Because #funfactfriday isn’t a thing yet, or least that I’m aware of, I hope this post starts a trend.
As I sat in my art loft working on edits to the second book in the Josie Jameson series, I thought about you the readers of Four Rubbings. I have a crate of research behind that first book, and I wanted to share some interesting facts, some of which you might already know, but a couple may surprise you! Some are about the book, but others are about me. (cringe) Soon though, Spring 2015, the new book in the series will be out which I’m dying to share with you.
Author, Jennifer L. Hotes visited and researched over forty cemeteries before writing the book. She’s visited another 20 since then.
The novel originally had five teens, but Hotes dropped one after a developmental edit. She’s keeping the fifth storyline tucked away for her first adult mystery which will be published in early 2016.
The elusive Bain McLaren is an Irish orphan with a Scottish name. She took her husband’s name when they married, but her adopted name was Bain O’Reilly.
As a University of Washington grad, the author knew early on she wanted to feature a few quirky UW campus locales in the book. Look for the reference to the medicinal herb garden in the pages.
The cat featured in Four Rubbings is a devon rex. It is a rare Celtic breed with even rarer curly fur and beloved for its batty ears.
Recently, the author found out that her grandfather professed to have faced Death – yes, in person. When Death came for his mother, Vincent Snezeck told Death to go away saying he needed her on earth a little longer.
This is the author’s third year of serving on the board for Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation and her third year as chair of the organization’s annual luncheon. This was the first pediatric hospice in the northwest!
Her first paid job was stuffing envelopes for Cal State University Fresno. She was fourteen and got paid $800 for two weeks of work. This is where she picked up her rubberband shooting skills and obsession with Good-n-Plenty candy.
Most readers assume Four Rubbings is set in historic Lakesview Cemetery. Though it provided inspiration for the book, Lakefront Cemetery in the novel is an amalgam of many locations.
Hotes won an art contest in third grade, for her depiction of an Easter egg.
She won a writing award in fourth grade for a book based on the life of a fictional raccoon.
Heading to Arizona this week to watch Super Bowl XLIX? Well, I’ve got a packing guide to keep in mind as you fill that carry-on bag. Yes, there are some critical items you need to cram between your Seahawks jerseys, #12 flag and underwear in order to make the most of the trip.
Item #1 – Deodorant! (the stronger, the better) I’m a rabid Seahawks fan, but this game is shaping up to be a real nail biter. We’re playing a New England Patriots team that has everything to prove to the world as they step onto the field. Can they redeem themselves after #DeflateGate? I’m sure the team hopes to erase all doubt Sunday with a win. But, my Seahawks play with a chip on their shoulder every week. They approach every game of the season as a championship game. So, come Sunday, every down, these two teams are going to smash helmets and fight for yards. Swipe on two layers of that industrial-strength deodorant and smell like a daisy well into the fourth quarter, okay?
Item #2 – Air-pump. No really. You think I’m eluding to eleven underinflated balls, but not so! You’ve got to get to the big game, maybe on a shuttle, a bus, a car or bike. All these things have tires that can deflate. That might keep other fans from arriving at the gates on time, but not you. You’ll have planned ahead and packed an air-pump with you to handle flat tires. Way to go! Click here to link to Amazon.com and purchase NOW!
Item #3 – Disposable camera. Yes, most of us carry cell phones equipped with cameras these days, but technology can fail miserably when we need it most. This is a game for the ages, a bucket list opportunity, you’ll want to document this experience. Take a few minutes to buy a disposable camera at airport newsstand. It’s a fail-safe you won’t regret having.
Item #4 – Adult diapers. Consider wearing adult diapers to the big game. After all, it’s the freaking Super Bowl. You can’t slip away for ten minutes during the game because you’ll risk jinxing your team, or you’ll miss the turnover/play that crashes the internet. Halftime is also a no-go, because Katy Perry promises to deliver an eye-popping show. And if you don’t relieve yourself at some point during the game, then Monday you’ll be forking over a co-pay to some medical clinic to diagnose that burning bladder infection. Do what countless marathoners already do, and wear adult diapers. Yes, you’re welcome.
Item #5 – Instant portable phone charger. I’ve linked you to Amazon.com so you can add this handy item to your cart asap. It’s not only you that’s going to Super Bowl XLIX, every family member, friend, co-worker and frienemy you left behind is living vicariously through YOU. They’ll be texting hours before kickoff, I promise. I know this because I plan to pepper my own dad with texts the entire day. He’ll be sitting somewhere behind the goal posts and I’ll pester him for pics and updates. I’ll want to cyber-celebrate TDs and turnovers with him, and expect him to answer me at least a couple of times. Your batteries, like my dad’s, will drain fast. So, think ahead, and bring along an instant charger. Keep those lines of communication open and your acquaintances happy.
So, there they are, the five items you need to add to that suitcase. The weekend will fly by at lightening speed, but try to savor every moment. Travel safely home and if you happen to be a 12 like me, you better scream yourself hoarse on Sunday. Go Hawks!
Never one to use an alarm clock, I peeked out from a pile a blankets and saw 5:05am blinking in red. I had an hour left to linger in the warmth and comfort before waking. I fell back to sleep and soon felt our cat, Romeo, nuzzle into my side. He tucked himself into the crook of my left arm and purred. Between the warmth and companionship, we both settled into Dreamland.
Then, a scream, a burst of pain and a mad scrambling cat; all of it happened at once. Romeo vaulted off my chest onto the nightstand, knocked over a lamp, a stack of books, a cup of water and two angel statues. Two.
My husband startled awake and raced out of the room – apparently chasing down some imaginary thief in his half-asleep state. I clutched my left hand and ran to the bathroom. My thumb felt like it was on fire as I scrubbed it under the water; then it began to tingle in a bad way. I was afraid to know what the damage was, so I kept the lights off and continued to scrub. I went through more than four rounds of the “A-B-C” song I always made my kids recite in the name of good hygiene; something my youngest called a, “stupid parenting tip.”
After a handful of minutes, I wrapped my hand in a towel, clutched it to my heart and turned on the bathroom lights. Gently, I peeled back the towel and found four giant puncture wounds; two were deep and the others were super-duper deep. Gone, down the drain with a steady stream of blood, was any hope I had to become a hand model.
Romeo, our pet of eleven-years, is a Maine Coon. The cat world loves to call his breed, “gentle giants.” That’s normally true with Romeo. He weighs in at close to fifteen pounds, has a huge personality, gravitates to people – both family as well as visitors – and knows more tricks than our dog, Cooper. Romeo sips from a drinking straw. He opens drawers and cabinets. He sits, he stays, he high-fives. This cat is something special. That’s why we keep him as an indoor-only pet, he’s smart – but not street smart. In fact, he’s got the street smarts of a Quaker toddler.
A few weeks after moving into our new house, Romeo slipped out the back door and was gone. After three days of searching, we received the call we’d been hoping for; someone had found Romeo. Yes! Somehow he had managed to climb a three-story brick building, the masonic temple building in fact. The building has no ladder. There is no external staircase. How he clawed his way to the top, we’ll never know. But, a woman passing on the street heard him caterwauling from the rooftop. She later admitted to me that she’s deathly afraid of heights, but in that moment her inner-Mama Bear kicked in; she tracked down a maintenance man. She climbed the loaner ladder and she carried Romeo fireman-style down, down, down to safety.
Soon after, his rescuer called us, we entered her office. Romeo was working the room with his spins, high-fives and other fancy tricks. Every face in the room registered disappointment at the sight of us, Romeo’s family. His rescuer joked, “Oh, we were hoping you wouldn’t show up. He’s a really great cat.” Yeah, he is.
In the weeks that followed, I became friends with his rescuer. She runs an advertising company and does amazing charity work. She invited me to a fundraiser for a pediatric hospice, the place I later joined as a board member and volunteer. Romeo did all that, he brought us together to do good.
Back to that day when I was bitten, I slathered liquid bandage on my wounds and used the blow dryer to slow the bleeding so I could drive my daughter to school. I worked a full day, then picked up my daughter, got both kids ready for fencing, then drove through rush hour traffic to attend a pediatric board meeting. My hand throbbed red and hurt, but I ignored it. My fellow board members though, they didn’t. Most of our board works in the field of medicine, no surprise. And as soon as they heard the words, “cat bite,” they made me promise to check into urgent care after the meeting – which I only did to appease them.
The next day, I couldn’t use my left hand. But, two beloved members of my family were traveling into town for a long planned visit. The fridge was chocked full of the supplies I needed to cook meals each day, basically spoil them rotten for three days. But, I limped to the airport and before we’d even driven halfway home, they made it clear that they were going to take care of me. They cooked. They tidied. They reminded me to sit and rest. They made me laugh. And even though accepting help makes me squirm and sweat, I survived. In fact, I thrived. The kids had an amazing time with their grandparents and I soaked up every minute of their loving presence. By Monday, we marveled at how something so awful had morphed into the best visit we’d ever had.
Sometimes we don’t see how the bad stuff leads to something better, but I see it with laser vision now.
In the days since Romeo bit me, I’ve had to remind myself of all the love and good this little cat has done and will do in the future. Now, on my second round of strong antibiotics and with a markedly less puffy hand, I take time each day to stroke his back and say, “You’re a good cat, Romeo. I forgive you.” I’ll continue to repeat it until the words ring true, because yes, even cats deserve more than one chance. Especially Romeo.
Yes, you get the first glimpse of a new book coming out in February.
Soundings: Water Elemental by Janine Donoho is perfect for readers that crave adult paranormal suspense/thrillers. (Readers of Four Rubbings – sounds perfect for you!)
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Release date: February 27th, 2015
Is there hope for a grieving mother’s heart?
Ecopsychologist Dr. Margo Updike loses herself in a shadow life after her daughter’s tragic death. When a century storm deposits a young girl on Maggie’s secluded beach in Puget Sound, a miraculous renewal begins. Then the apparent orphan exhibits signs of neglect and worse, prompting Maggie’s vow to protect and heal her—no matter the cost.
The arrival of a mysterious man claiming to be Sorcha’s father upends Maggie’s life. She finds Morrissey strangely irresistible even as her friend Sheriff Ajax Smith questions the man’s motives and odd behavior. As a serial killer’s victims begin surfacing in Seal Cove, Jax must curb his suspicions to enlist Maggie as a profiler.
Will Jax and Maggie find the murderer before he strikes again? With Morrissey’s secrets trapping Maggie on destructive shoals between reality and legend, can she grasp his true nature before losing her chance to rebuild a life worth living? To what depths—and heights—will she go for a daughter, a beloved man and, ultimately, her humanity?
Whether you’re a teen, a young adult or older still (like me), there’s something to be learned from Russell Wilson, star quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. As he prepares to play in another NFC Championship game, you may assume his road to the pros has been easy, greased with natural talent and a dose of good luck. Baloney. He’s created his reality with a keen sense of purpose, hard work, humility and grace. It’s worth studying the habits of Mr. Wilson if you’re working towards a goal.
Lesson One: Russell Wilson makes his own good luck He prepares every day to achieve his dreams. He studies his opponents, hones his own skills, connects with his teammates and coaches to prepare for the game. Takeaway? Make your own good luck. No matter your goal, work today to make it happen. As a writer, my favorite saying on achieving big goals comes from Anonymous, “A novel is written one word at a time.”
Yes, no doubt your goal seems too big to wrap your arms around, but break it down into small bits. If you’re striving for better health, start simple. Cut back by one cigarette, substitute one carb for a carrot, park a smidgeon further away from your office building. Take one small step. Then tomorrow, do it again. Pretty soon you’ll find you are making real progress toward that goal. You are creating your own future.
Lesson Two: Russell Wilson doesn’t think any goal is out of reach He’s put duct tape over the mouth of his inner governor. Yes, that same irritating voice all of us have in our heads that tells us we can’t, we don’t deserve it, we won’t.
Well, our takeaway? Hush that negative mental thinking. It won’t happen overnight – because this bad habit took a lifetime to develop. But, we can retrain our minds. It starts with awareness; notice when you hear that negative thought. Replace the words you hear with something else, something Pollyanna positive. Sure, it’ll feel ridiculous, but keep on trying. Replace the negative with something better. Pretty soon, you’ll start believing the good stuff. Why not you?
Lesson Three: Russell Wilson uses rejection to motivate his success Chances are (and this is specifically for my teen readers) Mr. Wilson wasn’t offered a scholarship to his dream school. In fact, football wasn’t even his favorite sport, baseball was. But, his opportunity came to play both sports for a smaller college, and boy, did he? Yep. Look him up on Wikipedia. He took the opportunity and made every other college regret their decision to look him over, took Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl and broke school records. He might not have developed as a player or person the same way if he’d gotten a full-ride to say, Florida.
Takeaway? Well, if you currently have a job, an internship or a seat at a school, maybe it’s not your dream place, but it is where you are at right now, so say thank you by giving it all you have. Work hard. Be positive. Give something back to the place that gave you a chance. It’s the beginning steps to making something special happen.
Lesson Four: Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Mentally, physically; start right now. Prepare for your goal to come true. If you want to write a novel, tuck a notebook and pen into your bag so that you’re ready to jot down that idea or phrase whenever it hits you. If you want to teach kids, ask your local elementary school if they need student tutors. Start now. Be bold and ask your role model to be your mentor. Bring people into your dream. Tell them what you are preparing to become. Own it. And then, when you’re tired from your efforts; keep preparing.
Lesson Five: Russell Wilson does all this for God. Yes, every success and setback, Russell Wilson gives thanks and praise to God. He practices hard and plays to the best of his abilities not only for God, but for the guy playing next to him. He does everything for others, not himself. Takeaway? Well, speaking from my own experience, when I do something for others, it becomes greater than me, exponentially. Yes, I write fiction books – I’m not a pediatric neurologist – but I am mindful as I write that I want to evoke a response from my readers, maybe help them to see the world in a different way for a few hundred pages. It makes my writing better when I aim to create something that will resonate with others, not just fill up my computer screen for a time. So, whatever you’re working on, let it be for others. Bring us into your goal; maybe we’ll help you raise the bar higher than you ever thought possible.
Before 2015 rolls in, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the wit, candor and beauty shared by bloggers across the globe. Here are my top ten favorite reads. If you like what you read, please support their writing by subscribing to their blogs and/or checking out their published works. If you’ve got a favorite to share, add a link in the comments and spread the word.
Black Friday: THE Toy of 2014!
I wish I hadn’t been eating lunch when I read this post. Not because it was disgusting, no, but because I literally choked on my sandwich it was so damn funny. Well done, dumb white husbands, specifically, author, Clayton Smith, one of a handful of contributors to this top shelf website.
JT Twissel shone a light on my book, Four Rubbings and I’m grateful. She swears, though I don’t have the necessary access to her dashboard to confirm it myself, that this was her most popular blog post of 2014. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity, Jan.
Puppy Kindergarten, I mean two words that come together to create mayhem, right?
This winning post comes from the website, It Happened at Purity, where writer, Kate, comments on life in a small northern California town. The unlikely star of her popular blog is Ms. Lucy, Kate’s pound rescue. In fact, Lucy’s adoring fans often stop she and Kate as they walk the streets of Ft. Bragg to say hello. Here’s my favorite post from the past year:
Avid reader, book author and educator, Vicki Conrad, is growing a loyal group of followers with her well-written book reviews. She knows her stuff and it shows in her popular blog. From the blog of Vicki Conrad, here’s a great review of a YA book I’m adding to my must-read pile immediately:
It started out with a silly YouTube video of beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch. But, because I’m a hyper-emoting writer, soon I got contemplative. What did I try to do but fail miserably at time and time again?
Then, after I posted the blog I was still scratching my head, but not about my weight, but this; why is it when something is painful to write, it makes the best reading? Anyhow, I was encouraged to hear back from readers that the blog helped them. I’m glad of that. And, in spite of my nervous, squirming family, I’ll keep writing my truth and I’ll continue to share it because I love you.
What Mortuary Students Do in Mortuary School (you know you’re curious!)
Okay, on a much lighter note (sort of) From Confessions of a Mortician comes a blog post about what students do in mortuary school. It’s a question not many have been bold enough to ask, but here’s the compelling results:
Best-selling author, Tess Thompson, lives and breathes her authentic self and her blog is no different. She shares her stories; the victories, defeats and everything in between with a rawness I adore. This one about having the courage to hope for love again was powerful:
From MIT student, Ceri R. (yes, nepotism is alive and well people) a candid day in the life of a college coed. I wish I’d been this cool and frank and well, awesomesauce in college. Ceri’s putting a human face on the college experience in her own fresh and candid voice. Well done.
Alright, welcome back. So, Mr. Cumberbatch struggles to pronounce, ‘penguin,’ correctly. And, if you noticed, the harder he fights to get it right, the worse his pronunciation becomes. It’s funny, silly and sweet to see a highly capable person struggle to achieve something others find easy, isn’t it?
But, Mr. Cumberbatch’s interview with Graham Norton got me thinking. Don’t we all have our own personal penguin? It could be a professional skill like public speaking. It might be appearing to have nice table manners in front of others. It could be driving in a careful way when you’ve got your mother-in-law in the car. Whatever your penguin is, you over-think your actions until matters disintegrate into a crumbled pile of disappointment and frustration.
Well, I’m no different. My personal penguin is weight loss. The harder I clamp down on my calories, the more I sabotage myself by eating the wrong foods. My only success at being fit comes when I run. But, for two years, even the act of walking hurt my feet to the point of tears; so, I gained weight. A lot. I can’t tell you the exact number because I refused to get on a scale, but I’d guess it was close to a hundred pounds. And when you’re the height of a garden fairy, like me, it shows.
As an American woman, I’m not alone in this, but I struggle with my body image. I have since I hit puberty, in fact, the exact moment came when my mother offered to pay me a dollar for each pound I lost. We were on the way to the grocery store and her words were not only unexpected, but crushing.
Before her offer, I was under the assumption that I looked fine, actually I didn’t give my body a thought. I was a two-sport athlete and in my offseason, I ran regularly. Yes, I had a buxom chest, but I couldn’t help that. No matter how hard I exercised, I was a 36C. I was healthy. I got my share of attention – wanted or not – from boys. Before that moment, I felt good in my own skin. But, nothing crushes the old psyche like criticism from your mother.
I’d love to report that I’ve evolved into a self-loving woman, but that would be a lie. Even today, I struggle with my body image. I dress to downplay my boobage; opting to wear dark, loose-fitting shirts that become sort of a visual void, a nothing to the keen observer. Yes, I’m trying to achieve a textile black hole where my mass just sort of disappears. It’s a dirty little secret I share with other busty women. But, lately, I find I want to talk about it.
The other day, on a quest for a new bra, I went to Macy’s. The kindest woman helped me navigate the lingerie department. I explained to her that I was meeting Macklemore that night and needed a better bra so my dress fit properly. (actually I told her I wanted my girls to sit up straight) She laughed, saw through my body insecurity immediately, and said, “You know. Women pay thousands of dollars to have breasts like ours.” And we laughed. In that moment, some of my old hurts healed.
I’m raising my daughters to be different. My teen tells me what her off-target subjects are and I respect that. I don’t ask, inquire, hint or nag about those places where she is most sensitive. Because, I realize she nags herself enough about those things – it’s an internal dialogue of self-loathing and she doesn’t need my voice in the conversation. Yes, I compliment her, but only when it’s authentic. Even that, she tends to disregard, but that’s okay.
And because of my experiences, I don’t make body-centered observations about my daughters. No matter how well meaning it might’ve been for a family member to suggest I exercise with them, or choose a more slimming color, it hurt. It did its damage. And I refuse to pass insecurity onto my daughters. They don’t know I struggle to seem confident in my own skin. I don’t want to pass on this trait to them. My wish for them is to have little disregard for what the world thinks about their looks and feel comfortable with all of themselves. And, for myself? I’m making progress. I don’t love or hate myself based on whether or not I exercise or eat properly. I’m trying to love myself consistently. And for now, that’s enough.
Pardon the four day delay, but I couldn’t speak, post or tweet of this until I was back at home safe and sound. On the recent retreat I took to complete my second novel, I had company; in my bed, in the living room, as I stood on the roof deck, in the shower. No, I’m not talking about the kind of company that makes my wedding ring feel itchy, it was the kind that sends a chill down my spine.
It was an early birthday present to myself, I drove north to Bellingham, Washington and checked into the beautiful Hotel Bellwether, a property which fronts a lively harbor. My only room request was that it contained a desk, because I knew if I had three days to devote to the effort, I could finish my second novel, the follow up to Four Rubbings.
My room was #303. It was a delightful suite which overlooked the harbor and mountains. I’d brought a bundle of sage to burn, so I could cleanse the energy in the space and make it suitable for writing, but couldn’t get a match to light. No matter, I turned on the Seahawks game and dove into my writing. When I looked up from the computer the sunset was painting the sky in streaks of pink and I was starving. Notebook in hand, I supped and returned to the room. I finished two chapters and went to bed. Alone.
Knowing I never sleep well in strange places, I took a Benadryl and left on a light. An hour after retiring, I heard footsteps cross the room and stop at the edge of the bed, then there was the clear sound of someone breathing over me, just inches from my face. When I opened my eyes, I fully expected to find a man looming above, but there was nothing. Nothing.
Gathering my wits, I double-checked that the door was locked, then piled pillows around my ears; I was determined to get a few hours of sleep. And after a short time, it happened again. Footsteps, breathing, and then nothing. I tried once more to light the sage, but the matches were still damp. Instead, I turned on the television for the white noise and wrestled with my pillows until sunrise.
On my morning run, I looked at events with a sober mind. Yes, it was a spirit – I didn’t imagine it. But, it was not dark or threatening, only curious. I knew this from experience – the experience that comes from being awakened by a demon standing over your childrens’ beds. Yes, I know what dark spirits look like and smell like. I also know they’re hard to get rid of. They leave scars. What existed in #303 wasn’t that. It was a curious spirit, intrigued by the creative process. So, when I returned to the room, I had a word with him, “Yes, I know you’re here. I just don’t wish to acknowledge you. Please stop bothering me.”
The following nights in my suite went roughly the same way. And when I checked out on the fourth day, my book was complete. Yes, I had a ghostwriter, of sorts. I’ll never know his name, but he was there, reading over my shoulder and maybe he knew what he was doing when he kept me from sleeping. Because, together, we got the words down, the story completed. So, for that, I am thankful to him, my ghostwriter.
If you’re active on any social media then you’re well aware that it’s November, the month that has been become, “National Novel Writing Month.” The hashtag #NaNoWriMo has been trending on Twitter since November 1st and is mentioned in every third post on Facebook. Meh.
I’m a writer, so you’d think I’d adore all the positive encouragement, posted word counts, and shared advice, but I’m over it. Way. Over. It.
Writers out there, go for it. Do this thing. Silence your inner-governors and write, dang it. Sink into the heads of your characters without shame this month, and the month after, and the month after that. But, because I realize writers are a tenderhearted crew, I’m going to say this nicely, (shaky hands offer you a warm cookie and cup of tea), “Please don’t post about it.”
#NaNoWriMo updates are about as interesting to your potential readers as reading a bus driver’s account of his morning routes, or listening to a play-by-play of a cardiologist’s morning surgeries, or watching a video taken by a dental hygienist of his afternoon cleanings. It’s rather dull. (remember, I’m trying to be gentle)
If you are tickled with what you’re crafting this month and just HAVE to post about it, then make it interesting. A fellow Booktrope author had the idea to post the last sentence of your work-in-progress at the end of each day. What a great way to entice and intrigue readers. If that doesn’t appeal to you, try sharing an interesting story or fact you stumbled upon when you were doing your background research. That’s always received well. Or what about sharing a picture of your pile of writing-fueling candy bars? Or even better, post a selfie of you in your writing garb, makeup-less face and all.
These are all great ways to share the process and connect with your potential readers in an organic way this month! Because, I realize the purpose of #NaNoWriMo is to connect writers with writers, encourage the craft. Well, do that, but don’t litter your feeds with it. Instead, use #NaNoWriMo as a way to not only encourage the craft, but as a vehicle to connect, not alienate, potential readers; yes, the people that will one day fall in love with your novel.