Some good news!

One of my lighthearted paranormal romances, Lessons in Magic, has been accepted for publication by Crimson Romance, and will be out on September 1.  Yay!

NOTE: Jessica Starre would like to make it clear that she is the alter ego responsible for this work and that it will be coming out under her name. She thinks I don’t give her enough credit, and she’s all, “You like Jenny Jacobs better!” Which is not true! I love all of us equally.

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.

Ode to the coffee shop

One of the baristas at the coffee shop I frequent is an extremely taciturn and dignified young man, and when he asks if I want sprinkles, he uses a carefully modulated and uninflected tone so as not to make his pain too apparent. Sometimes he draws a little leaf on my mocha. The stories I make up about him in my head have entertained me on many an otherwise profitless morning.  Right now I’m leaning toward the theory that he was formerly a hit man for a mobster in Jersey, and this is his way of atoning for his sins.

One of the frequent customers is a young man who looks just like Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride. And you know I want to be Inigo Montoya when I grow up, so every time I look at him I want to giggle but I don’t because that would be rude, and so I end up smiling at him a lot, and his girlfriend usually looks like she’s getting ready to punch me.

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There are a bunch of retired guys, the Slackers, who worry aloud that I am going to put them in a book someday, which means they are assuming I haven’t already, and they will just have to read all my books to find out.

And there is a little marble top table, just the right size for my laptop, if I’ve brought it with me, or a stack of manuscript pages, if I haven’t, and a great deal of entertainment just outside the window, for when I have no idea what I’m going to write next.

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.

Today’s meditation, illustrated

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.

On how I get so much done

This summer, Jessica decided that she did not want to go to day camp as she has in previous years and so we agreed to give her staying home a try. We had some intense negotiation first (Me: “You will have to be patient while I work.” Jess: “You can bring me to the coffee shop with you and I will have Diet Coke and a cookie.”)

As much as I love getting to spend extra time with Jessica, there is a downside in that she always notices when I am on Facebook.

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And that, my friends, is my key to productivity.

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.

On learning to love uncertainty

I hate being uncertain, as you can probably tell by how sure I am that I am always right and how convinced I am that I know everything, or at least that I know everything I need to know and can find out the rest.

But life kicks everyone’s ass, even those of us who kick back, and once you reach the age where the only people who think you’re still young have celebrated their eightieth birthdays, you recognize that certainty is chimera, and you stop trying to track it down and trap it because whatever you do, it’s got sharper claws than you have.

So you, or at least I, try to figure out how to learn to live with uncertainty, which, not unlike broccoli and good wine, is an acquired taste. You, or at least I, circle around it, poking it a little, trying to determine its shape and its dimensions.

But I like answers, dammit, so I asked Debz if she’d lead me on another guided meditation (quantum jump, for those of you who have been following along). You remember Debz:

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Anyway, she said, “Of course!” because she is very generous like that, and also I think she likes to hear what I’ve cooked up this time in my fevered imagination.

You may remember that once Debz gets you into a meditative state, she has you imagine a gate into the universe, and you open the gate and you jump through.

I was all, “Gawd I hate uncertainty! Can’t someone please tell me how all of this ends?!” like I don’t already know and just want a different answer, and so the idea of jumping through that gate and seeing what was on the other side was too scary, so I pushed cartoon me through:

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If you did not previously realize I am insane, I think it is safe to assume that you are now up to date.

So cartoon-me landed on an island in the tropics, complete with swaying palm trees, but sadly no Greek sailors. Right in front of me was a very large elephant. A war elephant, complete with broken tusk and torn ear. (Later Debz told me that this is how Ganesh, the Hindu god, remover of obstacles, is depicted, although I did not know this at the time.)

Fortunately, cartoon-me is not easy to trample, being only a drawn outline, and I (or at least, cartoon-me) ended up on the elephant’s back.

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From there I could see everything! Yay! No more doubt and uncertainty! I would always know what was coming!

Then the mist rolled in.

Seriously, I have got to get an imagination that doesn’t always default to the worst-case scenario.

So the mist clouded everything, and it dampened sound, and I had no way of knowing what was sneaking up on me, but as I mentioned, cartoon-me is hard to trample, so I wasn’t all that worried. From my vantage point, I realized that the mist was beautiful. It was just as beautiful as being able to see everything.

Huh.

Debz quietly called me back home, but before I left, I gave the elephant a gift from my heart, which was, apparently, a handful of peanuts:

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Clearly, cartoon-me has no sense of occasion.

So that is me, trying to learn to love uncertainty.

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.

 

On Jessica’s work

So I mentioned recently that Jessica has started creating fused glass art, which you can find on her website, and I promised I would talk about how this came about.

 

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Jessica doing her work

Last year, we were looking for something to do on a summer afternoon, and we decided to pop into the local paint-it-yourself ceramics studio. Now, I have never been much of an artist, and painting is definitely not my thing, and so I painted a badly botched dragon figurine, and Jessica, who inherited her painting talent from me, painted a cat, and I will just leave it at I use her cat figurine as a paperweight because I’m her mother and I have to show support.

I happened to notice that the studio also let people work in fused glass, and earlier in the year a colleague of mine had sent me a piece of glass she’d worked on, and I thought, “Pretty! I would like to do that!” So the next time Jessica and I were at loose ends, we went to the studio and worked on some glass instead of painting ceramics.

Basically you take a pane of glass (it can be a square or a rectangle or an oval whatever) and you make a design on it with pieces of colored glass, which you cut into various shapes to fit your vision for the piece. Then you glue everything together. Then the piece is fired, which melts the colored glass to the base glass. The resulting piece becomes something much prettier than it would otherwise be.

I made an extremely orderly vase with carefully measured squares of colored glass, and Jessica made something apparently (although not actually) at random that was jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

A few weeks later we went back and she made another thing that was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and I made another neat and orderly vase.

Here’s an example of Jessica’s work:

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And here’s another one:

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And a few closeups of some other things:

 

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She spends a lot of time picking over the glass, trying to come up with a concept, a process that is completely mysterious to me, because I’m all, “How about neat rows?”

This is what happens when I try to do art glass:

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It’s, you know, FINE. Perfectly fine. But it doesn’t make anyone go, “Oh, wow.”

So we go back, week after week, and Jessica works on her art, and she learns about the medium, and she has successes and failures, and some days are harder than others, and sometimes she can’t come up with a design she likes, which reminds me a lot of the work I do.

And so that is what Jessica is up to do these days, and I admit I am still a little stunned. I think of all that she has been through and how impossibly damaged her sight is and how hard it has been for her to learn every single thing, and yet she does this, makes art that is so beautiful each piece is a little bit like a song.

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My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! I give random stuff away—and I tell more stories. Just wander over to my homepage.