Cave Dwelling with Gobo and Eugene

Greetings, from “the editing cave” where I’m busy revising The Love Square. Here’s a list of some things I’ve learned:

  1. I have a lot of “staring” happening. He stared at her, she stared at him, etc. etc. I’m working on it, people.
  2. There’s no good word for a female half-laugh– “giggle” sounds too silly and “chuckled” sounds like something an old man would do. “Stifled a laugh” works sometimes. “Scoffed” seems weird. Hopefully you can help me out with this. Anyone?
  3. Before submitting my manuscript for publishing, I went through and took out all of my seemingly unnecessary commas. However, my editor has been adding many of the deleted commas back in. I’m never going to understand commas. Still, love, them, though, and, don’t, care.
  4. I could spend the rest of my life editing this manuscript. In the beginning, I found myself re-starting at page one every night and finding something to change or add or subtract each time. I had to cut myself off and keep the wheels moving forward.
  5. I like editing. It’s nice to get lost in your story and your characters in such an in-depth way. During NaNo and while writing that first draft, I tend to spit out the words just to get them on the page. With editing, the real writing tools come out and you can apply things you’ve learned. Every sentence receives your undivided attention.

So that’s where I am. Muddling through, hoping to make it better with each pass. Is it Hemingway? No. Is it the best book I’m ever going to write? Probably not. I hope to learn more and more as I progress down this path. Still, I’m confident it’s a good contemporary love story that’s worth the reader’s time.

Onto something irrelevantly relevant. Who remembers Fraggle Rock?


Ah, the Fraggles! Weren’t they the greatest? My kids have the first season on DVD. The coolest thing about the DVD set is that it comes with a replica of Jim Henson’s notebook, dated April 3, 1981, with his thoughts while developing Fraggle Rock.

This discovery (we’ve had the DVD set for years and I had no idea the replica notebook was included) made me so freaking happy. Look at some sample pics:

It’s his actual notes!

Now, look at all those scribbles. Back in ’81 before the days of Word, this was how editing was done, I guess. I love that he used a notebook like this to scribble his “concept for an international children’s television show” called: “The Woozle Show or Woozle World or The World of Woozles or Woozle-Woozle!”

In the notebook he describes his idea for Doc (“the old codger is warm and lovable but you probably wouldn’t call him bright”), Sprocket the dog (“The Dog, whose name is George, is of course a Muppet . . . the Woozles drive him crazy”), and obviously, the “Woozles” (“Woozles are pretty wacky, have a lot of energy, and when all else fails, somebody shouts “Let’s sing about it!” and they do”).

But I think the best part of the notebook is when JH describes the meaning of the show:

Our first job is to make this world a lot of fun to visit. It is a high energy raucous musical romp. It’s a lot of silliness. It’s wonderful.

However, the second thing that we’re doing with this show is saying something. The show has a direction and a point of view. This will be beneath the surface, and if anybody becomes very aware of it, we will have missed.

What the show is really about is people getting along with people, and understanding the delicate balances of the natural world . . . . We will make the point that everything affects everything else, and that there is a beauty and harmony of life to be appreciated.

I just love that– “A beauty and harmony of life to be appreciated.”

I also appreciated reading the notes in Jim Henson’s handwriting, with scribbled out words and added carets and other editing marks. For example, in the quote above when he writes “we will have missed,” originally his notes said, “we will have failed.” He crossed out the “failed” and opted for “missed.” I think that says a lot, don’t you?

As for Fraggle Rock , in my opinion, it succeeded in its mission. I enjoy watching it now as much as I did as a kid. It transcends generations for exactly the reasons that JH contemplated–on the surface it’s funny and high energy, but underneath are subtle undertones that resonate without overwhelming the viewer.

While Fraggles are lovable and silly and fun, unfortunately there’s an opposite end of that spectrum. His name is Eugene Peppermint and HE’S BACK:


He’s creepy and weird and not one bit of fun. He is the anti-Fraggle (I do think he’s happy to be free of my underwear drawer though).

Of course I forgot he was supposed to come out yesterday. I thought maybe the kids wouldn’t care. After all, last year we had a conversation about how parents move the elf with Christmas magic.

No such luck. Either the kids forgot about that conversation, didn’t understand what we were saying, or chose to ignore it in light of the miracle of the holidays. Meh. Here’s to hoping this year is Eugene’s last hurrah. In the meantime, I’ll suffer through another season of the dumbest thing ever invented. :)

And that’s the news from my camp here in NJ. Next up on WOAW: Answers to Friends trivia! As always, thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your November.

Fun “Friends” Trivia

After discussing Chandler’s job with a friend and procrastinating with a video of Ross screaming “piv-OT” while the crew moved a couch up the stairs, I thought I’d share some fun Friends memories with you in the form of a trivia post.

As Friends needs no introduction, I’ll jump right in. These vary in difficulty so there should be at least one you know. If not, Friends is on Netflix, so get watching!

    1. What are Rachel’s sisters’ names? Bonus: Who played them?
    2. What song does Monica sing when she performs karaoke at Mike’s bar?
    3. At which University is Ross a professor?
    4. What actor plays Monica’s boyfriend Richard?
    5. What is the name of the T.V. show that Joey stars in with a robot?
    6. Which actress plays Phoebe’s birth mom (Hint: think Montauk)?
    7. Chandler was trapped in an ATM vestibule. Who was with him?
    8. What was Monica’s nickname when she played field hockey?
    9. What do Monica’s parents call her?
    10. Who did Joey play on Days of our Lives and what was his fate?
    11. What does WENUS stand for?
    12. What’s Joey’s favorite food?
    13. Which zoo does Marcel get into?
    14. What was the name of the man who lived under the girls’ apartment?
    15. Why was Chandler put in the box?
    16. Who did Ross meet when he went to China, and what did he plan on buying with that person?
    17. Who played Phoebe’s brother?
    18. What song does Ross sing to baby Emma to make her laugh?
    19. Which character has a third nipple?
    20. What song does Ross dedicate to Rachel on the radio?

I hope you enjoyed taking this trip down television memory lane. Answers will be posted soon!

Special thanks to Nicole over at Mommy&Everything blog and Lauren, a certified television expert, for contributing questions.

(Picture from:

Birth of an American Gigolo

Hi Blogtropolis! I knew that title would catch your eye! If that alone didn’t spark your interest, I’m sure this will:

An old party girl turned domestic diva, infuriated by her husband’s cheating–and his holier-than-thou, tree-hugging, no-tits and no-hips girlfriend–inflicts her wrath by training a local boy in the fine art of seduction. She and her new boy toy turned love god, start a gigolo business as a distraction for the neglected and mistreated housewives of Alabaster Cove.

This is Birth of an American Gigolo, by Deek Rhew. But wait. There’s more.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’ve been a bit cover-obsessed recently. Well, I am green with cover-envy over this one:

Birth of an American Gigolo_Deek Rhew_Cover

I’m psyched to read Deek’s story. It sounds right up my alley–old party girls, seduction, boy toys gigolos–all tucked into this awesome cover. To add to the fun, Deek  (as quoted by amazing author Erin Rhew) “cleverly balances the darkness of his stories with humor, and his style is a unique blend of literary and commercial that I’ve never seen before. You’re in for a treat, my friends.”

“Birth” will be available on Amazon and other eRetailers early 2016! Be sure to add it to your Goodreads TBR list!

Birth of an American Gigolo_Deek Rhew_Author Photo

Deek Rhew, Author

Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with his stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up in Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights, and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. His first full-lengthed novel 122 Rules releases with Pandamoon Publishing in 2016.

Deek and Erin enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, eating popcorn, drinking Coke Zero, and living life to the fullest.

Find Deek online:



Google +:

Deek’s Rhewminations (his blog):

Thanks for reading and sharing in this reveal with me! I hope you give the book a try!

Do-Re-Mi, ME ME ME … Stuck on Me

I’ve been writing posts and keeping them in my drafts because I feel so incredibly self-centered talking about me, me, me all the time. Especially with everything going on in the world. But guess what? Here’s another post about me.

I tried checking out the Daily Prompts. There was one I liked about a mystery bouquet of flowers showing up for you with no card. The prompt read: You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you? I thought maybe I’d write a cute post but I couldn’t decide if the flowers came from The Rock or Derek Jeter. I struggled, people, because you know, this could happen with either man.

Then I thought I’d try the trio oneToday, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel. This conjured creative writing vibes about a crazy cat who sleeps on a beach towel because he really wants to live on a beach, then he eats a magical can of soup and he’s transported to St. Thomas and lives happily ever after. Still, didn’t feel like expounding on that beyond what you’ve just read.

Next I pondered writing about Scandal or Empire, but I haven’t been keeping up with new episodes. What fun would that be for you? I have a post about the awesomeness of Carol from The Walking Dead in my saved drafts, but I don’t think it’s a good enough homage.

So while I didn’t want to write another post about my writerly stuff, honestly, it’s all I have going on right now outside of work and family. I guess the nature of having a blog is that it is about you (me). I’m allowed to be self-centered here. I hope that someone takes something away from the post, whether it be a smile or a tidbit or even a relaxing minute, using the time it takes to read as a little escape.

So yeah. This is about me. Again. If you want to “x” out of this, I understand. If not, read on!

Two writing-related things happened this week that I’d like to share.

First, as I’ve mentioned, my book The Love Square releases from Limitless Publishing on January 12, and guess what?

I got my cover and I LOVE it. It’s perfect!

I’m not going to reveal it here today. I’ll reveal it soon with a little “pomp” (which happens to be one of JC’s vocabulary words this week. Pomp= ceremony and splendid display, especially at a public event).

Also in TLS news, I learned the book will go up for pre-sale on January 2–what a way to start the new year! I won’t believe it until I see it on Amazon, but getting the cover did make it seem more real.

Happy event number one: finalizing my cover with the patient and enthusiastic team at Limitless.

Happy event number two: I’m discovering the joys of marketing and wanted to explore Goodreads Author pages. In order to get an author page, you have to search for your book and verify that you’re the author. As a goof, I looked up “The Love Square” and guess what? It’s THERE! Not only is The Love Square listed, but so are She Laughs in Pink and She Runs Away, my New Adult series being published with BookFish Books next year.

I don’t think I put these books on Goodreads (not on purpose, anyway) but they are listed regardless (sans covers). I sent my required verifying information to Goodreads, happily proclaiming under the “by Jessica Calla” line, “THIS IS ME!”

This morning, I woke to this:

Really? You’re letting me into the club?

For some reason, seeing this email made me all gushy inside. I’ve accomplished a lot of writer things in the past few months: submitted manuscripts, fielded rejections, attended conferences, signed contracts, drafted synopses and bios and cover requests. But this silly email almost had me in tears.

Now trust me: my social media presence needs a lot of work. Twitter’s my favorite social media game (@jess_calla). I’m still learning Goodreads (which I love) and Facebook (which I hate).

Once my cover for The Love Square is revealed in all its “pomp,” I’ll add that to the Goodreads page.  I’m also consulting with a web designer to spruce up my author website. I’m excited about everything and I enjoy mingling on the interwebs. As this author gig unfolds, I’d like to figure out how to reach people to sell books. If anyone has suggestions, I’m open to advice.

This blog wasn’t created for marketing purposes and I know most of you aren’t romance readers. However, if you are on Goodreads and you want to add my books to your “want to read” shelf, I’d be thrilled. In addition, I have a Facebook author page under Jessica Calla and I’m trying to get some “likes,” so please hop on over there, too. (Mom, this means you!)

In closing, I apologize for yet another Jess-centric post. I’m confident that one of these days I’ll get out of my own head and rejoin the real world. When that happens, I’ll be more creative and thoughtful with my posts. For tonight, I’m calling home field advantage, or caveat emptor, or whatever else I can think of to post more about me. Please give me a pass while I enjoy this writerly process. :)

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your evening!

Juggling November

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post on Halloween night discussing whether I should take part in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I did do NaNo that year and “won,” meaning I wrote 50,000 words in the month of November.

That first draft sucked. But for the next year and a half I worked on it. Not straight through–there were months when I didn’t touch it–but by mid-2015 I had a decent draft that had been edited a million times by me, and once by a professional editor. Now, two years later, that book is completely different from the book that “won” NaNo. As you may recall, it’s called She Laughs in Pink and will be published in May by BookFish Books.

And here we are… another November. This month, I’m working on Book Three of that series. It’s sort of a NaNo Cheat, since I already have about 30K words written, but my goal is to have a complete first draft by the end of the month.

Also this month, I’ll be “hiding in the editing cave” (writers seem to like that phrase so I’ll borrow it here) with The Love Square, which will be published on January 12, 2016 by Limitless Publishing. I expect to hear from my editor by November 24th, and I’ll have a little over a week to rewrite.

Did I mention I’m starting a day job, too? Yep. Tomorrow. As in this tomorrow, November 2nd. I’m honored to be working for the State of New Jersey and happy I’ll have income, but yeah, it’s going to throw a wrench in the whole system.

I’m not scared though. Okay, maybe I’m a little scared. But I learned from Thomas the Tank Engine recently that “you can be scared and still be brave.” So I’d say I’m scared and brave. I’m scared about the writing and publishing, I’m scared about the new job, and I’m scared about keeping up my family responsibilities and staying in touch with my friends.

But mostly I’m brave, because I’m going to try my hardest to do it all. Everything that’s happening this month is difficult and good and so worth the effort. This month encompasses all the things I want to do forever–of course I’m going to try to make it work! Fear and stress can knock on the door all they want, but I ain’t gonna answer. I’m going to cover my ears and say, “La la la,” until they back off.

Will I drop a few balls as I juggle November? I’m certain I will. But I’ll just bend down and pick them back up.

November (Photo credit: my husband, Joe).

(Photo credit: my husband, Joe).

Join me in NaNo? I’m on the NaNo website as Jessica Calla. Come find me!

If I Ran the World

If I Ran the World,

  • The work week would be four days. People would be more efficient because they’d know they only have four days to get their work done, and they’d be grateful for the three-day weekends. Think about it.
  • Grocery stores would be designed so you’d walk into the dry foods section, then proceed up and down aisles to refrigerated/frozen, then produce, and then end up at the check out. This way your frozen stuff stays frozen and your produce is on top of the cart, not squished under the water bottles.
  • Doctors’ hours would be from noon until 8:00 every weekday, then 9-12 on two Saturdays a month. Doesn’t it just make sense?
  • Do kids really need homework? Thinking of banning homework. It stresses everyone out. Instead, I’d make them read and journal at night.
  • I’d fix the whole Christmas thing.
  • Superbowl Sunday would be on Saturday.
  • Commercials must go. Except on Superbowl Saturday.
  • I’d put money towards the following inventions: electric cars that everyone can afford, automatic dog walking robots (like the one on Wallace and Gromit), technology that moves clothes from the washer to the dryer so you don’t have to, and a decent stapler that never jams.
  • Coffee shops would deliver.
  • Internet-free days. I’d shut off the internets for one day a month. Do what you did back in the 70’s and 80’s, and/or be present in the real world.
  • Libraries would be open all night and have comfortable seating, not those institutional wooden chairs.
  • Siestas. Every day, for everyone.
  • Get out of Life Free Cards- One day per year. Hand in your card. Disappear. No rules for twenty-four hours. Do what you want. Refresh, revive, rejuvenate.
  • Movies from your home. Like, subscribe to AMC for one month and watch what is currently in release from wherever you’d like.
  • Every person would have to donate a penny a day to the Charity of the Week. At 318.9 million people in the U.S. at one penny per day, times 7 days per week, that’s about $22 million bucks to the Charity of the Week. Think of all the pennies on the floor of your car that can be put to good use. No need to dump ice over your head (unless you want to).

I’m taking suggestions! If you have anything you’d like to add to the list, let me know. I’ll keep a running spreadsheet in case I ever get appointed as EMPRESS OF ALL THINGS. :)

Thanks for reading. Now I wave my wand (would an Empress of All Things have a wand?) and give you permission to take a siesta!

Superbowl Saturday, anyone?

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My First Writers’ Conference- NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference

This past weekend, I had the good sense to attend the New Jersey Romance Writers Annual Put Your Heart In A Book Conference (click HERE for link). Two days of writerly information on the craft and the industry of romance writing! Thought I’d share a little summary.


On Friday morning, I attended an editing workshop hosted by the famous-in-writing-circles Margie Lawson. As a psychotherapist and an editor, Margie uses “psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners” (that’s from her website). I learned a lot from this workshop, most importantly that my current Work in Progress (“WIP”) needs some deep editing and may actually suck. More on the WIP another time. The three-hour workshop flew by and I have endless notes to digest and use when I hop into my WIP.

Friday afternoon I took the following workshops: The Three Letters that Make a Career Y-E-S, with Sarah MacLeanThe Three Stages of Book Promotion, with Maria ConnorThe In-The-Know Guide to Indie Publishing, with Judi Fennell; and The Ins and Outs of Facebook for Authors, with Joanna Shupe.

Sarah’s presentation was a wonderful recounting of her writing journey. She’s a huge deal in the romance writing world, yet she had such a witty, down-to-earth style. Her talk was informative and inspirational and a great way to start off the conference–especially after attending the Margie Lawson editing workshop and acknowledging my own suckiness! Always learning, right? Sarah’s basic message was to open yourself up to the possibilities, don’t be afraid to push the limits of your writing, and to consider writing your “work” by valuing your writing time and making it a priority.

I thought Maria’s presentation on book promotion would make me twitch from fear and dread. I mean, who knows how to promote themselves? Even celebs have people who do that stuff for them. Luckily, she had chocolate for us, so I indulged and planted myself in my seat, ready to delve into the world of marketing. The session went well and I learned lots of stuff. People had questions. There were a lot of people who seemed frazzled by the idea of marketing, so it wasn’t just me. While her presentation was informative and helpful, I wish it were longer, like half a day, or at least a two session block.

Judi’s indie publishing presentation was so helpful. Conducted as a question and answer session, Judi, a successful hybrid author (that means traditionally and self-published) answered any and all of our questions. How often do writers get to sit with someone with her level of success and shoot questions at them? Not very often. We took advantage. I made notes. I panicked. I calmed down.

Next up, the dreaded Facebook. Anyone who knows me also knows how much I absolutely hate Facebook. Like HATE in all caps, hate. I think it will be the downfall of all the world (yeah, I said it). ALL THE WORLD. Which is exactly why I felt I needed to go to this talk. Did I learn stuff? Yeah. But it was way over my head. I didn’t think it appropriate to raise my hand and be like, “How do you log in again?” when people were asking questions about ads and “algorithms” and fancy things like that. So in general, it was helpful to everyone but I was in way over my head. Next year maybe I’ll try again after I slog through the Facebook for Dummies book.

After a Friday evening cocktail hour and awards ceremony, during which I mingled with agents, authors, and other writerly and creative people, I was back to it bright and early Saturday morning.

Saturday started with breakfast with Keynote Speaker Kerrelyn Sparks. I loved hearing her touching account of her writing journey and how her past experiences influenced her widely-popular vampire books. From there, I went to a special presentation on dialogue with Julia Quinn. (Note: In this paragraph, I’ve named two amazing best-selling authors, by the way.) Julia was helpful and funny, and we kept taking her off the dialogue track and asking questions about everything under the writing sun.

Next, I had agent appointments. This was interesting- sort of like speed dating for authors. A bunch of agents and editors, like maybe twenty or so, sat in a big room, each at their own little table. They had a name plate on their table for identification purposes. In ten minute intervals, a group of authors entered the room, found their preassigned editor/agent, sat at the table in front of them, and pitched their book.

Let me explain.

So I was fortunate to get two appointments. My first was at 10:15 with an agent from a well-respected agency. I was corralled into the room with the other 10:15 authors, frantically searched for my agent’s name on one of the name plates, then sat in front of her. After a quick intro, I told her about my story and fielded her questions about my characters and plot. Timekeepers told us when time was up, and we were rushed out the back doors for the next group of authors coming in the front. My next appointment was at 10:35, so basically I exited, then circled around to wait in the holding pen with the 10:35 group, and did it all over again with another agent.

For some authors waiting in the holding pen, this was the most nerve-wracking event of their lives. I get that. It was high anxiety, that’s for sure. I have to admit I kind of enjoyed it. I’m psyched for the book I wrote and was happy to talk about it. Despite the fact that the agents weren’t sold on the genre I assigned to my book, the two agents I met said they liked my concept and asked me to send them my first three chapters. I take that as a win.

In a post-agent-speed-dating coma, I next attended From Desolate Moors to Dark Alleys: The Art of Writing Romantic Suspense, with Dee Davis. Do I write romantic suspense? I didn’t think so. I thought I wrote contemporary. But after the agent meetings and genre-confusion I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT I wrote, so I thought what the heck, and gave this one a shot. I learned a ton of basics about plotting, pacing, and characters, and didn’t realize how challenging romantic suspense could be, in that both the romance and the suspense must carry equal weight throughout the book. I may give this a shot someday.

Lunch featured speaker Beth Ciotta, who shared her author journey, which was like none other I’d heard. She didn’t start writing until her 40’s and in the past fifteen to twenty years has had ups and downs like you wouldn’t believe. But the message I took from her talk was if you love it, persevere and do it. Any way you can.

I should also mention that every time we sat for a meal our chairs were covered in free books. There was free stuff (“swag”) everywhere. Fun, fun, fun!

I had plans for after lunch seminars but ended up going back to Sarah MacLean (since I’m now fangirling her) for her presentation, Mastering the Art of Great Conflict. Amazing. Love her and her insights. One of her themes was if you have a high concept idea you love but it seems totally wacky, write it anyway. She named a number of her favorite books and described their bonkers plots–yet the books ended up being best sellers. She called such high concept writing “writing from a place of fear.” Some of my other notes from her talk include “Be fearless, take risks,” “If your hero is a fireman, your heroine should be an arsonist,” and “If no conflict, what’s the point?” Mostly I just listened and absorbed like a sponge.

Finally, I attended the Anonymous Author reading. What is this? Well, prior to attending the conference, attendees had the option to email a conference coordinator the first 250 words of their book. At the AA reading event, a panel of agents and editors sits at a long table while your 250 words are read to them (and the audience) anonymously. They don’t know it’s yours. Nobody does. The reader reads your work and then the agents/editors give you their first impressions.

This was neat. While I did submit my words, they didn’t get to my entry due to time constraints. But it was helpful to hear the panel’s reaction to the other works that were read, the good and bad.

By then, I was exhausted and ready to go home. I stopped for a quick latte and headed back to real life. But my weekend was perfect. I learned a lot, I had fun, I felt like a real author for the first time. I made friends and connected with people. I talked with New York Times Bestselling authors (Julia Quinn, people!). I have a new girl crush on Sarah MacLean. I have two requests for pages from agents and about a dozen new books to read on my nightstand.

The best thing I’ve done to pursue a writing career is hook into Romance Writers of America and its New Jersey Chapter, NJRW. If any NJRW people are reading this, thank you for the amazing experience, and I can’t wait for next year!

Who’s coming with?