Happy New Year!

This past year has been wonderful, but I always look forward to the new year. There’s a saying that what you do on New Year’s Day you will do for the rest of the year; I always try to pack a lot of positive things into that day. So today, I wrote a letter, watched old movies, and talked to my mom.

While I don’t  really make resolutions, I do spend the day reflecting on what I want my year to be like and what I would like to accomplish. This year is going to be all about organization. I read a great book recently that said putting your house in order was not only putting your life in order but also your past. That made so much sense to me because let’s face it, the clutter we hang onto is all from the past. When we purge the clutter, we are processing the past and then closing the door on it in a good way. If we only save what gives us joy, we only save the good memories.

So one of the first things I want to accomplish is getting my house in order. I highly recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (the book mentioned above) as well as Sink Reflections by The Fly Lady. Also, be sure to check out A Bowl Full of Lemons.  These books and websites have really helped me put a plan of action together in this area along with my Filofaxes. After four years in my house, I will finally get my office put together in 2015.

That’s my big goal for the year. I also want to write and blog more. I also want to send more letters. I think it’s a shame that no one takes the time to write letters anymore. Email, texting, and messaging is just so impersonal to me. Luckily, I’m not the only person who feels this way. If you’re interested in joining the crusade check out More Love Letters and Letter Writers Alliance.

The letter writing should also help me improve my handwriting. I also just received American Cursive Handwriting to help me do just that. All those years of taking notes through undergrad and graduate school has really turned my writing into hen scratch, and I just can’t take it any more.

Another big goal is to improve my exercise and eating habits. To that end, I start Insanity Max: 30 on Monday. Many of my family members, including immediate family, suffer from heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and much more. The odds are really stacked against me when it comes to heart trouble; therefore, I am going to do my best to beat those odds. I really hope you’ll join me in some shape, form, or fashion. If you do, let me know, or even better, join my Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/440292416107527/.

So tell me about your resolutions, goals, thoughts, or whatever you want to call them. I can’t wait to hear from you, and of course, I plan to keep you updated on my progress in all of these areas as well as anything new that might pop up.

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Exciting news!

I have big news! About two weeks ago, AmazonEncore approached me about acquiring the rights to Declaring Spinsterhood based on its sales and reviews. I can’t begin to explain how excited I was, and it is now official. I am an AmazonEncore author!

So, what exactly does this mean? Declaring Spinsterhood will be relaunched by AmazonEncore in about six months with new cover, great marketing strategies, and a whole lot more. Don’t worry! The first edition will remain on sale until the relaunch so feel free to head over to Amazon and grab one as a collector’s item.

They’ve already mentioned a second novel, but I have no idea how I’m going to find the time to write it and have it ready for publication by next year with school, my job, catching up on The Office, etc. I know what you’re thinking…write the book instead of watching Michael and the gang, but it’s addicting. I’m at least two seasons behind already thanks to classes, and the new season starts in two weeks!! Okay, deep breath. I’ll find some time to write even if it has to be on my BlackBerry.

Have a fantastic night!

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Hello, everyone! I know, I know. Long time no post, but this semester is kicking my butt not to mention the increased job duties at work. Don’t get me wrong; I’m loving almost every minute of it, but I sure wish I had more time to update my blog, website, facebook, etc.

Anyway, I wanted to let everyone know that Declaring Spinsterhood was featured on Red Adept’s Kindle Book Review Blog today. Although I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed by the 3.5 star rating, I’m just thrilled it entertained her enough that she would finish it. Red makes no bones about not liking the chick lit/romance genre very much, so I’m taking it as a great compliment that she read it all the way to the end. I was terrified that she wouldn’t, and I would just get that dreaded short mention on her blog.

So, here’s her review with my response in bold:

Declaring Spinsterhood, by Jamie Lynn Braziel, tells the story of a woman fed up with her family pressuring her to wed.

3 1/2 Stars

Plot/Storyline: 2 1/2 Stars
The plot is a whimsical tale of Emma Bailey’s frustration with her match-making family. There are several humorous scenes and funny comments sprinkled throughout this story. I think these are what made her keep reading. I do have a knack for the comical if I say so myself.

There is one scene of rather shocking violence that was a bit out of place in this otherwise lighthearted work. However, it did add some spice to the other somewhat repetitive events. I knew the book had been pretty tame up to this point and wanted to completely shock my readers. After all, isn’t violence of any sort completely unexpected?

My biggest problem with the storyline was how rushed it seemed. A character would say something like, “Why don’t we go over to your house?” and the next sentence would have them sitting on the couch at the house in question without any transition. At one point, Emma and her ex-boyfriend, Steve, are eating ice cream in a soda shop and he suggests they leave, but no mention is given of finishing the food, paying for it, or anything to conclude the scene. Call me crazy, but I get irritated when writers feel the need to spell out the mundane details which can usually be inferred.

Emma and her friend who helps her run her bookstore leave for a conference. No mention is given of who would run the store while they were gone (no other employees were ever mentioned) or whether the store would just be closed. I’m almost positive I wrote about them closing the shop, but it wasn’t really that important.

During a very climactic scene, Emma ‘remembers what the bulge in her purse is’. Well, I hit my previous page button, thinking I missed something, to try to figure out where her purse was in the scene and when she mentioned ‘a bulge.’ I couldn’t find it and wasn’t willing to search for it. Perhaps I missed the reference earlier in the scene, but as this was a pivotal event with the purse being extremely important, more attention should have been called to it. Before leaving for the date, Emma puts a very important item in her purse, which was talked about several times during the book and foreshadowing this very bulge. Don’t want to spoil everything, so I’ll leave it there.

The ending was very abrupt and a bit unbelievable. I think if you’ve read much chick lit/romance at all you’ll understand when I say it’s pretty much all unbelievable. I didn’t intend for the book to follow reality; it was written to be purely escapist.

Character Development: 2 1/2 Stars
Emma’s character was fairly well developed. She was funny and likable, if a bit too emotional for my taste. She did seem a bit childish in her behavior toward Brian, her neighbor and friend, but at least she was consistent. This is exactly how I wanted to portray Emma; I nailed this one.

At first, Emma’s mother appeared to just be a well-meaning busy body, kind of quirky and funny. However, she later descended into madness. I cannot imagine the wife of a pastor and mother of two children banning her daughter from her house just because the daughter declared she would never marry. Even in anger, that just seemed way over the top. I intended for Evelyn to be over the top. Red obviously never met my Nanny, hee hee.

Brian was a very weakly developed character. He just seemed confused throughout the entire novel. His actions at the end were also very abrupt and out of character. He’s supposed to be confused. Let’s face it, ladies; we confuse the men in our lives.

Steve, the ex-boyfriend, came across as an annoying jerk, exactly as the author intended. Yes, ma’am!

Writing Style: 4 Stars
Most of the dialogue was realistic; however, there was an oddity here and there. At one point, Emma made a little wisecrack to Brian. He apparently didn’t hear her and asked her what she said. The response was: “Nothing,” she quipped. The ‘quip’ was obviously in her previous statement. I wouldn’t call this an oddity. It’s a commonly used tactic in comedy whether in writing or on television.

The descriptions were very well done, concise and relevant. The simplistic sentence structure fit the overall mood of the work making for a nice, easy read. Exactly as intended!

Editing/Formatting: 5 Stars
Both were of professional quality. It better be considering what I paid to have it done.

Rating: PG-13 for one Violent (Somewhat Graphic) Scene Woohoo! I love that she felt this scene was graphic at all; it gave me chills when writing it.
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Here are some additional comments by Red: Having gone through the single dating thing myself, I was able to relate to poor Emma on her blind dates. (That Red could relate to Emma makes me a happy writer!) I was once set up by a coworker with a guy who spent the entire date talking about his gun collection and motorcycle. That’s just not me. It seems that my coworker just figured that the fact that we were both single gave us something in common.

Thank you, Red, for the review. I would recommend that everyone check out her blog as she is a voracious reader and has written more reviews on Amazon.com than anyone I’ve ever known.

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Book Chatter Live

At 10 PM (CST) tonight, I will be talking about books, writing, and the technology involved along with a panel of other authors including Holly Christine, RJ Keller, and Sam Landstrom. Stacey Cochran does a great job hosting the show, and the discussion is always entertaining. You can listen live at www.ustream.tv/channel/bookchatter. Be sure to check it out! You can even call in or submit your questions via the chat panel. I’ll post a link for the full discussion as soon as it’s available for those who can’t listen tonight.

Hope to hear you there!

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Penpals

Were you one of the lucky people who had a penpal during elementary school? I was. In fact, I still remember the names of my penpals (Lauren and Jamal) and kept their letters and cards, which are now safely housed in my memory box. I eventually lost track of Lauren and Jamal, but I still think of them often and wonder what they’re doing now and if they have families of their own.

With the advent of the Internet, it is much easier to connect with new penpals and relive the experience. I prefer snailmail pals. Snailmail refers to an actual letter with stamps that gets mailed through the good old-fashioned post office. Yes, it takes longer to exchange than an email, but nothing beats the experience of holding a letter in your hand that has traveled halfway across the globe to get there. Plus, you can learn a little bit more about your penpal through their handwriting, the stationery and ink they use, or the way they embellish their paper and writing.

I have penpals from many different countries including Ireland, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Wales, and the list goes on and on. The best free website for finding penapls on the Internet is Interpals (www.interpals.net). There are various search options available to narrow down the profiles that may interest you. From there, you can introduce yourself to penpals around the globe. I’ve met many great people through this site, but you will also receive some strange requests, which are more than likely scams, foreign people looking for visas through marriage, or scum looking for hookups onlin.e So, just be prepared to click the delete button quite often. However, the rewards outweigh the trash.

Another great way to meet penpals is through International Pen Friends (http://usa.ipfpenfriends.com). This is a paid service, which for a fee, will provide you with the names of 14 potential penpals as well as submitting your name to 14 other penpals. The great thing about this site is you can submit your application online and pay securely through Paypal, but all other correspondence takes place through the postal service, which means no annoying scam emails to delete. Plus, because these people have paid a fee for their list of names, you know they are much more likely to be serious about writing more than one letter before falling off the face of the earth.

So, if you would like to connect with people around the world, I would highly recommend either one. I’m expecting my second list from IPF any day, and I’ll keep you posted concerning my experiences with both sites. So far, I’ve met some very interesting people and can’t wait to meet more.

I would love to hear from you on this topic as well. Feel free to comment and tell me about your own experiences with penpals whether past or present.

Until later,
Jamie

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Time flies when you’re having fun!

Summer classes finally ended, so I have few days off to kick back and enjoy before fall semester begins. Boy, have I been enjoying it! I went to Oklahoma for my nephew’s first birthday. He’s such a handsome little fellow and has five teeth. His mother was putting together a photo album and asked me to upload some pictures for her. I have 2000 pictures, and it’s only year one. They don’t call me Aunt Paparazzi for nothing!

I’ve finally had time to read for pleasure, and I started with Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I had never read anything by this author and thought it was about time. Suspenseful story but didn’t want to make me hide in bed under the covers or anything, which was a little disappointing. I was looking for a good scare, and he’s said to be the master of all things frightening. If you know of any truly scary books (not gory and disgusting), I’d love some recommendations.

Then, I head about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon on the Amazon Kindle community board. I tend to avoid bodice-ripper romances like the plague due to the ridiculous nature of the sexual content, but these were set in the Scottish highlands. I’m a sucker for all things Scottish, Irish, or English for that matter, so I checked them out at the library. I’ve finished the first and started the second. Great storytelling so far, and I’m relieved to find that the sex scenes aren’t too graphic or plentiful.

I’ve also been catching up on my TV watching. My favorites right now are “Ice Road Truckers” and “Pawn Stars”. I’m also watching “Ghost Whisperer” from the beginning thanks to the Ion channel. All in all, it’s been some delightful time off.

Only seven short days left.

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Busy, busy, busy!

It absolutely feels like I no longer have time do anything strictly for fun. My second class of the summer just started (Audit), and it is going to be work, work, work. I have to carry a book around with me all the time just to snatch a few moments of pleasure here and there. Otherwise, I’m at a desk, in my car, or playing in the band.

Okay, enough whining! I am taking tomorrow off from work, school, and everything else to spend time with my girlfriends, Laura and Kathy. It feels like it’s been forever since we had time to hang out, so we have a lot to catch up on, but first things first.

We’re going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! I am trying not to get my hopes up too much because I was so disappointed in the liberties taken with the last one. I have avoided reading the books again like the plague so that I will have forgotten most of the plot, and thus, NOT BE FUMING MAD AT THE END! I’ve heard some great reviews, but I’m also scared by the fact that it appears there’s only three mentions of the HBP, which WAS THE WHOLE PLOT OF THE BOOK!!!! Okay, calming down now. We’ll see how it goes.

After the movie, we’ll be taking Kathy to lunch for a belated birthday celebration. My stomach’s already growling in anticipation because my girlfriends have great taste in restaurants. Yum!

As for Declaring Spinsterhood, sales are booming on the Kindle in spite of Amazon’s doing away with the discount. Yeah! Now, if I could just get everyone to write a review, I’d be in a very happy place.

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Kindle version of my book only $0.99!

Just wanted to let everyone know that if you have a Kindle or an iPhone, you can download a copy of my book for only $0.99. I dropped the price to generate some sales, and hopefully, some more reviews. I’ve sold 20 copies since!

If you’ve read the book but didn’t buy it from Amazon, please feel free to post a review here by commenting on this blog. Otherwise, please post your review to Amazon.

Thanks to everyone for all their great words of encouragement and support!

Later,
Jamie

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KTEN interview now posted!

In spite of my extremely slow internet connection, I finally was able to post the entire KTEN interview on my website (www.jamielynnbraziel.com). It took over two hours and kept crashing some program on my computer that I didn’t even know existed. Anyway, because of the technical difficulties, I won’t be posting it here on the blog; you’ll just have to head over to my site to see it.

My brother and his family came down for a visit this weekend. My nephew is the most handsome and good-natured little fellow you’ll ever meet. He’s already wrapped his Auntie Jamie around his little finger, and from the looks he kept giving me this weekend, I think he knows it even if he is just nine months old. His little smile with those two wee teeth just lights up my world.

It was so nice to be able to do whatever I wanted to this evening without having to think about homework or studying for a test. I’ve spent all afternoon reading, which is a rare experience lately; I finished Sarah Dessen’s first novel Someone Like You and started her second one, That Summer. She does such a great job of portraying teen girls and all their roller coaster ups and downs. It definitely brought back some memories from my own teen years. Boy, does that seem like a long time ago.

I feel so behind on things like new books and movies. There are so many different things I want to read or watch and so little free time in which to do it. When I find a spare minute, I usually spend half of it trying to decide whether to read, watch a movie, practice the piano, or exercise. Exercise always loses, the piano rarely wins due to the threat of disturbing others, so it’s mainly a toss up between reading or watching. Books typically win out in the end because they rarely disappoint whereas movies so often do. I wonder why it feels that way? Maybe it’s because the movies tend to leave little to my own imagination. Movies where I’ve already read the book are the worst because they rarely live up to the screenplay I’ve already seen in my head. They did a pretty good job with Twilight, but the last couple of Harry Potter movies ticked me off. I certainly hope they do better on the next one.

I did get to watch a couple of movies this weekend: Hairspray and August Rush. The first was completely corny, which I loved, and the second was just beautiful. What an interesting storyline, and I enjoyed seeing another side to the acting talents of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as well as hearing his delectable accent.

Sorry for the ramblings, but that’s all I’m good for today. The brain is mush!

Later!

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New pics and video!

Hey, everybody!

Just a quick post to let you know that I finally posted the pictures from the book signing as well as a funny little video from that day on my website at www.jamielynnbraziel.com. Just click on Photos or Videos to see them, and let me know what you think.

Good news! The KTEN interview video has finally been edited. My guru is a genius and will be handing it over shortly for posting.

This semester’s almost over, thank goodness, and I’ll have a whole two weeks to blog like crazy before the summer semester starts, so be ready with your comments, questions, and/or suggestions.

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