An Amazing Journey with a Satisfying Ending…

Many years ago I got some horrible advice from a well-meaning friend.

I was halfway through my first year of college and I had put on the inevitable “freshman fifteen”. Now seeing as I had always been thin and athletic, I came home on Christmas Break and received way too many comments concerning my fleshy new weight gain. That’s when a girlfriend of mine said… “Have you ever tried smoking? Nothing can curb your appetite quite like it. You’ll lose tons of weight without even trying.” And I took her advice to heart…

In truth, appetite was not my problem. But I was too young and too dumb to come up with the real answer… STRESS! My appetite hadn’t changed. In fact, I probably ate less. I ran five miles a day during cross-country practice and worked at the stables training horses. And I don’t care who you are, lifting hay bales and feed sacks is a workout in itself. And since my day was so full of classes and work and practice, I often missed our scheduled cafeteria meal times. All of these things played their part and played it well… Irregular eating times, skipped meals, studying into the wee morning hours, unknowingly sending my body into ketosis and back out again, and stress… all the STRESS!!! I went from a “straight A, sheltered, pampered, catered-to high school kid” (overprotective parents) to a “wake yourself up, live with people you hate, practice too long, party too hard B/C semi-adult. Yep, no stress there. Try explaining to your highly expectant parents that college isn’t the 13th grade. Things are not as they were in high school, this is a whole nother ball game folks. You see where I’m going with this rant, right?

Anyway, being (as I said) young, dumb, and full of piss… I took my friends advice and began smoking when I didn’t have time to eat, or while I stayed up all night studying for that next exam. Needless to say, I had to suffer through getting used to those horrid things–the stink, the taste, the feeling that my lungs were full of paste. And let’s not even get into how hard cross-country practice actually became. Try running five miles after you’ve been puffing on those things all night. I threw-up… a lot. BUT, I did lose the weight. Yeah, don’t get me started on another rant here. Alas, it was all temporary. Smoking only curbs your appetite when you first start. After that, you look forward to eating because of that all-satisfying after dinner cigarette. Now, you are living as you were before but have a lovely new addiction to tend to. It sucked!!! Make no bones about it. Smoking makes your hair stink, your breath stink, your clothes reek, and it’s expensive as hell!! You couldn’t smoke inside on campus so you froze your arse off standing on the sidewalk in wintertime. For what? To help scoot Death along on his job? But even a nicotine addict is still an addict.

I frickin hated smoking and loved it in the same breath. The same hacking, coughing, spitting breath. Oh I quit many, many times. I did the gum, the patch, every new cessation technique that hit the market. And I immediately quit smoking when I was pregnant with my kids. I mean, who cares about gaining weight when that’s what people are expecting you to do, right? That’s just more to get off later, but I was use to working out and running my guts out. That’s how I helped with tuition. Yet the addiction always returned.

Society today frowns on smokers more than they do crack-heads. Now don’t get your panties in a wad, or do, who cares. But we see drug addicts as poor pitiful creatures we must move mountains to save. And smokers are simply the filthy scum who deserve the death they are bringing on themselves. If that offended you, please stop reading now. You didn’t have to pay to view this post. Why raise your blood pressure for no good reason?

But in all seriousness, that is pretty much the truth of this whole matter. Now… all the jawing and squawking aside, I have found the answer. My answer!

Two years ago, a real friend gave me what turned out to be the bestest, most awesomest, totally rock your face off present EVER!!! Of course, I only rolled my eyes at her at the time and said… “Hey thanks. Cool…”

What was it, you ask? Well I’ll be glad to tell you. It was a disposable classic tobacco flavored ecig from Blu. Hang on, let me finish my story y’all. And let me just qualify this whole thing right now. I am NOT being paid by anyone to say anything. These companies/people have no idea I’m even talking about them. And believe me. It ain’t all gonna be good. I just felt like sharing my story, casting light on my own personal journey. Take what you want from it, glean where you may. Here it is…

So Brandi gave me this disposal ecig because she was trying to help her new husband kick the habit. You see, Brandi wasn’t a smoker. Her mom was. Her dad too, I think. And now her husband. Her quest for an alternative solution was paramount in her world. And being my very best friend, she shared with me her growing knowledge on this formally foreign subject… the electronic cigarette. Apparently it’d been around in various forms for years. Who knew? Not me. And I wasn’t particularly interested in learning about it. I’d walked so many cessation paths, I’d worn holes in my (smoke scented) Irregular Choice boots. (Which are totally awesome, ya gotta check em out. Just google it.) Anyway, she bounced in my office one day around Thanksgiving 2011, or there bouts. And politely handed me the thin black box with a smile on her face. Now… that stupid little box caused me ridiculous amounts of trouble over the next month. I dropped it in my purse, thanked her (sort of), and immediately forgot about it. Well, I forgot about it until I entered a store… ANY store. Apparently, and unbeknownst to me, it had a little sensor in it. Everywhere I went during that holiday season just trying to do my Christmas shopping, I got frisked/searched going IN the stores… and coming out as well. I didn’t have a clue what the culprit was at the time.

The job I had afforded me a Winter Break. When I left work for the holidays, I rarely emerged from my writing cave until it was time to return to the unavoidable grind of the working masses. Let me clarify something here. I was a smoker, yes. But I never smoked inside my home. Geesh, I’ve got kids people. Just because I’m shortening my life, didn’t mean I was taking them with me. And I’m a writer as well, and I like to smoke when I write. So winters found me on the back deck, freezing my arse off, writing and puffing away. But when I got up this particular morning and reached for my cigs and my journal… The pack was empty. No worries, I’ll just dig through my purse… nothing. No. Frickin. Way! How in the holy heck did I forget to buy a carton before I came home for my treasured hibernation period? This wasn’t possible!!! The thought of having to take a shower, fix my hair, put on makeup, and drive all the way back to town made me feel sick. I’m just too lazy for that kind of commitment during my off time. I work tirelessly the prior week to this one just to ensure I do not have to step foot back outside until after New Years. Uggghhhh!!!

And that’s when it happened. I saw that skinny little black box there in the bottom of my gigantic purse. Ahh, my salvation! I determined that this little miracle would tide me over until I could con someone else into braving the cold and driving the thirty minutes back to town for me. When I realized there was no fire needed, that you simply pulled the little sticker off and started puffing away, my curiosity was piqued. There was actually no smoke involved at all. What??? Yeah, I know, right? No smoke! You simply blow out water vapor… water vapor… You gotta be kidding me. This crap won’t work. But oh how my ignorance did flee, brothers and sisters. Not only did it taste identical to my normal brand, I could smoke it INDOORS. It was like the skies parted and Angels belted out… Hal-le-lujah… Hallelujah… Hallelujah… And I ain’t even playin. The puffs of vapor were thick, my toes stayed warm and toasty inside, and I could write to my heart’s content without shivering. It was glorious!

With my vigor renewed, I actually got ready and braved the elements to drive even further than the tobacco store to get to the nearest Walgreens. To my chagrin, this disposable answer to my prayers costed a whopping ten bucks! Now, this one disposable ecig was supposed to be like three packs of cigarettes. In my case, it should have lasted three days. Not so. Mine only lasted a day. The theory behind this product is totes magotes (lol). But the reality is… The disposable battery dies out WAY too soon for me. So now I’m looking at switching from a five buck a day habit to a ten buck a day habit? Things are sliding downhill and fast, my friends. Then the friendly clerk suggested I get the rechargeable battery pack with replaceable “cartridges”. The Angels picked back up from the chorus. So for like sixty bucks for the battery pack and another fifteen for the five pack of cartridges, I was on my way back home. Being the ultimate online shopping geek, I found the Blu website and saw the huge “quantity discount” I was hooked. Game over, baby. The UPS man (total hottie) would bring me a two week supply in just two days. AND… they had a vanilla flavored cartridge as well. Bam!!! Need I say more? Yes, yes I must.

While this gloriously delicious new habit of mine was totally rocking my face off… my hair smelled like shampoo, I wasn’t freezing my butt off, and my writing was fast improving (you can accomplish so much more when you’re comfortable). But it was still rather expensive. And when the day came that the Vanilla flavor was “out of stock” with no definite arrival date, I was floored… sick and devastated. I’d given this product an entire year of my life and now the stock was gone and then the new cartridges tasted nothing like the old ones and only seemed to last half as long. Ugh… depression was fast approaching. That’s when my old friend Brandi stepped up the game, hit that sucker out of the park. She is the epitome of what every geek wishes they could be–an engineer with common sense and good looks. Yeah, you should be jealous. But her OCD was relentless. And her quest to find the next great thing in the ecig world granted us just that… juice you can refill your cartridges with. Then, tank type cartridges that holds like 1.5mls of juice. Then larger batteries that don’t die every thirty minutes. Then rockin awesome favors like, blueberry cheesecake and buttery nipple. Seriously, Mama don’t play about ejuice flavors. And then on my birthday in 2013, she gifted me with the epic answer. She bought me a 1300 Vision Spinner battery and a Kanger pro-tank. Again, google if you must.

These batteries cost like twenty five bucks, there bouts, and the tank was another eighteen. But the ejuices we’d found were only like twenty dollars or less for 30ml… that lasts a LONG time, ladies and gentlemen. So here’s what I found and why I wrote this, to help you see the light without having to walk the long road…

Fasttech.com has the best prices on the pro tanks (you need a tank for every flavor, you just keep refilling it)
Hoosier ecig had the best prices in batteries and chargers at the time. Google for your own best deal.
Best juices…
Alice in Vapeland – Zombie Apocolypse, White Rabbit, Punkin Tumble, ‘Twas Brillig, April Moon
Bi Polar Vapors – Chocolate Cake
Vape-A-Licious – Samoa Cookie pie, Blueberry Cheesecake, Goddess, Strawberry Lava Flow, and many more.
Johnson Creek – Vanda (same as the vanilla I use to get from Blu), Merango
Vape Dudes (my fav) – Buttery Nipple, Chocolate Strawberry, Cinnamon Roll, Blue Honey, Black Honey, the list goes on and on.
Top Vapor – Carmel Popcorn, yum
Suicide Bunny – Mothers Milk, Sucker Punch
Prime Vapor – Vazilla, Drunk Monkey
Boondock Vapes – Grape Pixie
High Caliber – Tiramisu, Wildberry Champagne
Virgin Vapor – Kona Velvet Milkshake

There are hundreds upon hundreds more, these are just my current faves. But I count myself lucky that I have been smoke free for over two years. And the thought of ever having to smoke another cigarette makes me physically ill. Do I still get the nicotine? Yes, duh… But you can get all these juices with zero nicotine, if you just wanna vape for absolutely no reason in the world. To each his own. The nicotine itself is not much different from caffeine, same kind of drug… and I don’t see many people jumping on the “down with coffee” bandwagon. The crap in cigarettes and the smoke is what’ll kill ya, not the nicotine. And any high and mighty reader who feels the need to vent where you believe I’ve erred… vent away, baby. Cause your prattle only comes out sounding like blah, blah, blah to me. Bottom line is this… I was a smoker with a a smoker’s future waiting on me. Now, I’m not. Simple as that. The thing is… society doesn’t mind if smokers quit with the patch or gum or whatever. What they can’t see doesn’t hurt them, right? But you let someone “vape” in front of them and helllloooo, Katie bar the damn door… that woman’s blowing smoke out. No, you uneducated troglodyte, it’s water vapor. The dude’s breath sitting next to you is more harmful than this. And mine smells like Blueberry Cheesecake, not two day old arse, like his. And correct me if I’m wrong, my self righteous fleshy little friend, but you don’t seem to have a problem with steam/water vapor coming up outta that big old pot of chicken n dumplings. You sniff that right up your nose like its Sunday go to meeting feast day. And I promise you now. That crap’ll kill you long before my vapor ever could. I mean, my vapor won’t kill you at all. But what’s a good rant without a hyperbole or two? Hmm?

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Today’s Tease…

Welcome! Pull up a seat and enjoy a chat with Today’s Tease JK Ensley

Your Name or Pen Name you use: Jennifer K. Ensley (JK Ensley)

Title of the book you are promoting: Cursed by Diamonds: Book 1 of A Dance with Destiny

Link to purchase your Book: http://www.amazon.com/Cursed-Diamonds-Dance-Destiny-1/dp/1480128651/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374993713&sr=1-1

Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy (with a dash of love)

Welcome JK…I, LH have some questions for you

LH: I wanted to be a ballerina, race car driver and a private detective when I was little. What did you want to be when you grew up?

JK: I wanted to be an action movie star, a professional basketball player, a tour guide (I had no bias as to where I would be touring), and a cartoon character like Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t care if I was the cat or the caterpillar or the girl, I just wanted to be skipping around in a world like that.

LH: I didn’t really have a literary influence, I just decided one day to start writing. Who influenced you in your writing career?

JK: In truth, my daughter. She is like me, a total book nerd. I wanted to put the story playing out in my head on paper and give it to her. Well, that’s what inspired me to write it, but magical stories of any kind are an inspiration to me. My family has some amazing storytellers in it. Family reunions were like magical adventures for me.

LH: I self published all of my books and was then “discovered” by a publisher. Are you an Indie or published author?

JK: I am an Indie. I didn’t look for a publisher. I just researched how to make a book, hired an editor, cover designer, and then self published.

LH: As an Indie Author, I was hesitant about being with a publishing company. If you are an Indie author, would you like to be published by a traditional publisher and if so, why or why not?

JK: I’m not sure, actually. I’ve never had experience in that world. As long as I get to write what’s in my head, I don’t care how it gets out there… I just want people to read it. Being published by a large company would give me a broader market I suppose. But the world is getting smaller and smaller. The internet, and awesome folks like you, are making the whole marketing thing much easier to tackle.

LH: This is easy for me…I’d invite Johnny Depp and I would not discuss movies! Who would you invite to dinner, living or dead, and what one topic would you NOT discuss with them?

JK: That’s a hard one for me. Hmm… I’d invite Sir Anthony Hopkins and I wouldn’t even mention Hannibal Lector. I would just sit and listen to all the fascinating stories this man must have.

LH: I personally think that there is way too much sex and violence everywhere in society these days and it’s everywhere but that Hollywood is one of the biggest contributors. Do you think that society as a whole is subjected to too much sex and violence and are you concerned about it? Ever feel conflicted and if so, why?

JK: Well… ancient history, as far back as has been recorded, has had this same problem, sex and violence. It doesn’t come from external things any more now than it did then. It comes from inside the individual. I mean, look at Nero as just one documented example. There were no movies or video games in ancient Rome, but dude was about as messed up as you can get. People have been twisted since time began. Now, I’m not saying that society today does not do its fair share of helping, but the evil is nurtured within. Perhaps the real problem is in parenting and guidance on all levels. The old saying ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’ is a very true statement. We have as much a responsibility to other people’s children as we do our own. Just think what all your kindergartener can learn from those other 20 kids in class, good and bad. We all have to do what should be done at home. If every parent cared enough to teach their own kids right from wrong, that would be a HUGE step in the right direction. Even if you can’t change the world, you can give your offspring the tools they will need to be able to cope with the society they are given as legacy. And that’s how you change the world, one toddler at a time. If everyone did this, the problem would fix itself in just one generation. Teach them to love and respect, and they will mirror that in all they meet. Teach them that women are just objects and their fellow man is simply their next opponent, and you’ve created our next monster. Movies and games may depict this, but given a good foundation, a child will already know better… before they press play.

LH: I’m a huge softy and by no means a beauty queen… lol but, I truly would want world peace in the blink of an eye if I could make it happen…If you could change one thing in the world, in the blink of an eye, what would it be?

JK: Ignorance and racism, and I’m not talking about white people downing on others. I mean racism, period. If you don’t like someone, anyone, because of something they cannot change and had no say in, by the way they look on the outside. If you judge them or hate them simply because of the package they’re wrapped in… that’s wrong. I don’t care who you are… that’s wrong. And that would be your first step on the way to world peace.

LH: With the traditional bookstore becoming obsolete and everyone turning to buying books online, I don’t buy the hype that “the cover is everything”. How important do you think book covers are now that almost all shopping is done online?

JK: Actually, I’ve purchased tons of books because of their cover alone. You see, I’m a book collector, of sorts. I love the feel of a book in my hand, the way it smells, the way it looks, how it matches others on my bookshelf. I agree that a cover does not justify the work it contains within, but if I don’t know an author and the book has a standard stock cover, I’ll probably just keep on clicking. But that’s just me, I’m a visual kind of person.

LH: I can remember wanting to write as a kid. I got a really late start! Have you always wanted to write and when did you start?

JK: Nope. I’ve always wanted to read, never even crossed my mind to write. I was the kid sent to ‘clean your room, young lady’ and an hour later Mom looks in and I’m sitting in the middle of my mess, reading, because I found a book I’d totally forgotten about. I’ve always jotted down little stories I’d heard when I was a child or poems when my heart felt like it, but I didn’t put my first serious novel word down on paper until my thirties.

LH: I love to see if I can see myself in a character. What interests you most about a story?

JK: That same connection. If I can’t relate to it, if I can’t step into the character’s shoes or walk beside them as the whole thing plays out, I just lose interest. I like when a book sucks me inside the story… whether I’m watching it or living it doesn’t really matter. My favorite books are the ones I can’t put down until I consume the last word… and then it takes me DAYS to come back to reality.

LH: For me, I just get hit with this whole movie in my head and start writing. How do you come up with your stories?

JK: You call them movies, I call them voices… lol. When my pen touches the paper, the story just flows out with the ink. I hear what the character would say next, I see their facial expressions; I’m walking right beside them as their life plays out for me.

LH: I can’t tell you or I’d have to…lol Are you working on anything now?

JK: Yep. I’m working on accompanying novellas. Filler bits for a sort of in-between the series type thingy. Is that about as clear as mud? I’m also compiling some short stories I’ve written. To me, a short story is kind of like chasing rabbits (when you lose focus on the subject at hand and go off in a completely different direction for a bit). Well, I chase lots of rabbits. J So I’m trying to corral them all and see what happens.

LH: I’m working on #6…3 are published and the other 3 are due out this year… How many books have you written? How many have been published?

JK: I have two books published, the third is with the editor, the forth is setting there waiting patiently, and I’m typing the fifth while writing the sixth. And now I’m working on the audio versions. Cursed by Diamonds should be available real soon. I’m like a kid at Christmas!

LH: I write for fun I don’t even dream of riches…Do you write for fun or money?

JK: I write because I have to… the voices demand it. lol And also because I love it, I can’t not write. It’s gone from being my therapy to my one true love. Whether I get a big fat bank account or not is irrelevant. I want people to read my stories, see what I see, walk through my world with me.

LH: Some of my family members had a bit of a problem with me writing my first book “A Beautiful Liar” because the character Maggie West is basically me…to a point They had a problem with the genre and me “putting it all out there” so to speak so I took a pen name. They eventually came around as I have never cared who knows who I am what I’ve done or what they think of me. I’ve never wanted to be famous, just infamous! What has been your biggest problem when it comes to family or friends when writing?

JK: My family is awesome. I’m blessed and truly thankful. I’ve always just done my own thing, spoke my own mind, and pretty much stayed in trouble for that most of my life. But I can always count on them to be supportive of my dreams, big or little. I think the hardest thing was just letting others in my world via my words and terrified they wouldn’t get it. I remember the butterflies and nauseous feeling…waiting for them to finally finish and give me a call. Happily, they liked it. And the ones who read (lots of people don’t take time to read) they are hungry creatures.

LH: I have never experienced writers block…I have experienced writers “don’t want to”… Have you ever experienced writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?

JK: I haven’t yet. Yes, I suffer from the same “don’t want to” affliction. But my stories have never reached a dead end or backed themselves up against a wall. When that happens, I’ll just take the down time as free time and catch up on all the books I have bought but not got to read yet.

LH: I get asked all the time “Do you have any advice for new writers?”… Do you?

JK: Hire an editor and use beta readers. You don’t have to take their advice, but it never hurts to bounce ideas around. We can all learn a bit from others. That’s how we grow, as writers and as people. I’ve tried my best to support indie writers and first timers by buying their books. Most times, the story is entertaining. But if it’s full of typos, or there’s giant holes right through the plot, or they leave tons of unanswered questions, or don’t explain it properly (or worse, explain it too much) then I probably won’t buy their next book. I guess the best advice would be… Don’t click publish too soon! Read it, read it, and then read it the fifteenth time. Polish it up. This book is a reflection of you. You’ve put a lot of hard work into it. Show your story the respect it deserves and do your best by it. It will matter in the long run, I promise.

LH: I would not change one thing in my life as I would not be me if I did… If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

JK: I wouldn’t change a thing. Good and bad, I’ve learned from it all. But if I had to say something, it would be that maybe I wouldn’t be so stingy with my hugs, smiles, or praise. I try not to be. But when I look back at those I’ve lost way too soon, I can’t help but wish I’d told them I loved them… just a little more.

LH: If I could go back in time and tell someone something, I’d go back and tell the founding fathers they were doing a few things wrong…If you could go back in time and tell someone something, who would you tell and what would you tell them?

JK: This one is easy. I’d go back and tell my little brother not to go to the lake that day. I’d spend the whole day playing with him and never let him near the water…

LH: I would freak out if someone contacted me and said they wanted to make one of my books or my series of book into a movie as I am really very shy in person and I’d probably go into hiding. I don’t think I could handle it. How would you handle it? Who would be the first person you told?

JK: That would be AWESOME! To see the dreams I carry around in my head all come to life…wow… I’m not shy. But I also know that they would probably just buy the rights to the story and then just do what they wanted with it. Everyone’s imagination is different. But it would still totally rock my face off! And the first person I would tell would be my son, Christian. I’d beg him to come home from school every weekend so we could watch it on HBO together. He’d just roll his eyes. But I’d be smiling like a Cheshire cat.

Thank you for that in depth and AWESOME interview JK…Now… for the fun stuff!

Favorite Beverage? Hot Tea

Exercise or Bubble Bath? Ehh, nowadays…Bubble Bath. 😉

Favorite Color? Is Sparkles a color? No? Then Pink.

Take out or Dine in? Dine in… unless he’s really cute. What? I’m kidding!

Camping or Hotel? Totally a Hotel.

Sports or Chocolate? Chocolate!!!

Dogs or Cats? Both.

Favorite Food? Mom’s cooking, definitely.

Favorite Song? Unchained Melody. I sing it really loud and totally off key in the shower.

Favorite Movie? Tombstone. Yeah, I’m you’re huckleberry.

Favorite Car? One I don’t have to drive… Taxi, please. A limo would be nice. Can I get a chauffeur over here? Thanks!

Sex or Chocolate? (The answer “Both” is totally acceptable). Yes, and at the same time would be great, please! 😉

And now for the essay part of the interview…

If you could go anywhere for a week, with anyone you wanted and no one would ever find out about it…where would you go, what would you do and who would you take?

JK: I’d go to Japan while all the cherry blossoms were in bloom, during the wisteria festival “Fuji Matsuri”. I’d take my parents and my kids. Mom would LOVE to see that. We’d tour all the magical gardens of that land while I try every kind of tea I can get my hands on. Someday… I’ll do just that.

Thank you for spending this time with us. Make sure to pick up your copy of JK Ensley’s

Cursed by Diamonds: Book 1 of A Dance with Destiny

at

http://www.amazon.com/Cursed-Diamonds-Dance-Destiny-1/dp/1480128651/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374993713&sr=1-1

Check out this AWESOME blog…
http://authorteasereadings.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/todays-tease-jk-ensley/

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To speak or not to sleep

Hello again, cyber land. Oh how you toy with me…

I just replied to a reply to my post. Lol. My old English teacher would just love that sentence. But I couldn’t go to bed without posting just a few thoughts that comment stirred in my mind. Actually, it’s running a bit like a blender right about now.

Anyway, thus the title… To speak or not to sleep. 🙂 Because apparently I cannot do one without first doing the other.

I love getting advice from my friends, peers, experts, children, old folks, Senpais, and newbies alike. Advice is like free treasure, unless you’re paying for it. And who couldn’t do with a bit of treasure now and then?

Now, I said I like getting advice, that doesn’t mean I have to take it. I’m not a mindless sheep, going about following the flock. I’ve got a bit of sense, just a bit mind you. So I take all my newly found treasure I and sort through it. I keep the sparkly gems in my pocket, and then stuff what doesn’t particularly suit me back in the chest. Click…that’ll be for a rainy day. I mean, it was given in good faith and all, why toss it out with the rubbish? And who knows, perhaps one day I’ll be in a place where that particular bit of treasure was just what I was needing.

On with the show. I am always happy to throw my two cents in where needed. If you chose to take it, you’ll be two cents richer. If not, no harm no foul. Right?

I had a dear friend ask me one time about getting into writing and publishing. She started out telling me a bit about her idea, asked a couple questions, then blushed and said…”But I’m not trying to barge in on your thing. If you don’t wanna tell me, that’s fine. I would never try to steal your thunder.”

Okay, I’m certain I looked at her like she had just grown another head…right there in front of me. How can people see writing as something only one person can do, or one hundred for that matter? That’s the most foreign thing I have ever heard. In my thoughts, this realm would be exceedingly glorious if EVERYONE was a writer or poet or storyteller. I mean, seriously, have you ever walked into a book store and said, “Here now. That’s just too many books. We shouldn’t have so many choices.” Or went to a movie theatre and said, “What’s going on here? Why are you showing all these different movies? This is a travesty. I’ll not have it. You hear me? I’m bored with all these amazing options. Enough’s enough.” Or going into a boutique and marching up to the sales girl and saying, “Offering more than one style of black skirt is absurd. Take everything off the rack, save this one here. One designer is plenty. Enough is as good as a feast.” That’s just madness, brothers and sisters.

I like to read, a lot. I like Clive Barker and Anne Rice and Charlaine Harris and HP Lovecraft and so many others that it boggles the mind. Every single room in my home, even some hallways, have a bookshelf… or two or three. Now, I don’t read every author out there. Who does? Some things just aren’t my cup of tea. Just like some things don’t tickle your fancy. We are amazingly different. And. That. Is. AWESOME!!!

This world can never have too many writers. Don’t be stingy with your dreams. Share them, tell perfect strangers about them, shout them from the rooftops. We will never be a society who stands up and says, “Enough with all this entertainment! How dare you give me the freedom of so many choices!” And if that day ever comes, brothers and sisters, I’m hunting down The Doctor and hitching me a ride in a blue box. One way ticket off this rock, please. Or maybe, just maybe… I’ll run up to a statue, give it a good rap on the forehead, and yell, “I’ll close my eyes if you zap me to a different place in time. Come on, Assassin Angel, weep for me!”

If every living creature with opposable thumbs were a scribe or poet or writer… If every blade of grass was a quill, the stars were made of parchment, and the oceans flowed with ink… Still, we could never have too many books, too many new ideas, or too many stories.

Come get your read on… http://jkensley.com

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Can you read while you’re writing?

Can you read more than one book at a time?

I’m amazed when people tell me they read several books at once. Amazed! I mean, if I tried something like that… talk about a wibbly wobbly timey whimey mess, that’d be my brain.

I go so far as to not even READ anyone else’s book while I’m writing (while the voices in my head are talking). 🙂 I don’t know. I guess… I’m too afraid that something I read might accidentally spill out of my pen or will affect the way MY story was supposed to be told.

Am I OCD? More than likely. Am I weird? Most definitely. I mean, who isn’t. Right? Right?

I get lost in a good book. It sucks me in and let’s me watch it play out in my mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s printed or I’m listening to an audiobook, it just happens. There have been times it has literally taken me DAYS to come back to reality. I’m not even playing. Do you remember the first time you read Tolkien? Until I got to the end, my mind stayed in Middle Earth, or the Shire, or the land of Rohan. Lord of the Rings was a magical journey I had an extremely hard time coming back from.

When I have to travel, a good audiobook (or several) is locked, loaded, and ready to go on my iPad. There have been times I’ve literally looked up at my intended hotel and said “Geezy peez… How’d I get here already?” And I’m not playing. Creepy? You bet.

I am a series reader. I LOVE a good series. Probably because it keeps me in its world that much longer, not real sure. But if I find an author that can transport me through time and space and dimensions, then I’m all over that!!! Few authors do that, but the ones that do… I totally want to gobble them up! Have you read Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series? Okay, if you haven’t, you gotta check it out. I’m a grown woman and still, while I was reading her stuff, I was lost in her world. I mean, if I heard someone reading aloud, I’d be like… What are you doing? Stop it! What’s wrong with you? What if you read something out of that thing like Capricorn, or worse…Basta? Dude, just…keep it to yourself. That’s all I’m saying. Of course, they’d look at me like I was a total freak, but you gotta read the books to see what I was going through. And speaking of Inkheart, I bought that book on a whim. I was just standing there, begging my daughter to hurry it up, when this lovely little red book caught my eye. The colors were intriguing, the pictures and bits of odd things on the cover just captivated me. I bought it on the spot. Didn’t read the blurbs, never heard of the author, and it wasn’t even on sale. I judged that little book by its cover, and I’m so glad I did. Wait, did I just go off chasing rabbits? Or was that a squirrel?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, writing and reading.

Currently I’m writing on my fifth and sixth books, and the scenes just keep playing out for me. So… I write. It’s a good thing. Yet, as I type this, I’m looking at three books I was waiting on (anxiously waiting on) and they’ve been right there on the shelf for months now. So yeah, it’s good… But also bad because I haven’t read the last Sookie book yet, Clockwork Princess is collecting dust, and P.C. Cast has been cast off to the side for the time being. Lol, that made me giggle.

So, how are you wired? Are you a multi-booker, or are you more of a single-minded kind of bloke?

I guess you can tell, I’m totally single-minded. And that’s all well and good for me. I might be single-minded, but I’m not narrow-minded. And therein lies the difference.

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I wish I could draw… sigh…

20130715-165035.jpg

I do NOT own this picture and I have no idea who does, but I love it.

When first I came across it, my breath caught in my throat for a couple heartbeats. I honestly can’t recall where I first saw it, but I did pin it. Soooo… I should probably check there. *UPDATE* This is where I found the pic… http://scarlettindisguise.tumblr.com/

Anyway, at but a glance, it told me a whole story. Sad and triumphant and dark and majestic, all at the same time. My third book contains a character much like this one. So, I probably connected with it on a much different level than what the artist meant. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I hit it square on the head. Either way, it inspired me.

And that’s what I want to talk about today… Inspiration.

Are you inspired on a regular basis, or does it simply come in spurts? How do you use inspiration? Do you use it? And has it ever opened your mind up to a whole new way of thinking?

Personally, I find inspiration in the most unusual things. A broken bit of cast off jewelry, snippets of a conversation between strangers, a colorful phrase, a lonely look in a child’s eyes, or an elated look for that matter. I’m inspired by ancient history, the true bits and the embellished ones as well. I like to watch the clouds, find hidden little places off the beaten path, explore common things and turn them into magical moments. Have you ever tried that? I mean, going out in the woods, digging through the dead leaves and rubbish until you find a hidden treasure. Not gold or gems, but a clump of tiny toadstools, or an ant hill, or some other fascinating little thing that no one else in the world knows about but you. Have you ever done that? Oh, but you must. It’s like… free, no strings attached… Magic.

My childhood was filled with inspiration and books and odd characters (and I was blood kin to most of them). I’m giggling a bit now, just thought you should know. 🙂

Now for the title… I wish I could draw.

It’s true, ya know. I do wish I could draw. Alas, I am gifted with neither musical ability nor artistic talent. But I am spilling over the brim with imagination. Just saying the word makes my lips get all tingly. I’m curious as well, and sometimes I wonder… Did they use to lock people like me away? Did they give someone like me (too much curiosity and fanciful dreaming) shock treatment or drill holes in their heads to release the demons?. I started to giggle, but stopped. Why? I fear I may be very near the truth. Ugh, cold chills. Humans, terrifying creatures. Aren’t they?

But I digress…

I’ve always thought, if I could draw I could show people what was going on in my head. I want them to see what I see, experience what I have, and perhaps… believe in just a bit of magic.

Alas, I cannot. But I have discovered (and quite by accident, mind you) that I can write what I see. I can use words instead of chalk, phrases instead of paint, and descriptions in place of colors. To me, books are an inexpensive ticket to a magical world, a fantastical wonderland. And I don’t even have to fix my hair to visit. Now that’s a vacation!

Wanna give it a go?

jkensley.com

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Ignorance in Politics

Now, I’m talking small town, local politics. Do you know of it? Have you ever experienced it? Oh, but you must. It’s lovely this time of year. Just sit back and let me take your enlightened mind on a terrifying journey into a land known only as… Intentional Ignorantom. Or would you rather visit a sleepy little placed called… Generational Stupidopolis? It’s completely your choice. They’re located very near one another. I mean, they are blood kin and all. So it only stands to reason…

Very well, brothers and sisters. Shall we begin?

Picture it. You’re walking down a seemingly endless highway, heat waves blurring your dusty horizon. The ocean lay just up ahead. But your journey hasn’t quite taken you that far, not just yet.

The midday rain only proved to raise the humidity, and settle about half the dust. But the dry breeze was kicking it back up now, leaving your throat parched and raspy.

I believe a quick rest is in order, my good friends. Let’s sit in the shade of that withering kudzu-covered bolder over there. Just a few quiet heartbeats spent in deserved relaxation. What harm could come of that?

Oh, look. That teasing little cloudburst we walked through earlier, has left a tiny puddle. Here, near the base of our granite resting place. Let’s have a look. Shall we? Oh, I do so love wondrous little happenings, such as this. Finding tiny wee pockets of magic sprinkled about in ordinary places, it gives me goosebumps, makes my toes curl.

Ahh… Do you see that? Look closer. Is that a fish? Wow, it’s glorious. All covered in spots, sparkling rays of the blazing sun bouncing off its shiny scales. Like I said, magic.

Oh, oh, oh, look it, look it. There are tons of tiny fish in there. Amazing, I had no idea we’d be blessed with such a grand discovery. I’ve got butterflies dancing across my goosebumps. Now that’s excited, ladies and gentlemen.

What’s that big spotted fish doing? Is he pushing the little plain gray fish around? Aww, that makes my soul cry. Bless their hearts. There’s barely enough room to move around in that little puddle, and now the big one is bullying them. Such injustice, such malice. He should be more thankful for his watery little world. It might be small, and it might be cramped, but at least it isn’t dry land.

Watch how he pushes them around, tries to rule them all. Perhaps someone should teach old Spotty Sparkles a lesson in humility. Someone bigger than him, just to show him what it feels like.

I know! Let’s take him with us. We can drop him off in that pond over there. That should fix it. The little ones wouldn’t be oppressed anymore, and the big one will have more room to swim around, more room to grow into the limitless potential he believes himself capable of.

Perfect. It’ll be like our good deed for the day.

Come on. Help me catch him. Careful now, he’s slippery.

There we go. Just a few more steps and he can greet his new home with that radiant smile and overinflated ego he treasures so highly. Help me ease him down into the cool water, we don’t want to damage his lovely scales, he’s so proud of them.

Ahh…look how fast he took off! There’ll be no stopping him now. He’s diving right into the heart of the darkened depths. Yes, we have done a very good thing indeed. Watch how he…

Oh. Oh dear. Did you see that? The big blue one, there, in the center…he just gobbled up our Spotty Sparkles like he was but a minnow. Wow, and Spotty was so full of himself, so proud, he never saw it coming. What a shame…

Oh well, such is life. Pride goeth before the fall and all, or perhaps in this case, before the digestive tract. I guess he wasn’t nearly as big as he believed himself to be.

Alas, surely there is something else we can blame it on. Someone else we can hold responsible for his tragic fate. Perhaps his parents were too strict. Mayhap the fish in the puddle just let him get away with it. Or, just this once, let’s say it could’ve possibly been his own fault. Just a little. Don’t you think?

I mean, he was a full grown fish and all, not a wee helpless babe. No matter what life dealt him in that puddly world he was cursed/blessed to be born in, he was fish enough to take care of himself now.

Too bad he honestly believed he was such a big fish… Reality sucks sometimes. Huh? Imagine that.

Maybe next time we’ll catch that big blue one ruling over the pond, take him on to the ocean with us. Just to see what other amazing things might happen. Oh, I do so love watching all this drama play out. Suspense is like a drug…exquisitely addicting. Is it not?

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