Spring 2017

We got to really enjoy the weather this weekend. We had two great days of sunshine followed by a rainy day (which was great for writing and reading). On the sunny days we got to finally take the dogs out for their first walks of the year. They are small, and hate the cold and hate dog shoes, so they don’t go for walks in the winter. They were so happy to finally get to patrol the neighborhood. We also spent time in the back yard, cleaning it up, which means Cheese also got to spend time with us outside. The poor thing would love to be outside all the time… until she heard a loud noise, that is.

We had some fun away from home. We don’t go out to eat often, but we always say we want to try places around us. Last week we went to The Works that is near us, and this weekend we tried Wild Wing. We’re glad that we found two new places to bring people when they visit!

We also went to the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library’s Mammoth book sale. As usual, I said I wouldn’t be getting anything, thinking of how full my shelves already are, but $9.00 later I came home with a nice little stack of fiction and non-fiction, including some Stephen King books that I want to re-read. FOPLA is run by volunteers and their sales raise money for the library. They sell books at their locations at different libraries across town, and then they run this sale once a month. Their books are those that have been donated as well as decommissioned library books. There is always a new and huge selection.

After the book sale we went to the movies and saw Power Rangers. It was a nice little movie with some fun nostalgia. Both Alex and I were waiting in baited breath to hear “it’s Morphin time!” and we were so excited to hear the old theme song and see the zords running – haha! I liked the diversity in the film, and I’m on team “make Tommy a girl for the sequel”, but I’m still annoyed that the “girl armor” had the different chest plate.

I went into this weekend a little overworked, so I really needed the rest. And by the time 4theWords was recommended to me, I was ready to “pick up the pen” again. I enjoy the “gamification” of writing, it’s something a little different that feels like it helps to take the pressure off, and gives you fun little rewards for your character!

Wattpad and Patreon

I’ve joined Wattpad!

It only took two workshops from the lovely Linda Poitevin to convince me of the benefits of the platform. I guess it also took me over a year to feel like I was ready enough as a writer to do it. The first workshop of hers I went to was by the Capital Crime Writers and Ottawa Public Library in October 2015. I even found my old tweets from then!

The latest workshop was this past weekend at the Ottawa Romance Writers Association. Here Linda mapped out for us how the popularity of Wattpad and serial reading is growing worldwide (especially among the younger demographics) and she explained how linking to a free excerpt to a fully-published ebook can lead to more sales. She used her own data and charts to show us exactly how Wattpad affected her sales. It’s really quite staggering.

In addition to the fun Wattpad announcement, I’ve also recently joined Mandy Rosko’s Patreon, which in my mind is the “Mandy Rosko exclusive fan club”, where she has made it easy for subscribers to get her backlist and newest ebooks! As a higher-tier subscriber, I get one-on-one Skypes once a month where Mandy has been giving me motivation (and cracking that whip). As a result, I’ve had a higher wordcount last month than the previous ones, I’ve started using the terrifying “Write or Die” (NOT in kamikaze mode though), and I’ve also picked up Fire Emblem Heroes on my iPhone and become VERY addicted to it. What? A healthy life isn’t about all writing, all the time!

Winterlude 2017

Winter is always a challenge for me. The cold weather depletes my energy and motivation. It’s different than in November and December, when you get to look forward to all the cozy holidays. January and February just feel like an endurance test.

What’s more, there have been many Februarys for me that have presented the extra challenge of a new job. This year was one of those. I moved from my position in Tunney’s pasture over to one downtown. It’s offered me new challenges, new writing topics, and a great bunch of people, all of which have made me sure that I made the right move, but that doesn’t mean the adjustment period was less difficult.

My commute is now longer, and I’m riding the bus instead of commuting. I’ve managed to deal with that by using my commute time wisely. Often in the mornings (hello early days) I sleep, but every afternoon I write for an hour on the Scrivener app on my phone. I’m also getting to get a nice walk in every day, walking the 15mins from my work toward Alex’s.

Another benefit of working downtown was getting down to Winterlude this year. It was way too cold for me to want to stay long or go ice skating, but the sculptures were cool!

I’ve also started to be more involved with the Ottawa Romance Writer’s Association (ORWA). It’s exciting to be more involved with the writing community and to start to make real contacts (perhaps even friends). I’ve even started to help with the website, because I think this powerful group of women shouldn’t be hidden from the rest of the local romance writing community. I hope I’m able to help more writers to join, and to strengthen their career as a result.

Another big first for me came in February – my first rejection letter! I’m way more happy about it than I should be, I suppose, but to me it’s just proof that I’m actually doing it (writing). Plus, they gave me great notes that I 100% agree on that will help me fix it, and maybe I’ll resubmit.

I’m working on the next short story collection. It was postponed (which was a good thing, after all the stuff in Jan/Feb that was going on) but now we have our editor on board and all of the writers, and we will announce it soon!

December Wishes Book Launch

Today marks the launch of our second short-story collection, December Wishes!

I’ve always loved Christmas stories. The books, the kids’ specials, and all of the cheesy Hallmark Channel movies are a big part of my enjoyment of December. There’s something so nice about suspending all of our worries and letting ourselves focus on the magic of the season.

That’s why a Christmas anthology was high on my list of projects I wanted to do. I didn’t just want to create my own story, I wanted to bring together stories from our varied authors to demonstrate just how different that magic could be for everyone.

Our authors didn’t let me down. In addition to my story, which took a journalist to the secretive North Pole and Santa’s workshop, we also got a story about an angel, a story about an intergalactic journey home, a story about how Vampires (and Vampyres) spend the holidays, and a contemporary romance. None of these were assigned, it just turned out that our authors gave us completely different holiday story subgenres. A little something for everyone, or, if you’re a little nutty like me and happen to love ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS, then it’s five different tales for you to enjoy.

I’m proud of this fun little project, and I really enjoyed my time working with each author and the two editors for this book. If you get a chance to pick it up, I hope you like it!

Writing meetings

Only one week left of being the “only human” in the house. Also, only 5 workdays left until we get to CRUISE! Ahhh… I’m completely looking forward to 5 days of RELAXATION. Touring Halifax and Saint John, watching movies on deck, going to the shows, eating fantastic meals, and reading and writing. I wish it was for longer than 5 days, but I’ll take what I can get, and I plan to fully enjoy it!

Otherwise, last week was pretty great. I went to my first meeting as a member of Capital Crime Writers, and their guest presenter, Debra Komar, was SO interesting. She was a forensic anthropologist before she retired a few years ago and began writing. I’ll be taking her book on the cruise for sure!


Besides enjoying listening to Debra, I also enjoyed being with other writers. Writing is isolating, and it’s hard to get out of your own head. Being around others who are supportive of each other and encouraging is super important. It’s something I love about the different conventions I get to go to (none so much as Dragon Con, which I have no idea when I’ll next get back to) – the cheering on of each other. I’ve been a long-time disciple of the thought that it’s so necessary to help each other out, because lifting others up means creating a quality industry. The more good writers there are, the more excited readers will be to keep reading.

I’ve been listening to some writing lectures, and the one today on plotting by Carolyn Banks talks about how ideas can haunt you. If the idea (one you create, or maybe on you hear on the news) is that good that it keeps in your memory then it may be good enough to develop into a story. That makes a lot of sense to me, as there are some things that just stick with you like a ghost in your mind. They’ll eventually go away if you avoid them long enough, but the word “haunted” to describe it is such a good one.

Welcome Fall, 2016!

Jessica-Ripley-Author-PSL-06Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the leaves changing, and I love that crisp air that makes snuggling in sweaters so nice. I think part of it too is the excitement I always had for “back to school.” It was when we got new school supplies, new teachers and classmates, and a clean slate on the report card. I always went back to school with the best of intentions to make each year the best yet.

This feeling holds true to me now, even though I’m no longer on any kind of school schedule. I still go into Fall feeling like it’s time to get rid of bad habits that have crept in my life, and time to shake off that summer “free for all” mentality. I also feel like I’ll be very productive in the next few months, and I can let go of any disappointments or anything else that has been holding me back.

I realized a few years ago though, that without some extra self-care, I do really poorly in Autumn. I’ll start to feel sick, achey, and a bit more depressed and unmotivated than usual. I was physically opposite of what my mind and spirit felt like doing. Turns out, there is lots of research about the physical body preparing for the cold weather and being affected (just like the drying leaves on the trees) by the change. So there are a few things in particular I make a point to make time for, to ensure that I’m at my best to take advantage of the motivation that Fall affords me.

  1. Unplug one day a week.
  2. Take regular warm, quiet baths.
  3. Moisturize skin, lips, and cuticles.
  4. Drink tea with honey to prevent sore throats.
  5. Light candles to bring a little warmth into the home.
  6. Practice Yoga for stability in body and clarity of mind.
  7. Relax by drinking hot almond milk with nutmeg before bed.
  8. Eat warm comfort food (heavier, denser soups and stews).
  9. Enjoy leisurely 10 minute (minimum) quiet walks outdoors.
  10. Spend quality time with those you love (including fur babies!)
  11. Meet with friends (a great excuse for Pumpkin Spice Latte dates!)
  12. Take more rest time, including earlier bedtimes and naps on the weekend.
  13. Use scented soap, lotion, and candles that smell of sandalwood or lavender.

Jessica-Ripley-Author-Fall-06I also reward myself once a week (Friday) with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, because they are delicious and I deserve to treat myself 🙂

When I make sure to remember the self-care, Autumn goes back to being a great time for reflection and creation. I look forward to NaNoWriMo in November, and celebrating family over all of the holidays!

As August is Ending

Jessica-Ripley-Fur-Babies-2016-08It’s been 3 weeks “on our own” and we’re all surviving! That said, we do miss the male human and hope he gets to come home to visit for the long weekend. I’m still trying not to complain. Many Military families deal with further distances and longer separations. I mean, even we have in the past, and we’ve gone quite a few years with him gone for more than just a week or two. So we’re just hanging in there, being a good Military family (even though we are just a human and 4 fur babies).

Unlike the past two weeks, I made an effort to just go home and rest. This meant no jewelry classes, no going out to eat with friends, and getting to bed around 8pm when I was especially tired.

I spent the weekend doing a ton of yard work that I’d put off, and then cleaning most of the house top-to-bottom. Of course, the pets were all pretty weirded out by this. They’d been working hard to make all the blankets and rugs smell just how they liked them. I’m not sure if that’s actually true though, because they all get super happy when they have clean blankets and beds to roll on!

Reading-wise (and by reading, I mean listening to audiobooks on my commute) I binged 2 of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books in a row, both E is for Evidence and F is for Fugitive. They are so good, and very addictive. I had to stop myself from getting a third one because I like to take a break between them to absorb the story, otherwise they start to blend together. Instead, I started my first J.D. Robb audiobook, Devoted in Death. After the first chapter I was hooked on the story, but I don’t think it was a great idea to switch to audiobooks after I’d already read a bunch in the series. I prefer the voices I’ve created for them in my head over the narrators. I’ll at least finish this one though. And then I might start on Tales of the Body Thief, my annual Anne Rice read (although this year will be the first listen).

We are getting close to launching the Halloween Anthology. We have the ISBN and barcodes, cover design, and basically all of the edits. Time to assemble it!

As for my writing, I’ve got an outline started for a new book, and I’m pretty excited to start drafting. Here’s hoping for a higher word count this week! Last week was a mere 500!


Pokemon Go and Ghostbusters


This weekend started off great, since I got a free half-day from work due to a fire alarm and smoke smell in the building. It was nice to have time to unwind. I used this time to take a nice long walk with the hubby (who had taken the day off already) and the dogs. I used this walk as an opportunity to finally crack into Pokemon Go.

My initial feeling about the app is that I’d much rather just play Pokemon on my DS. At least that game has a linear storyline and the actual availability of all of the pokemon, plus I can train them up without catching and destroying all of their kin.

I also finished my current audiobook: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. By the end of the book my heart was really out there for the Chief. It was hard to say goodbye to him when the book was over! As usual, I spoiled the ending for myself, because I don’t do well with anticipation and I always enjoy entertainment more if I know what I need to be ready for. I’m now looking forward to watching the movie sometime soon, and as much as I’m sure Jack Nicholson is great, I had imagined Mac as Matthew Mcconaughey through the whole thing, thanks to the narrator’s voice.

I also imagined Nurse Ratched as Imelda Staunton (a la Dolores Umbridge) sometimes.

This weekend we had a trip out with friends and saw both Star Trek Beyond and the new Ghostbusters movie. I found the Star Trek movie to have too many visual effects for me to enjoy it. It would have been a nice little Star Trek episode if not for all of the motion, spinning, and shakey cam. I had to close my eyes for many parts to not get motion sickness. I can’t even imagine how the 3D would be. Great if you are into that kind of thing, like the kid in front of us was (he was literally on the edge of his seat for the movie).

Ghostbusters was perfect. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and I am thrilled to see so many other women so happy with it. Toys are even selling to both girls AND boys, go figure! Now I hope that we can have MORE de-sexualixed kid-appropriate females kicking ass.

In between movies we at a brewery set a lure at its pokestop. It was fun to watch people congregate outside. What an interesting world Pokemon Go has created!

Ottawa Planner Meetup

This weekend I went to my first planner meetup!

I’ve been meaning to blog about my planner for a long time. I feel like I’ve had to retell this story over and over, the fact that I used a planner all throughout school, and once I had graduated University I never gave up the habit. I still bought a yearly planner when all the “back to school” stuff came out, until I fell into the “planner community” on YouTube. My first big planner purchase was my gorgeous purple Filofax A5 Organizer.


I felt it was a nice jump into the “business world” and loved taking it to business meetings with me! Of course, with falling into the planner community comes things such as washi tape and decorative clips! Luckily, I already had a pen addiction, so that wasn’t anything new.

My A5 got a baby brother when I purchased a Filofax Personal Original in dark aqua, but both of them have been neglected for the past few years while I’ve been pretty happy with my Erin Condren Life Planner. I was a vertical planner to start, but I’ve now been loving my horizontal.

I know it is a bit silly, but I print Avery Labels for each week that have repeating tasks. For morning and night, that includes things as simple as “eat breakfast” or “play with cat”, but on a few days I have important work tasks that must get done every week. I like having daily reminders of my routine. It’s something that just works for my personal organization and productivity.


And while I don’t go overboard with stickers very often, it is pretty nice to shop from local crafters like Esby Creative and Three Tiny Bows around to pretty up my otherwise boring weeks! Sunday’s meetup was a lot of fun because of the great company, but also because of the great conversation and sticker sharing! Where else can you squee over each other’s weekly chore lists? lol


Please note: Some of the above links do lead to a small commission for me. It does not increase the price that you are charged for the item, but it does make my day!

Why I’ll (now) always get the flu shot

jessica-ripley-flu-shotI’m not particularly sure why, but I’ve never gotten a flu shot. I think it’s left over thinking of an American who would have to PAY for the flu shot, or perhaps from years past when there’s been a shortage and the shot was said to be for pregnant women or elderly. There’s also the old thinking that getting a Flu shot gives you the flu (that might have been true in the past, but it’s definitely not now)

Ironically, I started working in a place that promoted the flu shot, and even had posters up that talked about how you have a responsibility to get a flu shot to protect those most at-risk, such as pregnant women and the elderly. I’d started to give it some thought, but not soon enough. So now I want to go on record with the 10 reasons of why I’ll be getting a flu shot from now on:

  1. Severe flu symptoms are THE WORST
  2. I don’t deserve to have my annual Disney trip cut short due to severe flu symptoms
  3. Once you have the flu, you’re more likely to get it again the next year
  4. Missing work and a paycheck because you are at home on bed rest isn’t fun
  5. Six days of foggy and uncomfortable bed rest is a waste of precious time
  6. It’s really embarrassing to be a grown-up and admit that I was taken down by the flu because I didn’t get my flu shot
  7. The shot is free & easily available
  8. Herd immunity is a good thing
  9. I’m an altruistic person, so why not get my vaccination for all those those who can’t get the shot themselves?
  10. I have asthma and am at higher risk for pneumonia

Yup. If for nothing else, this is going to sit here as a reminder for myself to get my flu shot this month when I’m able to (when all symptoms are gone in a few weeks), and again every November until the end of time.

Word count: On the first day that I felt alive, I managed to knock out 5000 words! I attribute that to the hours I’d spent in bed tossing and turning and throwing ideas around in my head that I couldn’t type out of it!