It’s not too early to start thinking, right?

So New Year’s is coming upon us. Granted it’s still quite a bit away considering, I’ve already been thinking about what I’m going to do for a resolution. Let’s face it; I haven’t been the best with keeping them in, oh, EVER. But I do at least make the attempt.

Part of the problem I think is my making the resolution ON New Year’s. But why not think about them and start now to get in the habit? Maybe then I’ll be more successful.

In my advisory I had students write a resolution they truly want to keep on an index card. On the front they wrote what they want to do, and on the back they wrote a plan of action to achieve it. Once they were done I made up a pretty poster of a tree trunk and we added the green cards on to look like a tree. It’s our resolution tree!

The resolution I added was to be more organized. A lot of my girls followed my lead, and we agreed to encourage each other to stay organized. I hope it works out! It was fun activity that got them thinking about not just how they want to improve, but ways they can improve their own lives. It puts the responsibility on them.

  • Next year I’d like to blog more. At least twice a month. I resolve to do that.
  • I also want to lose weight. But I’m going for specific. I want to lose three pounds a month until I have lost twenty-five pounds. I think that’s pretty reasonable, right? I’m not asking for a lot. Just a little progress.
  • Write more. I’d like to expand my writing into new areas.
  • Study hard. I want to keep my 4.0 GPA for grad school. It’s been three semesters so far and I’ve somehow maintained it. I’m SO proud of myself because the program is rigorous, and it’s the first time in my life I’ve achieved this!
  • Read more, specifically in new years. This past year I added several nonfiction books to my reading schedule which I enjoyed. Next year I’d like to expand my horizons and read in genres or subjects I wouldn’t necessarily check out.

What about you? What are your resolutions for 2015?

Happy Holidays!

It’s certainly been awhile – too long in fact – but today was my last grad class of the semester and now I’m on break until my next class starts! At least for my own education. Still three days left until winter break for my teaching job!

This semester has been full of hard work but it was so rewarding. This class was on gender and modernism and we read so many great novels. I got my final exam back tonight and I’m so proud! I got an A! I turned in my research paper on The Sound and the Fury, so we’ll see how that does!

Next semester I’m taking a course on Victorian literature and I’m chomping at the bits to get started on the reading for it. Of course we don’t have the full list yet, but I spoke with the professor and heard Great Expectations and Jane Eyre are likely candidates.

Finally, I have some wonderful news! Most of you already know this if you follow me on Facebook, but my fourth book, The First Twenty, was picked up my Bold Strokes Books! It will be published in May 2015 and features my first female protagonists Peyton and Nixie. I’m editing the book as we speak!

And with that great news comes the cover! I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE IT. It is STUNNING work! Check it out and let me know what you think!

The First Twenty cover

True Colors Open House

I should probably be in bed right now – okay I DEFINITELY should be in bed right now – but I can’t. I’m too excited! Tonight (as in yesterday) I went to an Open House for True Colors in Hartford, a group that works with LGBT youth. It was for those interested in volunteering, mentoring, and fostering.

I’ve been wanting to get involved for years now, but I never could manage to get around to it. I even filled out the application – twice – but never sent it in. Life got the best of me.

But last week at the retreat (post on that later) I thought about it again and was like yeah, YEAH I’m going to do it.

And then I got the email about the open house. Before I could chicken out, I sent Amber an email saying I’d be there.

AND I’M SO GLAD I WENT.

Everyone I met was amazing. I was nervous at first going in, but that faded so fast. I love the space. It’s so positive and welcoming I was completely at ease. What an amazing place for youth to go to! I donated copies of each of my books to their library. And then I saw the library. It’s nice, but they had it arranged by color. And it needs to be fixed. I volunteered.

Okay, more like literally FLAILED at the opportunity to fix it.

What can I say? I love books. And I love organizing them. And they have BOXES to be sorted and omg I want to go tomorrow and start! D:

Focus, Jen.

So I also might be doing something with a writer’s workshop and Paul mentioned a book club and I may have flailed a little at that, too. Also putting together something for the conference in March which I was supposed to do last year…but again life got in the way of that.

Really I can’t wait to get my volunteer application in. I’m so freaking excited to start. Why did I wait this long to do it? I’m so energized I can hardly sit still! And I should be in bed!

Sleep is for the weak.

For more information about True Colors, you can visit their website here. 

And because it’s important, if you’d like to volunteer or donate to True Colors, follow this link directly for more information! Every little bit helps!

#bookaday – Day 3: One with a blue cover

I remember having this conversation with a customer when I worked at Borders Express:

“Hi, I’m looking for a book.”

“What’s the name of it?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Author?”

“I don’t know. But the book has a blue cover, and it came out about six months ago.”

“Okay… do you remember anything else? Subject?”

“No.”

So this post made me chuckle. And then I looked at my shelves and realized I have quite a few books with blue covers. But I chose this particular book because it’s pretty damn awesome.

My little sister, Cassandra, is a huge fan of Apolo Ohno. So am I. So when we found out he was going to be signing books in Connecticut, we HAD to go. We reserved two copies of the book, Zero Regrets, drove down to Madison, and stood in line. And it was glorious. For all of two seconds I stood before speed-skating superstar and Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ohno. I was so starstruck I couldn’t even say anything other than “Thank you.” My poor sister. She was even worse off. I managed to get a blurry picture of her in front of me with him signing her book. And then we were whisked off out of the way by his staff in a very rude manner. Very sad that I barely even got to see his smile. Or realize just how TINY he is. But hey, I have a signed book by him, right?

We did get to see his tour bus and stand right next to it, though. That was pretty cool.

Just wish I had said something more profound than a simple “thank you.” But oh well. Zero regrets.

Postcrossing! Or: Jen got a new hobby

All of the postcards I've received so far! Pretty awesome to look at when I enter my apartment.

So a Facebook friend mentioned a website in a status awhile ago, and so I had to investigate. And as a result… I got sucked into a new hobby.

Postcrossing is a website that allows registered users to send and receive postcards from people all over the world. So, once you register, you request addresses to send out postcards. They give them to you, you write the postcards, mail them, and then once the people receive them and enter the unique code you put on the card, you can get postcards in return!

So far I’ve had 30 postcards received with 8 more in transit, and I’ve received 27 from all over the world. My latest postcard came from Istanbul, Turkey! Each one is unique and each message is fun to read. I’ve learned a lot about the different cultures and people who have sent them to me.

I’ve also acquired a few great penpals! I’ve not only reconnected to my cousin Kayla in New York, but I’ve met three great people from Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands! I love receiving letters from them!

What about you, dear reader? Do you have penpals? The art of letter writing seems to be dying, but not if I have anything to say about it! In the comments, tell me about your penpals. Or, if you are a part of postcrossing, tell me about your experience! What’s the most unusual postcard you’ve received? They most exotic place you’ve received a postcard from? (Mine has been from Siberia!) And if you’ve found my page from Postcrossing, let me know!

Maybe we can direct swap postcards!

For more information on Postcrossing, check out the website! http://www.postcrossing.com/

 

Rainbow Book Fair: Saturday, March 29 in New York City!

I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be in New York City on Saturday, March 29th signing books with fellow Bold Strokes Books authors. I’ll be present at the table from 1-2 PM with Nora Olsen, author of the phenomenal YA book Swans & Klons. If you’re there, please stop by and say hello! You’ll be able to pick up a signed copy of Meeting Chance and some other great BSB books!

The Rainbow Book Fair is being held at the Holiday Inn Midtown from Noon to 6 PM. I promise it’s going to be a GREAT event. Last year I had a ton of fun and bought so many books from other authors!

See you there!

Postcrossing!

Hi everyone!

Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I’ve discovered a new thing! Well, it’s not really new, but it is new to me. It’s called postcrossing. This activity involves signing up on a website, for free, and sending postcards to people around the world. And the coolest part is getting postcards from others around the world!

I’ve been on a letter writing kick lately, so when this came to my attention, I had to do it. I LOVED getting postcards from friends as a kid. I haven’t gotten one in years, but I still remember being excited whenever one came in the mail. I loved sending them, too. Whenever my family went to Maine, I had such a hard time picking out the right postcard to send to friends and family back home.

So now that I’ve signed up and sent my first five postcards out, I can’t wait to see where mine come from! My first five went to Minnesota, Russia, Germany, Taiwan, and China. I even had a girl from Russia contact me for a direct swap which is sending them to each other without having to register them through the website, kind of like pen pals. So I just wrote hers out and will get stamps for it tomorrow or Tuesday.

Finding postcards in Connecticut is hard, though! Of course I forgot about museums selling them, but other than that, where else? Literally EVERYWHERE in Maine sells them. But Connecticut? I finally found some places with the help of my coworkers. The Town Hall in Manchester sells Manchester based cards, and Hallmarks do sell them as well. They’re for the state and local area. I’ll have to stop in at the Bristol Hallmark when I’m back in town. I also checked out the local stationery store right up the road from me and they have one for Vernon, which is exciting. I wish there was one for my apartment! It’s such a cool old building, it would make a great picture. Maybe I’ll create one and send that out and explain to everyone how I live in an old factory!

If you want to check this out for yourself – which I highly recommend – go to this website: Postcrossing. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m eager to receive my first card! I would love to do this with my students and post the cards on the wall with a map pinned for their location! That would be cool.

Winter Olympics 2014

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Olympics in Sochi this year, and I know I’m not the first to talk about them. I probably won’t do so as eloquently, but I figured I’d put my own thoughts down now for my own record, even if no one else reads it.

My friends are pretty divided right now. Some are boycotting the Olympics completely. Others, only the sponsors. Some not at all. I’m on the fence with a lot of things. I absolutely hate what’s happening in Russia to LGBT citizens. I hate what’s happening to the stray animals. But I can’t help but feel pride and admiration for all the athletes – especially those who are out as LGBT – who are going anyway to compete in the games.

I understand why some people are avoiding the Olympics completely. And I respect that. Part of me wants to. But the other part of me thinks of the LGBT athletes who have worked so hard to compete, and I want to support them. Even though the conditions there seem to be pretty terrible now, what with the unfinished hotels and lack of running water, part of me would want to be there in person supporting these athletes regardless of what country they came from.

And I’d probably be one of the people arrested and deported for saying something about LGBT rights and speaking up if I saw something negative.

During the Summer and Winter Olympics, I typically support the USA with a few random favorites scattered in other countries. For the Summer Olympics, my favorite sport is Tennis and I cheer for Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer all the way. Neither are American.

This year I’ve got my eyes on all of the openly LGBT athletes. I don’t care what country you come from. I don’t care what sport you’re competing in. I want them to know I’m here cheering for them, hoping for the best and hoping they take home a medal, because they have worked just as hard as anyone else to be there. And they DESERVE to be there. There may not be many who are out (in fact, from what I’ve seen online, only six are openly gay), but you can be sure there are many more who are, even if they aren’t out.

I am disappointed that New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup didn’t qualify, because I would have loved to have supported him as an openly gay athlete. But he didn’t, so instead I’ll focus on those who are:

Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis

Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas

Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff

Dutch speed skater Irene Wüst

Dutch short track speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof

and Slovenian cross country skier Barbara Jezeršek.

Seems like it’s only the ladies who are out right now. Hopefully some men will join them as well. You can read more about them here. And if you know of any more, please, let me know. I’d love to support them.

And while we wait for the Olympics to begin, please, enjoy this lovely ad from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion.

The Year In Review!

Greetings!

Ahh, the end of 2013. It’s been a crazy year! To commemorate, over the next several days I’ll be making posts reviewing my year in books, my year in grad school, my first year living away from my parents house, and the release of my newest novel, Meeting Chance. I’m sure there will be some other good things as well, so keep an eye out!

For now, I go back to cleaning my apartment to end the year on a nice, clean note and start the year off right, and watching Muppet Christmas Carol.

See you soon!

Satan’s Kingdom – Tubing down the Farmington River!

Ophelie, me, Cassandra, and mom

No, really. That’s what the place is called. Sadly I don’t have an pictures of the actually tubing experience, but next time I’ll bring a waterproof camera. If I go again.

Basically my family forced me to go. See, I have this fear of water if I can’t see the bottom or if there are weeds. Thankfully I could see the bottom MOST of the time, and there weren’t weeds like the kind that makes my heart race. However, the trip was not without incident.

I was the first one into the water and the current sucked me downstream before everyone else had a chance to go. This was hilarious. The water was freezing, too, so I tried to stay in the sun to keep warm. However, I couldn’t manage to stay in the center of the river! I have no idea why, but while everyone else floated through the first set of rapids under the bridge, I got sucked to the side of the bridge… and stuck.

TWICE.

In the same area. So while everyone else was floating merrily down, I was stuck and trying to get my tube off the rocks.

I managed.

Only to hit a rock, get spun backwards so I couldn’t see where I was going, go over the last rapid, and slam, back first, into a large rock under the water.

You know that pain where you almost throw up it’s so bad? Yeah. That.

Everyone though I was exaggerating when I caught up, they said I’d live, blah blah blah. Luckily the water was cold so mom said it would ice it for me.

Next rapids. Ophelie (my French sister) is now in front, goes over the center, and is flipped off her tube. We panicked, afraid she was going to drown – despite her wearing a vest like all of us – and she panicked because she couldn’t get back on. She managed to before we caught up.

After that, she and I hooked together and floated lazily downstream…

Only to get stuck on rocks as mom and Cassandra floated on by laughing at us.

The entire ride last almost three hours and it was filled with getting stuck on rocks, rapids (there were five sets even though they said THREE), and getting slammed into rocks. Thankfully the last rock I hit was huge and out of the water, and I was facing it so I used my feet to hit it and pushed off.

When we go to the end and got on the bus to go back to our car, I checked my back and this is what I saw.

My poor lower back!

OW! It’s hard to tell but it’s very clear that I was scrapped against the rough rock and dragged over it. It had to have been bleeding in the water (thank God this wasn’t the ocean!) Today it’s a very painful bruise. I’m all swollen under it from the hard hit, and sitting and laying are painful. But it’ll heal.

At least I went down the river. I didn’t think I would, but I embraced my fears and did it anyway. And I have the scars to prove it!