Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Of Birthdays and Expectations

Updates and Musings

I have nearly an entire week off starting today... And I could not be happier about it.

I HAVE TIME TO WRITE AGAIN! 

 
It's been a busy few weeks.

My mom and I finished setting up (and subsequently opened up) a new gift shop & boutique, my health took a spin on the roller-coaster ride from Hades, one of my best friends had her beautiful baby boy, I met a ton of amazing people... and I learned that working 50 or more hours a week and trying to keep on a writing schedule (while also battling extreme anxiety and a chronic disease) is not only impossible, but hazardous to my health and seriously damaging to my sense of calm.

Oh.

And I turned 30 last weekend.

So, there's that.

I can pretty much guarantee that had I actually had time to mourn the loss of my twenties, I would have been way more upset about that particular development. Instead, I only briefly noticed the transition.

(And anyway, I still struggle to convince people that yes, I am legally old enough to buy that fruity alcoholic beverage at Bahama Breeze, so please stop eyeballing my driver's license like it says "McLovin"...)

When you have the perpetually chubby cheeks and dimples of a little kid, worrying about growing older has less to do with laugh lines and more to do with your utter lack of accomplishments upon reaching those merciless temporal milestones. Something that I was trying very hard not to think about.

Publishing two books counts as some sort of accomplishment, right?

Do I get Grown Up points for that? Because I'm pretty sure the fact that I'm unmarried, am renting an apartment, and have no family of my own is threatening to put me in the negative.

It's made me think, though...

I mean, true, I may be the only one of my friends that hasn't gotten married yet.

And, okay, I'm also probably the only one left without a 401K or a decent retirement plan.

Fact is, I'll probably never have that white picket fence, 3.2 kids and a dog thing that society keeps telling me I should want...

But does that really matter?

For the moment, at least, I'm happy with my choices—which is more than I can say for some of the people I know.

So my life didn't turn out exactly the way society said it would. So what? It's taken me thirty years, but I'm finally beginning to understand...  Those detours I keep taking are what make my life interesting. And what's a good story without a few unexpected twists and turns?

So to my thirties I say, "Bring it. And be sure to keep it interesting." Because as far as I'm concerned—to quote my girl, Alex—normal is terribly overrated.


Giveaways Galore

A few of you have been lamenting the fact that you missed the giveaway here on the blog we did a couple weeks back... Well, to that I say—I've totally got you covered.

The kind, generous, and ever-so-lovely ladies over at the TeamNerd Reviews blog are currently celebrating I HEART YA 2014!! And so in addition to the amazing posts by and about YA authors, they're also hosting five—count 'em, FIVE—giveaways!

Click here to check out the interview I did with them and then scroll on down to the bottom of the post for a link to the I HEART YA giveaways page where a signed copy of Resistance is currently up for grabs!

And if that's not enough, TeamNerd's amazing reviewer Bridget was kind enough to create this fantastic promo image for Resistance!


Perfect promo is perfect. Just sayin'.

Also, be sure to stay tuned, because we'll be doing another giveaway over on the Jena Leigh Facebook page, just as soon as it hits 500 likes!


This Week's Playlist

I've been listening to Alt-J a lot lately, so they've earned two spots on this mini-playlist... Can't get enough of them while I'm working. Pandora introduced me to both of the next two songs and now they've been stuck in my head off and on for ages. And last, but not least, the beautiful harmony that is my current writing song—"Storm Comin'" by The Wailin' Jenny's.  Hope you find a song or two to enjoy!


Alt-J—Breezeblocks



Alt-J—Left Hand Free



Aranda—Still in the Dark



Eli Young Band—Oklahoma Girl



The Wailin' Jenny's—Storm Comin'

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Of Giveaways and Happy Hearts

Giveaways!

Hey guys! In a recent post I mentioned that the Jena Leigh page on Facebook was still slowly gaining likes, and that I hoped to do a giveaway once we hit 500. And we will! As soon as that 500th fan clicks "like," I'll put together something special for my Facebook followers...

In the meantime (to help us get a little closer to that goal of 500 likes), I'll be running a giveaway here on the blog! (And sorry international folks, but this time around it's just for residents of the US and Canada... One day, I'll be able to afford to ship these prizes anywhere in the world! Until then, I just can't swing it. Not to fret, though—I'll be doing another giveaway soon that will be open worldwide! So stay tuned!)

The prize up for grabs this time is a signed paperback copy of Resistance (The Variant Series, #2), along with two Variant Series bookmarks, and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card!

Yep. On August 11th, I'll be giving away a whole bunch of goodies to one lucky reader who enters the Rafflecopter giveaway below! So be sure to enter for your chance to win!

I made sure there are plenty of ways for you to rack up points—and let's face it, since the giveaway will be exclusive to the Jena Leigh blog, in all likelihood there will be roughly five entries all together. Like, total. So if you do enter, the odds will definitely be in your favor. Just sayin'... :)



a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
Updates

I've written and rewritten this part of the post roughly four times, now.

It's not that I don't have anything to say. I can think of plenty. It's just that all the things I'm inclined to tell you about are coming across as either whiny or depressing. Or both. And that's not the sort of post I wanted to make today. So instead, let's just summarize the bad as quickly as possible so we can move on to some more enjoyable stuff, shall we?

The situation in a nutshell is this: For the next month or so, I haven't a snowflake's hope in Hades of meeting my current writing goals without subjecting myself to a mind-numbing stretch of extreme stress and sleep-deprivation. One that will likely result in my health taking another nosedive.... and/or a full-on nervous breakdown. Whichever comes first.

There are only so many hours in the day and—sadly—I haven't yet figured out how to clone myself.

As soon as we get this store up and running (and have hired enough help), I'll be settling back into my normal writing routine and that shiny purple progress bar for Book 3 will be back on the blog!

Until then, for the sake of my sanity, I'll be writing what I can, when I can, and trying very hard not to feel guilty about it.*


Pins and Posts

So, in case you hadn't noticed, half of my tweets lately have consisted of pins that caught my eye on Pinterest.... The other half, of course, are the exceedingly random posts I found amusing on Tumblr.

Lately the Internet has surpassed both books and TV as my chosen method of work-related detox.  I've noticed that when I finally make it home in the evenings I'm too tired to even watch a 30-minute-long television show, much less compose a pithy collection of words in 140 characters or less. So recently my online presence has taken on a less direct form... Reblogs.

Cause, y'see, making an intelligent comment when you're half dead and longing for sleep is hard. Scrolling through a mind-boggling number of pins and posts, however, is as easy as dragging your thumb across a cell phone. And that, I can totally handle.

Anyway.

Out of all my pins and posts this week I stumbled across a couple of favorites I thought I'd share with you here on the blog.

First up is this little gem Wil Wheaton reblogged on Tumblr...



(It's sadly lacking a source, though the name at the bottom reads "Sweatpants & Coffee". If you know its origin, please send me a link!)

There has been so much talk online and in the news lately about whether or not we should be embarrassed by the genres and age classifications of the books we choose to read. About whether or not adults should be ashamed to read YA fiction.

You know what I say to that? You should feel absolutely no shame at all in reading whatever you like—whatever makes you happy. And if other people don't like it, they can stuff it.**

I can't tell you how many times I've had adults (most of whom are aged mid-40s and above) approach me and tell me how surprised they were that they enjoyed my book.

"I saw the Young Adult label and just assumed it was for kids," they'll say. "I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much, at my age!"

But that's the thing. 

YA, middle grade, children's stories... It doesn't matter what the age classification is—a good story is a good story.  If the story is enjoyable, meaningful, relatable, or clever, it can easily transcend the limitations of its assigned age level.

So should I, as an almost-30-year-old, be embarrassed to wander the YA aisles at my local bookstore? Should I be ashamed to be seen reading a Harry Potter novel or Maggie Stiefvater's latest book in public?

Of course not. If someone has a problem with it, then that's their problem, not mine.

I appreciate a well-told story. Full stop.

An age classification is a suggestion, not a rule. And thank God for that. I shudder to think what amazing adventures I might never have experienced, and all the extraordinary characters I might never have met, had I followed those so-called "rules."

Anyway. That's my two cents' worth.

...I've shared a Tumblr reblog, so let's wrap this section up with my favorite pin from last week:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/537969117961521427/

 (Love this. Surreal and brimming with possibilities... Oh, the stories I could write...)


Stuck in My Head

Two songs this week, the first is a song from Swedish DJ Avicii, with vocals provided by my favorite voice in bluegrass music today—Dan Tyminski. (You might recognize his voice from the song "Man of Constant Sorrow" off the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.) The song's called "Hey Brother" and is from the Avicii album True.

Avicii - Hey Brother



Next up, it's absolutely the most oddball song I've heard in ages. Over the course of the last few days, it's inspired some glorious off-key shower vocals, as well as some horrendously awkward dancing in my car... And all I can say is, thanks, Pandora. Thank you for always playing the weirdest songs imaginable in my QuickMix. You provide me with so much awesome $#!@.

 Milky Chance - Stolen Dance



What's not to love?

Okay, guys. Time to wrap up this monster of a post!

I'm working on another post about my writing process that I hope to publish here on the blog in the next week or two, but either way, you'll hear from me again next weekend. Hope you all have a fantastic week! :)


*I haven't stopped writing. Far from it. I wrote another 800 words, just this morning. I merely need to give myself some room to breathe and take a break when I require it. The "accountability" method is wonderful and effective, and I'll be returning to it ASAP... Just as soon as my other responsibilities calm down a bit. In the meantime, I'll continue trudging along, even if I'm not talking much about my progress. :)

** Yeeeahhh. What I really wanted to say to that included a lot more cursing and a few obscene gestures. None of which translate well on a blog where the appropriateness rating is traditionally kept at PG-13 or below. But you get the picture.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Quick Update and Some Magic


The Variant Series: Book 3 Progress Bar

 

I picked a terrible week to be held accountable for my writing progress. Really. Epic miscalculation on my part.

This is the first day off I've had since last Saturday, and I still spent a few hours at work this morning, getting a whole host of things finished so that I could take a day off without worrying too much about being gone. Definitely looking forward to some down time! (And, fingers crossed, some uninterrupted writing time, as well.)

In the end, I hit my goal of 30,000 words, but only barely—and only because I gave myself a few extra days to hit the mark.

New goal for next week: 35,000 words.

If I don't update this progress bar next Friday with a number over 35K, I'll... I'll... I don't know. Subject myself to some form of punishment, I suppose. Going to have to think on that one. Suggestions?

On a completely random note, I'm beginning to think my laptop wants me to finish Book Three as much as you guys do. My desktop image is programmed to change every minute, shuffling through roughly a thousand images that I have saved in my desktops folder... and yet, for some unknown reason, this guy has been popping up every time I minimize Scrivener.


I have to admit. He's flippin' adorable. And a delightful motivator.*

With a tiny potato cheering me on, how could I possibly fail?

Also, it looks like the Jena Leigh page on Facebook is still gaining likes, slowly but surely. I'm thinking about doing some sort of giveaway once we hit 500 (and perhaps a second giveaway, if we ever reach 2,000 followers on Twitter.) Going to have to come up with something fun for a prize!

And stuck in my head this weekend, is the band Magic!—a band that you've almost definitely heard, if you've turned your radio to an alt-rock or pop station at all in the last few months. Their hit song Rude sucked me in, and now their album Don't Kill the Magic is my new obsession. Catchy, beachy and fantastic. The healthy dose of reggae in their songs makes Don't Kill the Magic the perfect summer album. I kind of adore these guys. They're like... like the Police meets Sublime, mixed with a little bit of Bruno Mars and some Bob Marley thrown in for good measure.

Anyway. Enough fangirling. Have a couple songs and a wonderful weekend, my loves! See you next week!

Magic! - Rude (Acoustic)




 Magic! - No Evil



*If you know who created this image, please let me know so I can add the source info! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Of Accountability and Ninjas

Writing is hard at the best of times.

At the worst? It's Mission: Impossible, complete with an exploding tape deck and suspenseful theme music. And ninjas.

Flippin' ninjas whose sole intention is to distract you from your WIPs by assaulting you with the time-consuming distractions of everyday life.

I could explain my own personal ninjas in some detail, but that's a whole 'nother blog post. Suffice it to say that helping your family open up a new gift shop/boutique when your health isn't exactly at 100% can really put a hitch in your writing schedule.

But I fully intend to remedy that.

In spite of all the distractions, there is still one thing that is absolutely guaranteed to keep me writing, even when the ninjas are kicking my butt... Accountability.

Be it writing sprints on Twitter or the updates expected of me by my alpha readers, I write more when someone's holding me accountable for my efforts. So from now until book three in the Variant Series is finished, I'll be posting my progress each week here on the blog as a part of my posts. It will keep me working on book three, and should finally get me blogging again. Win-win!

Also, for the record, I'll be starting this accountability thing off at 26,279 words.*


The Variant Series: Book 3 Progress Bar

 


If I don't update next week at a number that's over 30,000, feel free to give me grief. I'll totally deserve it.

A couple things to note here... That 75K goal is a guesstimate. More than likely, if I keep heading on this same track, book three ought to come in at something closer to 90K. Also, when I reach the last 1/4 of the book, I tend to write upwards of 5,000 words a day, so don't be discouraged by that low number you see in the bar! I'm still struggling to get into the groove of writing regularly again, but if this accountability thing goes as planned, I should be making steady progress on the draft again soon!

Okay, y'all. My infusion is almost over, so I need to wrap this up before the nurse returns to unchain me from this IV and I head home for a much needed nap.**

I think this week I'll leave you with a few of the tunes that have been stuck in my head lately. Hope you find something here to enjoy!




Have a great rest of the week, guys! :)

~Jena


*That number could be a bit higher, but I'm not including the scenes I've written that are out of sequence and haven't been added in yet. Just in case they don't get used.

**This has to do with that whole my health is not 100% thing I mentioned earlier. The good thing about being chained to an IV for four and a half hours (besides the six weeks of good health it offers me) is that it forces me to work. Hence this blog post. So freaking yay for that.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy, #2) by Annabell Cadiz


Hey guys!

I'm incredibly excited to announce that the wonderful and talented Annabell Cadiz, author of Lucifer, has just released book two in her Sons of Old Trilogy!!! Michael, the second book in the trilogy, is out TODAY, so be sure to check it out! 

~Jena





Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy, #2) 

Now available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon! 
Add on Goodreads!
Genre: YA/NA Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Paranormal
Publication: May 28, 2014
Cover Designed by Hot Damn Designs
Synopsis: Zahara Faraday looks like a normal eighteen-year-old and lives in a quiet neighborhood with her overprotective parents. She works at a bookstore and hangs out with her best friend Becca King on a daily basis. But underneath the normal lies a secret life filled with dangerous supernaturals. Zahara belongs to a world made of Light Witches, rogue Imagoes (supernatural creatures with super strength, speed, and silver skin when the moon is out), fallen angels, and Nephilim (hybrid children born half-human, half-angel). Where her father Solomon Faraday is human, her mother Mia and her Aunt Catalina are Light Witches. They help protect the human world by hunting down rogue supernaturals who commit heinous acts against humans. What they never expected was the possibility of having to hunt down the one rogue coven they had befriended and come to trust in their battle against Lucifer. Rekesh Saint-Louis is the leader of the most powerful Imago coven in Florida and now he’s the most suspected. Supernatural bodies are starting to pile up with an ancient ritual long forbade being used to murder them and the symbol, one large cross with four smaller crosses around it—which represents Rekesh’s coven— being left behind. Rekesh and the Elders of his coven set out to find who is behind the murders and clearing his name before a war between the covens begins. To make matters more difficult, Rekesh also has to deal with the return of someone he has been keeping a secret.

Meanwhile, Zahara and Becca are spending more time brushing up on their training, knowing an attack from Lucifer can come at any moment. Between patrolling neighborhoods and hanging at the boarding school created by Charles Stephens—a fallen angel who created the school to protect the children of rogue supernaturals—they are thrown into one battle after another. Zahara begins to develop a closer bond with Jason as they train and chase down clues to clear Rekesh’s name. What she doesn’t know is the very powerful secret Jason is keeping; a secret that will change the course of the fight with Lucifer.

But Rekesh’s coven being set up isn’t the only danger. A new powerful and lethal drug has emerged from the shadows of the supernatural world called Inferi. The drug has two deadly side effects: it leaves the supernatural hungering for blood—both human and supernatural—and grants them the elemental power they had once possessed.

Lucifer is on the move and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on Zahara and complete the first act of his plan. 

A battle is about to begin. 

One that may cost the Faraday family everything they hold dear.




Make sure to get your copy of Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy, #1) which is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS until JUNE 1st!


Add on Goodreads!
Purchase on Barnes & Noble and Amazon!
Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what could be hiding in the shadows?

Well, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom. 

Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls. 

Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.

Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.

Normal just got a deadlier definition.
About the Author


 
Born and raised in the sweltering suburbs of South Florida, Annabell Cadiz grew up fine-tuned to the cuisine of various Spanish cultures, learned to master the art of Puerto Rican cooking thanks to her parents, and learned to converse crazy thanks to her band of siblings. She is now working toward attaining a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity International University to better understand how to converse with the weirdoes and crazies of the world. (After all, she is one of them.) A self-proclaimed nerd and a book-a-holic (her room holds dozens of shelves with much evidence to prove that her claims are indeed true), she created TeamNerd Reviews along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, to showcase their EXTREME love for all things book related.

She published her debut novel, Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy #1), in January 2013. The second novel, Michael (Sons of Old Trilogy #2) will be released on May 28, 2014. And the final installment in the Sons of Old Trilogy, Nephilim, will be out in Spring 2015.
Where to Friendly Stalk Annabell: Website/Goodreads/Amazon/Twitter/Facebook


GIVEAWAY!!


 
**Must be 13 or older to enter**
**Giveaway begins WEDNESDAY, MAY 28 and ends WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2014**
**Winner will receive an ecopy of LUCIFER (SONS OF OLD TRILOGY, #1) and an ecopy of MICHAEL (SONS OF OLD TRILOGY, #2) along with a SIGNED bookmark and bow & arrow keychain**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Checking In

I swear I'm still alive.

*presses on wrist*

*searches for pulse*

Yep! Still kicking. Not craving brains or pushing up daisies or anything else that might suggest I've gone and shuffled off this mortal coil.

...So why have I been MIA for so dang long, you ask?

Erm. Well, that question's a little harder to answer....

Truthfully? I've had some personal issues to work out that left me very little time for tweets or blog posts or *gasp!* writing.

I know.

I know.

That last part worries me, too. And it's the reason why I'll be taking the next two weeks as a writing retreat, so that I might focus (almost) entirely on book three in the Variant series.**

I have just that much time left before my day job becomes temporarily all-consuming and I lose an entire month of writing time.***

If I'm going to make my self-imposed deadline for book three's publication (late fall of this year, if all goes well), then I need to buckle down and get this draft ironed out!

So you know the drill, my loves—good vibes and music recs will be greatly appreciated! Let me know what's making your ears happy these days, people. I have a writing playlist to build!

~Jena



**The primary exceptions being cupcakes, coffee, and the occasional Netflix binge. What can I say? I have my vices, like anyone.

***Yes, I still have a day job. It has gloriously flexible hours and a wonderfully indulgent boss, but I still have bills to pay and groceries to acquire, so I'm afraid I don't have as much time as I'd like to devote to writing... Sorry, my loves! Someday! Someday, I'll be able to devote myself to you and you alone! And trust me, I'm totally looking forward to it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Where to find the Variant Series books

Hey guys!

Just dropping by the blog today to put up a quick reference post including links to the websites where the Variant Series books are available for purchase. I did a post like this back when Revival was first released, but I realized that I'd yet to do the same for Resistance.

So here it is! The Revival links are listed first, followed by the links for book two in the series, Resistance. Also, if you're looking for paperback copies of the books, you can order them via Amazon, or directly from Createspace, using their website. Hope this helps!


Where to find Revival


Amazon


Barnes & Noble



Smashwords





Where to find Resistance





Amazon






Barnes & Noble



Smashwords