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COVER REVEAL: Angry Macey

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This is kind of a spontaneous cover reveal. I am headed to Utopia in just over a day and I am feeling very energized. I am very excited about this upcoming project that I have been working on for months. It is the work closest to my heart. (Hey, I see you there, judging me. Stop that!) It should be out this fall. No presale yet, but I am getting very close to that and will be sure to let you know.

Without further ado, here is the cover for Angry Macey:

The forthcoming Angry Macey by Jennifer Friess

Everyone feels like they are guided at some point in their lives. But what if you were guided to do something terrible? What if you were too angry to even care about the carnage you were about to inflict?

Meet Macey.

Mid-life crisis. Mental breakdown. Payback. Revenge.

This book has an edgier cover, which is in part due to the subject matter, but also I used a new cover designer. She is Creative Paramita and her website is www.creativeparamita.com. Check her out for all your cover needs!

Oh, and I have another surprise for you. This is what I spent today working on instead of writing. I think it was well worth it ;-D

NOTE: None of these three colors is natural.

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

Love Yourself

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“You are special. Accept that about yourself, and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness.”- from Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

I am creating a page called Love Yourself. And right now, that is all that it is.

Except for buttons. I may have designed and commissioned the creation of buttons.

I was actually looking for a way to create a resource to stop bullying, any sort of technique or process that I thought could work. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is sadly kind of the natural order of things. Link to my previous post, Bullied.

I started to look around to see if there were any techniques to stop bullying. But after decades, the same worn advice seems to be what everyone is doling out: “Tell an adult.” “If you see something, say something.”

Oh wait, that second one is from Homeland Security.

And telling an adult won’t PREVENT it, which would be the total ultimate awesome solution to the pain of so many crying out in the night. (I have been there. I have written the bad poetry to prove it.)

But what if we could make it irrelevant? What if it didn’t matter what others said about you, because you had confidence in yourself, so that you could be the best person you could be?

Just imagine!

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

That is kind of how I barnstormed (wait, brainstormed) into this whole “Love Yourself” idea. What if we stopped worrying so much about external factors* and instead worked on our insides? What if we stopped trying to paint our faces to look perfect on the outside when we are crying on the inside? What if we stopped using our credit card at Lowe’s to build the perfect house that we don’t even like, just to keep up appearances for the outside world?

What I’m getting at is that bad stuff will always happen, lots of it, in many different ways, shapes, and forms.

But we could be better prepared for all of it, bullying included, if our insides were healed first.

I have to think that there would be less war and more peace if people loved themselves more than their money or land or resources.

There would be less celebrities too. Why worship a Kim Kardashian or a Tom Brady when you can worship YOURSELF?

And you probably assume that money or fame will lead you to happiness. But rich, seemingly successful individuals commit suicide every single day. And it is heartbreaking.

There are a million ways what I am saying could be misinterpreted. But if you wake up in the morning and hate yourself, (you will know that feeling if you do) that is what needs to change.

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.”
– Johnny Depp

You might think of this as being cocky or vain, vain being one of the seven deadly sins (I Googled it). But if we are supposed to be made in God’s image, shouldn’t we be happy with the self we live in? Our body, inside and out, our spirit, our gifts?

I am talking very vaguely here. But that is because it could be referred to as many different things. “Love Yourself” means to know who you truly are and what makes you happy. Yes, sometimes we all have to go to a job we aren’t happy about. But if it truly makes you “I-can’t-sleep-at-night, I-can’t-eat, I-can’t-remember-happiness” sick, then that is you not listening to that special spot inside  of you.

Do you call it your heart?

Your common sense?

Your conscience?

Your spirit?

Your life force?

Your guts?

I don’t care what you call it. But you need to learn that it is there and how to listen to it. Some of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make in life are easier when you listen to it.

I know it is hard. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed this concept until I was like, 38 years old. But maybe if we started young, taught this to our children, it could become a movement.

I want anyone who wants pink hair TO HAVE IT.

I want anyone who wants a nose piercing TO HAVE IT.

I want EVERYONE to STOP WANTING and START BEING.

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I know many people (myself included) who walk around with bad attitudes about absolutely everything because they are not being who they really need to be. There is a voice inside you that yearns to speak. There is a spirit in you that is trying to bust out.

Heck, I had this Love Yourself cause burning inside of me on Monday. What did I do? I chose to go to work. I should have stayed home. I think I could have gotten more out of expressing my thoughts while they were fresh than what little I can buy with my paycheck. But, I went the road of least resistance. WE ALL DO.

Am I saying we should all quit our jobs? Well, no. But we do need to be conscious of where our destinies are pointing us.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
– Bob Moawad

Maybe it is just me that has trouble listening to my inner voice. Maybe other people get there by meditation or whatever.

But I have to retrain EVERY THOUGHT to be more positive, more loving, less judgmental—of myself AND others. It is a lot of work, but I think, in the end, it may be worth it. I hope maybe you will too.

The awesome Heather Hildenbrand gave a speech at Utopia Con 2016 called “The Audacity of Self-Love”. I wish it was on YouTube, or that I had taken better notes. But, well, I was too moved to jot down anything more than an outline. I was already pondering such ideas, and she just reinforced that.

Some of Heather’s statements: “Judgement is the consequence of trying to break out of the mold… Liking yourself is a rebellious act… Be audacious enough at loving yourself that other people see it.”

LOVE YOURSELF

Then in July 2016, I drew this. Out of thin air, for no reason. I was at a public chalk art event and I asked myself, “What message do I want to send to everyone around me?”

I don’t know what this may grow into, but I am excited to find out. More excited than I have been about anything since I decided to write a book. Or when I decided to publish said book. But to be honest, neither of those were really a decision, just as this wasn’t. I am listening to my gut. And it feels damn good.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman

If you keep sitting around waiting for someone else to understand you and support you, you could be waiting a very long time. It has to begin with you. Then it does not matter if anyone else jumps on board.

But, a great side effect of self love is that they will sense your confidence, and be more likely to.

I LOVE THIS. This is what I am trying to do, in one sentence.

I am weird. I am awkward. I don’t see the world as other people do. I try and use that to my advantage.

Everyone, at their core, WANTS to be normal. The blind man wants to be able to see. The physically disabled woman desires to walk. It is only when we let go of this unattainable goal of “normal” that we are then free to be who we were actually born to be.

And that is the best gift of all. You only get one life. Stop trying to live by others standards, only by your own.

* I know this is impossible to stop completely, but it should count toward less weight on the scale of importance in our lives.

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

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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