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In-Person Appearance This Saturday!

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There will be an appearance Saturday, April 8th by Jennifer Friess!!!

That doesn’t seem very glamorous. Wait, that’s me.

But, heck, I’m announcing it anyway.

Tomorrow me, and several other even more fabulous authors, will be at the Lenawee District Library from 2:30PM-4:00PM. That is a short window of time, so if you snooze, you will lose.

The LDL, as they refer to themselves, can be found at 4459 W. US-223, Adrian, MI 49221.

This will be my first event where I will have copies of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom to sell. I am so excited to be able to tell people about Ginny’s story in person!

To see other events, please click here: EVENTS PAGE

Don’t forget, if you sign up for my newsletter during the month of April you will have a chance to win TWO ROCK STAR PASSES to 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.

Click here to sign up.

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

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F*ck Ya, That’s My Dream

Ever since I was a little girl watching Laverne & Shirley and Punky Brewster, I have wanted to be a sitcom writer. I knew I could never be an actor, for various anxiety-related reasons. But the actors don’t choose (in most cases) what comes out of their mouths anyway. That is controlled by the writers. So, that is what I wanted to be.

I never really believed that that dream could come true. Recently, I have thought, “What the hell. I am going to believe that it could be a possibility. And things like when The Mindy Project began following me on Twitter for no apparent reason get my hopes up. What if they realize my genius?

I was losing faith that there would still be shows like that for me to write these days. In recent years, everything became a “reality” show (although I believe that they actually have writers too. Really real, right?) Now everything is a serialized horror anthology. Not my style at all.

Photo: Netflix

Photo: Netflix

But then there is The Ranch on Netflix. It restores my faith in the half hour comedy with a little-drama-thrown-in-to-grow-the-characters format. Plus there are LOTS of swear words, which the 12-year-old boy that lives inside of me loves.

The premise is that professional football player Colt (Ashton Kutcher) returns home to the ranch to live and work with his goofy brother Rooster (Danny Masterson) and their grumpy father Beau (Sam Elliott). They spend lots of time with their hands up cows’ asses, and the rest of the time drinking. All the dialogue is very easy going and it just feels like Ashton and Danny showed up to hang out for the day. Ashton even looks like he might just wear his clothes from home. Then maybe Sam Elliott is just grumpy because he came in expecting to actually make a real TV show, although he seems in on it as well. It just seems like something I would love to be a part of.

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat. Photo: Netflix

One of the few occasions where Ashton Kutcher is not wearing a baseball hat.
Photo: Netflix

In the episode I watched today, the sexy weather girl Tanya Showers was giving the lottery results on the Bennetts’ television. All the men were hypnotized by her. “First reading the weather, now the numbers. Is there anything she can’t do?” My brain jumped ahead to the punchline before they got there. Maybe everyone’s would, but I like to think I have a talent for it. I relish the predictability.

But then the cliffhanger at the end of part (season?) two totally surprised me. I was actually mad at myself for not predicting it, because they did foreshadow it in the preceding episodes. But it was still good.

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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What I Learned This Week – 9/25/16

I know 9/25 was yesterday, but the rules I set forth for my blog say that a “What I Learned” can be posted on Sunday OR Monday, but must always contain Sunday’s date to reflect the previous week.

What? Your website doesn’t have rules?

This week I learned that dreams come true.

I have told parts of this story before, but here is the definitive version.

When I was in middle school I found a kindred writing soul, my asbestos friend. (I have mentioned her on here before.) We both would write stories about what we were interested in at the time—cute boys at school, the New Kids on the Block, etc. Some of these were only a few pages long, and many were rated-R. Sometimes we would let the boys at school read them. That was fun, because they didn’t seem to realize that girls could have minds as dirty as boys—and that we could put it into cohesive sentences to share.

SIDENOTE: Ten years later I was working at a national drugstore chain. I waited on one of those boys. I asked him if we had gone to the same school, knowing full well we had. He asked my name, then left, still looking puzzled as if he didn’t remember me.

He asked his mom if she remembered going to school with a Jennifer Friess. His mom went to a trunk she kept of his school mementos. He was a bad boy then, so there probably weren’t many academic or attendance awards in there. His mom pulled out some of the stories my friend and I had written back in the day. I may even remember him telling us about getting in trouble when his mom found them back then. But, well, SHE must have liked them because she had kept them.

He came back into the drugstore about a week later and told me that. I still am proud of that. His mom must be our first fan.

In high school, my asbestos friend and I would sometimes ditch lunch to go to the computer lab and type stories. Not for homework, but just to get the ideas out of our heads. That was like 1992. I never thought I would ever be privileged enough to have a computer in my own house—such a luxury item.

On Saturday, we sat behind the same table and sold our books. Mine self-published (on my own laptop—my how times change), hers by a small publisher. If I had told that short girl in high school wearing the XL T-shirts (ME) that that would one day happen, she wouldn’t have believed me. And she would have probably gone right then and slit her wrists at the thought of all the work to get to that point. So, maybe it is good I can’t talk to her.

Two dreamers.

Two writers. Two authors. Two dreamers.

We may not have big fame and fortune, but who says that won’t be ten, five, or maybe even a year from now?

I don’t believe it will ever happen. But, I believed that once before about having book. Now I have three. This journey I am currently on continues to surprise me.

Today, it actually scored me a free T-shirt from the local Co-op! Research pays off 😀

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 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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