Bumpdate: Week 27 aka How the Jench Stole Christmas

I'm saying "cheese", but I'm thinking that this stomach still has THREE MONTHS to go.

Bumpdate: Week 26

Baby is the size of... English cucumber. I'm sure that wild night at the VeggieTales afterparty about five and a half months ago is totally unrelated.

Weight gain... scale says thirteen pounds, but it feels like that number should be inverted.

I'm bitchy because... a cashier asked me if I was having a Christmas baby or a New Year's baby. I replied, "Um... I'm not due until March. Late March." (To which her eyes bulged and she informed that I was going to "pop.")

Maternity clothes... I will be squeezing into my Grinch t-shirt this week, even if it means he looks more like Horton.

I'm looking forward to... CHRISTMAS!

Bumpdate: Week 25

I've had my fill of these weekly photo sessions, and my waistband has had its fill of me.

Baby is the size of a... a rutabaga. Fun fact: I have no idea what a rutabaga is. New fun fact: Apparently, it's just a turnip. Why not just say turnip, baby books?!

Weight gain: Fourteen pounds.

Exercise: Walking one mile a day, prenatal pilates three times a week.
A video simulation of my pilates class

Maternity clothes: Oh, how I hate maternity jeans. At first, I was excited that they make jeans with an elastic waist because - ELASTIC WAIST JEANS! JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! But the thing about elastic is what goes out, also goes down. Which means with each step, they sag, and sag, and sag... until I have to oh-so-gracefully pull them back up in the middle of the mall. Classy.

Belly button: I guess I thought it was going to pop out like a Jack-in-the-Box, but instead, it seems to be slowly unfolding itself from the top down. (It's freaky.)

Sleep: Very tired this week. Supposedly, this is when my energy should be back. I think those baby books should be filed in the fiction section.

Cravings: Just lots of cold stuff. Ice water, iced tea, ice cream.

Movement: Hmm...

My latest ultrasound.

I miss... getting up off the couch without grunting.

Bumpdate: Week 24 (the official freaking out edition)

Didn't even plan the utter cuteness of the Seuss quote behind me.

Baby is the size of a... an ear of corn. But corn doesn't kick you all. the. time.

Weight gain: Thirteen pounds.

Exercise: I've resumed my treadmill hell. Woohoo! Walking to nowhere!

Stretch marks: Not yet, but my stomach is ITCHY.

Belly button: Couldn't be any more shallow.

Sleep: I had a cold this past week, soooo no.

Symptoms: So very tired, but hopefully that's mostly the cold.

I'm freaking out about: the fact that I'm two-thirds into this! How is time moving so fast? And FIFTEEN's release date is a mere five and a half weeks away? I can't do any of this!

I'm looking forward to...finishing the nursery. As you can see, the Dr. Seuss theme is underway and the furniture is supposed to be here Saturday afternoon.

My Cover and Trailer Reveal!

It's here! It's here! Today is the cover and trailer reveal for FIFTEEN, my debut YA fantasy and first in The Dreamwalker Diaries series and I'm so excited that I'm sharing it with you at the first possible second. 

FIFTEEN will hit the physical and digital bookshelves on January 15, 2015 (repeat after me: FIFTEEN on 15 in ’15…) but in the meantime, please consider adding it to your Goodreads list. I'll be eternally grateful - like, name-my-firstborn-after-you-grateful. (Did I mention we don't have a baby name picked yet?) 

Legend has it if you die in your dreams, you die in real life.

Fifteen-year-old Ashling Campbell knows that’s not true because when she closes her eyes each night, she doesn’t dream about public nudity or prom dates. Instead, she's catapulted to the front row of her future self's execution - fifteen years from now - where monsters have taken control of her hometown and she, or rather, her 30-year-old counterpart, is their public enemy number one.

For three months and counting, it's been the same dream... until she hangs a dreamcatcher above her bed. Ash falls asleep to discover she's no longer a mere spectator in these dreams - now she's actually astral-projecting into the body of her future self. Each night, she goes on the run with a ragtag group of rebels - who have no idea she's really a high school sophomore and not their noble warrior. With the help of her best friend and a mysterious somnologist, Ash learns to manipulate her sleep through lucid dreaming. She has to make it through each night so that she can wake up and find a way to change the future. For every action she does in the present day, she falls asleep to discover it had an equal impact fifteen years later. It's up to her to manage her two worlds and make sure she's still got a place in both.

About the Author: Born and raised in the Midwest, Jen had to choose between staring at corn or reading books. Corn husks just didn't have the appeal of the Baby-Sitters Club, and so a bookworm was born. Reading later turned into writing and in 2011, Jen published her first novel with Camel Press. After releasing four books in the mystery genre, Jen finally gave in to the literary demands of her inner teenager with her YA debut, FIFTEEN (coming January 2015 from Curiosity Quills). 

Jen is an active member of the National Writers Union. When she isn't writing, Jen enjoys sci-fi in all its mediums, attempting yoga, using her passport, watching baseball, and reading a good book. She lives in Illinois with her husband Nathan under the tyranny of their three cats: Wrigley, Ivy and Captain Moo. To balance the feline:human ratio, they are expecting their first child in the early spring, who will probably be named after someone Joss Whedon has killed. 

Find Jen online: Website * Twitter * Facebook * Tumblr * Goodreads * Amazon

NaNoWriMo update: crunchtime

So in case you missed this article, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year! It's especially exciting because I wrote FIFTEEN during a previous NaNoWriMo, so I thought this would be a perfect time to work on the sequel.

But I'm down to five days *gulp* and things aren't going so well. I'm at exactly 40,000 and this Thanksgiving week includes two dinners across the state and a sick husband. So what I'm saying is... wish me luck - I'll be very thankful for it!

Bumpdate! Week 22: Babymoon edition

I don't usually post pictures of myself in a bikini, but I have a finally have an excuse for not sucking in my gut.

Baby is the size of a... a papaya. Which I just ate this morning, btw.

Weight gain: Twelve pounds, give or take the time of day.

Exercise: I did a lot of walking, although it was to and from the buffet.

Stretch marks: Not yet. But my eczema's flaring up, so it basically looks the same.

Maternity clothes: Who needs 'em when you've got swimsuits and fat pants?

Belly button: It is making its way out and it is so very pale.

Sleep: Yup, thanks to the sound of ocean waves... (and now I have to pee).

Symptoms: Does it count as irritability if you're just really freaking sick of meddling strangers touching your stomach and giving you medical advice?!?

Movement: Pretty sure this baby is trying to kick his/her way out.

I miss... my cats!

I'm looking forward to...home sweet home. Why do I leave?

Book Deal of the Day

My publisher brother, James Wymore, is Amazon's Book Deal of the Day, on sale for $1.99! His book, I mean. The Actuator: Fractured Earth - only $1.99. Not James. Well, maybe he's on sale too, but you'll have to a little more than $1.99.


Bumpdate: Week 21!

Alternate post title: My jeans are beginning to lose the battle against my belly.

Baby is the size of a... a carrot. Wait, a carrot? Is that an organic carrot? A baby carrot? Does it include the leaf? The roots? These books really need to be more specific.

Weight gain: Ten pounds.

Exercise: Still hitting the treadmill for daily walks, albeit begrudgingly.

Stretch marks: Not yet. I keep oiling myself up like a watermelon at the public pool.

Maternity clothes: When I'm not wearing my pajamas, so... rarely.

Belly button: Still in, but it is looking a lot more shallow than it used to.

Sleep: Yes, please.

Cravings: Where are those Red Vines?!?

Symptoms: Pretty much none. Does that mean I'm in line for a L&D from hell?

Movement: A few bouts of baby kicks here and there, but still pretty subtle.

I miss... sleeping on my back.

I'm looking forward to...our babymoon! I know, I know, you'll miss me. But this is the last non-Mickey vacation that Mr. Jen and I are going to be able to take for a very long time.

Bumpdate: Week 18!

So since the positive pregnancy test, Mr. Jen and I have been taking these lovely weekly pics of my pregnancy bump that felt very strange given as how I had no bump. I felt even stranger sharing them, which is why I haven't. But as I entered Week 18... it happened! At first I thought I just ate too much guacamole, but the bump appears to be here to stay. I'm so excited to finally have some pregnancy street cred and plan to post semi-sporadic updates from here on out. Emphasis on the semi-sporadic - I'm very lazy.
  • How far along: 18 weeks.
  • Symptoms: Um... I'm really thirsty? Is that a thing?
  • Belly button: Still there. Oh, and still in.
  • Wedding Rings: They still fit, but I still forget to wear them most days.
  • Exercise: Walking on the treadmill every day, but only a mile. I told you I was lazy.
  • Sleep: No more sleeping on my back! Three-point-turns just to change sides! Waking up at 2:00 a.m. to pee! I think this is Mother Nature's way of preparing future moms for sleep deprivation.
  • Cravings: Very disappointed to have nothing to add here. No pickles, no dirt. I wouldn't say no to some Red Vines, I guess.
  • Looking Forward to: My ultrasound in a couple of weeks, even though we aren't going to find out the gender. #TeamGreen baby, baby!

Cover Reveal: Altar of Reality!

Today is the cover reveal for Altar of Reality, the first book from Shifted Realities--a brand new series by Mara Valderran. This YA dystopian is set to be released January 31st, 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press. Mark your calendars, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads list! Want to stay up to date on all things Altar of RealitySign up for Mara's newsletter so you don't miss a thing!

And now...the moment Mara's we've all been waiting for...

When sixteen-year-old Madeline suffers her first grand mal seizure, she finds herself in an unfamiliar reality, surrounded by strangers wearing familiar faces. Her best friend, Brandon, tells her that the world has fallen to chaos, the aftermath of World War III ten years ago. Madeline doesn’t remember anything from this life— especially not the explosion four years ago that killed her parents and landed her in a coma, or the Lord Commander; a zealot leader of the Southern Territories now searching for her.

Madeline barely has time to process everything before waking up to the life she’s always known. As soon as she dismisses it all as a strange and vivid dream, she finds herself back there once more. Unsure if she’s truly caught in the middle of a brewing rebellion, or teetering on the brink of insanity, she finds herself flipping between the two lives. Her heart becomes torn between two versions of the same boy and the lines between her realities begin to blur as she struggles to save her lives in both worlds.


Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she's more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Find Mara Online: 

Be sure to check out the Heirs of War, Crown of Flames blog tour going on right now! There are excerpts, interviews, a giveaway, and more. You can find the tour calendar here.

The Authorized Story of Me Watching The Unauthorized SBTB Story

Last night, instead of working on my manuscript that I’m already behind on thanks to morning sickness, I watched The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. Since you already know that embarrassing factoid, I’ll also tell you that I’d previously read Behind the Bell, so I knew what I was in for. But this blog post isn’t a review. This is a PSA.

Continuity: the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time. The building blocks of live-action television.  It’s what allows fans to lose themselves inside fictional universes, kick back on their car-shaped couches and make themselves at home in their kooky, loving, ethnically-diverse lives.

What? Your living room didn't have a stoplight and a welder?

I was first introduced to continuity, or lack thereof, by the Bell. This is a show that inexplicably moved from Indiana to California, had five years of high school (hey, so did my ex-boyfriend), and dozens of disappearing siblings.

I dealt. I shrugged. I soldiered on in front of our Zenith console television. And then Tori entered Bayside High School and my world crumbled. Bell fans know the gist, but a quick recap: Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkeley wanted out, so the show brought in Leanna Creel to play new-girl “Tori”, with no explanation as to where “Kelly” and “Jessie” had gone.

Except I had pigtails.
My fourth-grade self was devastated. As the product of a dysfunctional childhood, I could handle absentee family members. But absentee television characters? I felt lost. Betrayed. I acted out. I carved “I Hate Tori” into my Trapper Keeper, something for which I was teased about until high school by a boy who had “I Hate CASE” on his, which – if I understand it correctly – is the Tori of tractors. (I grew up in farm country, where tractor allegiance was encouraged.)

Every truck in my school's parking lot had one of these on the window. Starting to understand why Bayside moved from the Heartland to SoCal.
I couldn’t get over it, though. It just wasn’t fair! It wasn’t fair to Kelly and Jessie, who deserved a send-off, or at least, transfer papers. It wasn’t fair to Tori, who might have been an interesting character had she been properly introduced and developed. And it wasn’t fair to the fans, whose young age didn’t prevent them from remembering two main characters who had been an integral part of the show for four years. (About half of my life at the time.) Was this my first realization that life wasn’t fair?

In the Bell’s defense, they weren’t alone. The Dark Ages of Sitcoms (80s & 90s) were notoriously awful for writers adjusting their show to meet their scripts, as opposed to the writers adjusting their scripts to meet their show.

But a few years after the Bell stopped ringing (well, the first Bell anyway), something wonderful happened. JOSS WHEDON got his very own show, which advanced television in so many different ways: first and foremost, continuity. Now, characters can’t even have a passport without fans rioting and demanding, “When the fuck did that happen?”

This should have been preempted in Season 3 with a twenty-minute scene of Buffy filling out an application at the post office.

So moral(s) of the post: don’t treat your viewers/readers/fans like they have the memory of fish just because they're kids, buy John Deere, and Joss Whedon is God.

Fifteen! 15! XV!

Old-timey calendar

Guess who's got an official release date? Okay, lots of authors - but one of them is me. And because my publisher is so very clever, FIFTEEN will be debuting on the first 15th of 2015. Get it? Then you're ahead of me, because it took a good two days before I was like, "I see what you did there!"

Prepare for mind explosion in 3...2...1...

Inaugural Post

Home Office
I've been out of the blog game for awhile now, but I've realized that I'm just too gabby for the GIF-lovin' Tumblr and 140-character-limited Twitter. And Facebook... well, *looks around, leans in and whispers* Facebook is trying to take over the world one "like" at a time. It's not like I'm saying Facebook is a front for an evil despotic empire hellbent on public manipulation and totalitarian surveillance, but... *puts on foil hat* ... Facebook is totally a front for an evil despotic empire hellbent on public manipulation and totalitarian surveillance.

So I've returned to my old friend Blogger to provide me ample room to air my grievances and share pictures of my vajayjay. Probably not that last part, but if it sells books, who am I to play coy?

Role Model
Speaking of vajayjays! If you haven't heard, I gots me a baby comin' in late March. You probably haven't heard, unless you were at the Chinese restaurant where we told our parents and my mom subsequently told the entire restaurant. Actually, it was a Japanese restaurant. We had wanted to do Chinese, because we made up fortune cookies with the announcement, but my mom suggested a new Japanese place instead and I couldn't exactly say that I'm off sushi for the next nine. So, we met at the Japanese restaurant and I slyly slipped the fortune cookies into their napkins, correctly assuming they wouldn't know the diff.

One tough cookie.
However, when fortune cookie time came, we forgot one little thing: Parents are old and stubborn, which means not only will they be unable to read the small print of a two-inch fortune, but they will have failed to bring their reading glasses, even though they knew there would be menus chock full of tiny, illegible letters. So with her granny blues squinted so hard they nearly closed, my mom deciphered her fortune aloud...


Cue Mr. Jen and I beaming as we awaited our kudos for a job well done. (A job that many assumed we must've been doing wrong, given that we've been married for ten years.) My mom grinned. She squee'd.

And then... she announced that this must mean it's time for her to get another dog. She repeats this, to make sure it has caught the full ire of my stepdad, who's perfectly happy with their current two.

"Why don't you just read the rest?" I said, with gritted teeth as a surge of preggy hormones coursed through my soon-to-be varicose veins. Finally, she began pulling the tiny slip of paper back and forth in front of her eyes until she finally realized there was a little more to the fortune.


And the rest was pretty much...

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