Happy Birthday, Jessica!

Jessica is having a very special birthday today–she is turning 18!

Me: I can’t believe you’re 18! Where did the years go?!? You were just a baby the last time I looked.

Jess: No, I wasn’t.

Me: Well, it feels like it.

Jess: Not to me. I have worked very hard to become this grown up.

Lots of love, darling daughter, and all the cake you can stand!

Alicia Thorne is finally happy

passionandpleasure bundle

All of her sexytime romances have been bundled into one big package (hee-hee) for one incredibly low price. For less than the price of a latte, you can snuggle up to four of Alicia’s favorite heroes. Okay, “four of” suggests Alicia has more heroes, but she doesn’t; she got into a snit last winter because she thinks I like Jenny Jacobs better and now she won’t produce. But if you buy her bundle and tell all your friends about it, then Alicia might get over her snit and write a new book! Here’s the Amazon link.

Finish Your Book Bootcamp–free class!

If you have a book project (fiction or nonfiction) that you’re struggling to make progress on, please join me for an online Finish Your Book Bootcamp! It starts May 18th and ends June 14th–and it’s free.

What is Finish Your Book Bootcamp? It’s basically an accountability partnership. You set your overall goal for the month. Then each Monday you say what you’ll accomplish that week. There’s a midweek check-in and a Friday check-in. I’m the point person you share your goals with and I’ll send along a couple of emails each week with some thoughts on motivation. With those midweek check-ins I try to help brainstorm solutions to problems people are having.

The bootcamp includes a Facebook group page where everyone who wants to can post their goals and help each other figure out stumbling blocks. Sometimes just having the accountability can make a difference. Last year I made amazing progress on a personal project and so did several students. If it sounds like you’d want to join, just let me know! There’s no charge for the bootcamp. Just email me at jennifer@jenniferlawler.com. But do let me know ASAP. I can only take a limited number of participants.

On the limits of poetic license

Jessica (looking over my shoulder at a blog post): That is not exactly what we said.

Me: You know, someday I’m going to win a Pulitzer and you’ll be telling the committee, “It didn’t happen exactly like that.”

Jessica: Yes. For example your hair is not that curly.

Me: I exaggerate it for effect. You know, to communicate a point.

Jessica: I see. It is sarcastic hair.

 

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My alter ego Jessica Starre loves her newest release, Lessons in Magic, and maybe you will, too.  Also, Jessica has some lovely new glass from her recent firing up on her website.

Classes for the New Year!

A couple of people have asked me when I’ll be running my “how to write a book proposal” class again, and I finally have an answer. I’ll be starting it February 2, 2015. I’ve streamlined it so it’s now a four-week class rather than the six weeks it used to be.

More info about the class can be found here.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season and here’s to a rewarding new year for all of us!

On what I learned at the art fair

This past weekend, Jessica and I showed her glass at an art fair, the first time we’ve done something like that. She was anxious because she knew that people would want to talk to her and she wasn’t sure what she would say to them, and while she can talk your ear off if she knows you, she has trouble engaging when she doesn’t.

So she and I practiced ahead of time, and I made my many lists, and I didn’t forget a single thing. Once we got set up, we walked around and looked at what the other vendors were doing, and I talked to people to get their best show tips.

All along the story about Jessica’s glass has been that she makes something beautiful, that this is her thing, the way that words are mine, and that my job is to support her, and stay out of the way, and see where it takes her. We all need that thing, that special whatever-it-is that people will pay us to do, or makes life more interesting, or sets us apart. Maybe it’s folding origami swans or speaking French with a passable accent or remembering the names of every person you meet. The thing.

So I thought what I might learn at the fair was how to support her in the thing, like I might figure out a better way to display the glass, and get the name of someone who runs a local gallery, the thousand little details that turn a thing into a vocation instead of just a clever party trick.

The girl who showed me otherwise was about seventeen, Jessica’s age, with dark hair and lots of eye makeup that she didn’t need because she was so pretty, and she had that edge of sharpness that you get to protect the vulnerability; if you weren’t so damned vulnerable, you wouldn’t need the sharpness. She stopped, and she touched a piece, the tray the color of flames, and she didn’t say anything except, “Can I take one of your cards?”

“Of course,” I said.

She nodded, not looking at me, and touched the blue-gray candleholder, the one Jessica calls Overcast.

“Have you ever been downtown? To the this-and-that shop? They have antiques and everything,” she said after a while.

“No,” I said. “We don’t live nearby.”

“I love that place. I’d love . . . .” She didn’t say what she’d love, she just opened her coat for a second to show me the logo on her shirt. “I work at the pizza place down there.”

This was sort of important but I didn’t know why or how. Seventeen year olds often work at pizza places and there are many things they would love to do but their parents won’t let them or their grades aren’t good enough or they don’t have the money.

“How do you even make it?” she wanted to know, her fingers trailing over the glass.

“Well, I don’t make it,” I said. “Jess does.” I gestured toward Jessica, who was sitting forward in her chair, anxious; she didn’t know what to say, and so I spoke in that slow and easy way I have learned, with lots of pauses so she can jump in when she’s ready. Sometimes she isn’t ever ready.

The girl looked up then, her dark eyes flashing, surprised; until I said something everyone who stopped at the booth assumed I was the artist and Jessica was only there because she had nowhere else to be.

“Really?”

Jessica nodded, her own dark eyes watching and watching.

“You made all this? How?”

Jessica didn’t answer right away; the answer is complicated, and people mean different things by the question, so I said, “It’s all kiln-formed glass, except those couple of blown glass pieces there. The kiln-formed glass is worked cold, and you use these glass tools—” I couldn’t remember their names and I looked to Jess and she said, “Glass cutters and running pliers.”

“Right. Glass cutters and running pliers, and you arrange the colored pieces of glass on a base. Jess usually uses clear or white glass as the base though sometimes she uses black.”

The girl touched one of the black glass vases Jessica had made, the one with bright green and blue pieces.

I went on describing the firing process, how the piece is fused and then slumped, but she wasn’t listening and when I trailed off she said, “Can I have more cards?”

“Of course,” I said.

“Because people should know about this.”

She sounded fierce, and I was once a fierce teenager, so I just nodded. She wasn’t paying any attention to me anyway; something had lit her face, something from inside her and it wasn’t the chance to hand out some business cards to people. That was just the symbol.

I have seen that look on other faces, students of mine when I taught at the university so many years ago. I hadn’t seen that look in a long time, that sudden knowing, what happens when your soul catches on fire and you get it. It isn’t so much that other people should know about this, it’s that you finally do, and you feel like you need to share it with someone else but you’re not really sure who or how, you just know, in your bones, that there is more in this world than the pizza place. No matter what anyone says, no matter how practical you think you’re trying to be. Sometimes all it takes is a girl your age sitting behind a table with a glittery pink tablecloth, too nervous to speak for herself, to show you what possibility is.

“Thank you,” she said, and turned away, cards clutched hard in her hand.

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