that an accomplished woman like her is still single.
One bad date won’t stop Ben from pursuing the beautiful blogger who, unbeknownst to him, uses their interactions to entertain her followers. He’s ready to ditch his dating profile and get off-line until he finds out that he’s become a popular figure in Lennox’s blog. Can Ben handle having his private love life publicly disclosed on Chronically Single? If so, maybe he has taken Lennox on her last first date!

 And I can't wait to share the cover, too. I hope to make huge progress this month so I can share this story with y'all ASAP.

I have a Chinese order placed to pick up after work, so I can get home, dig into some lo mein, and get right into my manuscript. Hopefully that'll mean that I will have some good news for you come December. ;)

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Falling into Fall

October is one of my favorite months, and it's almost over! It's going by so fast. Too fast.

Last weekend, I was celebrating my friend's big day: her wedding!
My friend and I with the beautiful bride.
That was the first big event of the month. Next up is my Halloween party. I love Halloween, and I'm going all out for my costume this year. I'll post pics in my Facebook readers' group, the Jay Birds, for you to see.
But most excitingly is the author event I'm doing on the 28th. I'll be one of many authors at the Glass City Author Event (check it out on Facebook and get tickets here).


If you're from the Toledo area, I'd love to meet you!

And in between all that, I'm working on the next book in the Dallas Comets series. I've got a great title for this one: Dump and Chase. Is that not awesome? I'm working on the blurb, and I'll post it as soon as I've perfected it.

As always, stay tuned for updates and more info!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

FALSE START Releases September 28!

Eight months are in the bag for 2017. It's September, which means hockey starts this month! Players are starting to come back to their NHL towns. Training camp starts soon, which means preseason soon after, which means regular season after that!

Plus, fall is starting to emerge in my corner of Pennsylvania, with temperatures cooling and nights slowly getting longer. I love fall!

But I've got more reason to celebrate. I've finally pinned down a release date for False Start, Comets book #4. Right now, the only retailer up is Amazon, but I'll post the others via social media as soon as they go live.

I'm really excited to get Chris and Helene's story out to y'all. This is a different kind of story for me—more in the new adult genre. I hope you'll enjoy!

Each time I share a story, it's like sharing a part of me. And I've worked for a long time on this story, off and on, through bouts of illness. Even when I couldn't write, this story stayed with me. One of the main issues in it is vulnerability, and writers often feel very vulnerable. I guess that's one reason why this story is close to my heart.

Anywho, I have to get back to work. There's a lot that needs to be done yet to get this book out on the 28th!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rediscovering Normal.

I know "normal" is a relative word. What's normal to me isn't normal to someone else. And what used to be normal for me has gone flying out the window. So now I begin the search for my new normal.


On July 21, I had my gallbladder out. Within a week, I was feeling great! I was off the pain meds, could stand up and sit down as good as ever, and was starting to experiment with what foods to eat. I've been able to to eat pizza and fries again! No more nausea and vomiting! Even better, I've gotten back some of my lost energy; last week, I was able to go grocery shopping and then come home and put everything in its place! And yesterday, I did laundry and put it all away in the same evening. Yes, I'm definitely feeling more energized.

So I'd chalk the surgery up as a major success.



I will continue to experiment with my diet to see what works for me and what doesn't. I still have IBS, so I have to learn what foods to avoid, what foods to limit, and what I can go hog-wild on! Oh, JK. Those days are over! Moderation is essential from here on out.

I'm loving the extra energy most of all. I didn't realize that my poor digestion was affecting me as much as it was. What a reminder to keep your body in its best shape to maximize what you can get out of life!



I have a lot of chores to take care of around my apartment; so much went by the waysides while I was recuperating from surgery. My mountains of dirty laundry are eroding into hills. I can see the surface of my dining room table again! My fridge and freezer are stocked with fresh foods and homemade, prepped meals instead of Lean Cuisines and nutrition drinks.

And this also means I can spend more brain power on False Start. Although I can't make any release-date promises, I'm hoping it'll be as soon as next month. Updates will follow as soon as I have them.

As as I work toward finding/establishing my new normal, I'm trying to establish good writing habits again. Getting my butt in that seat and spending time with my fingers fluttering over the keyboard. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Nashville Antics

 In June, I met up with Lisa B. Kamps, Michelle Monkou (and her daughter), and Julia Canchola for a writer's retreat in Nashville, Tennessee. That week turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

Get ready for my virtual slideshow!


  • We ate delicious food and had some amazing drinks:
 (Bavarian Bierhaus, in Opry Mills Mall)

(Jack's BBQ, on Broadway)
(Sangria at Rock Bottom on Broadway)
(Happy Gilmore at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery)


We had a great time sightseeing, visiting a lot of the places that make Nashville, well, Nashville.

  • We went honky-tonking, my favorite place being Nashville Palace. The grilled cheese with ham was to die for, as were the apple pie moonshine margaritas that Lisa insisted we try! Josh, our server, was the more adorable introduction to the great Tennesseans we encountered.


  • On Friday, June 23rd, we went to the Grand Ole Opry to for the radio show.



  •  On Saturday, we hit some of the big attractions in the city. We saw Bridgestone Arena, where the Pens got to lift the Stanley Cup this year as back-to-back champs! We walked along Broadway, where all the honky tonks are. It was busy, even before noon—and it was packed before 5:00pm! We toured Nelson's Green Brier Distillery and tried some bourbon during at a tasting. We hung out at the Parthenon, a one-to-one replica of the one in Athens. And we toured Music Row, where recording artists lay down the tracks for their albums. We saw the famous RCA Studio B, where some of the biggest musicians have recorded their hits.










  •  And I got some great pictures of travel on the way back:
(Statue of Liberty)

(Manhattan)
(Downtown Pittsburgh)









  •  We went shopping at the Opry Mills Mall, and I bought the cutest boots that I've been wanting forever! They're classic-looking cowboy boots with some great accessories. I had almost given up my search when Lisa showed me these. Even better, they're comfortable! I love these boots!
 



 There's more, of course, but this trip to Nashville was more than a chance to relax and visit Music City (although I did feel completely refreshed after a week away from my everyday life). It was a writer's retreat, which meant this was a working vacation. 


 I made some major headway with False Start, and I got a lot of other stuff done too. All my books are now available via Google Play. I have a production schedule in place through 2018 and new covers in the works for next year's planned releases.
 I learned so much from my fellow writers. They were encouraging, supportive, and always ready to help with their insightful anecdotes and advice. Above all, I learned a lot about myself and my process as a writer. That week was invaluable to me, and I can't thank Lisa enough for inviting me and including me!

 Nashville was a great way to end the first half of 2017; there's still so much yet to come this year, and I feel ready for it all! July itself is shaping up to be a busy month, and I'm trying to ride the wave of productivity from Nashville while back home in PA.

 Here's hoping y'all are enjoying your summers! If you want to tell me about your vacations, feel free to do so in the comments. Otherwise, happy reading!

Friday, June 2, 2017

(Finally) An Answer

I got a call from gastroenterologist's office yesterday with news about my latest test, a HIDA scan with CCK: my gallbladder is functioning at 18%. They have recommended removal and are in the process of referring me to a general surgeon.

Finally, an answer as to the culprit of my ailments!

The offending organ!

I'm very relieved to have been told there is a cause for my ongoing symptoms. I'm excited to think that maybe this treatment will cure some (if not all, fingers crossed!) of my digestive problems.

But even more than that, I'm relieved to not have to focus so hard on finding an answer. So much of my mental energy was wrapped up scheduling tests, having tests performed, waiting for test results, and then repeating that cycle over and over and over again. I did so much online research and reading about tests and procedures and drugs for every possible outcome and learning as much as I could.

Months of this, and years of enduring symptoms, was exhausting. My mind had a hard time thinking about anything else. I'm kind of obsessive that way.

I'm most comforted by the thought that I can finally stop worrying/thinking so much about my health now. Of course I know I'm not out of the woods, so to speak, since I will be having surgery and the process of finding my new "normal" could took a while. Believe me, I have no notion that going forward will be any easier as far as my physical health is concerned.

But my mental health will be better, as I can rest assured that my doctors and I finally found a physical cause for at least a partial amount of my symptoms.

This means focusing on my stories and my characters more and better! Since my mind can relax now, it can wander into the fictional worlds of Chris Lacey and Helene Michaels, the leads in my upcoming Dallas Comets installment, False Start. I get more and more excited as I continue on their journey, both together and separately. It will be a little different than what I usually write, but definitely in a good way, I think. I hope you'll think so too!

This will be the first weekend in a long time that I'll have an unburdened brain, and I'm looking forward to using it in front of my laptop—not Googling low ejection rates, but writing!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Getting Gutsy

It's time for me to talk about something I've been avoiding for a long time.

I'm not a very open person about certain things in my life. I'll share pics of my cats and bad hair day selfies, but I keep some stuff close to my chest. Like politics, relationships, and... health stuff.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to spend 2017 getting healthy and trying to resolve some ongoing stomach issues, but I didn't divulge anything else. I had no specifics to give out, and I didn't want to discuss anything more than that. I felt the need to let everyone know that I would be taking more time for myself than usual, meaning there would be less writing happening because my focus would be on me and my health/issues.

Now it's time to be gutsy and talk about my guts.

For the past couple of years, I've felt like a walking Pepto-Bismal commercial (and that's all the detail you're going to get about that!). I went to my doc, and she told me I was lactose intolerant and that I didn't have Celiac's. I tried a bunch of different diets to eliminate possibly problematic foods, but the symptoms never really went away.

I would miss a day of work here and there due to the stomach issues. I canceled plans because I didn't feel well. I became reluctant to make plans, because I didn't know how I would be feeling at any given point, and I didn't want to get stomach cramps or feel sick while with other people. Going to the gym became difficult because I'd have to stop the machines and run to the women's room in mid-workout.

When I was at the adult prom—something I had been looking forward to for months—I hoped that I wouldn't get any symptoms and I'd be able to enjoy the whole night. But sure enough, after dinner, I had such bad cramps that I had to get off the dance floor and sit at the table while everyone else kept having fun. I had tried to put on a brave front in front of my friend, since I didn't want to ruin the night for her, but she saw straight through it and let me know that it was okay if I needed to take a break.

We still had a great time, but these ongoing issues have put a real damper on my social life. I started staying home rather than going out just in case I didn't feel well. I didn't want to get stuck somewhere when my gut began to gurgle and let me know that my body was not happy.

Months ago, at a follow-up appointment with my doctor, she noticed some abnormal numbers in my yearly blood work. We retested, thinking the results were a fluke, but they weren't. There was something going on in my body that needed further investigations.

Without going into the nitty gritty details—most of which would bore you to death, if you aren't already (and if you aren't already, thanks for reading! Hi!)—I've been through a litany of tests and we've ruled out a lot of conditions. I can tell you what I don't have, but... I still can't tell you what the true problem is.

Just change "princess" to "diagnosis" and you're in my shoes, Mario!


I was hoping that today would be the magical day for me to get a definitive answer at my appointment, but we're doing some more testing. Right now, the focus is on my gallbladder and if it may be the cause of all these wonderful issues I'm experiencing.

I probably won't bother with a health update unless I get a concrete answer, because like I said, I'm just not open about these kinds of things. But I do feel a duty to disclose the details of my life when it affects my writing time. I am still writing, but the words are coming out more slowly than ever due to the epic stress I'm under and the lack of time/energy I have. But I am still working on False Start, and I want to finish The Back Up (a standalone) this year as well. That's the plan, and that's what I'm working towards.

This may have been a bunch of rambling nonsense to you, but it felt good to get off my... chest.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Small Changes for Big Success

 I'm all about self-care, and if you follow me on any social medium, I'm sure you know that. I'm generally an anxious stress-ball of nerves. And I know I haven't taken enough time for myself in the past. I've trying to change that, so I've been implementing small changes in my life, including:


 It seems so simple, right? Know what you're going to eat before you eat it. It's not rocket science. I always had a stocked fridge/freezer/pantry, but I never took the time to plan out meals. To make sure that I had all the ingredients needed for certain meals. So every time it came to make a meal, I was scrounging. That led to a lot of fast food meals, because that was so much more convenient.

 Well, at that leads to is light wallet and a heavier weight on the scale.

 I wanted to save money and eat better. Eat real food and not processed, frozen meals or stuff handed to me through a window. But there's a reason why meal planning is hard to do: it's the opposite of convenient. It's time intensive and a lot of work and research. It took many steps, which I have outlined below:

 1. Well the first thing I did was to make a colorful chart, because I love to feel organized. It gave me a starting point: I knew I needed three small meals and three snacks a day.

 2. Then I hit my Pinterest boards to find healthy recipes that I was sure I would want to eat throughout an entire week. Because let's be honest—that's one of the hardest parts of meal planning. How am I supposed to know on Sunday what I want to eat on Friday? I don't even know what I want for breakfast when I wake up in the morning.

 3. Once I figured out what meals and snacks would be suitable, I took stock of what I already had and made a list of what ingredients and components I'd need to get me through the week. I divided the list into two categories: things to buy at the beginning of the week, and the fresh fruit and veggies to buy midway through the week (since I knew they would go back before the seven days would be up). I got the good roast beef from the deli, beautiful leaf lettuce, and ripe tomatoes to make sandwiches that rivaled Panera's, because I knew that would be a lunch I'd love to eat.

 4. I took a nap, because this was a lot of work so far!

 5. I did as much prep ahead of time as possible. I made a whole recipe of spinach dip that lasted as a snack for two households for two weeks. I divided up yogurt and granola for breakfasts and cottage cheese and fruit for snacks. That way, in the morning, I could just grab what was already prepped and not have to do any thinking.

 6. I figured out the key to meal planning: leaving myself options, aka planning for more than just the appropriate number of meals. That way, if I want tacos instead of spaghetti, I have that flexibility. Now I never feel trapped into eating something I don't want to eat.



 The other small thing I implemented is:


 Yes, yoga! I have been wanting to try it for a while, for two reasons. The first is that it's something I can do in my apartment without disrupting my neighbors. The other is that it's also supposed to help lower stress—and, as stated, I'm always stressed.

 I started off with this beginner level DVD. I rolled out a new mat, kept a towel and a yoga block nearby, and went for it. And it felt good. My muscles were stretched in ways they haven't been for a long time. I worked up a bit of a sweat, to my surprise! I've been making my way through the routines in this DVD, as recommended to me by fellow hockey romance author and yoga lover, V.L. Locey.

 I plan on going to the gym three days a week, and then doing yoga the other four days. I hope to continue to see progress in my strength and flexibility as well as help reducing my stress. As I said, it's seemed to work so far!





What do you do help manage stress? As always, let me know in the comments here or via any of my social media accounts. I'd love to hear from you, and maybe we can swap tips!

Happy reading,

Jay

Friday, March 10, 2017

Marvelous March

My fabulous February, coming off the adult prom, is transitioning into a marvelous March!

One week after I got all dolled up and dressed up in my gorgeous purple gown, I had another fabulous weekend spent with an amazing group of fellow hockey romance writers and hockey fans! First, we all went out to the Pens game on Friday night to see Pittsburgh take on Tampa Bay.

Nice seats!
With the wonderful Lisa B. Kamps


Hockey romance writers and readers unite!
































The Pens won, and we all had a good time together.





Then on Saturday, I was up early to head to the Meadows Casino in Washington, PA, for the Angels & Sirens 2017 author event.  Here I am, at my table, my signing pen ready to go:




And meeting readers:





















It was quite an experience. My first ever signing! I met some great people, including fellow authors, bloggers, and readers. I'll admit that I was nervous about my first event—whether anyone would want to stop by to see me or even what the event would be like. But it was better than I could have hoped. I was waiting to see how a local event would go before I decided if I would attend any future signings or events. I had so much fun that I've decided to attend more.

In fact, I've signed on for one in six months: The Glass City Author Event in Toledo, Ohio. It takes place on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

Even Anna was interested in the goodies I got from Angels & Sirens!

Of course, being so busy does have its consequences; I fell pretty sick this week. My brain has been so foggy that I can't even read, and I'm too exhausted to move about from room to room. I have advocated a lot for self care, and this is a perfect example of why that's necessary. When you push yourself, you weaken your body's ability to fight off any bugs.

Hopefully I'm feeling well enough tomorrow to attend my grandmother's 80th birthday party!

So I'm off to drink some tea and take some more decongestants. Happy reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fabulous February

Wow, this month has flown by! I know it's not over yet, but there's only a few days left—and if the rest of February is any indication, those days will pass by just as quickly.

My birthday was a few days ago, and it was probably my favorite birthday ever! In the words of Ice Cube, it was a good day.

My day in the office went smoothly, and then my friends and I went out to a great new Turkish restaurant. The food and the atmosphere was phenomenal. They even would read your fortune from your coffee grounds! It felt a little like Harry Potter.




Luckily for us, she did not read the Grim in anyone's cup!

A few of us then went out for drinks. Even though there was some drunk guy trying to talk politics with us, we had a good time at the bar.

Good food, good company, and lots of good wishes from you all via social media—I couldn't have asked for a better birthday!

Meanwhile, I'm impatiently waiting for this coming weekend, since the Adult Prom is on Saturday! I bought a purple gown, and my friend and I are getting our nails and hair done beforehand—just like if we were going to a real prom! Which is great for me, because I didn't go to my prom in high school. I'm so excited for this girls' night out.

Of course, the following weekend is the Angels & Sirens event! I am so excited to be in attendance with some other awesome hockey romance authors: Melody Heck Gatto, Lisa B. Kamps, V.L. Locey, Lindsay Paige, Samantha Wayland, and more who I know I've forgotten. Some of these ladies I'll be meeting for the first time.

I've been prepping for the past couple of months for this event. It's my first, so I needed to get a banner made. Next came some swag for myself and the Comets. Then I got a bunch of copies of my paperbacks to bring for anyone interested. I've bundled up my pre-orders. Now I'm making lists to make sure I bring everything I need.

Kindle? Check.

Credit card reader? Check.

iPhone 7 headphone adapter that I put someplace safe and then forgot where so I had to buy a new one? Check.

And I have a few surprises to put together. With a week and a half left before the event, there's a lot to do between now and then! I hope to get to see some of you readers there.

Now I'm off to double-check my list and doing some brainstorming.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

My Word of the Year: Forward

I noticed something at the beginning of this month, which was a trend of people picking words for the 2017. Like a mantra.

I didn't pay a lot of attention to it at the time, although it seemed like a good idea; I didn't think I'd be able to pick just one word to encapsulate my hopes for the entirety of the coming year.

That being said, one word picked me.

FORWARD

What exactly does that one word mean? It means that I will—and must—constantly keep moving forward. I cannot dwell in the moment, good or bad, because I have to think about the next moment, and what is more important: being caught up in the present or what's to come?

That also means that I must examine what I am doing in the moment and determine if it's going to help me move forward. Am I writing, working on that next book? Working on the administrative side of things? Engaging in needed self-care? If it's not important, then I shouldn't be spending time on it.

That means staying off of social media, at least for the most part. I can't afford the distractions—and let's face it, regardless of the side of the political spectrum you fall on—these are very distracting times. I try my best to keep my libertarian views to myself, but it gets harder and harder when you read the news and what everyone posts to their feeds. I think it's best if I just stay out of it and stay in my own, fictional world with my Comets.

And I do have a lot to look forward to. My first signing event is coming up in March! If you're in the Pittsburgh/Washington, PA area and are interested in coming out on March 4th and don't have your tickets yet, get in contact with me! You can PM me on Facebook, DM me on Twitter, leave a comment below, or e-mail me. I have two pairs of tickets to give away! I want to make sure they go to people who can actually attend.

And if you are attending and are interested in leaving with one of my paperbacks, then make sure to pre-order them using this form. I'll only be bring a limited number of books with me to sell, so you have to pre-order to guarantee your copies!

I hope to see you there!

Jay

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017's To-Do List

In my last blog post, I reflected on last year's resolutions and settled on this year's.

But there's a difference between resolutions and tasks.

Resolutions are changes that I want to instill in myself for the coming year and beyond.

But there are also tons of tasks that I want to accomplish in 2017 to make it the best year yet.

I want to:
   star learning French
   get all dressed up for a fancy evening
   attend a wine tasting
   try yoga
   read more
   travel somewhere I haven't been before

Of course, this is just a short list off the top of my head.

Is there anything you're looking to cross off your bucket list this year? Let me know in the comments!