Newsletter Overhaul

I meant to include this in Monday’s post, but then forgot. But now I think, since it’s kind of a big announcement, maybe it’s better to have it here by itself so it doesn’t get missed in the jumble of all the other things I had in Monday’s post!

Newsletter Overhaul

I am thinking hard about trying to do something major with my newsletter… and actually send one out more than once or twice a year. People keep saying it’s one of those big important things you need to do to be successful at anything. I’m not sure I believe them… and I’m not sure exactly what mine will look like… but at this point, I am thinking a few things:

1) I am thinking that it will be the FIRST place you can find out information about new cover releases/book releases.

2) I am planning to have it be a place where I can gift you with some short stories—little episodes, too short to publish on their own (though I may publish them in a collection at some later date) that take place in the same worlds as my books… side-stories that deal with main characters, but are in a different time-frame than the books themselves. FOR EXAMPLE, I am working on one for the first newsletter update that will be going out around Christmas that gives a little glimpse into Yole’s back-story… so make sure you sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss it!

3) I may use it to tell you about sales – for example: in January, I will be participating in an epic CLEAN: Dragon-Themed books sale, and I will tell you more about that later.

4) I also plan to use it as a place to let you know about opportunities to sign up as beta-readers and get ARC copies.

5) My plan right now is to send out one newsletter a month. I will probably give it a 6-month trial run and see how that goes…

So… if any of those things sound like something you don’t want to miss out on… please make sure you subscribe to my newsletter by entering your email over on the right side of the blog! (Make sure you sign up in the box that says “SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER” and not in the SEARCH bar… as that will just search this blog for your email address and probably yield frustrating results for you… LOL

What do you think?


~ jenelle

Wrapping Up November

See what I did there? Wrapping… Christmas… never mind.

Also known as, Adventures, Episodes, and Nightstand books!

Adventures& Episodes

Adventures in Authoring

November saw things slow down a bit. I printed off Minstrel’s Call and got it bound over at FedEx/Kinkos and am in the midst of going over it with a fine-tooth comb… which means that I am reading it out loud and marking up the pages in bright red pen as I go. I take no prisoners during this edit. Most of my pages have at least a few marks on them, and as I work my way into the book, I have entire paragraphs crossed out and places where I need to take a scene and have it switch places with another scene in order to make the flow work better…. and this is after TWO passes of editing already, people!

Red PenI actually really enjoy this round of editing. It is relaxing to hold the book in my hands, get away from the computer screen, turn on some instrumental Christmas music, and curl up on the couch. Reading the story out loud helps me catch things that my eyes might miss, and makes me take my time a bit more.

However, this method does come with its own set of hazards…

Red Pen Brant

Brant got ahold of the ms one day and decided it needed a complete overhaul. I’m not sure he was using standard editing notation of any kind, but the message was clear: “This story needs more pictures!”

Sorry, buddy.

I crossed over into chapter 35 over the weekend, which means I’m 70% of the way through. Then I go back to the computer, enter in all my changes, and start formatting! Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to send it to the proof-reader! So exciting!

Reading Episodes

I got a ton of reading done this month, finishing a grand total of NINE books!

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.38.09 PM Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 3.37.56 PM

I set myself a goal back in January to read 31 books (I meant to set it for 25, but then Goodreads confused me… ahem). Anyway, in November I read book #62… which I thought was kinda cool. Caddie Woodlawn, Miserable Mill, the Janette Oke books, and Beauty were all re-reads, and just as enjoyable as I remembered.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens is one that my daughter recommended, and as she has never recommended a book to me before, I tried it out. It is a fun adventure and enjoyable enough that I am currently reading the second book in the series.

5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox is one I’d started and then got side-tracked from for a bit. A lot of great ideas in this book that I plan to put into practice when I’m done editing Minstrel’s Call and ready to start drafting again. I used some of the recommendations when writing my short story in October, and so far, I can say that the methods I’ve used work! I managed to write faster than ever before and I even liked what I’d written when I was done. It needed editing, but editing is like the speed of light or gravity, a constant.

The Story Thieves: Secret Origins by James Riley is the third book in the series and every bit as fun and clever and entertaining as the first two books! Looking forward to book #4.

Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater was MUCH better than the first book of this series, and the kids continue to enjoy these, wanting me to read the next one.

Adventures on the Silver Screen + mini-reviews

Cars 3 – Derek had taken Leiana to see this in theaters, but I had not seen it yet. Super cute movie… much better than Cars 2, and while I still think I like the first one best, the margin is extremely narrow.

Thor: Ragnarok – This. Was. Awesome! One of the most perfect movies I’ve seen in a while. I have no complaints, and that’s not something I say about many super-hero movies. I’ll do a more thorough review later.

Justice League - I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Not much to complain about in this one, either. I think my one negative would be that I would have liked a little more character development of Aquaman, but I like what DC is doing. And so far, their villains continue to consistently be better than most of Marvel’s villains… (with the notable exception of Thor’s siblings).

Ernest Goes to Jail – This was the movie I picked to watch on my birthday, because I love Ernest to pieces, and I thought it might be fun to introduce my kids to him. I was right! They think he’s pretty hilarious.

Jingle All the Way – Thanksgiving ended and we started the Great Christmas Movie Watching Annual Tradition. Derek was out of town the week after Thanksgiving, so he set aside the movies he didn’t want to miss out on. This was one (not because he doesn’t like it, but because he got to see it last year, so said it wouldn’t bother him to miss out this year)

The Night They Saved Christmas – This one is up there in my top 3 favorite Christmas movies. Right behind It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Yes, it’s very 80′s and a little corny, but I love it. So many good memories. And it’s a sweet story.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – FINALLY watched this one. I’ve been wanting to for ages, but never got around to it. Wow. What a powerful, tragic, heavy movie. I’m still processing this one. I love that I now understand the lyrics to “Smoke and Mirrors” by Brittany Jean better, as this movie inspired that song.

Ernest Saves Christmas – Another evening of Ernest-entertainment. Love him!

Life: November Episode

We celebrated my birthday! I had a lovely trip around the sun this year. Looking forward to the next one.

We celebrated Thanksgiving quietly. Stayed home, made lots of yummy food, and had a friend over. We also played a bunch of games of Sentinels of the Multiverse, a really fun cooperative card-game.

The entire month of November was punctuated by colds, which was not a lot of fun, but they weren’t too bad. Except that Grayden got hit with teething, followed by a cold, followed by a Wonder Week… so that meant not a lot of sleep for the adults in the house through the entire month of November. He is doing much better now… and has just started sitting up on his own and crawling forward in the last week, which is super adorable and fun… and means that nothing is safe anymore!


Nightstand Books of December

Some fun books here, most of which will probably carry over into January.



He Whistles for the Cricket by Gwen Walker - I convinced Derek to take a break from A Series of Unfortunate Events for the Christmas season and read this one out loud to the kids. I am beyond excited to share this, my favorite book and a piece of their heritage, with them. My grandma wrote this book, and it is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. It’s also a great Christmas read; much of the second half of the book revolves around the Christmas season. So, hey, if you’re looking for something charming and Christmassy to read this year, I cannot recommend this one highly enough. (Bonus, it’s permanently free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks). And if you’re like me and have an aversion to ebooks, the paperback is under $5 and makes a great gift!!!!!

Abraham Lincoln by Janet and Geoff Benge - our history studies have centered on the Civil War for most of this semester. We are now studying the period of time between 1880-1920, but I saw this at the library and decided it would be a nice supplement to what we’ve learned. Review is always good.

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson - is our next read-aloud book for school. We are learning about the invention of the Ferris Wheel with this story, and I am thinking a trip to Chicago to ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier is going to have to be high on our list of “extended field trips” in the near future, as that is where the first Ferris Wheel was built.

The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens – is the sequel to The Emerald Atlas. Looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

Blood Ties by Garth Nix - is the next Spirit Animals book. Nathalie in particular is really enjoying this series.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill - this was gifted to me by a friend back in April and I have heard many good things about it since then. Excited to read it.

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean - is our annual Advent story that we read as we put ornaments on our Jesse Tree. I know Advent didn’t actually start until THIS week, but we got started on it last week because we always end up behind, so having a few extra days to get “ahead” this year was quite nice.

And that wraps up this wrap-up post! What are you reading this month, dear Reader? Any exciting Christmas plans?


~ jenelle

Last Day of November + Congrats to the Giveaway Winner + a recipe

Congratulations, Vera B!

You won the Five Enchanted Roses giveaway! An email is on its way to you!

And November comes to a gentle close. How are you doing? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you write beautiful words? Did you write messy words that will become something beautiful after some polish is applied? Are your fingers still functional after all that typing? I’d love to hear about it! Some of you have been updating about your process on your blogs, and I’ve enjoyed reading about your NaNo adventures.

I am proud of you, Dear Writer. Whether or not you won, or just typed a couple of hundred words this month… or maybe, like me, you were editing. Or maybe this month was spent with family. Or maybe it was just a month when writing didn’t happen for various reasons… but it will again. I’m proud of you. Story-telling is a time-honored and noble pursuit… one worthy of your efforts.

U.S. Reader, did you have a good Thanksgiving? Ours was wonderful, nice and quiet. I’ll tell you all about it later.

I know the blog has been kind of quiet this second half of the year, and I apologize. Trying to keep up with four children (one of whom is an int0-everything toddler and one of whom is practically brand-new), homeschooling, AWANA, editing, writing short stories, and outlining new novels… while also attempting to hang out with my husband and friends every now and then has gotten a little overwhelming. And while I would love to share my thoughts on all sorts of things, and write up a ton of Christmas posts, and swap cookie recipes… I’m probably going to continue to be a bit quiet over here on the blogging front at least until after the New Year. I’ll still post a few times in December (because I miss blogging too much when I don’t do it at all), but probably not more than once a week. I hope none of you are too broken-hearted about that. But, I promise, a huge part of this blogging silence is due to trying to get Minstrel’s Call finished so that you have something new to read VERY SOON! I am so close to that finish line, I can almost taste it… and it tastes like Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato casserole. (Which, if you haven’t had… is… WOW… absolutely AMAZING! It’s one of my favorite things to make for special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Tuesday…)

I’ll be back next week with a special combined Adventures and Episodes/Nightstand Books post. Watched some amazing movies this month, and read some great books.

Until then, here is the official recipe for those Sweet Potatoes… so good, you don’t even need dessert.

Sweet Potato Mixture

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted


1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1/3 stick butter, melted

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a medium-size casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand masher to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture.

Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated.)

Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy. 

I wish I had a picture… but they were too good, and I have lots of rambunctious munchkins, so I never did get a picture of our Thanksgiving feast. What’s one of your favorite “special occasion” foods?

~ jenelle