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FOTO PHRIDAY: Galtinburg

To be perfectly honest, I wanted this post to have a holiday feel. I was searching for a picture of my gramma sitting in the rocking chair in our house, with Christmas bows stuck in her hair. But, well, apparently that picture doesn’t exist.

In the search, I instead found pictures of my most recent trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. I went with my future husband.

Gatlinburg Attractions, circa 2001

Gatlinburg Attractions, circa 2001

I know it was big news that Dolly just raised $9 million dollars for the victims of the recent wildfire victims in the Gatlinburg area with a country music telethon. But I am sure they can always use more. I know what it is like to struggle to pay my utility and mortgage payment. I can’t imagine how I would cope if my car, house, and everything in it was gone in an instant. If you can spare a few dollars, won’t you please contribute: https://dollywoodfoundation.org/

I believe Dolly Parton is one of the greatest human beings that ever lived. I can’t wait to meet her one day and tell her that in person.

I guess this post is holiday-themed after all, in the spirit of giving and such.

I can’t believe it has been 15 years since I was last there. We will have to plan a return trip. I recommend you do too.

COMING SOON: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom!!!

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COVER REVEAL: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Ginny, a hideously disfigured orphan, overcomes years of bullying at the mercy of others to serve with honor under the king. While she finds an inner strength and self-worth that surprises even her, it could all be ending if they cannot find the answer to lifting the death sentence brought forth by the evil witch. Will love complicate matters or prove to be the solution they so desperately need? This is the story of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Coming December 2016. To be the first to know, visit here next week, visit www.amazon.com/author/jenniferfriess/ and click the “Follow” button, or subscribe to my newsletter at http://eepurl.com/7YhHr!

Cover for Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom by Jennifer Friess

Cover for Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom by Jennifer Friess

A big thank you to Carrie at CheekyCovers.com for all her great work!

COMING SOON: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom!!!
Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Behind the Scenes: The Riley Sisters Series

I can’t wait to tell you about my next project. But before I go gung-ho on that, I had an idea for another Riley sisters post before I put them to bed. Not that I will stop talking about them completely, because (hopefully next month) they will still make up three out of four books I have available. But I thought this would be a nice way to bring a little closure to them by sharing some behind-the-scenes factoids.

  • The Wind Could Blow a Bug was always called that. I tried to rename it, but I couldn’t find anything else that fit better. And I really loved how the title came from the story, and was really the essence of it. People often comment on it, which gives me a great opportunity to explain it.
  • When You Least Expect It was first known as Kiley’s Turn. I had never intended for Miley or Kiley to be more than background characters in Bug, but then I wrote the scene where they go to the mall with Jane, and that started me wondering what their future lives might look like.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For was originally called Miley’s Muddle. My son is very into Thomas the tank engine, and there was a story called Milkshake Muddle, which is where I got the alliteration from. Imagine if Miley had been covered with a milkshake in her story? Her and that movie star Mark got down doing some pretty funky things. Who knows, maybe she did!
  • US223, that is mentioned in Bug, really exists. It is the main road through Lenawee County, Michigan. I have traveled on it almost every day of my life. I could drive that road in my sleep. My mother had to travel on it to give birth to me!
Real road sign

Actual road sign

  • Dave from Expect is really my dog. She is an orange Lab/Chow mix with lots of personality. I love her to pieces and when a dog showed up in my story, it just happened to be her. Note that that book is also dedicated to her. How many crazy authors dedicate a book to their dog? Probably only me.
My Dave dog

My Dave dog

  • The worn orange counter at the convenience store really exists! I worked at a Mobil station while I was in college. I used to have to wipe down that counter every night. The store has gone through several ownership changes since then, but he counter remains. I am so happy that that store got to play such a big part in Expect.
  • Blake and Luke, workers for Travis’s catering company in Wish, were originally named Parker and Dave after my dogs. (I am really bad at coming up with names for characters.) I had already used them both previously, so they got renamed after popular country music singers, whose personalities fit the dialogue I had already written quite well.
  • The messenger bag I picture Jane carrying in Bug is the one that I had made to advertise my blog.
Official limited edition INSY messenger bag

Official limited edition INSY messenger bag

  • Alva University was named in part after my dead dad.
  • I specifically named Travis’s cafe Taste of Travis because I thought it sounded really dirty. 😛
  • There is no such place as Oakley, Alabama. I made it up. But it lives on in my heart.
My version of Oakley.

My version of Oakley.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Just a Reminder

Just a reminder…

Are those three words that your boss sometimes says to you that grate on your nerves? Or that your father says lovingly before you step through the door and out into the big, bad world? Or a phone call from the American Red Cross letting you know there is a blood donation date coming up right in your neighborhood?

Well, this is none of those things.

This is just a reminder that these three boys have been missing six years to the day. And they are still missing.

Usually there is a small story on the local evening news. Several years ago, there was a vigil.

As of this morning, when I googled “missing Skelton brothers”, no recent news stories pop up. There have been no updates to their Facebook page. The website set up to help locate them no longer exists.

Nothing was ever put out into the media that there was reason to give up on the search, or give up hope that they are out there.

All I can say is it is a good thing the father who took them (and isn’t telling where they are) is behind bars for kidnapping, because otherwise his wife may have tortured him for the information by now. If he was my husband, I know I would have wanted to. If the worst is true and he killed them, he could at least have the decency to let everyone know where they are buried so that the rest of the family could have peace of mind.

How is it that easy to just make three human beings disappear into thin air?

I didn’t know these boys personally, but this time of year, on the anniversary of their disappearance, they are always close to my heart.

Kindly keep an eye out, would ya?

Original pictures with age progression. Six years is a long time.

Original pictures with age progressions released in 2015. Six years is a long time.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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There’s Definitely [Not] Something Wrong with Me.

My (wrinkly) shirt purchased from Media Play many centuries ago.

I bought this shirt years ago. I bought it at Media Play. They went out of business in 2006.

 

I saw this T-shirt in one of those clear plastic squares up on the wall. I searched and searched the rack below, but they did not have anymore. The last one was pressed into that display box. So, I did something very uncharacteristic of me. I actually went and ASKED AN ASSOCIATE to get it out so that I could buy it. It was a size way too big when I was actually beginning to eliminate some of my too large 80s shirts from my wardrobe. But I didn’t care. I HAD TO HAVE THAT SHIRT.

It may have been the first shirt I had that I didn’t want my mom to see me wear. (There are many more now. Not slutty, just advertising my writing or tattoos or the church I sometimes hang out at, all things she would have issue with.) I figured she would try to point out that there wasn’t something wrong with me. Which, how would she know, because she never has known the real me.

I wore it quite a bit over the years. More recently, I relegated it to being a sleep shirt mostly because it was such a large size that it was hard to layer under a long-sleeved shirt and a hoodie in the winter months. I count winter as September through May. (Yes, three layers, minimum. I will need to retire somewhere warmer and sunnier than Michigan.)

I intended to write a blog post about this shirt for a long time. The date of June 9, 2014 is on this photo in my computer. Although, for all I know, that could just be the last time I replaced my hard drive. I initially intended to write about how made-for-me it was, how true the statement was.

But something has happened to me recently. I don’t always think the same way I used to. And, well, I can’t write that post anymore.

Last year, about this time, a saying popped up in my head:

EMBRACE YOUR WEIRDNESS

And while I contemplated getting that tattooed on my wrist for a short time, I don’t think it is entirely accurate either.

Because while others think I’m weird, weirdness IS my normal.

Maybe it is everyone else (those who judge me) who have something wrong with them.

So now, I have moved on to:

Don't write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

Don’t write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

The symbols of a heart and an arrow, which to me represent “Love Yourself.” You may have even seen me use such a picture with the saying on a previous edition of my blog or a tweet. This is the latest tattoo I am contemplating, this time for the inside of my forearm. I would love it to be a daily reminder to do just that. But, alas, life is a very mental game and outside stimuli are very bad at reminding me of who I need to strive to be.

Being positive remains a daily battle.

I just have to remind myself that if I lose today, maybe I can still win tomorrow.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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