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Jodie's Blogs

My Writing Space

This is one of my writing spaces, or working spaces. I spend Monday through Friday here working my day job as a Proposal Writer, but my mornings, evenings and weekends may have some time here as well doing business like recording sales, taxes, mailing out shipments, inventory, etc. My main writing space is on the couch in the living room with my laptop specific for writing, with the TV on and my earbuds in. I need the background to concentrate. Working in this office after having just spent 6:30 a.m. to 4:00-ish p.m. is just not workable for me. I need to get out of the room.

 

But I wanted to share this room with you because this room contains special things with my writing. These are not in order of importance by any means.

 

#1: My Planner

I've written about my planner in other blogs. I'm not sure I would survive without it. From appointments, to shows, to taxes, I need it to keep everything in order. Especially this time of year when my day job gets super busy, I just released a book and summer shows and family events are ramping up. It's not my only schedule visual either. I have one in my purse (probably one reason it's too heavy) and one on the wall in the kitchen. The one in the kitchen is so others in the house know what's going on, and the one in my purse is so I know what is going on when I'm on the go. To say I'm organized is an understatement. I'm well organized. Not sure I could do this without being well organized.

 

#2: My Computer

Like I said, I have a laptop specific for writing; however, all of my books are on flash drives and backed up on this computer and another flash drive. I spend a lot of my time on this computer and on my laptop. I need the two screens for my day job. It's a perk to use it for writing, though, especially editing.

 

#3: My Rubber Duckie

My dear neighbor, Brenda, who lives across the street, left this for me in my mailbox before my first book, The Gangster's Daughter, was published. She's been on my desk ever since as a reminder that I can do this. She said she got 'ducked' and told the person she was giving it to me. Truth be told, when she messaged me, I thought it auto-corrected and I was a little flabbergasted until she explained it further. Then I saw it in the mailbox and it made a lot more sense. Ahhh . . . the story I can tell with it now. I won't ever get rid of it, Brenda.

 

#4: My Author Jodie Leigh Murray Pen Set

I mentioned this gift in a social media post long ago when this arrived in the mail with no sign of who sent it. I found out later than my co-workers ordered this for me, and a card was supposed to have come with it. To put this into perspective, this pen set is an extremely high-quality set that has Author Jodie Leigh Murray engraved on the top and into the two ball-point pens. Not just any pens, mind you. Excellent quality pens. Those who know me, know how particular I am with writing materials and these are fantastic pens. The quote engraved in the box, if you can't tell by the crappy picture I took, is from my favorites . . . "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it." ~ Albus Dumbledore. That quote could not be more true.

 

#5: Current Works

If you don't know it already, I'm working on my fourth book, The Aristocrat's Wife, about the wife of a high-society New York aristocrat that finds herself in hot water after being accused of adultery. To escape the criticism of the society that doesn't believe the truth and a husband that cringes when she's around, she dresses as a boy and goes in search of her long-lost brother across a nation rebuilding after the Civil War.

 

#6: Bookmarks

I keep a stash of my bookmarks within reach for orders received. Sometimes I just like to look and admire the fact that I now have three books published. It's an accomplishment I am most proud of. And I owe it all to those who have supported me through this journey, by reading those books, following my social media, reading my blogs, catching me at shows, and several other ways.

 

#7: 15 Year Service Award

This doesn't have to do with my novel writing career, but has to do with my day job, which is also writing but on the technical side. This is my 15-year Service Award plaque, issued to me in October 2022. Yep–October 2024 will be 17 years and in another 3 (2027) will be 20 years. If I'm going to be honest, I would love to make it to 20 years but I'd much rather my writing career take off and I can say I'm sitting at this desk from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00-ish p.m. working on writing books and anything book related rather than working for someone else. I'm actively working toward it, and I'm not about to stop.

 

Happy reading!

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Sneak Peek: The Gangster's Mistake

I know release date is only two days away, but I'm offering a sneak peek at the first couple pages . . .

 

Chapter One

As I looked at the two-story De Luca family home, I thought of all the people here today who could easily find their wallets missing. I couldn't help it. Being a thief for so long, thoughts like these defined me, etched in my memory like a part of my DNA. Thievery was bound to me for life. These guests would go a long time before they noticed anything was missing, all of them sidetracked by the festivities happening on this joyous day.

 

I've been a thief since I was eight years old. Stealing at such a young age was a way of survival. My mother cared more about her next fix than she cared about me. If she couldn't get her hands on drugs, alcohol was the next best thing. There was never enough money for food, clothing, necessities, and definitely not toys or books. Stealing was a way to make sure I got fed and the lights usually stayed on, not that I decided where the money was spent. Not once.

 

The past was something I preferred to keep well hidden, butwhen my limousine pulled up through the eight-foot tall black iron gates of Regan De Luca's family's estate just north of LosAngeles, I couldn't help but to think of how out of place I felt. My life was very different now, at twenty-four, than it was when I was eight. I wasn't poor, but I wasn't wealthy. A highly skilled thief, such as myself, could easily target this house, ifit weren't for the security guards.

 

Shit, I thought, looking around the perimeter of the frontlawn. No one's going to get past this security. Not today. The driveway was long, under thick shady trees where cars lined the perfectly manicured lawn, attesting to the importance o fthe day. There were at least ten guards at the gates, and several trying not to be noticed. But I noticed. I learned at a young age to watch for the men who stood in the shadows, the way they held their hands loose and ready, and the way their heads tracked your movement even if you couldn't see their eyes under dark glasses.

 

Growing up in one of the poorest parts of Las Vegas, I couldn't remember ever being invited to a house of this size. I'd never owned a house, and given my history and my current job, I wouldn't. And I was fine with that.

 

But even an invitation to this house, on this day, was something to be coveted. Besides, robbing houses wasn't my thing. Stealing from people was. When I was younger, I could have targeted houses, but I was good at slipping through crowds.

 

Because of my petite stature, it was easy. Why change what I was good at? That, and I could never go stealing on my own.

 

My life changed the second I met Cameron Moretti.

 

Cameron was the sole reason for me being here. He was my oldest friend—oldest being five years older than me. I had known him for just over ten years, which also made his friendship the longest lasting.

 

Now, he was getting married. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Eight months ago, he wasn't considering settling down. When he told me his father arranged a marriage with the daughter of an old friend, I almost peed myself laughing. Cameron hadn't been ecstatic about it, either. Until he met Regan.

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If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars . . . what comes to mind is the song by the Barenaked Ladies. Laugh out loud, for sure. But in all seriousness, if I had a million dollars, there are several things I would do.

 

Debt

The first thing I would do is pay off our debt. It's nowhere close to a million dollars, which is nice. The house, the truck . . . there really isn't a lot to speak of. But having those paid off would allow us a lot more leeway. Years ago, my husband and I took the Dave Ramsey classes and boy, that made a big difference in our financial situation. We're working on it, but we have a long way to go. Having a million dollars would put us on Step 7, Build wealth and give. Wow, would that be the most fantastic thing to happen? But I'm a dreamer so I'll keep dreaming. And keep working my butt off.

 

Invest

This is something that I do through my 401k, but I've never been able to do any of it outside of that. After all our debt gets paid off, I'd invest some. Not all, some. Now, with that being said, it's easy to go on a spending spree and that's all fine if you budget for it first (thank you, Dave Ramsey classes). I'm more frugal than my husband, although when I get deliveries from Amazon, UPS, FedEx, he thinks differently. It is true, though. We have goals, and we both actively work toward them, but I think I'm more inclined to think about the repercussions of spending than he is in certain situation. That is not a bad thing and I am totally not bashing on my husband. There are two types of people in a marriage (usually), the nerd and the free-spirit. I'm the nerd. Duh. But we work together toward our goals. Having a million dollars would just help us get to our goal faster!

 

Travel

Taking a vacation would be great. Somewhere we've never been, even better. Of course, we have our travel trailer but it's been pretty stationary for the last year because of well . . . this. Working. Writing. Hoping to get more in this year, but we'll see. I would love to fly to somewhere such as the Caribbean or England, somewhere we've never been that we both want to go. If I had a million dollars, we could do that.

 

Buy Land and Move

And last, but certainly not the least of my list, would be to buy land. My husband would love to pick up and move to Belize. Reality is, we'd buy land (the goal is Wisconsin) and build a house. We like Buffalo and we like our neighbors, but we don't want any. Houses are popping up everywhere out here and you can tell by the additional traffic. It's getting too much like city living now. Time to leave! We have two more years before the youngest is out of high school, so the million dollars would just help us attain the goal of moving faster.

 

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

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Writing Organizations

 

This blog is about writing organizations. Ones that I'm part of (and one that I should, but am not yet). These have helped immensely in my writing career, if anyone is thinking about taking the plunge into writing either on the side or seriously. I've met a lot of terrific people through some of these channels, read a lot of great articles and learned so much.

 

Writer's Digest

I've subscribed to Writer's Digest magazine longer than I've had their website bookmarked. They have a plethora of information for every kind of writer imaginable. Do you want to write a screenplay? Having trouble with writing a villain? It's almost like writers helping writers. Not only that, but they have webcasts you can sign up for. Some are free and some are expensive. I've signed up for a few with author Jane Friedman for a fairly insignificant amount of money. The good thing is if you can't make it to the live webcast, you'll get a link to the recording and the materials after the webcast, so you have lost no money if you missed it. Like I did the first one because the time was Eastern Standard Time. Whoops. This one ranks as one of my top writing organizations, and that might be because I've been with them for so long. I even took a Writer's Digest School after high school. I'll spare you the year it was. Wouldn't want to age myself or anything.

 

Author's Guild

The Author's Guild is fairly new to me. I just became a member at the tail end of last year, but after I did so, I was pleased to find out they offered website services. You can build your website to see what it looks like (which looks pretty nice). After I did a little more research, I found I could save hundreds of dollars-yes, hundreds-by switching from Bluehost to The Author's Guild and I could have all the same features. The only thing I don't have is a pop-up, but people can still sign up for my emailed newsletter. Unfortunately, that isn't working as well as it did. Alas, I still have zero subscribers. I might decide to cancel my newsletter for the foreseeable future. I haven't decided yet.

 

Women's Fiction Writers Association

This is also a newby to me. I signed up around the same time as I signed up for The Author's Guild. BUT, I've been building relationships via the Facebook group and networking, so this seems to be a pretty wonderful organization. This is just as it says: Women's Fiction Writers. Those who are aspiring, just getting started, or those who have published work already out. I love the fact that authors, no matter if indie or traditionally published, support one another.

 

Romance Writers of America

This is an organization that I need to join. I've looked at it multiple times. The annual membership is reasonable ($99 annually), but I just don't have enough money to do it right now. My income is extremely low until I sell more books. Sales have been bonkers slow the last few months. Romance Writers of America (RWA) is like The Author's Guild and Women's Fiction Writers Association (WFA). It's networking  and advocating, but it's specific to the romance genre. There are other organizations out there for mystery writers, horror writers, etc.

 

Reedsy

I've mentioned this one before in previous blogs. There's two parts to Reedsy. Reedsy Marketplace where I found the best editor in the world (okay, to ME she's the best) and I'm lucky to have found her. If you're looking for editing help, whether it's developmental, copy editing or proofreading, or maybe you're looking for a cover artist or someone to do illustrations for your book. Looking for a ghostwriter? Reedsy Marketplace is like other services like Fiverr, where you find professionals for hire. As with hiring anyone to do any work, ask for references unless they're already provided and sample work, and anyone who is doing any kind of editing for you should track any changes and not just making changes on your work willy-nilly. The other part of Reedsy is Reedsy Blog, which is like Writer's Digest, where you can get all kinds of help with writing.

 

Writer Beware

And last but definitely not least, Writer Beware. Victoria Strauss puts out blogs, and anyone else can jump in and call a scammer out, to bring awareness to those out to scam writers. The world is heavy with people trying to scam people these days. It's ridiculous. I see it all over with art and craft festivals, and it makes me want to puke that people are targeting small businesses. I mean, no one should scam anyone, but these are people who are fighting for their livelihood-like me-who have extremely small margins. We are fighting to keep our businesses open. I've been the recipient of emails from people who may, or may not have, tried to scam me. I use this handy-dandy website to make sure. It's not always on the website, but there is a Facebook group, too. All you've gotta do is ask!

 

These are my top writing organizations I love, some I couldn't live without and some I just enjoy. If you're a writer or looking to write, there are plenty of organizations out there. It just takes research, which you're probably already doing if you're writing.

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Books On My Shelf To Be Read

 

If I listed all the books on my bookshelf to be read, I'd have a five-page blog. No one wants that. Trust me. At art and craft shows, many people approach me and say they have so many books to read, which is the excuse why they can't buy my book. I get it. I'm a reader, and I'm in the same group! There are a ton of books on my shelf to read, but that doesn't stop me from buying more! And don't tell my husband, but it won't get any better with age.

 

Admittedly, I need to be better about where I purchase my books. Amazon makes it so easy to order a book and receive it the next day without leaving my house. I need to make it a point to visit my local bookstores in hopes they will eventually consent to carry my books. And I do buy books, or have a plan to buy books, from local authors that I know and consort with. You may notice the prominent image on the front page of my website promoting an upcoming event for a local author. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the party but I have purchased his book!

 

Enough of that though, here are the books I have an immediate interest in reading and some that are left on the back-burner that I'll get to. Eventually.

 

The Harbinger Series by Jennifer Armentrout: Storm and Fury, Rage and Ruin and Grace and Glory. I love, love, love this author. Yeah, she's got a lot of steamy scenes, maybe a little too many of them, but the substance of her stories and the depth of her characters make up for it.

 

The same with Scarlett St. Clair. Lots of steam, but the story and the characters make up for it. I'm currently in the middle of her Hades and Persephone series. I still have to read A Game of Retribution and A Game of Gods. A Touch of Chaos is released on March 12.

 

The Serpent and The Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent, just got this one and the next in the series, The Ashes and The Star-Cursed King, won't be released until June so I might wait to read it. I wonder how she gets away with such long titles.

 

As you can probably tell, I have a lot of fantasy on my bookshelf. That's what I've been reading the most of lately, but I do have several others still waiting.

 

I need to finish up Andrzej Spakowski's Witcher series. I still have Baptism of Fire, The Tower of Shallows, The Lady of The Lake, and Season of Storms waiting to be read.

 

The same goes for Bernard Cornwell and The Last Kingdom series. I have The Pale Horseman on my shelf, but I have yet to buy the rest of the series.

 

Classics that I haven't read that are on my list (Please don't judge me. I haven't read these yet):   

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (I just got this one)

Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (and no, I've never even seen the movie)

 

I have some stragglers sitting here, too:

Sinners of Starlight City by Anika Scott

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Homecoming by Kate Morton

 

I subscribe to a monthly club called Scribbler. Sometimes I skip, but then I worry that I'l miss a fantastic book! Once a month, I get a box of goodies, including writing tools and a book. I have read some books sent. Not all. I still have several waiting:

 

Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

Breaking All the Rules by Amy Andrews

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The First Death by Kendra Elliot

The Quiet Boys by Ben Winters

I Walk Between the Raindrops by T.C. Boyle

All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Wallingham

 

There are a few others, but if I continue to list every single book that I have on my shelf to be read, like I said, we'll be here for a while. If you have any others I should add, let me know! I'll read anything and everything.

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