RSS Feed

What I Learned This Week – 10/25/15

I needed a binder to hold some paperwork the other day for my book business that my husband doesn’t officially recognize as a business. I rummaged through my recently-organized stockpile of previously-used office supplies.

You will never guess what I found.

My college binder with bitchin' graffiti

My college binder with bitchin’ graffiti

I found this binder from college. Appears as though I used it for Independent Study for English. But also lots and lots of doodling.

The doodling doesn’t surprise me. No, I remember that is how I primarily occupied my time during boring lectures and long periods of time stuck in the college library waiting for a ride as a commuter with no car.

What surprised me is the subjects of my doodles! These are all things I am still interested in today, almost 20 years later, most of which I have written about on this very blog. I guess my tastes are pretty locked in.

My personal cartoon character Mr. Ugly-Man is prominently featured–he even gets his own amusement park, complete with imitation Disney characters! (If you have ever picked up a print copy of one of my books, you will notice that he is on the back cover.)

There is also an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on there, next to a booth selling 10 cent wieners. Because we all know that wiener sounds more perverse than “hot dog.” This also reflects my obsession to one day drive the Wienermobile. Hasn’t happened yet, but I don’t think I’m done trying. And I might not be above a little grand theft wiener. (Hehehehe. That is so dirty to say!)

I have a thing for old Coca-Cola merchandise and advertisements, even back when I drank Pepsi and Mountain Dew all the time. That is why the sunshine is wearing sunglasses and holding a Coke. It is very similar to a postcard that I own that I bought in a tourist shop in Knoxville and the store bagged my purchase in a World’s Fair bag, even though I was there more than a decade after the Knoxville World’s Fair when they built the Sunsphere, but it always makes me think of the episode of the Simpsons where Bart goes to the “Wigsphere.”

Wigsphere. I mean Sunsphere, far right. I mean left.

Wigsphere. I mean Sunsphere, far right. I mean left.

And then we come to a picture of Jeff Gordon. There is a possibility this could be from 1997, the year he won his second Winston Cup Championship. It is so hard to believe he is retiring this year. It seems like just a few months ago that I saw him in person in his hometown of Pittsboro, Indiana.

Oh wait, it was!

At least I am staying true to who I am. I guess if that is the best I can do in life, I will take it!

Why are there no Narwhal icons?

Why are there no Narwhal icons?

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!


Next one is 2017

Next GLBB is 2017

Attending the Great Lakes Book Bash a few weeks ago as an author signing at the event, it hit me how lucky I am to finally be doing what I should have been doing all along. Even if I never get past publishing three books (which I sure hope-to-shout I do, as more stories are in my head, pushing every day to get out), being able to produce something I am proud of and being able to semi-easily get it out in front of people is awesome! (Still working on how to get my books in front of the RIGHT people, but, all in good time, I guess…)

I feel like there are people along the way who were instrumental at me getting to this point, and they probably are not even aware of it. I feel like now might be the time to give them shout-outs. It wouldn’t be possible to do them justice in the back of a paperback on the flat page–I require links and multi-media.

I have already blogged about past teachers, such as dear Mrs. Raines who gave me my all-time favorite book way back in 2nd grade and dear Mr. Clark who put up with my crazy, even making me co-editor of the school newspaper when I never would have selected myself for such a job.

I feel like I should also mention my asbestos friend. We were writing buddies in 8th grade, and we still are now. (And I’m not sure my subject matter has changed all that much ;-) ) Extra kudos to her for being my beta reader. And apparently Linus to my Charlie Brown.

My best friend was fundamental to my development as well, although we enjoyed more art and drawing together than words. I don’t draw much anymore. But I love to do off-beat craft projects, such as Werecart creation and mystical giraffe repair. The skills I honed around her have now been funneled into logo, advertisement, and marketing materials.

Mixed media table display for The Riley Sisters series.

Mixed media table display for The Riley Sisters series.

In college one day I was talking with the head of the English department. He realized I had taken a butt-ton of classes in his area. He asked me why I didn’t minor in English. I said I wasn’t really interested in any of the higher level classes, which I would need for it to be an official minor on my transcript and all that. He suggested I just take an independent study with him. A class where all I do is write whatever I want to? Awesome! Too bad the story I worked on that semester sucked. But it was nice for someone to have yet again directed me closer to something I was already interested in. It seemed like most of school was crap I would never use again. (Algebra, I am talking about YOU!)

I was never a big reader (don’t be so shocked). I was always in love with television and the stories it told and the visual and aural (get your mind out of the gutter) experiences it could offer. If I grew up in today’s bounty of technology, I would probably be making programs on YouTube now rather than books. After all, Radio and TV production is what my bachelor’s degree is in.

Somehow "bachelor's degree" made me think of Bachelor Chow from Futurama.

Somehow “bachelor’s degree” made me think of Bachelor Chow from Futurama.

Speaking of which, I guess I should thank Steve in the Communications department of my alma mater for giving me A’s, and the delusion that I could create my own Riley Sisters series book teaser trailer. Blame him. It was great fun to make though! Click on the link below.

I did have plans to become a writer. When I got my first big grown-up job, I even bought myself a Word Processor. (It was 1999. I didn’t know any better.) I sat in front of it, and realized writing was hard. So, I made a conscious decision to give up that dream… until years later when I would learn that I must write because I can’t not write.

I should thank the now-defunct Borders, for providing me with invaluable book industry knowledge that I learned through osmosis from all those in cubicles near me (or those who were in cubes further away and were just loud). I got to experience first hand the evolving business of books, and the dire consequences of falling behind. I began my current venture with more awareness about the industry than many do.

And thank you to my green-haired friend and my crazy friend, my co-workers along the way, who kept reminding me daily how much I loved to write. Whether it was a fresh-off-the-presses poem I wrote, one they composed, or just reciting song lyrics to one another, they were continuous reminders of how much the written word touches our lives every day. (If I could say that about Borders, they might still be in business.) Creativity, in any form, is essential to our lives on this planet.

I didn’t really read, and find out what I liked to read, until I got my own apartment in June of 1999… and had no television for a month. I read a lot of books in that time. And I fell in love with Gaia from the Fearless series by Francine Pascal. For more on them, click here: While all the books are not cohesive (and I don’t even think they are all penned by Ms. Pascal), they drew me in and kept me hooked. I have been primarily a YA fan ever since.

But I never imagined I could write one until I read a little book called Twilight that changed my life in a lot of ways. For more about my Love of Twilight, start with this post: Some people skewered it for not being a tome of high-brow literature. But that is not what it was ever intended to be. And that is exactly what I found accessible about it. It seemed like something my asbestos friend and I could have written. This opened my options back up to writing again, but I still wasn’t actually doing it more than in my dream journal. For more on the dream journaling, click here:

I would never have a blog if it wasn’t for my former co-worker Dane. One day he mentioned that he had one, and I was fascinated. Anybody could get one of those? And FOR FREE? I pondered it for several weeks before I took the leap. What would I write about? Would I run out of things? The answer to the second question is apparently “no”, as it is now 4 1/2 years later. And the blog, well, that kept me writing until a big idea struck me, and then I had a book. And another. And another. And it is all Dane’s fault, because he had a blog and I wanted to copy him.* It is one of my fondest memories of him. That, and the time I was in a meeting sitting next to him and I felt my in utero son kick for the first time. That was just a coincidence, I think.

And thank you to my sister-in-law who, when I told her that I thought I might be writing a book after we had gone to a showing of the movie Safe Haven, didn’t laugh at me. She was one of the first people I told. That was The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

The Wind Could Blow a Bug by Jennifer Friess

The Wind Could Blow a Bug by Jennifer Friess

Thank you to my dog Dave for letting me pet her furry long orange coat when the anxiety gets to be too much. She just senses when I need her. Except if she is sleeping really soundly–she is coming up on 13 years old, after all. She is never allowed to die. She knows this. I tell her every day.

Rub mah bellah!

Rub mah bellah!

Of course I have to thank my son and husband for putting up with my fits when the computer breaks or I cannot find something and my whole world seems to be falling apart. And a million other things that can’t all be listed here. I also thank my son M for not destroying a whole box inventory of my books… yet. (I feel like that day is coming.)


And to anyone else I may have forgotten– My head is stuffed full with fictional towns and characters. Sometimes that makes it hard to process life properly.


*Note: This does not entitle Dane to any royalties from my burgeoning writing career.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

COVER REVEAL: Be Careful What You Wish For

I have been toiling away at my computer to get the next Riley Sisters book out into the universe as quickly as possible. I promise you, I am making progress, albeit very slowly. You know, real life gets in the way and all that. But I assure you, I am still on track for a January 2016 publication date. (Ask me next week, and I may have a different answer for you…)

If waiting for Miley’s story is killing you, then maybe a sneak peak at the cover will help. Now, you have to understand, Miley is different than her sisters Jane and Kiley. Miley is open to more exciting adventures. She isn’t really bothered by a pesky sense of responsibility. She is looking for life to be fun. Which, somehow in the pursuit of that, it kind of turns out the opposite for her.

Just to remind you, here are the juicy details:

Miley Riley always dreamed of being famous in the spotlights of Hollywood. Achieving those dreams seemed pretty unlikely coming from the Podunk farm town of Oakley, Alabama. With no talents and no college education, she had settled into her career as a party planner and sharing an apartment with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. When the movie based on her twin sister Kiley’s book begins shooting in California, Miley wastes no time in making the trip with her for a once in a lifetime vacation. Her wildest fantasies come true when she meets a dark-haired heartthrob, rising movie star Mark Tennyson. Their relationship heats up quickly, much to the chagrin of Miley’s family and best friend Travis.

When her new L.A. life begins to publicly crumble, Miley discovers who she can really count on. The road back to her real life returns her to Alabama, but will be filled with unconventional risks. Miley will learn to Be Careful What You Wish For…

I present to you, the cover Book 3 in The Riley Sisters series, Be Careful What You Wish For.

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess, due January 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess, due January 2016


While I’m at it, I will mention that The Wind Could Blow a Bug and When You Least Expect It are now available on more sites and at more stores, making it easy to catch up with the other Riley Sisters before Miley’s January 2016 debut!

Bookbound Bookstore
1729 Plymouth Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
(734) 369-4345

Nicola’s Books
2513 Jackson Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
(734) 662-0600

Amazon US:

Amazon AU:

Amazon UK:

Barnes & Noble:





Thanks to all my readers! This would not be nearly as much fun without you!

My Earliest Memory

MEMORY-green fog

My earliest memory is of being awake super early in the morning standing in my living room. Like, maybe 5:00AM. It is the only time as a kid I can remember being up that early. Captain Kangaroo was on. It was only on very early in the morning. That was the only time I ever watched it. (And it was kinda weird.) I remember the screen on the color television being kind of greenish, because it didn’t work right and the tubes were going out on it or something. I looked out the tall window at the end of our living room in our old farmhouse, and there was a wall of green fog outside. It was so thick I could not see our next door neighbor’s house. It was as if an alien ship had landed outside, the lights from their ship reflecting off of the fog. It was strange and frightening, but also exciting at the same time.

That might all sound super fake and trippy. And, I will admit there are probably inaccuracies in it as my brain has been rotted over the last 35 years by too many Pop-Tarts and watching too much Beavis & Butthead while I was in college. I would say I was probably only three or four years old when that all took place.

But I know there is some truth in it, because my mom remembers that day too. Just a little differently than I do…

She remembers it as a day when, in a fit of stubbornness the night before, I told her I was not going to go to sleep. And, well, apparently I didn’t. (Most every kid threatens it, but very few follow through. I was a determined little Capricorn!) She says it was incredibly foggy that morning and there was an eerie green glow to everything. She needed to go to the post office that morning, so she loaded me in the car…where I promptly fell asleep.

Now, this was Riga, Michigan, a quaint but tiny farming town. The post office was literally a 65 second drive from our house.

I find it interesting that even at that young age I would defy her on purpose, just to be difficult. I guess that proves there is no hope for stopping that habit now.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!

To be the first to see the upcoming COVER REVEAL for Be Careful What You Wish For, Book 3 in the series, sign up for my newsletter here:

POEM – kissing a grizzly bear

I got chicken
stuck behind my back tooth
I got Good Charlotte
Playin’ on my radio
Maybe I should be doin’
more with my life
But I feel like it’s almost over anyway
26 and I’m dying more everyday
One more day and I’ll fade away.

I go to work
To zone out all day
I lose myself everyday
In a caffeine and sugar haze
You think I am punching numbers
But I’m writing songs and drawing houses
And rhyming my life away
The days just seem to go faster that way.

Someday I’ll drive home
the wrong way down a one way street
Someday I’ll write a poem
that my honey will think is real sweet
Someday I’ll drive out West
to kiss a grizzly bear
Someday I’ll get brave
and get 1990s Winona Ryder hair.

They are all risky
But someday I won’t mind
I will wake up and realize
This is my one and only life to find.

One of very few pictures of me when I got short Winona Ryder/Mandy Moore hair, around Fall 2005.

One of very few pictures of me when I got short Winona Ryder/Mandy Moore hair, around Fall 2005.

Well, it seems there are at least TWO pictures...

Well, it seems there are at least TWO pictures…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug – AVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 297 other followers

%d bloggers like this: