Category Archives: General Miscellaneous

Out With the Old

I am not a proponent of new years resolutions, generally speaking. While I’m not an extremist zealot about it, I do, sometimes, think seriously about the ridiculousness of time and dates.

Last year was a constant barrage of how horrible 2020 was and talk of yelling Jumanji instead of Happy New Year at midnight and the more those talks continued, the more I thought about this arbitrary thing we call a year.

At 11:59 pm, November 1, 2001, I was not mature enough to drink alcohol. At midnight, sixty seconds later, I magically matured. I feel like New Years Eve is the same concept. 12:01 am January 1, everything resets and all the problems of the previous year are erased.

So I don’t get on board with resolutions.

Goals are a little different to resolutions, though, and I saw someone else talk about the things they are leaving behind in the coming year–everything from judgment to junk–that no longer serves them. So I thought I’d try a little of that.

First off, goals.

I obviously have two books coming out this year. I heard a lot of excuses regarding the status of the first one and why C0VID was to blame for it’s low performance but truly I hope it’s because it’s the first of a series and people are waiting until they can get all three. Because I don’t find comfort in the idea that in a year of homebound free time, the reason people, who are boasting about reading 2-300 books in 2020, did not buy mine.

No, I’m far more comforted by the idea that sales will jump in September with the release of the third book.

But in addition to that, I want to put out some short fiction.

I don’t know that I want to get involved in more anthologies. They are a lot of work for what amounts to “exposure” in the long run.

Sure I have awards from Dragons Within and an LGBTQ bestseller for Fractured Realities but …

A lot of work for very little pay off.

That’s not saying I won’t take the opportunity if the right one comes along; I just don’t plan to seek them out.

In terms of what I want to leave behind–I have taken on a great deal of anger in 2020 and I don’t like it. I am not an angry person but circumstances–

I have absolutely heard people outright refuse to be vaccinated then in the next breath suggest none of this is ever going to end; masks and isolation are life now, concerts and festivals and conventions will never come back. Well yeah, Karen, if you refuse to get a FREE AND SAFE vaccine, then, yes, you’re correct. It will never end.

But I don’t want to be angry. I am a positive, kind, pleasant person. My customer service voice IS my normal voice. I want to be that person again.

So I guess that’s my how we’re starting 2021 post. If you want to follow along on these quests, follow me here and join me on Patreon.

New Normal?

One thing I hear a lot is this *gestures vaguely at everything* is our “new normal,” that things like concerts and movie theaters, festivals, sporting events, free-range travel, are a thing of the past.

I refuse to believe that.

Not because I am not sure how I will survive in a world without real concerts (don’t talk to me about virtual concerts) or where I can’t go to all of the places I want to go, do all of the things I want to do.

I am not prepared for this to be anything but a glitch. I refuse to accept that this is anything but a glitch.

For several years, one of my favorite bands hosted a Christmas festival, for lack of a better term. They would play a Christmas-themed concert in their hometown of Chicago, and as the years went on, it expanded until the final year included two concerts, two tapings of a local music showcase, and after parties for the 21+ crowd. There were Q&A sessions, meet and greets, tattoo shops got in on the fun, offering special flash designs for that weekend only.

And one–unplanned–aspect of the whole thing was something that was deemed the New Heart plague.

It was the result of a couple hundred people converging on the frozen tundra from all around the world then effectively hotboxing their collective germs for three and four hours at a time before returning to the cold winter air outside. It wasn’t just one ailment, it was some mutated conglomeration of flu, cold, and whatever other weird germs people brought to the party.

We all knew it was going to happen, but we went anyway.

We mainlined Emergen-C for weeks ahead of time. We came prepared with cough drops, Pepto, Tylenol. We prepared and then it was all for naught in the end anyway.

Once in Chicago, we became the raccoons we had adopted as our mascot. Slept anywhere and whenever we could. Ate our weight in garbage. And rained general mayhem and chaos upon an unsuspecting city for a week.

I want to go back to that.

Not the festival, though that too, but the idea that living for the moment was more important than the consequences.

Please don’t assume I mean this to diminish the consequences. I am fully cognizant that people are dying. I am fully cognizant that people are suffering long term effects after their treatments are finished. I want to safely return to living for the moment with treatments and vaccines in place, but make no mistake that I want to return to that unencumbered zeal and zest.

My mental health requires it.

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More on the Subject of Wanderlust

I was called a rambler today. I think I like that.

The thing is…

I thirst for adventure. Which is probably a good thing considering I am also the type of person who can turn a trip to the post office into a full-blown adventure. I’m kind of a magnet for mishaps. Most of them end up being so outrageous they extend to the realm of absurd.

But I am also an obsessive planner. If you adventure with me there are things you can rest assured I will have taken care of, well ahead of time, and triple checked.

That doesn’t mean I’ve never made hotel reservations for Thursday, Friday, Saturday when I needed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, but for me that’s considered diet adventure.

But I will triangulate the primary goals of the adventure and find the most centrally-located hotel. I will scour travel sites to find the cheapest room at the most centrally-located hotel. I will find restaurants nearby. I even know the closest drugstore and Target or Walmart, just in case.

Maybe all of my obsessive planning is why the mishaps are so often hilarious.

The problem is that while I live in a place apparently chock full of adventure, it’s not my style. My idea of a great hike with great views is climbing the stairs to the top of an extra tall parking garage to look out over that particular city.

But I’ve grown weary of having these adventures alone. A common but of advice is “learn to enjoy your own company.” I’ve had no choice but to learn this lesson. I’m ready to try adventures with other people.

It sounds silly but I want to have hushed but excited conversations in airport terminals and on trains. I want to have someone to watch our carry-on luggage while I get snacks. I want someone to bring me unsolicited snacks.

There are definite advantages to adventuring alone. Go anywhere you want, stay as long as you want, eat when and what you want… But I’d like to try it not alone.

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Building Something Unique

I have set a goal for myself to promote my work to readers. I understand that writers are also readers but readers who are not writers, I feel, are less likely to be interested in things like editing tips and tips for developing characters or writing good dialog.

Not to mention, it seems like every other writer thinks this is the way to go with their platform building. Cater to other writers. Share your tips with other writers. So doing that makes me feel like just another bark in the kennel.

But I don’t know what to do—outside of sharing stories—to cater to readers instead of writers, or to cater to the reader side of other writers.

Obviously, sharing stories is important but I also don’t feel like I have the mojo to do that consistently.

I’ve been mining my old work, finding anything I think is worth sharing again. But I’m also quickly running out of old work to share.

Ideally, I would just write, all the time. But I need the connection of being around other human beings in order to keep my creativity flowing. And lately, that connection has been a source of nothing but frustration and irritation. Which is not nurturing. Not at all.

I don’t know the answer. I just want to stand out, be different and original, not blend in with what all the other writers are doing, while still doing things that will resonate with the people I need them to resonate with.

If you are interested in finding out more about what I AM working on, find me on Patreon, Instagram, and TikTok.

The Anxiety of Unplanned Creativity

I was invited to a creative Zoom meeting tonight. The idea was creating a new creative calendar that is “more aligned with our lives *in this moment.*”

I was interested in the event until I heard the word markers. And then something in my brain went into a weird panic mode and then shut down. I don’t know what it was about all of the things put together, the “new calendar,” the markers, but I was suddenly very uncomfortable and disinterested.

And I feel like that’s pretty standard.

I don’t know if that’s a normal thing among creatives but it’s definitely something I experience. I’m not fully sure how to explain it but I get really anxious and uncomfortable when presented with unexpected creativity.

There is also the issue of my life doesn’t fit a schedule. It is different from week to week and day to day and I don’t always get advanced warning before people change my plans for me. So creating a calendar that’s more aligned to my life—that sets off all kinds of “this will be frustrating!” alarms and I don’t like those alarms either.

The point is I don’t know what causes this panic response to the idea of being creative without advanced warning or preparation time, but it is very real.

If you would like to see more of what I do when I’m not stressing over unplanned creative time, please visit my Patreon and consider becoming a patron.

Soup Weather

To begin. . . I have no intention of ever becoming a food blogger.

BUT

Sometimes I realize I make some pretty good food stuffs and it is selfish of me not to share.

The weather is disgusting today in the high desert. It’s all rainy and dark and gloomy . . .

It’s a soup day.

I prefer thick, rustic soups with lots of bits and pieces. I don’t hate a good bowl of Campbell’s creamy tomato but it’s definitely better with a cheese sandwich to dunk in it (coincidentally, tomato soup and a toasted cheese is just deconstructed pizza—think about it for a minute; I’ll wait) but I like soup better with it has texture. To that end, one of my favorites is loaded baked potato soup.

I grew up on potato soup made with ham and milk so when I had a broth based potato soup in my mid 20s, I was severely disappointed. Like, I KNEW that was a thing but I had grown so accustomed to what is probably potato chowder, technically, this thin, watery business wasn’t cutting it.

Over the years, I have developed my own sort of recipe for this baked potato chowder whatsit. It’s incredibly simple and I make it even simpler by employing the microwave but you can make it all on the stove if you prefer.

Ingredients:
one medium potato (per person/serving)
pre-cooked ham or bacon (real ham, not “lunch meat” slices)
2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 cup milk (more as needed)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup mixture of shredded cheddar and Swiss cheeses, and grated Parmesan
Salt, pepper, garlic, paprika to taste

Start with one medium potato per person.

What is a medium potato, you ask? Well, it’s a little arbitrary but my measurement is a medium potato is roughly the size of my hand. I can hold two small potatoes in one hand, one medium potato, and a “large” potato is larger than what I can contain completely in my hand. See? Arbitrary.

One medium potato per person.

Peel the potato, or don’t, it’s your choice. I prefer to peel them. Either way, give them a good rub and rinse to get the dirt and bacteria off the outside before you peel or cut.

Give the potatoes a rough dice. Half inch cubes work nicely.

Now, this is where I cheat a little.

I throw the little cubes into a microwave safe bowl (usually the one I’ll be eating from later). I add a little water, cover the whole works with a damp paper towel, and give it about two minutes in the microwave. I want them soft but not “cooked.” You can also par boil the potatoes to just before “fork tender.”

In your choice of medium pot, melt a tablespoon of butter. When the butter is fully melted, toss in your potatoes. “Fry” the potatoes in the butter over medium to high heat until they start to get a little brown and crispy on the outside, about 3-5 minutes. Add a “pinch” each salt, pepper, dried minced onions, garlic powder or paste, and smoked paprika* (you can always add more later but it’s very hard to take it away if you over salt or something) and a teaspoon of chicken base (this stuff) or concentrated stock (this stuff).

Rough chop cooked ham or bacon** (or both!) into the pan with the potatoes and remaining butter. Stir to coat, reduce to heat to low, and cover for 3-5 minutes to marry the flavors.

Uncover and add another tablespoon butter, one cup milk, and one half cup heavy cream. Simmer to melt butter and bring liquids up to temperature. Add half cup mixture of shredded cheddar, grated Parmesan, and shredded Swiss cheese. Stir cheese into warm milk and cover to simmer 5-10 minutes (until cheese is thoroughly melted). Taste it while still cooking and add more seasoning if needed.

Serve hot. 😊 Obviously.

* Any variety of red pepper powder, depending on your taste. Smoked paprika will add a mild amount of heat to the end product. Chili powder, cayenne, and chipotle powder can be used for different end results.

** While I still recommend using regular, crisply cooked bacon, the soft bacon bits (not the crunchy ones) have a more concentrated bacon flavor. Try throwing a tablespoon or so in with the butter and potatoes in the beginning of the cooking process.

Campaign against pink

October is breast cancer awareness month in the US. Which means a flood of pink around the nation.

Each year I make an effort to explain, as gently as possible, to explain why I refuse to participate.

On October 1, 2016, my cousin, who was eleven months older than me and one of my best friends in our teens, came to me at the salon with a request for mermaid hair. Blue fading into green. A few days later, another friend of hers shaved it down to a three foot mohawk. Eighteen months after that, she was gone.

That day she came to me, she had been diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer. In the summer of 2018 she had traveled out of state to follow one of her favorite bands – because she never stopped loving life – and passed out at the show. When she got checked out from that, they found more than forty tumors in her brain.

That first day in 2017, we talked about the irony of starting treatment in October and how we felt about BCA month.

Here’s the reality.

Ten percent or less of the money raised by Susan G. Komen is actually funneled into researching for treatment or a cure. Fifty percent or more of the pink merchandise sold in stores is just that – merchandise. It supports the companies selling it, not breast cancer research or patients. Ninety percent or more of the campaigning for BCA is geared toward woman and fifty percent of that is sexualized. Campaigns like Save the Tatas ignore the human. And breast cancer is not gender specific. Men are just as susceptible to it as women.

So, while I support breast cancer research and survivors, I refuse to participate in the onslaught of pink without purpose. I don’t judge anyone who does participate but I won’t.

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Greetings and salutations!

Hello.

Let me begin by introducing myself and what I’m doing here. I am award-winning*, bestselling* author D. Gabrielle Jensen and I am a flaming disaster when it comes to blogging. I forget to keep up with it, I don’t follow a theme, I don’t tell people it exists.

But we’re going to give it another go.

I have another blog on Patreon and ultimately, in a world of perfect algorithms and SEO and discoverability, I would like all traffic to end up there. But that’s not the world we live in. Patreon, itself, does not have a discover feature; you have to go there knowing what you’re looking for. To an extent. You can search for “writers” and it will spit back all creators who consider themselves writers but you then have to visit each one individually – frankly, I think it’s more than the average consumer wants to deal with.

In the past, however, I have gotten a fair amount of traffic on WordPress, organically. Meaning that random ass people find me just because of my keen knack for tagging posts. I hope that this new interface works the same way and I can maybe get some organic traffic here.

WordPress is also less salty about directing traffic off-site. With each passing day, Facebook and Instagram are getting stickier and stickier about suppressing posts with links to external sites. They want that ad revenue for themselves.

Case in point: I have an app on my phone called Mistplay. You play games for points and then you can use those points to get gift cards. It’s pretty awesome. But! You can’t share your referral link to Mistplay on Facebook. Not even in a private message. It gets kicked back with a message that it violates community standards.

Why?

Because it’s a lot of the same games you can play on Facebook. Words With Friends, Coin Master, Bingo Blitz, a variety of slots games, a variety of solitaire card games, all of which are also connected to Facebook. So if you play through Facebook, they get a cut of the ad revenue. If you play through Mistplay, THEY get that cut.

It’s logical from a business standpoint but from a user standpoint, it kind of sucks.

Also, discoverability on Facebook is a bit of a mess. Instagram’s decent but with the same algorithm insanity. TikTok is actually working pretty well for me but I’m struggling to find enough content to keep it going. So, we’re going to see what we can do about making this work. Maybe I can get out in front of people this way.

* Click here for more information.