Category Archives: personal

An Off-Brand Political Plea, If You’ll Indulge Me

I want to step away from my usual writing and book-related content and share some ideas for this U.S. Memorial Day.

Today, we honor the men and women of the United States armed forces who gave their lives to keep their civilians safe. And what better way to honor them than by making sure their brethren who made it home keep their rights and freedoms?

See, the United States government has gone rogue. They, by and large, no longer serve their constituency (which, in many ways, specifically includes veterans) but serve instead whatever corporate industry is paying for their third home and second mistress.

Wait, that’s not entirely fair.

There are cishet women in Congress as well. Let’s change “mistress” to the more equitable and all-encompassing “side piece.”

Okay, with that injustice rectified, we can proceed.

At the risk of making myself into a libtard who doesn’t believe the left is capable of doing anything wrong (I’m not and they are), I offer the following as we head into the 2024 election cycle:

First, statistically, if you look at everyone who can vote in this coming election and trace back as far as they could vote (so, 80 years, 20 election cycles, ish, so, people who came of voting age in or around 1945), Joe Biden has been one of if not the most productive and effective leaders any of those voters have had as an option.

I apologize for the grammatical state of that really long sentence. But basically, the news media is lying to the public, vilifying Biden, trying to make him look like a doddering old fool when the facts, if people are willing to seek them out, are overwhelmingly in his favor. Superlatives like more people are working (read also: lowest unemployment rate) than any point in American history are on his side.*

So, let the DNC have him. The odds of a party unseating their incumbent are slim to none. The incumbent has to lose their primary by a landslide or do something so egregious during their first term in office that the party’s election committee has no choice but to unseat them. And neither of those are likely to happen in 2024.

So, let the DNC have Biden. What we need to do instead is choose the opposition.

If you live in a state that allows you to vote in either party’s primary election, vote Republican. I am not asking anyone to change their voter registration to make this happen if you live in a state that only allows you to vote for your registered party and truth be told, I actually advise against changing now. I would not put it past the Republican party to “lose” voter registration of anyone who switches sides in the eleventh hour.

But, if your state allows you to choose the primary in which you cast your vote, please vote in the Republican primary. But do your research. Don’t just blindly check any box that is not Trump or DeSantis because they are the Boris Badenov and Snidely Whiplash of these proceedings, respectively. Look into voting records. Look into criminal records. Have they been divorced multiple times? Then find out why (divorce alone is not a reason to write them off; serial infidelity, however . . .). Dig up everything you can possibly find on any candidate you might vote for.

Because the Republican party has proven in the last decade that they cannot be trusted. They have turned the “blue no matter who” slogan against the voters and put ultra-conservatives on the Democratic ticket only to have them switch sides after the election. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, they have sleeper agents on the left and the only way to combat that is by overwhelming their voter pool.

If every leftist and centrist who can votes in the Republican primary in 2024, we CAN keep Trump, DeSantis, and whatever other wannabe fascist they find to run off the final ballot. We just have to flood them.

And carry that diligence into state and city elections too. If you have the option, especially on the state level, to vote for an independent (who isn’t a veiled fascist, of course—research, research, research!), stack the state governments with third-party representation. The only way to get a third-party President into office is by getting them in on the state level first.

And that brings me to the final point, which is don’t vote third-party in the Presidential race. I know it sounds like a great way to combat the two-party dumpster fire we have currently, but mathematically, it is a wasted vote when no independent party has ballot access in all 50 states and territories. Green party voters, for example, will typically vote Democrat if there is no Green Party candidate to vote for. Some people will tell you that by voting for a third-party, you are giving your vote to the opposition, but it’s more accurate to say you’re taking much needed votes away from the closest comparable party. So, if 1000 voters are split in a simple majority between Democrat and Republican, 501 to Dems and 499 to Republicans, Dems win. But if 25 of those 501 vote Green instead, then Republicans win. See the math?

In Congressional races, vote your heart. In state races, PLEASE vote third-party if it’s reasonable (again, don’t vote for ANYONE in this election just because they “aren’t the other guy”). The only way to break up the two-party system is to start at the bottom and work up. But save the grandstanding when it comes to the President.


* If you would like to know more, check out or

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What’s in a Name?

There was always something off, to me, about my name. The one my parents gifted me for my birthday, the one on my government issued ID. I didn’t know it as a child but sometime in the last fifteen or so years, I have worked out that it’s just not very musical. First and last, especially, are nothing but hard consonants strung together with short vowels.

It’s very abrasive.

Around middle school, I tried dropping my first name and just being Gabrielle—or Gabby or Elle or Brie—but that’s next to impossible in a small town where all the kids go to school in the same building. People get used to one thing and balk against change.

Did I grasp the opportunity to change it in college? Nope. I, too, had become so accustomed to introducing myself as Desiree that as much as I hated it, I couldn’t stop. And before long, the damage was done and all of my new college friends were on board with this thing I abhorred.

Out of college and starting a new job? Same song, different verse.

But when I started publishing, I took that as an opportunity to be known as something different. Because as much as I hated the sound of all those hard consonants and short vowels, I thought it looked just as bad. A pseudonym, a nomme de plume, a pen name was never about anonymity, for me. It was always about aesthetics and what I personally found attractive.

What I can’t tell you is why I opted to keep the D.

It seemed like the right choice at the time and was for more than fifteen years. But when other people started talking about me and my writing in more professional terms, I wished I had just stuck with Gabrielle.

It seems frivolous, now, to change it. If changing it were a need that would be different. But to simply change it because it makes my skin crawl to hear people say it aloud . . . that sounds like a lot of extra work I don’t need to heap upon myself.

A person can accumulate a lot of backlog in twenty years. There is a lot of work out there in the world with the name D. Gabrielle Jensen on it. I’ll stick with what I have, for now, and see how I feel in another couple of years. Maybe some notoriety and fame will change the way I feel.

Another Prompt Post

What bores you?

Truly? Being at home.

Not always but I am 75% more likely to be bored by being at home than anything else.

Even as a kid, I hated being at home. Anytime I’d go somewhere with my parents, I would stall and hope for just one more stop before we went home.

Days off from the day job are excruciating in their duration. I understand why people want to go to bed at 8pm. It’s not because I’m tired but I’m B O R E D and cannot fathom anything to do to fix the problem.

Because the thing no one talks about when it comes to boredom is part of the reason you are bored is because you are tired of your normal pastimes. You’re bored of the television. You’re bored of your art projects. You’re bored of . . . basically every option available to you because those options are always available to you.

Sure, I enjoy crocheting. Do I reach for it when I’m bored? No. Because it’s monotonous and I need something stimulating. I take a lap, or two, or five, around the house when what I really want to do is jump on a plane to anywhere and take a lap or two around some different scenery.

Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a plane. Let me take a couple laps around Walmart. If they didn’t close at 11 and my boredom intensifies at 11. But I’m always looking for someone to go out with me. Go out for appetizers or coffee or dessert. Go painting at the pottery studio. Go thrifting. Whatever.

Just get me out




Can We Talk About the Shark in the Room?

I grew up with the original Magnum, P.I., in the 80s. So, of course I had to try the “reboot.”

And I have enjoyed it. I was disappointed to hear CBS had cancelled it and excited when NBC decided to give it a fighting chance.

But now, there is talk of a romance between the titular Magnum and his . . . Well, Higgins has a lot of titles. She is his property manager, his employer, and his business partner.

And apparently, soon to be romantic partner.

Unfortunately, this is a common “logical progression” in character development, both in television and books, and often done poorly.

The one that stands out most clearly in my memories is Booth and Brennan/Bones. Their character interactions were built around an unrequited sexual tension. And when that was quelled, and they inevitably coupled (then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage) to the detriment of the entire show.

Booth and Bones was the worst for me, I think. I greatly enjoyed the show before the writers (and maybe fans) started pushing the coupling issue and then there was schmalz and goo and overprotective husbanding, and it became too much to watch. Their new chapter was the beginning of the end for me.

And a lot of other people, from what I’ve heard.

And I am afraid that level of campy, overwrought goo will be next on the agenda for Magnum and Higgins, which upsets me.

I think this is also at the root of my hesitation to read the next book in one of my favorite series. After fifteen books, the author decided to mash the main character into a coupling with the only permanently available and age-appropriate woman in his orbit.

This is a pairing I’ve expected from early on and to be honest, dreaded. I didn’t mind him with other women or her with other men but together they are terrible. And it has made me not want to read the next book. And I hate that it has made me not want to read the next book.

While I may be in the minority, I can easily say the fastest way to get me to lose interest in any fictional media is to shoehorn in a romance where it doesn’t belong. I am a little more accepting if the characters have good chemistry but even then, I’m a pretty hard sell. You have to really earn my trust in that department. And the longer you keep them apart before pushing them together, the less I am going to like the results.

WordPress is Now Offering Prompts

Come up with a crazy business idea.

I logged into my WP dashboard this morning, fully intending to check stats and work on something else but then I found this. A daily prompt. Which is great because I struggle to keep this thing active, even though I get a little burst of dopamine every time someone likes a post so you would think that would be enough to keep me motivated.

I don’t know how “crazy” it is, but I really want to set up my own studio salon (I am a cosmetologist in my other life) but IN my studio, I want to also sell books. Like, more than just a small display with my own books—No, I want a full-blown bookstore (well, not full full; the studios are pretty small spaces). Probably, it would be more like one or two six-foot bookcases stacked with indie titles. Maybe on a commission basis, like the art I also want to sell in the space . . .

I could run it kind of like an LFL but with more of a buy-sell-trade model where people can bring in their own old books to trade or just buy something outright if they would rather.

There is a lot to work out, logistically speaking, but I think a hair salon/tiny bookstore would be kind of cool.

Measuring Success

“How do you define ‘success’?”

This is something everyone should take the time to consider, and reconsider because it will change. But it’s an especially important question for anyone trying to blaze their own trail. Authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs . . . all need to evaluate and re-evaluate our definition of success in order to ensure we are still working toward it.

For me, it is comfort. The ability to do things without worrying about them.

I happened to be visiting Denver at the time of the first game of the NHL Western Conference finals between the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers. I gave a moment’s worth of serious consideration to buying tickets, only to be sidelined by the price.

Success in my art would mean avoiding those moments. In most cases, I prioritize experiences over possessions and that opportunity to experience a playoff game on the home ice is one I may not get again. I want to be able to see those opportunities and take them, without hesitation.

One of my dearest friends is getting married in California in September. When she first announced her engagement (with a ceremony planned for 2020), I didn’t think anything would keep me from helping her celebrate. Now there is too much standing in the way. Success would mean not having to make that choice.

Success, for me, is not “all about money;” it is, however, about having the financial freedom to gain the experiences.

What about you? What does success mean to you?

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Masks and Mental Health

In Asian countries, it is not uncommon for people to wear masks. They wear them in crowded spaces because in their cities they have some very crowded spaces. And in some places they wear them because of pollutants in the air.

This is a foreign (if you’ll pardon the expression) concept for much of the western world. And because we are not used to the practice, we’ve had some adjusting to do over the last 18 months.

And some people have not adjusted well.

I am one of them.

And the stupid thing is I’m not in the anti-mask camp. I have some opinions about the state of affairs but I’m not vehemently anti-mask or pro-conspiracy or any of that. I have seen, not first hand but through the eyes of others, the worst of the worst.

But I’ve seen a lot of other ugliness in the last year and a half, too.

So, I wasn’t really sure why I was having such an averse reaction to the whole situation. I couldn’t quite pin down what it was about wearing a mask and seeing people in media wearing them that was bothering me so much.

Because my only reaction to seeing other people wearing them in real life was that person is wearing a mask.

But seeing fictional characters on the television wearing masks really gets under my skin.

And I finally put things together.

There are a couple of things happening here. The first is my own self esteem. This is the reason I struggle with the idea of wearing them personally.

I spend every day staring at myself in a mirror. For hours at a time. Before all of this started, the person I saw in that mirror was short and overweight and dressed in unflattering clothing that accentuated the short and the overweight.

But that person could smile.

See, I was bullied for a few things as a kid but one major one was a condition called strabismus.

I actually didn’t have a word for it until just a few years ago. But as a kid it was a “lazy eye.” Technically, they’re different but similar conditions but according to the one and only optometrist who took the time to really examine me, I don’t have a true lazy eye because it responds to stimulus.

ANYWHO . . . I didn’t know that until my mid-20s but even if I did know that as a kid, imagine being a kid trying to explain the medical tech to other kids. But I have spent the better part of 35 years watching people look behind them to see who I’m talking to, even when I address them by name. And I spent most of my childhood being called cross-eyed.

Because I wasn’t diagnosed, properly or at all, until my 20s, obviously nothing was done to fix the problem. Though often the fixes don’t work and have to be done again and again, especially when they are performed on adults. So I still have a weird, wonky eye that makes people look over their shoulder for the other Jim or Sally standing behind them. And I’m still a little self-conscious about it.

No, that’s not true. I’m only self-conscious about it when someone or something calls attention to it.

Like covering up the lower half of my face so all that is left are my eyes.

I think my personal aversion to wearing a mask comes from the fact that it is constantly calling attention to this traumatic thing that I hate about myself.

I also figured out that while I’m not hearing impaired (I actually have impeccable hearing, probably because my vision isn’t perfect), I have trouble hearing people talk. I think it’s a form of dyslexia, maybe, but I hear the sounds they just don’t always make it to my brain in the right order. Which is why I hate talking on the telephone.

But then I realized . . .

What do talking on the phone and wearing a mask have in common?

I can’t see your lips.

I’m not, technically, reading people’s lips, but if I can see your mouth moving I am far more likely to understand what you’re saying to me.

And I think that is part of why it bothers me so much to see fictional characters in masks on television.

The other reason is . . . it’s fiction. It’s meant to be an escape, not a reminder.

I just caught up to the abbreviated 2021 season on New Amsterdam and Daniel Dae Kim just joined the cast. In the episode I watched most recently, they were talking about the virus in the past tense because things had calmed down from the chaos they had endured in the early months. One of the other characters says to Kim’s character, “Hearken back . . . ” and he cuts them off saying, “I’d rather not hearken back to a time when thousands of people were dying every day.”

That sums up my feelings about wandering into pandemic episodes of television shows after the fact. I’m still about a season and a half behind on Wolf’s Chicago franchise so we’ll (hopefully) be well past all of this when I hit pandemic episodes of those shows.

And I don’t want to hearken back.

I want to move forward and I want my means of escape to be escaping, not reminding.

That was a lot of thoughts for very late in the evening (or early in the morning though I haven’t gone to bed yet) but I had an epiphany . . . a couple of them, and needed to get them out of my head.

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Starving Artists

Some days I feel like those singers they used to feature on American Idol. The ones who had been told their whole lives they had the “voice of an angel,” but when the angel sang it sounded like a wounded cat.

Except with writing instead of singing.

I read through these elegantly-crafted blogs and even just social media posts and I question whether I am capable of conveying emotions and meaning in the same way. I have been writing, professionally, for twenty years, casually for thirty-five. But there are still moments when I feel like I no longer control the words in my mind. I can no longer guide them to the page in the ways I once did.

I have never wanted anything more than to entertain people with my work, to give them an escape from the mundanity of their everyday lives. But then I hear people talking about books they have read, emoting over the prose, choking back tears at the beauty of the story, the tragedy of the characters, and I don’t believe I am capable of eliciting such a response.

I see other authors gushing their gratitude over the number of books they have sold solely to their Booktok community or their Bookstagram community and I doubt the potential for that to be me. Because I am not writing books that touch people’s souls or change their lives. I never wanted to. But is that the reason I feel like I am back in the third, fourth, fifth grades, listening to my teachers tell my parents, “She’s just not living up to her full potential.”

But, is this my potential? Am I only meant to watch from the outside while others succeed at the dreams I have had, both consciously and unconsciously, from before I even started school?

Without even knowing what was happening, I grew up in a generation compelled to create. Previous generations have all given birth to creative compulsives, this is not new. But somehow the Xennial/Millennial generation has reared ourselves flying a bold middle finger at convention. We saw futures as starving artists and said yes, please. We are bringing back the concept of “patron of the arts,” in the form of crowdfunding, pay what you want models, and subscription services. We are figuring out ways to forge our paths while bucking convention. We have chosen to be hungry and homeless in favor of creation, in hopes of one day “making it” with our Etsy shops and our Bandcamps.

And for some, it’s working.

Just not for me.


What do you do when you can’t even figure out what content to produce to keep yourself entertained?

I have lamented this on here before (which is part of the problem) but I don’t know what to share with people. I have no interest in producing MORE writing tips or editing tips; the internet is saturated with them.

I don’t feel like I get any engagement from behind the scenes content–research bits, character sketches, that sort of thing–and lack of engagement is the quickest way to reinforce my belief that I am a boring human.

I think that’s it, ultimately. I am boring. People tell me that I’m interesting, that I have a lot to say, but when I ask them for guidance, they just repeat themselves. “You’re not boring!” Okay, but I think I am so tell me what it is about me that makes you think I’m not boring? Maybe the thing that you find interesting would be interesting to other people. I might still think it’s dumb but at least having someone say it’s interesting to them gives me hope that I just think I’m boring because I have to spend all day every day listening to the same stupid stories.

I know that those same stupid stories are new to other people and I can’t accurately gauge their entertainment value. But in this case, no news is not good news. No engagement IS engagement. No engagement is rejection of my offerings from the vox populi.

Sometimes it’s an algorithm thing. But my anxiety doesn’t understand that word. My anxiety says, “No one liked this, that means it was terrible. Whatever you do, do NOT repeat this.”

If I post too many more of these, this is going to be my brand. At least in this arena. WordPress is going to start marketing me as the Debbie Downer who has nothing valid to say. Because I keep presenting myself in that light.

I have things to say. I have A LOT of things to say. I’m just not sure if anyone wants to hear them.

If you enjoy my content (TELL ME!), please visit my Patreon.

Overwhelm and Too Many Irons

I set up this blog because I have previous experience with WordPress blogs being pretty discoverable. The free ones. The paid ones are not and I am still striving for passive organic growth. I need platforms I can just water occasionally and let them grow on their own while I focus on everything else.

I close out every one of these with a link to my Patreon and I’m pretty sure that’s getting me nowhere. I’m a pretty realistic person and I understand that supporting a Patreon, even at the rate of $3/month is not something you enter into lightly. Reading a free blog is one thing. Subscribing to a free blog is one thing. Giving money to someone every month is a whole other ballgame entirely.

So I get it.

What I don’t get is what I’m supposed to be posting.

I have yet to find a groove with this free platform that will bring in the traffic my previous attempts brought in while also engaging people enough that they will want to go off campus to check out something else. And I have a lot of free content on my Patreon.

I don’t produce enough fiction to be able to spread it around like peanut butter. I would love to. I really would. I would love to have some kind of serial work running on every platform. Something here, something on Patreon. Something on Radish, Kindle Unlimited, Wattpad. While also finishing novels on the side.

What I want is to be able to produce the amount of text that my fingers are able to type. Which would be the equivalent of two full manuscripts each and every five-day work week.


I know that’s not realistic. Danielle Steel does it but she’s a machine and has been doing it longer than I have been alive. Stephen King is probably close.* But the rest of us have to also work day jobs and . . . sleep.

I actually don’t need that much sleep. And a lot of the time I need sleep because of my day job.

Ideally, I would love to have enough content and support to cut back on my day job. I can’t give it up entirely. I am an extrovert. I need people to stay healthy. But if I could work three days a week in a salon then write the rest of the time, that would be an enormous step in a different direction toward “full-time author.”

I just need to figure out what people want from me. What kinds of content am I supposed to be sharing in each place to get the people to follow me?

Until I figure that out, I guess continue watching me fumble along in the dark.

* Danielle Steel writes up to 20 hours a day on a manual typewriter. The woman is a machine. I don’t have the same statistics for Stephen King (I got the Danielle Steel stats from Jeopardy!) but I do know he’s a pantser like me which is both encouraging and DIScouraging at the same time.

If you enjoy my content, please visit my Patreon.