Jen Meyers Official Author Site

On *not* finding Bliss

tb-smallTotal Bliss is—was—done. Written. Complete. Happily Ever After all wrapped up…but—and this is a BIG but—it’s not up to my high standards. After several revisions, it’s still not quite working for me.  Not good enough. Not my best work, and you guys know I simply cannot put out anything less than my best. And so, I am going to start over. From scratch. Write the whole thing again.

That sounds crazy, right? And I honestly never thought I’d do this. Rewrite an entire book. I know other authors who have done it, and sincerely thought it was a slightly insane thing to do. Why start over? Why not just revise what you have? Work with what you’ve got? I mean, we’re talking about a LOT of words here.

Well, I understand now because what I’ve got doesn’t feel workable. This book needs an overhaul, and starting out fresh feels right. The story won’t change, but the telling of it will.

I’ve got to find my Bliss.

So, when will you see this book? I don’t know. I wish I did! Next year (please, it HAS to be). I’m taking a break through the holidays (if I can stand to not work on it…we’ll see), and will face that first blank page in January. And when Bliss is just the way I want it, you’ll be the first to know.

In the meantime, happy reading, my friends.

xo,
jen

 

 

 

Five Things

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Coming soon!

1. Total Bliss update: First edits are done, and I spent the weekend re-reading the first two books in the series, Happily Ever After and Yours Truly, to make sure I had my facts straight, my characters consistent, and that I wasn’t telling the same story over and over again. Now on to the second edit, a few minor fixes, and further tightening of the writing. *happy sigh* I loooove the editing process because every time I go through it, the book gets better and better, and that’s a really great feeling after the suffering the depressive crappy first draft when I’m absolutely positive I’ve lost all ability to write well.

And, you guys, I am loving Bliss so much. I’m SO excited to share it with you. It’s been a long time coming, and while I don’t have a release date yet, I am working my butt off to polish it up to a pretty shine and get it in your hands as soon as possible. Soon! You’ll be the first to know when it will be released.

Of course, there are a few other things taking up some of my time and attention, like…

2. I’m getting ready to teach a writing class for teens this coming school year and I’m a little ridiculously excited about it. My stack of beloved writing books is getting a re-read as I immerse myself in craft again. And, man, does that feel good. Not only am I going to (hopefully) be helping teens find their voice and self-confidence as writers, but as I create the class from scratch and go through the process of teaching, it will only improve my own writing skills as well. Because you get a deeper understanding of something when you teach it, and I have no doubt that as the class inspires the teen writers, it will inspire me, too. <3

3. I’m also going to be teaching a writing class for younger kids. Both of these classes are for local homeschoolers, and I’m stupid excited to get the chance to make writing a pleasurable experience for kids. Especially since it never was for me at that age.

And I think that’s what I’m most excited about, especially with the teens—turning the writing experience into something they enjoy. I know I’ll have some kids who love to write and some who hate it and think they can’t write. I identify deeply with that latter group. If, at the very least, I can help those teens see that they can write well, demystify the process for them so that they come to feel confident in their writing skills, then they will be well equipped for college and beyond.

I definitely have my work cut out for me, but it’s such good work. I’m equal parts excitedly-overwhelmed and overwhelmingly-excited.

4. My library’s fall book sale is in early September, and I’m helping to organize it again. It actually runs the same week my writing classes begin, so early September is going to be a blur. While I love being a part of the library book sale and thoroughly enjoy every aspect of it, it’s an exhausting week and a half of set up and sale. I’m a wee bit already looking forward to it being over.

5. And in the midst of all this there will be salsa making! And pickle making, too, if I haven’t missed all the pickling cucumbers this season. Need to make a run to my local family farm stand. I’ve had my head so deeply buried in Bliss, that I haven’t been up there yet this summer. *adds to my To Do list*

Well, back to work on Bliss for me. Hope you all are enjoying your summer!

<3,
jen

And one more Totally Inappropriate coloring book!

Just a quick post to say there’s another one! Last week when I released F*ck Cancer in honor of my brother, I also released You are One BAMF. With now four coloring books in the Totally Inappropriate series, these fabulously long summer days can be filled with colorful swearing. What could be better than that? (Nothing, I tell you. Not. A. Thing.)

BAMF coverOwn your badassdom.

Even more brazen and shameless than the original Totally Inappropriate self-affirming coloring books, You’re the Shit and You’re TOTALLY Badass, this third book in the series delivers 37 single-sided, gorgeous designs for you to color and enjoy. Frame them to give yourself a daily boost, or gift a colored page to a friend.

Ranging from simple to intricate, most of these beautiful drawings include cheekily profane, uplifting messages like “You are Awesome (keep that shit up)” and “You are a shit ton of Badass.”

So go ahead and embrace your inner irreverence. Celebrate your sassy side. Grab your pencils or gel pens…and color like the badass you are.

Available on Amazon

Hope you’re having a beautiful day!

Warmly,
jen

P.S. Total Bliss news coming soon!

A new coloring book…in honor of my brother

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Available at Amazon

In 2013, my brother died after a 15-year battle with a rare, incurable cancer. He was 46 years old, and I cannot tell you how many times I uttered the phrase “fuck cancer” while he was fighting it.

I still do. On a very regular basis.

John fought hard, with grace and a seemingly unlimited supply of positivity that I am still in awe of to this day. He was in incredible pain for all those years, but rarely complained or wallowed in self pity. Accepting what he could not change (his favorite phrase was “It is what it is”), he made the best of each moment. He was grateful for every day that he lived, and stockpiled memories with his wife and kids, friends and family, touching lives in ways I never realized until after he was gone.

My brother was a total badass in how he handled living with cancer.

This book is for him.

And this book is for you. If you are fighting cancer, this is for you. If your brother, sister, mom, dad, son, daughter, relative, or friend is fighting cancer, this is for you. If you’ve lost someone to cancer like I have, this is for you. If cancer affects your life in any way, this for you.

You are worth it. You are not alone. You are a total badass. And I believe in you.

You’ve got this.

Warmly,
jen

P.S. I released this book on Tuesday, June 20, my brother’s birthday. He would have been 50. I wish I was throwing him a big-ass party to celebrate. Instead, I’m throwing him a coloring book that will hopefully bring inspiration, comfort, and joy to others…just like he did. And I’m donating a portion of the proceeds to support research dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. Because fuck cancer.

 

 

 

Love *Not* Hate

Ever since Love Trumps Hate came out, I’ve been hearing from people who love the idea, but absolutely do not want something with the T-word in their house.

I get that. I really REALLY do. Honestly, I struggled with the title of the coloring book for that very reason. But since it was a recognizable phrase I decided to go with it.

However, for those of you who are averse, I’ve created a T-word free edition called Love *Not* Hate!

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Same coloring book, two editions.

    Love *Not* Hate and Love Trumps Hate are both available at Amazon.

Same rules apply: 100% of the profits will be donated to inclusive organizations that help people fight for their rights. Organizations like:

  • ACLU
  • Planned Parenthood
  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • The Trevor Project
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • International Refugee Assistance Project
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Southern Poverty Law Center Report Hate program

Getting your coloring on with gorgeous art, while having a positive impact? Yes, please!

<3,
jen

 

 

 

 

The Writing Life: Making Art*

YAAB cover_smallA friend of mine posted a video of Jake Gyllenhaal singing “Finishing a Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George, which is one of my favorite shows and is on Broadway for a short run right now.

One of the reasons I love this show is it’s about the process of making art as shown through the work of Georges Seurat. Of course the music is gorgeous and the lyrics brilliant because it’s by Stephen Sondheim. This song from the show, “Finishing a Hat,” means more to me now than it did the first time I heard it twenty-some-odd years ago because it speaks to what I’ve personally experienced as a writer.

If you don’t know it (and even if you do) take a moment to watch the video below. And once you get over the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal can sing (!!) listen closely to the lyrics.

 

This is perhaps the best song about making art that I know of, and it absolutely applies to writers and the writing life.

Why? Because it’s about how, at times, your art takes over your life. That you can spend so much of your day with your mind on your story, no matter what else you’re doing, regardless of who is around. You’re thinking about characters, back stories, story lines, trying to figure out plot twists or solve plot problems. You hear your characters talking (sometimes instead of the people around you) and you often have to “just finish this part—please wait, don’t talk to me, I gotta get this down.”

How you miss out on life when you’re really ensconced in a story of your own making, choosing to stay in and write rather than go out to dinner with friends or go for a hike with your family. How you weigh those things—I really want to write, but I’d also like to go—and then have to make a choice. And you don’t always choose the people, very often you choose the writing.

When you recognize that you’re choosing work over relationships, that’s a hard thing to swallow. And the impulse to choose writing first is something you’ve got to tame in yourself if you want to keep those relationships healthy—if you want to stay happily married, want to actually be present in your children’s childhoods, want to keep your friendships. Which, in turn, means less writing gets done. That’s a hard thing to swallow, as well.

Balance—it doesn’t exist in an artist’s life. At least not in my experience. Instead, you’re maintaining a juggling act in which you keep dropping balls. Choosing not to keep dropping the same ball every time (or even most of the time) is the real trick.

When you’re in the thick of writing, there’s truly “nothing but sky.” Nothing but your world, your characters, your imaginary friends speaking to each other in whispers and shouts, images flashing through your mind, ideas and phrases coming in a rush or a dribble, and you can do nothing but pay attention and write it all down as quickly as you can so you don’t lose it. Your thoughts are consumed by all the little things that make up the whole, every detail, every turn of phrase, every word. That even while you’re spending time in the company of others (your spouse, children, friends), your mind is often wandering the lands of your imaginary world.

And even though sometimes you’re watching life through a window as you write, it feels amazing to create something from nothing—stories about people who feel real enough to be, well, REAL. You create worlds—things, places, events, people who have never existed before—that are fully unique to you. No one else could have imagined or told the story in the exact same way.

And I guess that’s what keeps me coming back to the page—juggling the things I love most in this world—for the chance to create. It’s what keeps all artists coming back to their work, to finish the hat or plan a sky, and get lost in their art again and again.

 

*This post originally appeared on Thinking Through Our Fingers, a writing blog I joined a few months ago. For more great posts about writing and the writing life, please go check it out!

Making Art

Happiest of Holidays: 99c sale, paperbacks, AND a new coloring book!

Happy Holidays! There is MUCH to share with you, so I’m going to jump right in.

SALE!
The first book in my highly-rated young adult contemporary fantasy series, Intangible is on sale for only 99c from now until the end of the year. Normally priced at $3.99, if you haven’t picked it up yet or know someone who’d love it, now is the PERFECT time to get it!

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right.

And he can’t do anything about it.

Here’s what readers have to say about Intangible:

“I could go on for days about its exciting plot or action packed paranormal filled paradoxes but I won’t. Because though all of those things are good, (or great, if I’m being honest) and they ultimately kept my fingers on hyper-drive, they were not what sucked me in, instead it was the characters that had me up until midnight reading. For a debut author Meyers is amazingly talented at character development.”

—Misty Baker at KindleObsessed.com

 

“This exciting page-turner provides perfect rhythm and suspenseful build, artful description, real-to-life characters, and a fantastic ride, cover to cover.”

—S. Vanderwerker

Snag this fabulous deal at any of these fine online stores:

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

PAPERBACKS!
Intangible and Imaginable (Intangible book 2) are also finally back in paperbacks! Both available at Amazon. Click covers for links.

   

NEW COLORING BOOK!

Love ALWAYS trumps hate.

And last, but certainly not least, I’ve created another coloring book: Love Trumps Hate: A totally appropriate and inclusive coloring book. This one’s totally appropriate (no swears) like the title says, and is meant to inspire strength, belonging, inclusiveness, and kindness. I love this coloring book, you guys. I love that it’s about doing good, coming together, speaking up, spreading love, and doing what’s right.For everyone.

And I love that 100% of the proceeds will be donated to inclusive organizations that help people fight for their rights every day. Organizations like:

  • ACLU
  • Planned Parenthood
  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • The Trevor Project
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • International Refugee Assistance Project
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Southern Poverty Law Center Report Hate program

This list is likely to grow as I research more non-profits that are doing important work. Organizations that we’re going to need more than ever in the coming years.

This is one of the ways I’m trying to have a positive impact on our world–do good while helping people destress. It’s really win-win. <3

(If you want a glimpse inside at some of the pages, head over to my
Facebook page or Instagram. I just posted pics today!)

 

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful holiday season! I should have Total Bliss news for you in the new year. Until then, be well, read a lot, color your heart out, and be kind to yourself and others. <3

Warmly,
jen

On Going Slow

Happily Ever AfterI’ve told you before how balancing writing and Life is something I’ve yet to master, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as balance.

It’s a juggling act.

It will always be a juggling act. When my kids are grown, I will have fewer balls in the air, and maybe then it won’t feel so much like juggling since I won’t be making a choice between spending time with the kids vs. time writing.

Maybe.

But for now I’m juggling like mad. Which means the writing is slow going right now, because after the whirlwind that was the writing of the Untamed series with Victoria, after the months I spent focused on those books and not my family, after feeling totally burned out and guilty for all the time I’d NOT spent with my kids…I made the decision to be more present with them while they’re young. While I can. Because I know the day will come when they’ve all gone their own ways, and I really don’t want to look back on this time and wish I’d spent more time with my kids rather than sitting in front of a computer.

This is a long way of saying that I think I have to finally admit to myself that Total Bliss isn’t going to be out by the end of the year. It should have been out months ago, I know, and I’m sorry about that, but…I’m slow. Especially slow when I’m not focused solely on writing.

When you’re a writer with a family (and you want to keep it that way) you can’t be focused solely on writing.

So yesterday I had one of those moments of clarity when I thought, holy crap, it’s almost the end of October, and my heart sank with the realization that the craziness is about to begin. With the holiday season looming, life is going to get stressful and busy, and for my own sanity, I realized I need to not kill myself to get this book done and out in the next couple of months. Because, realistically, I don’t think I can get it all done in that time with everything else going on, and trying to do it will just add unnecessary stress to an already stressful season.

BUT I will tell you this: Total Bliss is coming along beautifully (if more slowly than I’d like). I’m about halfway through the writing, and love love love this story so much. I will continue to write through the madness of the next couple of months, and hopefully, come January, I will have a finished draft and a good idea of when it will be ready for release.

It’s coming, I promise. Bliss will have her book. As will the rest of The Girls. It’s just going to take some time. <3

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Fall

 

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I *may* have mentioned before how much I love fall, but can a person really say that too many times? I can’t help it, you guys. Because every year I fall in love again and marvel at the wonder of this gorgeous season. I mean, what could be better than fresh-off-the-tree apples, and crisp, cool days that have me wrapping myself in handknit sweaters and cold nights of snuggling under warm comforters? The air feels fresher at this time of year, unburdened by the humidity of summer, and the crowning glory, of course, is Nature’s brand of fireworks in the changing of the leaves.  Who doesn’t swoon at this? (Not me. I swoon like whoa. Every. Single. Year.)

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It’s been beautiful this week—unseasonably warm for October in the northeast—so the kids and I grabbed the cameras and went for a walk. Who can stay inside when outside looks like this? Not us. :-)

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We discovered gigantic mushrooms—one the size of a soccer ball, the other even larger—along the side of the road. We didn’t know they grew this big around here. Amazing.

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No clue what kind it is…yet! We gotta look these babies up.

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My hands for size reference. This thing was HUGE!

We marveled at the cool negative outline of leaves perfectly imprinted on the pavement. And a cute little green shield bug wandering amongst the scattered leaves.

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We came across the last of the dandelions.

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But our favorite things, by far, were the cattails.

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Running down the road, flinging cattail fluff into the wind. Just helping Nature out, you know.

Our version of a perfect day. *happy sigh* Thank you, Fall. <3

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You Really Are What You Eat

YAAB cover_smallI’ve been meaning to write this post for months because it’s been an important discovery in my family and feels important that I share our story. (It’s long, but I swear it has a happy ending, so bear with me.)

I have a son who reacts poorly to wheat. He doesn’t have Celiac and it doesn’t give him headaches or upset his stomach…what it does is mess with his emotions. He gets severe mood swings, becomes uncontrollably angry over the littlest things, takes everything as a personal affront, and exudes negativity. That’s bad, let me tell you. Really difficult to be around day after day (after day after day after…).

But it’s worse than that. It also makes him deeply depressed. At times he’s become so despondent, drowning in despair, that he’s felt as if the world would be better without him in it. That we would be better off if he were dead.

Have I mentioned that he’s 14? And that this showed up when he was 12? It scared the shit out of me.

So I came across a book called Cure Your Child with Food, and the chapter on gluten being tied to anger, negativity, mood swings, and depression rocked my world. There was so much in it that I saw in my kid. So we decided to try a month of gluten free with a plan to go back to gluten afterwards to really see if there was a difference.

A few days in to our experiment and he seemed calmer already, better able to handle stress…but I thought maybe I was imagining it.

I wasn’t. This is what I wrote in an email to a friend about a month later:

So, 12yo was gluten-free for 3.5 weeks, and we saw a marked improvement. His negativity went WAY down, he was able to handle stressors and frustrations MUCH better, and able to recover from them so much quicker. Our house was a lot nicer, calmer, easier. It wasn’t like he became the perfect child, mind you, but everything wasn’t so freaking hard, frustrating, and exhausting–for him or for us.

Interestingly, there were two days that he was more explosive, in a way he hadn’t been for a couple of weeks, and I thought it was strange. But then I realized we’d gone out for ice cream, and while we made sure the ice cream didn’t have gluten, he had it in a cone! *headdesk* Took me a few days to realize he’d had the cone and that could explain the backtracking. Oy! Stupid mistake–can’t believe we didn’t even think about it.

But just this week, on Tuesday, he went back on gluten. And Oh. My. God. He’s a totally different kid. Back to mood swings, all the negativity, the world is out to get him, everything that doesn’t go his way in a personal affront, he needs a different life/different family/different parents, he can’t do anything right, etc. O.O He hadn’t been like that the entire time he was GF. 

So. Three days of gluten and last night in the midst of SO much crap from him, I made the executive decision that he’s going GF again.

And he did go back to gluten free for about a year. Which was HARD. We decided to not all go GF in great part because it’s so damn expensive (and then we discovered that my youngest is allergic to a GF ingredient that is used in LOTS of GF food, so we couldn’t all go GF even if we’d wanted to). But everything I made with flour (which is a LOT of things, let me tell you), I also made with GF flour. Pizza dough, bread, muffins, cookies, brownies, pie crust, quick breads, etc. It was a lot of work—which I was MORE than happy to do because my child was SO much happier, so much more on an even keel emotionally.

Totally worth it.

Then, maybe six months ago, I came across a few articles about people being able to eat the wheat in Europe, even though they couldn’t tolerate it here in the States. (Again, not Celiac, but people with an intolerance.) And I remembered this article on that very same topic I’d read a looooooong time ago.

And it made me go Hmmm. O_o

What if it wasn’t gluten that bothered my kid, but something being added to conventional wheat?

I wondered if maybe he’d be able to eat organic wheat, which is not sprayed with chemicals before it is harvested like conventional wheat is. (Mmmm, Round Up, anyone?)

So we tried it for one week. From GF to organic. I made sure any wheat he had that week was organic (I bought organic flour and made all the things myself, picked up organic crackers and pasta). And do you know what happened?

Nothing. There was absolutely no difference. He was still the even-tempered, happy kid he’d been on the GF diet.

Let me tell you about the happy dance I did because not only is it easier to bake/cook organic, it’s also a lot less expensive than baking/cooking gluten free. I no longer had to make two of everything. We could all just eat organic.

He’s been eating organic ever since (maybe six months). AND we can still always tell when he’s had conventional wheat—that beast rears its ugly head very clearly every time.

As a little side note, I have a dear friend who’d gone GF because wheat was giving her digestive issues. When she had a slice of pie I’d made with organic flour, she had no adverse reaction at all. So it seems that conventional wheat can cause different problems for different people, and some (maybe most? all?) might be able to eat organic wheat in its place.

Who would think it could cause emotional issues, though? We just don’t think of that, do we? We only pay attention to physical reactions to food, and we figure kids, especially, are simply being difficult. But what if it’s actually an uncontrollable reaction to the food they are eating? I could literally SEE that my son’s behavior was beyond his control, that it wasn’t a reflection of who he really was, that it was harming him just as much as it was frustrating and exhausting me.

Think about the people in your life. Just imagine if you have a kid or an adult with anger issues who could benefit from a diet change to be calmer and happier…whoa.

It’s kinda mind-blowing, right? Gluten has gotten such a bad rap in the last few years, getting blamed for all sorts of things. But from my family’s experience gluten is not the culprit (which I’m honestly not that surprised about because we humans have been eating grains for at least 100,000 years—so, yeah, we actually ARE adapted to digesting it just fine).

So. That’s our story.

Stay healthy, my friends!

<3,
jen