Jen Meyers Official Author Site

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

 

 

What I’ve been up to…

Life, in general. ;-)

This, in specific:

:: Writing Total Bliss. It’s coming along—albeit not as quickly as I’d like, but still, coming along. I adore Bliss and love spending time with all my imaginary friends in that world. Also, I have a pretty great writing buddy who keeps me company while I write.

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My furry little pal, Loki.

:: Making ALL the salsa, jam, and dill pickles. I also canned peaches/nectarines this year, and we’ve already decided that I have to do more of them next year. Every year I get all canned out with the few things I do, but somehow I end up trying something new and LOVING it so much that it gets added to the Yearly Things to Can.

In our house salsa and dill pickles are an absolute MUST. They are so much better homemade, I can’t even tell you. (And ridiculously easy to make. Seriously.) In fact, here’s my recipe for Lazy Salsa. Try it. Trust me on this. (Though I should give you fair warning…once you make your own, you’ll never want to go back to store bought.)

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56 quarts, which will (barely) last us a year. We, uh, like salsa.

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Low sugar peach and peach-plum. First time making the low-sugar version and Oh. My. God. SO amazing.

:: Baking ALL the things. Because that’s what I do. :-) I’m even trying to talk myself out of starting a baking blog with my friend Becky (who has THE best DIY blog on the interwebs). Becky and I trade lovingly perfected recipes all the time, and I keep thinking that we need to start a blog. But she’s a busy TV/movie set designer, and I already have projects up to my eyeballs. Who has time? But still. Some things need to be shared with the world, you know?

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(This recipe isn’t perfected…YET.) Brownie mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. *swoon*

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(This one is.) Chocolate mint chocolate chip cookies. *double swoon*

:: Saving Monarchs from the town mowers and watching Swallowtail caterpillars grow and form chrysalides. We’ve raised Monarchs and Painted Ladies before, but this is our first time with Swallowtails. Not sure what kind they are, but I’ll post pics when they emerge.

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Gorgeous Swallowtail caterpillar eating parsley. (We are SO planting parsley next year.)

 

…And SO much more.

 

 

In which there is another totally inappropriate coloring book

I looooooved making my first totally inappropriate coloring book so much that I couldn’t help myself—I had to make another.

Introducing

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Available on Amazon
(For a limited time it’s on super sale at a low introductory price. Get it before the price goes up!)
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I cannot tell you how stinkin’ happy these coloring books make me…because they are SO fun to create AND they spread joy to everyone who gets one. I love that, especially. <3

So, while I wasn’t intending to do it again, I’m totally not sorry that I did. ;-)

<3,
jen

p.s. Total Bliss is coming along and should be available this fall! More on that SOON.

 

 

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When inspiration strikes…

So, I got a little distracted after Yours Truly came out. Or INSPIRED, really. And instead of working on Total Bliss like I was SUPPOSED to be doing…I made a totally inappropriate (yet self-affirming) adult coloring book.

You're the Shit

And I love it, you guys. Like LOVE love. This coloring book makes me so happy every time I flip through it, giving me all the smiles. I hope it’ll do the same for everyone who picks it up. :-)

Available at Amazon.

NOW back to work on Bliss’s book. (I SWEAR.) :-)

<3,
jen

Yours Truly (Happily Ever After #2) released!

Yours Truly (Happily Ever After #2) is out in the world today! How’s THAT for a happy Monday!?

If you read Happily Ever After, then you’ve already met Willow Truly, but now is your chance to really get to know her…and to meet Josh Fletcher, her sweet and swoony next-door neighbor. I fell in love with them both as this story wove itself together, and I hope you will, too. <3

The Girls are back in force, of course, and the more time I spend with them, the more I love the strength of their bond, the depth of their friendship. They are the BEST of friends, and I’m not sure what could truly be better than that. Well…maybe a happily ever after added into the mix. ;-)

Ready for another happily ever after, then? Here’s Yours Truly.

Yours Truly (Happily Ever After #2)

Willow Truly doesn’t need a man. Never has, never will. At least, not in the long-term. She’s as keen for a roll in the sack as the next girl, but beyond that, a man’s usefulness runs out quick.

A girl’s got to take care of herself, Will’s learned, because as soon as you start to rely on a man, he breaks your heart. She’s bound and determined to never let THAT happen again, so she’s sworn off love, marriage, and living happily ever after. As the writer of a snarky dating column in Du Jour magazine, she’s pretty much guaranteed no man will stick around for long…and she’s totally okay with that.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about Josh. Her all-around favorite guy and best friend outside of The Girls, Josh is the only man Will can’t date. Not if she wants to keep him in her life—and she does. More than anything.

However, to keep him, Will may have to go against everything she believes to be true and take a chance on love again. And on Josh. Because if she doesn’t…Will just may break her own heart.

AVAILABLE NOW
                  

 

Happy reading, my lovely friends!

<3,
jen

 

 

Teaser Tuesday: Yours Truly (#2)

Yours Truly (Happily Ever After #2)Less than a week away! Can’t wait to share this book with you all. <3 Here’s one more teaser to tide you over:

“The way you look tonight…” Josh breathed out, looking like he was at a loss for words. “You’re the most beautiful woman in the room, Willow Truly.”

 

“Not true.” My voice was hoarse, and I had to work to keep it steady. “I saw supermodels when I walked in.”

 

He shook his head. “I only saw you.”

 

I watched the words tumble off his lips, wishing I could scoop them up and tuck them into my pocket, keep them forever. Then I took a deep breath, not sure how to answer. I mean, what do you say to that? Especially when it’s spoken by someone you’re trying very hard not to fall for.

 

Releasing April 18, 2016

 

Ahh! Will and Josh. Here’s hoping you fall for them like I did.

<3,
jen

 

 

 

Teaser Tuesday: Yours Truly

Portrait of a beautiful redhead girl with toy on blue background.Since we’re coming up on the release of Yours Truly (Happily Ever After #2),  how about a teaser?

“I don’t want to fall in love with anyone. Not ever.”

 

One eyebrow arched on Josh’s forehead and his eyes stared into mine, then trailed down to settle on my lips. My breathing hitched as he leaned closer, bringing his lips way too close to mine. Part of me wanted to move away while the rest of me begged to close the distance.

 

“Are you sure about that?” His whisper caressed my lips with warmth and I melted into them, not feeling sure in the least.

 

Then his lips were on mine. Softly, gently at first, stealing my breath, stealing my sense of everything else in this world save for him. My mind was gone, my body having told it to take a hike as soon as his lips touched mine.

 

I was lost.

 

And damn but I was feeling like I never wanted to be found.

 

Releasing April 18, 2016

 

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

<3,
jen

 

 

On Hating Writing

Young woman portrait with closed eyes holding red Heart. Love symbol.I hated writing when I was a kid. And a teen. And a twenty-something. If anyone had asked me back then, I’d have sworn I’d never become a writer. I would have scoffed at the very idea.

Not something you expect a professional writer to say, right? It’s funny, I know. Even funnier? I became a professional writer even while I still hated writing. (It was totally by accident and I wasn’t even fully aware I’d become a writer…it kinda snuck up on me. But that’s a story for another day.)

Why did I loathe it to the very depth of my soul? Because I’d never actually learned how to write when I was in school. Oh, I had plenty of writing assignments, like all school kids have. And I completed them. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. I was simply told “write a report/research paper/essay on _____.” I was told to research, take notes, and outline. I made sure to use plenty of SAT words, and I was positive I was the worst writer in the world.

I hate doing things poorly. My perfectionist self can’t stand it.

That all changed when I was 26 and took a class called “Personal Writing” as a part of a master’s program I was entering. In this class we were supposed to tell our own stories, something we knew everything about. I was the expert, I knew all the details because I had been there and seen/tasted/smelled/felt/heard it all. I cared about what I was writing for the first time in my life (I mean, beyond what grade I was going to get). It was incredible.

In learning how to tell my own stories, adding enough sensory details to place the reader in my shoes, I finally learned to write.*

And to love it. (In fact, I’m downright passionate about my writing process, especially editing. )

I never would have expected I’d be a writer EVER in my life, and yet…here I am.

This is all to say that you just never know. Hating something today doesn’t mean you’ll still hate it tomorrow. And that sometimes you end up doing the very thing you swore you’d never do. (And, inexplicably, loving it.)

<3,
jen

 

*For those of you interested, the book we used in class was Writing To Be Read by Ken Macrorie, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s life-changing. Each chapter involves some aspect of the craft of story-telling, with examples and exercises to try it out yourself. (I just looked it up…it’s crazy expensive new on Amazon, so I’d pick up a used copy. You can even get one from my favorite used bookstore here.)