Signed book giveaway

Just a quick reminder that the giveaway I’m hosting on Goodreads is almost over.

Enter to win 1 of 5 autographed copies of my book, Sleeping in the Morgue.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sleeping in the Morgue by Jennifer Tressen

Sleeping in the Morgue

by Jennifer Tressen

Giveaway ends December 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

My favorite holiday – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has been for as long as I can remember. It isn’t about commercialism, decorations, candy, or extravagant parties. It’s about food and family, two of my absolute favorite things.

I think of Thanksgiving as a day of reflection and a time to plan ahead for the future. We think about what we are grateful for and what we’d like to change in order to better our lives and those around us. It’s a time of year when people start to connect. Food drives and holiday collections come together to bring those less fortunate a meal or some items they could use. Instead of turning a blind eye to strangers we embrace them with a sense of community.

As a child I looked forward to the delicious food and games we’d play afterwards. Back then there was no rushing off to go Black Friday shopping because Black Friday actually happened on Friday, not Thursday. I remember sitting in the floor with my parents and cousins playing board games and laughing till our bellies hurt on account of the good company, humorous conversation and fifth helping of mashed potatoes.

In my adulthood the holiday has changed. Different people have different ways of celebrating and some have been more enjoyable than others. Commercialism has managed to make its way into the day now with sales beginning during dinner hours forcing people to decide whether a bargain is good enough to miss family time or not. The answer is no, it’s not. At least for me it is. Now I enjoy bargain shopping probably more than most, but deals aren’t going to pull me away from my family at 4 pm on such an important day.

Thanksgiving has been an interesting day for me over the past decade – filled with ups and downs. It was on Thanksgiving that my husband and I announced our first pregnancy. It was also later that night which I lost the baby. That painful miscarriage almost made me lose my love of Thanksgiving. It took another couple years to get it back, especially since the following year I was reminded of it on that very day and had to endure the heartless “scientific” remarks of a family member who watched me cry and continued on until I had to excuse myself from the table. Another Thanksgiving I balled my eyes out as I wrote my very first monologue – the most honest one I’ve ever written in fact, and realized I just needed to pour my soul out on paper. That this, writing, is my therapy. These experiences actually solidified Thanksgiving even more as my favorite holiday because they reminded me of all the things I am thankful for. I have an amazing husband, two beautiful little boys, lots of people in my life who support my choices and the opportunity to write as a career. I am blessed and know it, which is even more of a reason why I love to give to others. My family gives all year-round, not just during the holidays and I encourage others to do the same. People are in need more than just during November and December.

This year will be the first time we are away from all of our family for Thanksgiving and I have mixed emotions about it. While I look forward to spending time with friends (who are basically family) it does make me think…what has happened to Thanksgiving? And maybe it’s not Thanksgiving, but our families and the lives we all lead now. Things were much simpler as children. I hope my kids feel the same way I did at their age, excited for every holiday, unaware of the work, stress and planning that goes into each one. Just pure joy. That’s all I ask. That’s all I want for them…pure joy. During this day and every other.

Do you have a favorite holiday?

My favorite quote – I don’t have one

I have often posted quotes on Facebook and in my writing which become conversation starters. Quotes about kindness, generosity, writing, humanity and more. Recently someone asked me what my favorite quote is and why. I answered that I don’t have a favorite. The look they gave me spoke volumes. It was as if they were saying, “Are you serious? Who doesn’t have a favorite quote which inspires them? And you call yourself a writer?”

I know most people have a favorite quote or line. Something which inspires them or reminds them of a time they wished they could go back to, even if just for a short visit. I understand that. I have those. I also have quotes which motivate me, make me sad, remind me of my blessing, encourage me to expand my mind and those which teach me something new. I feel differently every day. I have unique objectives for the day, things happen which change my attitude and sometimes, by nightfall I don’t even feel like the same person as the one who woke up in the morning because of what has occurred. Which is why I don’t have a favorite blanket statement to cover all aspects of life and things I need and want from it.

I think it’s fine to have a favorite. I know my husband does. He has a motto he’s always lived by and it works just fine for him. I simply feel the need for different lines. Maybe it’s part of being a writer. The emotional need to connect myself in unique ways to ideas so that I am then able to delve into the subject matter more fully. I love different quotes on different days. Heck, there are even quotes which I once enjoyed and no longer connect to because my views have changed and I am not in the same place in life I was when it first sparked my interest.

Here are a few quotes I love:

“Character is what we do when we think no one is looking”

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself”

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them”

“It is the possibility of a dream coming true that makes life so interesting”

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face”
I also absolutely love quotes about children and their sense of wonder.

Now it’s time to open it up to readers. I’d love to read some quotes you enjoy.

Do you have a favorite quote? Why or why not?

 

What to write

These days I have very little time to write due to my job as a fulltime mom. However, when I do have time to write I often find myself asking the same question….okay, now what do I write?

I have several books in different stages; ideas, outlines, chapters written, editing, and so on. I also have the work of clients to edit, ghostwrite and such. Thus, the question always arises…what to write?

For me it depends on a couple factors namely being deadlines and mood. If I know there are things I need to complete for clients or to meet self-imposed deadlines I’ll try my best to work on those. But when the deadlines aren’t a worry I dictate my projects somewhat according to temperament. If I’m having trouble focusing on a novel or ebook I might write a monologue to get the things off my chest. I’ve found that the forced writing, in other words, writing something when it’s not naturally flowing out, is static. The basic structure is there but the life is missing. For me it’s harder to edit passion back in later than to edit grammar and structure once the excitement of a story is already laid out. Thus I love to write when I can focus on a story and dive into the emotional lives of my characters.

What about you? When you write, what do you write? What’s your process?

I’d love to hear from you!

 

Giveaway time!

It’s amazing what the smallest kindness from a stranger can do for the soul. In the last two days I’ve had a few brushes with having a sense of self and feeling like I have value.

While there is still a long way to go and much more to learn about well, everything, I am feeling a bit “lighter.” Having a few people follow my posts this week has done wonders for my soul. Someone is reading this. Someone wants to know what I have to say. That is incredible. So, thank you.

I reached out to a perfect stranger today. Not because I needed to complete a good deed for the week or because I was trying to show off for others, just because it comes naturally. A little boy and his mother came to play in the park where I was with my sons. No one else was around. This little boy wanted nothing more than the attention of a someone other than his mother and friends to play with. After allowing the children to play for a few minutes and much pushing on the swings I told my boys it was time to sit under a tree and eat our lunch of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and pretzels. The little boy watched and then approached to inquire what we were doing. I offered him a bag of pretzels and he happily took them after receiving the permission of his mother. A couple minutes later he came back and asked about the sandwiches my kids were eating. Sure, I could have said I didn’t have any or give his mother a look, but I didn’t. She told him to leave us alone and I said it’s alright, handed him half of my sandwich and sat back to watch how the smallest thing not only made his day but instantly bonded he and my oldest son.

Once we had finished lunch we returned to playing. I talked with the boy’s mother and discovered they had just moved to California from Mississippi that week. He had just started kindergarten and they didn’t know a soul besides her sister who she moved in with. Maybe I’ll never see the boy or his mother again, maybe I’ll run into them next week, only time with tell. However, what matters is that for a short period of time I made a difference in someone else’s life by simply showing them a bit of kindness and wanting absolutely nothing in return. A small reminder of the power of kindness. It made my day.

With all that said, I’m doing a giveaway through Goodreads! Click the link below to enter to win 1 of 5 autographed copies of Sleeping in the Morgue.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sleeping in the Morgue by Jennifer Tressen

Sleeping in the Morgue

by Jennifer Tressen

Giveaway ends December 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

A Time to Reflect

Lately I’ve found myself in a bit of a depression. For those who know me, it certainly is out of the ordinary. I’m a quite peppy, cheerful person. I’m usually optimistic, although in recent years I have turned a bit more pessimistic and sarcastic as the realities of people and situations have become more clear.

However lately it’s been a different kind of storm cloud hovering over my head. I haven’t had a great sense of achievement or purpose. I am a mother to two handsome little boys. They rightfully consume the majority of my time and energy; the rest going to my husband, service projects, other family members and friends. But what is missing in all of this is me. I’ve haven’t set aside any time for myself and those around me haven’t even considered the fact that perhaps I too need a bit of time off. Not even “time off,” simply time when I am “off duty” with the normal day to day responsibilities and can sit down to write. I am behind on all the work I want to do. My list of books to write is more lines than this blog post. It’s defeating. It’s the old “too much to do and not enough time.”

Some might say my priorities are out of order. Perhaps they are. I care more about other people than they will ever care about myself or my children. I waste tons of time and energy doing nice things for them, thinking about them, reaching out…only to be used, abused, shot down and vilified the moment I speak up about the lack of effort others make. I love words, they’re my power…but actions really do speak louder than words often can. Especially when spoken from the mouths of those who have achieved stature through lies, deceit and manipulation.

Thus, I am attempting to clear my slate of these people and only focus on the things which really matter; my children, my husband, my work and those who give a damn about all of the above.

Step One: Writing this blog post.

It always helps when you put something in written form. There’s a sense of obligation and accountability with a declaration for the world to see. Plus, I’m making a commitment to begin blogging on a regular basis. It’s therapeutic and gets my mind focused for my “actual writing.”

Step Two: Focused time with those who matter

I spend virtually every minute with my kids. I see my husband regularly as well as some friends and family members. However it’s not all “focused, quality” time. With so many things to do all the time our time is often muddled and overly hectic. I want to spend more “focused time” with my kids where all other distractions are pushed away. I want to have more date nights and quality time with my husband instead of just sitting together to watch television or bathing the kids at night.

Step Three: Schedule “me” time

Whether it be meeting up with a girlfriend for a drink, spending an hour reading a book, getting a pedicure or just sitting outside and doing nothing – I need “me” time to clear my head and feel like something more than just mom/wife/housekeeper/chauffeur/assistant all the time.

Step Four: Write every day

Just what it says. Write every day. More than the grocery list or “to do” list which inevitably is never finished. A blog post, several pages, an outline, a monologue or even just a hundred words of a novel – something productive. I hate to admit it, but for the past couple weeks I’ve hardly written anything. In fact, this blog is the most I’ve written in weeks. Life has overtaken my time and I’m determined to fix that. It feels good to write.

We’ll see how this mission goes. I may fail some days or weeks to keep things in order but I am going to try. I have chosen this career as a writer because it’s something I feel I have some talent for. Although the scope has changed through the years from screenwriting and editing to now, writing my own novels (which is terrifying); I want to do this. I need to do this.

In reflecting on the past and planning for the future here are some snapshots of a much younger me…

monk2

(Working on the show “Monk”)

monk