Inspiration

50 DAYS TO 50K

If there is one thing that being a gymnastics mom has taught me over the years, it’s this:  You can have all the talent and intentions in the world, but without the mindset and motivation to do something, none of it matters.

This, unfortunately, has been the status quo in my life over the past few months. I have the goals. I know what I need to do.  I even want to do them, at least until it actually comes time to do it.  The problem I’m having is finding the energy and will power to execute — to start writing, to start exercising, to start eating better.  They sound like great ideas when I’m feeling miserable on the couch after eating a bunch of fries or plotting “my best work yet,” but for some reason, when the time comes, I’d rather be checking for reviews and reading Facebook posts than working on my next project. Or I convince myself it’s easier to grab a quick bite from a fast food restaurant than go through the trouble of fixing something at home and messing up a clean kitchen. Or I just don’t have enough time to take the dogs for a walk, because The Walking Dead starts in six hours and I need all of that time to prepare!

Seriously. These are the things I tell myself.

I could blame it on the hibernation of the winter months and our crazy practice schedules, but when it really gets down to it, I know those are just excuses.  If I wanted it bad enough, I’d find a way.  This is something I’ve told my daughters many times when they’ve had a mental block, or were too sore to go to practice. Make it happen. Push through it. Find the motivation!

Well, Ladies & Gents, it’s high time I take my own advice, and finally I have my motivation.

I am heading to New York for the first time ever at the end of May to attend Book Expo America (and a nice trip with the hubby!). Two weeks later, I’m throwing a release party for my book.  So while I might not want to sit in my office and type words on a computer….I WANT to be able to say, “Yes, I’m halfway through my next manuscript!” when people ask if I have plans to write another. While I might not want to eat a carrot instead of a cookie, I WANT to fit into that amazing dress in my closet that I used to look so nice in. While I might not want to climb the six flights of stairs at work, I WANT to have the energy and stamina to walk all over New York City with my husband and have an amazing vacation.

So, today I’m launching the 50 Days to 50K Challenge to myself, to my friends, to my fellow writers, and to anyone out there who just needs the motivation and support to get moving.  For me, this will be a two goal challenge, but it does not need to be for you. Whatever works.

 

Goal 1: Write 50,000 Words

By the end of these next 50 days, I will be at least 50,000 words into my next manuscript. These don’t have to be 50k perfect or final words, just words.  The goal is to get my story moving and onto paper. I’ll worry about making them perfect later.

 

 

 

Goal 2: Eliminate 50,000 “bad” calories from my diet.

I say “Bad” calories, because this will be a collaboration of cutting back on overeating, replacing bad calories with good calories, and burning calories through exercise.  The idea here isn’t to be “hangry” all the time, but to get healthier, have more energy, and hopefully fit into that dress!

 

Maybe your circumstances won’t allow for either 50k words or calories.  Maybe your challenge is 50 Days to 25k or you can make it all the way to 60K; it doesn’t matter! Whatever your life allows, set a goal, make a plan, find the motivation, and write it down. You can write it here in the comments if you want or just on a sticky note beside your computer. I will keep track of my progress and check in frequently to let you know how things are going, and I encourage you to do the same! I’m not sure about you, but I definitely feel more motivated knowing there is someone else out there struggling with me!

Best of Luck!

Jenna P

News

Attention Book Clubs!!!

Do you belong to a book club in or around the North Carolina area?  I would LOVE to come chat with your group!  Just fill out the form below or send me a message through Facebook!

I look forward to meeting all of you!!

Jenna P.

News

The Latest in Jenna P’s World

Hey Everyone!  It’s been a whirlwind over the past several months, but I wanted to give a few quick updates.

-The Rules of Half is up on Netgalley for review!  If you’re a reviewer, book blogger, or professional reader, you can request to read the Advance Copy now in exchange for an honest review.  The reviews have already started to come in, and I am blown away by the awesome response!

-Redbook Magazine selected The Rules of Half for it’s 20 Summer Beach Reads to Stock up on, and also gave it a great review! You can see the full list here.

  • “The perfect trifecta of a dysfunctional family, mental illness, and inescapable small town dynamics, The Rules of Half will steal your attention mercilessly from the first page to the last.”— Redbook

-Booksparks featured The Rules of Half as one of the New Sparks on the Block in this month’s issue of The Spark. You can see the full list here.

  • “Heart-breaking family drama. Hard lessons in love. A father and daughter finding what they are looking for in an unlikely place. We’re in!”— Booksparks

More news to come!

Jenna P.

The Craft of Writing

POV’s – How Many is Too Many?

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I love books written in multiple points of view.

LOVE THEM. LOVE THEM. LOVE THEM.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed single POV books, because I certainly have.  For me, those books tend to be plot driven.  THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT are a couple of well-known examples, and those also both happen to be YA (which is usually the case for that genre).  But if I want to read a good thought provoking story, I just need more.  Perhaps I get bored staying inside one person’s head for an entire novel, or perhaps it’s the analytical side of me that yearns to understand every possible angle.  Multi-POV’s help me satisfy both.

Everyone has a different opinion of the world and the people in it.  Everyone has a different past that has led them to those opinions and beliefs.  I’ve changed my feelings toward a particular subject on more than one occasion, simply because I was shown the world through someone else’s eyes.  This is one of the reasons I love a good anti-hero and coming up with extremely flawed characters, because it reminds me that everyone is right from their own perspective.  It’s easy to forget that through the fog of our own prejudices.

But how many is too many?  How many views do you really have to show to achieve this?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because my editor believes one of the POV’s in my latest WIP isn’t necessary.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard this, so when she mentioned it I didn’t put up a fight.  In fact, when I went through my WIP and took out the scenes from this character’s POV that didn’t damage the main plot, I cut 10,000 words out of my manuscript.  10,000 words!!  Given, I still have some scenes that will have to be rewritten through another POV, but damn that’s A LOT. And I have to admit, it sounded good telling my husband, “I edited 10,000 words today,” when he asked how it was going.  I was on cloud 9!

But then my dear cousin, who so graciously read my manuscript for me, tells me she loved my book and really related to one of my characters.  Can you guess which one?

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**Big Sigh** I can’t win.

NOW what do I do?  This is the EXACT reason I wanted this POV in the first place.  I knew someone out there could relate to her position, and I thought it was important for the reader to see my main character through this person’s eyes.  Could I achieve that without going inside her head and dissecting her thoughts?

After A LOT of debating, I’ve decided the answer is yes.  She’s still there and definitely an important part of the story, but it’s not her tale I need or want to tell.  I was sacrificing the depth of my other characters by wasting page time on a thread that really doesn’t relate to the main thread, all in the name of developing a character whom the story wasn’t meant to be about.  And, while it might not be as easy, I can express her viewpoint through her interaction with the other characters without digging too deep into her psyche, the way a POV character deserves.

And, again, that’s 10,000 words!  10,000 words I can devote to my other 3 POV characters, increasing their depth and their pasts.  Because really, this book was meant to be about them.  About their screwed up little family and how they find a way to make the dysfunctional functional.

So how many POV’s is the right number of POV’s?  I really do not know.  But for this book and this family, it’s 3.  And I’m not going to change my mind again.

At least I don’t think.

Jenna P

Inspiration · Self Publishing

A Writer vs. An Author

So, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged, for many different reasons.

First, we’ve been super busy finishing up the gymnastics season.  We traveled to Orlando, Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, SC, then finished up the season in Asheville, NC.  Congratulations to my “Spotacus” for being the Level 6 State Champion for her age bracket on Vault, Bars, and All-Around!  She also qualified for Regionals, where she took ninth!  Super proud of her!

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Second, we’ve been mourning the loss of our 17 year old dachshund, Dakota.  This one hit hard.  He was our first baby, and was such a good boy.  We had so much time with him, but it never feels like enough.  We miss you, little buddy.

Dakota

Third, we’ve been getting ready for summer.  This means making sure the boat is primed and ready for the Lake, and getting the pool opened up for the season.  I’ve had muscles hurt the past few weeks that I never knew I had.  And then I look at the insane things my daughters do at gymnastics and realize I have no room to complain.

It’s been crazy busy, to say the least.  Looking forward to some down time in the summer.

As far as writing goes, I’m pushing hard toward getting my book published in the fall.  I’ve done lots of research, talked to a few hybrid publishers to see what they have to offer, have my cover artist lined up, and am finally working on edits.

Yep, that’s right!  I received edits back from THE REAL WRITER last week on THE RULES OF HALF.  Receiving that email was a monumental moment for me.  It made it all more real, not just a pie in the sky notion I had about someday being published.  I was really truly on my way.  I smiled and giggled and celebrated, and might have had a glass or two of wine.

And thenEdits I opened up the docs and the squees quickly changed to hyperventilating.

It wasn’t the quantity of the comments or the fact that I had more work to do that had me in a panic.  What bothered me was that I didn’t see the things she pointed out until she pointed them out to me.  How could I have missed that?  Why didn’t I think of that?  Do these people not have any other way to express themselves besides raising their brow?  Why the hell do I use passive voice so much?  You mean, I’m not perfect?

Part of me felt a little embarrassed, if I’m being honest. Embarrassed and down.

And then I reminded myself that this is why I’d hired her in the first place.  Because I want my book to be the best book it can be.  Because she can see things I can’t.  Because I’d rather have her tell me these things than readers leaving bad reviews.

And then everything changed.  Parts and ideas started sparking in my head.  All the things I remembered having trouble with when I was writing this manuscript – you know, the ones that don’t feel 100% right, so you kind of skirt them under the rug and hope no one notices – suddenly started to fall into or out of place completely.  I could see a path lighting its way through the crazy maze in front of me.  I no longer felt embarrassed; I felt empowered, determined.

For the first time, I felt like an author, not a writer.

But, Jenna P, you say, what is the difference?

I used to wonder that too.  At what point does one change from being a writer to an author?  Is it when you have something finished?  Is it when you have an agent?  Is it when you earn a book deal?  Is it when you are finally published?  I really didn’t know.  But I finally get it, folks.  I do.

No, I’m not perfect.  Not even close.  And I can guarantee that you aren’t either.  But those that make it in this business are those who can admit it, and tackle their weaknesses head on.  They are those who aren’t afraid to hear what they are doing wrong, and aren’t too lazy to suck it up and do what’s necessary to make it right.  They are those who don’t settle for a dull story when there are clearly ways to make it shine.

That, my friends, is the difference between an author and a writer.

So which are you?

 

Uncategorized

Why I’ve Decided to Self-Publish

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Many years ago, when I set out on this journey to become a published author, I believed I would’ve made it by now.  I believed I would write and write and write until I was good enough to be published.  I believed if I sent enough queries and attended enough pitches, I would find that one person who believed in me.  I believed I could work really hard, do everything right, and  I would be rewarded for it.

I was wrong.

I’ve come REALLY close.  I mean, so close that I could smell the paper of my freshly printed contract.  I’ve made it through multiple rounds of editors and multiple layers of agents, just to be turned down after months (years) of being in limbo.  And you know what they’re all saying?  It’s not that I need to rewrite.  It’s not that I have terrible grammar.  It’s not that my story has no plot.

It’s that I don’t fit.

To the literary folks, I’m too commercial.  To the commercial folks, I’m too literary.  I have too many viewpoints to sell as debut.  I’m a fantastic writer, but I’m too similar to someone on their list.  My voice is a little too quiet for some lines, too loud for others.  My stories are too dark and heavy for some publishers, or too light hearted for the subject matter.

Seriously.  These are a sample of the rejections I’ve gotten.  And while it hurts to hear these things, at the same time I completely understand.  They aren’t wrong, and I do not begrudge any of these folks for any of these rejections.  They need to find the one that fits perfectly with them, just as I need to find the place I fit perfectly.

Only…what if that place doesn’t exist?  This is the question I began asking myself mid last year.

I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve heard it before.  Hell, I’ve said it before.  Jenna P, keep looking!  You are SO close!!   Well, I can assure you that I have queried or pitched every agent that has represented women’s fiction over the past fifteen years.  I know this because a super nice small press e-book editor who gave me a super nice, “You don’t fit with us, but you need an agent because this is going to sell with a bigger house!” was kind enough to take a look at my long list of queried agents, and HE told me it was the most comprehensive list he’d ever seen.  In fact, I may have pitched a few that were deceased (kidding!  I did my research!).  But in all seriousness, last time I checked I had queried/pitched over 200 agents and/or editors, had 13 partial requests, and had 14 full requests.  And that’s just on my current manuscript; that doesn’t count the other two I’ve shopped around.

Trust me, I’ve reached to the ends of the earth on this one.

I know what you’re thinking now too.  Jenna P, write another one!  And I am, slowly but surely.  And maybe I will send this one out for a round of shopping when it’s finished.  But here’s the thing – I’ve been at this for over eight years.  I’m ready.  Not the I don’t want to wait anymore kinda ready, the nice and ripe kinda ready.  And after pitching 3 manuscripts that don’t fit, I honestly don’t think I can change the fourth one to fit.  It’s not in me.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried to add more romance or mystery to make it more “commercial,” but it’s just not my cup of tea.  I’ve tried to cut from 4 to 2 POV’s, but I don’t like how the story drags.  I’ve tried to make my voice less literary or make my story more commercial, but that’s like changing out my skin.  I was totally losing touch with why I love to write.  It wasn’t fun anymore.  I had stripped away every single piece of me that set me apart from every other writer out there, and I couldn’t let that happen.

This is who I am.  This is how I write.

That’s when I had to have a heart to heart with myself (and my husband, and my friends, and just about anyone out there who would listen).  The same questions kept coming up.  Why am I writing?  What do I want out of this?  Is it to sell a million copies?  Is it to pay the bills?  If you can’t write when you write their way, is there a point in this anyway?

The answer to all of the above is no.

Don’t get me wrong, it would certainly be nice to sell a million copies and let my husband be a stay at home dad.  But those aren’t the reasons I write.  I write because I love the written word.  I write because I love constructing my thoughts and feelings into beautiful stories.  I write because I want to share those stories with the world, and maybe (just maybe) help someone to see a different perspective in life.

I write because it’s the only thing I’ve ever done that I truly feel like I was made to do.

That’s why I write.  My motivation, if you will.  My goal is still to be a published author and maybe make a little bit of money at it, even if it’s just enough for a weekend trip to the mountains once a year to write some more. And you all already know that a goal without motivation is pointless.

I know what you’re thinking now – Jenna P, you can’t have your cake and eat it to.   You’re right.  I can’t.  At least taking a traditional path and following rules I don’t want to follow.  I need to find a way to break the rules and still get to where I want to be.  I need to find a place where I can be literary/commercial, commercial/literary, multi-pov’ed, dark, heavy, funny, AND be a published author.  I need to find a way to beat this unbeatable conflict that is sitting before me.

See what I did there?

That is why I’ve decided to pursue self-publishing.  Because I BELIEVE with every part of my body and soul, that I can be who I am AND get to where I want to be.

Look for my first release, THE RULES OF HALF, this fall.  Until then I’ll be sharing everything I learn about this process with all of you in my new self-publishing series.  Stop back frequently to check out the next phase of my journey!

Jenna P

Who makes it happen?  YOU make it happen!

Uncategorized

My Top 15 Favorite Romance Movies

I confess…I don’t celebrate in Valentine’s Day.  The Accountant and I decided many years ago that it was one holiday we would sit out.  Flowers are expensive, it’s impossible to get a table at a restaurant, and we’ve just used up all our other gift ideas at Christmas and my Birthday.  We don’t even exchange cards or say Happy Valentines’ Day anymore.  It’s as if the entire holiday doesn’t exist in our world.

But being that there is this holiday called Valentine’s Day and most Americans will be celebrating it this weekend, I thought that I needed to do something romancy related on the blog this week.  So here you have it…

Jenna P’s Top Fifteen Favorite Romance Movies!

#15      West Side Story

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Why I love it?  There’s something so intriguing to me about forbidden love.  Romeo and Juliet, Guinevere and Lancelot, Tony and Maria.  Sometimes these stories end well, most the time they don’t, but one thing’s for sure – they always remind us that true love can be found anywhere and anytime.

#14      City of Angels

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Why I love it?  Seth gives up eternity as an angel to be with Maggie.  There are a lot of guys who wouldn’t even give up a baseball game.  And even after she dies, he still thinks the short time they had together was worth it.  How stinking beautiful is that?

#13      Say Anything

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Why I love it?  This Scene, of course!  Admit it – you’ve had dreams about Lloyd standing outside your window with a boom box blaring Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes.  One of my all time favorite songs!

#12      Titanic

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Why I love it?  A girl who seemingly has everything gives it all up to be with a guy who has nothing – including a heartbeat.  Rose could’ve gone back to her old life after Jack dies, but she doesn’t.  He showed her there was more and she was determined to find it, even if on her own.

#11         Sweet Home Alabama

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Why I love it?     I LOVE love triangles, especially ones that take place in the deep south!  You know someone’s heart is going to get broken and there’s no way to stop it.  Watching Melanie choose between her past (Jake) and her future (Andrew) was both enjoyable and sad.

#10         A Walk to Remember

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Why I love it?     Love turns bad boy good, and gives dying girl her last wishes.  What’s not to love?  Plus it has a killer soundtrack.

#9           Tangled

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Why I love it?  Two words – Flynn Rider.  I don’t care if he’s a cartoon.  He can rescue me from a tower any day!  LOVE him.  By far my favorite Disney hero.

#8           Some Kind of Wonderful

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Why I love it?  Boy searching for true love finds it not with the most popular girl in school, but with his childhood, tomboy best friend.  Awwwww…..

#7           50 First Dates

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Why I love it?  Adam and Drew are just awesome together.  And could you imagine the patience it would take to make your significant other fall in love with you every single day?  Double Awwwww…..

#6           Beauty and the Beast

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Why I love it?  You know a movie is special when, after seeing it for the 100th time and knowing he’s going to jump up in just a moment, you still cry when he gives out that last breath.  Gets me every single time, even when we watch it live at Hollywood Studios.  My kids make fun of me.

#5           The Notebook

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Why I love it?  The TENSION between Noah and Allie!  That is all.  Okay, maybe I like looking at Ryan Gosling too.

#4           Jerry Maguire

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Why I love it?  Football, love, a journey of self-discovery?  You had me at Hello.

#3           Definitely, Maybe

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Why I love it?  Ryan Reynolds – SWOON!  And there is something so sweet about a girl helping her single dad reunite with the woman he should’ve been with all along.

#2           Silver Linings Playbook

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Why I love it?  It’s amazing to me how two people who are so completely broken alone can be so completely complete together.  Plus, I love Bradley Cooper.  LOVE him.

AND…#1 on my list…

Chasing Amy

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This is one of my favorite movies of all time, for one simple reason – the scene where Holden finally confesses to his lesbian friend Alyssa that he’s in love with her.  They are in his car.  It’s pouring down rain.  She’s just bought him a cheap painting from a hole in the wall diner.  And out it comes.

“I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we’re great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I’m sure that’s what you’ll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But I had to say it. I just, I can’t take this anymore. I can’t stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can’t, I can’t look into your eyes without feeling that, that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can’t talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. And I know this will probably queer our friendship – no pun intended – but I had to say it, because I’ve never felt this way before, and I don’t care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can’t hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn’t allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I’ll accept that. But I know…I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there is a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. All I ask, please, is that you just, you just not dismiss that – and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds. Alyssa, there isn’t another soul on this fucking planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I’m with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can’t deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I’m forever changed because of who you are and what you’ve meant to me, which – while I do appreciate it – I’d never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.”

How stinkin’ beautiful is that, huh?  And guess what?  It worked!

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So there you have it.  Agree or disagree, these are my favorites.  Haven’t seen one?  Pop a bag of popcorn and pick one up!  You won’t be disappointed!

What are your favorites?

Jenna P

Who makes it happen?  YOU make it happen!