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Spring is Giveaway Time!

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I have updated my EVENTS PAGE!

If you are a member of my newsletter, you had this information on MONDAY!

If not, you should really sign up for it, and I will tell you why in just a minute.

First off, you should know my first event is NEXT SATURDAY! It will be an Author Fair at the Lenawee District Library in Adrian, Michigan, from 2:30PM-4:00PM. Please make plans to stop out.

I also wanted to call to your attention that I have UPDATED my info for Utopia Con. Yes, ladies and gentlemen (and I use that term loosely) I will now have a table on Saturday, June 24th in Nashville, TN. And in case you didn’t know, this is the FINAL Utopia Con, so it would be great if you stopped out. You can click the graphic above to obtain tickets.

I am excited to let you know that I have TWO ROCK STAR PASSES to giveaway for the Great Lakes Books Bash, October 27 & 28th! The two passes cover admission to the signing & panels Friday as well as early admission to the signing on Saturday and panels on Saturday.

Now, more about this newsletter business. I will be giving the TWO Rock Star Passes to ONE Lucky winner (because it is always nicer to go with a friend, right?) who is on my Author Newsletter List. If you are already on it, then you are already entered for a chance to win.

You aren’t? Well, then it is super quick and easy to sign up here: http://eepurl.com/7YhHr I promise, I won’t spam you. I send out about 4-5 newsletters a year and they contain super-important information about events, books releases, and sometimes even a book trailer 😉

The contest will be open until April 30th, 2017, at which time I will pick a lucky winner and notify them by email.

Good luck! And spread the word.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Utopia Ever After or There I Was, in Six Lanes of Traffic…

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This is my post reviewing my experience attending UtopiaCon2016, and not really a review at all of the actual writing conference. I approached my trip by planning to attend as many panels and events as I could to make it worth the trip. But I also squeezed in as much sightseeing as I could.

I was scared to leave on Wednesday. I had to tell myself I wasn’t some college student taking a trip to visit a friend a state away. I was a forty-year-old woman who could go or do anything.

Everything went as planned, which was a relief, but I was also a little sad that I didn’t get any extra out of it. I mean, I’m glad I didn’t get a flat tire. I am thankful I never got truly lost. And I am beyond amazed that I only got one mosquito bite the whole time. They must spray the fuck outta that campground.

NASHVILLE-Campsite

The Seven Points Campground sits on beautiful J. Percy Priest Lake. I was worried because the website instructed campers to store their food properly because “skunks frequent the campground.” I am very glad to say I never saw a skunk. I did see a deer on two occasions. And one 3-hour torrential thunderstorm  :-/

The campsite I wish I had, right on the lake. An hour after I took this picture, a deer walked right through there.

The campsite I wish I had, right on the lake. An hour after I took this picture, a deer walked right through there.

I had a mantra as I looked out the 10th floor windows of the hotel: I can’t believe I’m in Nashville.

It then evolved into: I can’t believe I am in fuckin’ Nashville.

A curse only meant as a compliment, I assure you.

I left the conference on Thursday feeling like a failure, for reasons I won’t expound on here.

By Friday at noon, it left me confused.

I did learn that husbands will get used to you being a writer, just give them time. And if that doesn’t work, give them bribes.

Everyone else seemed to go to Utopia to create friendships. (Maybe I was too distracted by the musical history of Nashville.) I desired this too. The result was I strengthened a few existing friendships, and made a handful more acquaintances.

A performance at the Bluebird Cafe

A performance at the Bluebird Cafe

But maybe that isn’t what the universe had in store for me. I have been with my husband for nineteen years. In that time I have rarely traveled long distance without him. I left this experience feeling strong and confident. Several people called me brave for attempting to travel and camp all by myself. I replied, “Brave or stupid.” But I did feel brave afterwards. I am the chick who has to have her husband show her how the unfamiliar shower works when I stay in a hotel. And I figured out the showers at the campground all by myself. And I even coped when the lights went out on me, mid-shower. Thankfully, it was not yet after sunset. I figured it was a result of a motion-detecting light (I’ve had that happen before), only to discover that the whole campground was blacked out. (I’ve also experienced that before—the result of too many RVs running their AC at the same time. I don’t want to listen to them run all night anyway. But I did, because most had generators they then ran. Oy vey.)

The gorgeous Opryland Hotel. It was unbelievable.

The gorgeous Opryland Hotel. It was unbelievable.

And I was scared to drive in big cities—big surprise, I still am. But for a few days I made Nashville freeways my bitch. I could merge in on the left side on a three-lane road only to merge over in ¾ of a mile to exit on the right. I regularly drove on a six lane highway—anything over five lanes gives me the heebie-jeebies, although my focus was so much on the road that my hands, wrists, and shoulder ached, and there was a giant dam next to me that I only managed to see one out of eight passes.

Maybe I have to improve myself before I can improve my writing and be a contributing member of a tribe. Or maybe I am just a giant dork. There is always that possibility. Or would that be a certainty?

Side view of the Opry stage.

Side view of the Opry stage.

While others were fangirling over authors, I was fangirling over the Grand Ole Opry. I got so excited that I couldn’t find it. Then I got hot weather, jerky & lemon cake, sick stomach. Then I spent all my time backstage taking pictures and not actually enjoying the experience. I stood on and touched “the circle” at the center of the stage. I did sit in the seats long enough to sort of feel as though I had really spent some time there and not just rushed through. The Ryman was known as “the mother church of country music.” The latest Opry still has pews rather than individual seats. It really felt like a religious experience being there. Last time I had that same feeling was at a Kid Rock concert (Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp, anyone?). Why do I only experience that with music? Not when writing, not ever in an actual church.

ME ON THE STAGE AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY!!!

ME ON THE STAGE AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY!!!

Saturday I spent the most time interacting with actual other people and having conversations. By Sunday morning, every time I would talk to myself (perfectly normal when you travel alone), I didn’t recognize my own voice. I had developed a southern accent. My mother had tried to call me the night before. Knowing I sounded “altered”, there was no way I could call her back until this passed.

It turned out to be only a 24 hour thing, like the flu, which made me a little sad. In a way, I liked my free souvenir.

My proof that I have been to Alabama, the setting of The Riley Sisters series.

My proof that I have been to Alabama, the setting of The Riley Sisters series.

The panels and talks I enjoyed the most were ones that were more emotional than informative. Heather Hildenbrand’s “The Audacity of Self-Love” had to be my favorite.

I’m not sure yet if I will return next year. If I do, maybe I should exhibit rather than attend panels. It is so confusing to figure out what the universe wants from you…

By coincidence, I stopped at the gas station across from this store coming and going. It amuses me.

By coincidence, I stopped at the gas station across from this store coming and going. It amuses me.

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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Utopia Anxiety

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How can Utopia (noun: any visionary system of political or social perfection. -Dictionary.com) ever be a cause of anxiety, you ask?

Well, I’m talking about Utopia Con, a writers conference happening THIS WEEK in Nashville, Tennessee.

Last year at this time, I was sitting at home, trying to figure out what this event was that every single author I had met in my short six months as a published author was attending. Everyone said it was life-changing.

UTOPia art 2016

So, in October of last year, when I started to see tickets selling out for this event, I purchased my ticket. Even though neither my husband nor I had a job and things looked super-bleak, I bought one because my inner voice told me to. And I am glad it did. My husband and I are both employed at the moment, things are slightly better, and my publishing is in a little bit of a funk.

I am going to Utopia, first, in search of new friendships. I need someone to message me occasionally and say “keep it up.” I could do the same for them. Fellow authors E.A. Comiskey & Patti Keno are great for that, but I am kinda high maintenance.

Second, I need to be re-inspired. I went from knowing nothing about independent publishing to educating myself on writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, swag, even the climate and crops of Alabama! But I have new books brewing, and they scream to have improved marketing and better sales. How can I do that? I hope I will find the answers.

So, I am worried, because I am taking this big huge trip by myself– From Michigan to Nashville. And I am poor, so I am camping, in a tent. But I love the tent. I don’t really love bugs or hot weather or rain, but hopefully they will not spoil the trip too much for me. Part of me is SO looking forward to having some alone time. My son is 5 1/2. I haven’t been alone, except to go to work, in 5 1/2 years it seems. But also, I will be ALONE. No one to lean on and help me.

WARNING: This may only be interesting to others attending the same conference.

So, I present to you, a list of my worries:

– The campground will lose my reservation
– Rain
– Heat
– Cold
– Skunks (the website warned that they frequent the campground!)
– Not having anyone to talk to
– Having too many people to talk to
– No one will give me a hug
– Strangers will hug me and it will feel awkward
– Not learning anything helpful
– Learning that I am not worthy to be publishing books
– My worn tire will blow out, causing me to careen into a semi trailer on the expressway and die
– There is so much road construction that I won’t arrive until I’m due to return home
– I will miss my family
– My family will miss me too much
– My family won’t miss me at all
-I will starve
– I won’t get to see any of the Nashville sights
– My front driver wheel will fall off because it has a lose control arm and needs the ball joint replaced
– My front passenger wheel will fall off because it also needs a new ball joint.
– There won’t be any Mobil gas stations down south (I want to use my Mobil credit card as much as possible on the trip. My first job was at a Mobile gas station. For a pretty thorough description of it, read Books 1 and 2 of the Riley Sisters series ;-D )

There are many more, but I have to go look at maps and try and figure out where to park to go to the Bluebird Cafe!!!

I will give you an update on my adventure in my blog and newsletter when I return. (IF I return…)

Haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet? Get to it:  http://eepurl.com/7YhHr

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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