Spring Break Update and a new project!

It’s Spring Break! Time to get crazy!

Just kidding, I’m a mom.

So… a few months after I finished Starting From Scratch, I got this idea for another story that I wanted to write, but I was somewhere in my second semester of school, taking two classes, and I kept starting and stopping and then finally just trying to cobble some notes together so that if I decided to get serious about writing the story I could be super organized about it… and then the sleeplessness started.

Oh, the ideas. They just would not quit. I knew I had to get this story out or it would just keep bugging me.

For Mother’s Day, my super-awesome-thoughtful husband got me this novel planner. It was just what I needed to help me get my story organized. I mapped everything out. And I told myself that I would do my own NaNoWriMo in June. I would give myself some time off once classes ended in May, and then I’d get to work. I was taking a class over the summer, and we were traveling, but I wanted to see if I could bang the story out in like a month because it had been on my mind for so long.

I finished it on August 3, 2018.

And I’ve sat on it ever since. Haven’t reread it. I figured I would get around to editing it this summer.

EXCEPT… I decided to use it as the basis for the TV series I’m writing about in my TV class. I only have to write the script for the show’s pilot, but I started thinking…

If this was an actual TV show, what would it look like? What else would happen? How could I keep this story going?

And, oh my God, I haven’t slept right since the semester started.

Okay, that could maybe be the hormones or stress talking, but seriously… I try to go to sleep and think up some other new plot twist or story line every night. The rewrites on this story are going to be nuts. I have pages and pages of notes and ideas. So many ideas. I can’t freaking wait to get started!

And on top of that… I have a series coming to Channillo soon!

And there’s school stuff, of course.

It’s going to be a crazy spring break!

And by that, I mean… I’m going to be writing like crazy!

Currently reading: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Listening: Snow Patrol – Wildness
(Binge-)Watching: Parenthood

 

Since my last book…

I am always so envious of the authors that I see cranking out books left and right. And I am always so excited when I finish writing a book, but it usually takes me a while before I can start up another project. My last release was in 2016, nearly 3 years ago!

I actually started working on Starting from Scratch in the fall of 2016, but a lot happened and the project stalled for a long time.

In 2016, we lost our house (and everything in it) to a fire. We had to relocate to a temporary apartment for almost a year while the house was rebuilt. I didn’t feel much like working on that story for a while.

In 2017, I did a little writing here and there for BabyGaga, MotherHustle, and our local paper. I decided to go back to school. I started a master’s program in creative writing and literature.

Somewhere around this time I decided to start a family travel blog, called Go With The Goodwins.

We returned to our house in October of 2017 and I decided, despite being in the middle of my first semester of grad school, to do NaNoWriMo.

I think I finished Starting with Scratch in January of 2018.

Since then, I have also:

Taken a trip to Canada, Boston, and Florida.

Celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband.

Kept my kid alive for over 3 years. (Way longer than most houseplants.)

Written another book (number 6!) and am getting ready to revise it.

Taken 5 more of my required courses and started my last 2 required courses.

Started planning my thesis!

Handled the social media/publicity for my MOPS Moms group.

And volunteered to be one of the room parents for my kid’s preschool class.

Which is precisely why I need to remind myself of what I talked about in this MotherHustle post…

I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people. I’m doing the best I can, with the time that I have, and with everything else that I’ve got going on. And there’s even more coming soon… stay tuned!

 

What Order Do I Read These In?

 

One question I get asked a lot is what order people should read my books in?

The thing is, even though they’re not a series, you’ll end up finding that sometimes major characters from one book end up becoming minor characters in another book, or a minor character in one book ends up being a major character in another book.

With that being said, I’d read them in the order I wrote them. If you go out of order you might read something about a character you didn’t want to know just yet!

Start with Here We Go. It’s the story of Sam and Julia and their boyfriends/ex-boyfriends and their guy-friends who want to be more than just friends.

My next book, The One Who Got Away, is the story of Lucy and Jackson, high school sweethearts who find their way back to each other years later, only to learn that each of them is now involved with other people. Lucy’s best friend is Kate.

Kate is the main character of my third book, One of the Guys. Kate is an event planner who works for Julia, from Here We Go. (See what I mean? These people are everywhere.)

My fourth book is Clarissa Jean, Homecoming Queen. It’s the story of a woman who ditches her long-term boyfriend and heads back to the small town where she grew up. She tries to reconnect with her old friends – Cooper, Justin, and Polly, to name a few.

My newest release, Starting from Scratch, is all about Cookie. Cookie is Clarissa Jean’s sister, and they live in a small town, so if you’ve read CJHQ, then you’ll probably recognize a bunch of names in this one!

You can pre-order Starting from Scratch now! It will be automatically delivered to your Kindle on April 20th! And don’t forget it to add it to your Goodreads list!

Check out some of the interviews I’ve done recently for Starting with Scratch!

Writing and Wedding Crashing: with Lacey Dearie

Author Interviews: Starting from Scratch with Jessica Goodwin

New Release: Cover Reveal!

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Starting from Scratch is a story about dealing with love, loss, and new beginnings.

When Caroline “Cookie” Walker loses her husband unexpectedly, she doesn’t know if she can start her life over without him. He’s always taken care of everything. She’s only ever been a housewife and a stay-at-home-mom to her three kids. Her family, friends, and the gossipy PTA moms at her daughter’s school are worried about her…
and they don’t know how she’s going to do it, either.

When she finally decides that she needs to start her life from scratch,
she has to make some big changes. A new house, a new business! Her family undergoes some changes as well as her three children adjust to life without their father.

With all that going on around her, Cookie starts spending a lot of time with Dylan Cooper, a friend of the family who is in the middle of a nasty divorce. While Cookie is glad to have found someone who understands her feelings of loss, she’s oblivious to the fact that Cooper has developed romantic feelings for her. He eventually makes his feelings known and Cookie has to decide if she is ready to juggle three kids, a new business,
and a possible new romance… 
something everybody in town is talking about!

I started writing this a few years ago. But in December 2016, my family lost our home (and basically everything in it) in a fire, so for the longest time, I felt like all I’d been dealing with was loss. Usually, when things get tough, I can turn to writing as an escape, but not this time. It took me ages to go near this story again.

But once we got settled back in our house almost a year later, I decided that maybe it was time to pick up where I left off. I used National Novel Writing Month to hold me accountable and wrote 50,000 words in November. I finally finished this one in December 2017 or January 2018. (I was at the end of my first semester of grad school; it’s all a blur.)

After sitting on this one for months and reading and rereading and editing for over a year, I think it’s finally time to let this one out into the world!

You can pre-order it now &  it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle on April 20!

Check out some of the interviews I’ve done recently for Starting with Scratch!

Writing and Wedding Crashing: with Lacey Dearie

Author Interviews: Starting from Scratch with Jessica Goodwin

 

Back to School!

Tonight, I start my spring semester. I’m doing a creative writing independent study with a professor I adore and a television pilot writing class with a group of friends that I’ve “met” through our online classes. I am so looking forward to the next few months! I haven’t taken a screenwriting class since my undergrad, and that, sadly, was 20 years ago, so it may take me awhile to get my feet under me, but I have lots of ideas and am eager to get started! All the time off from school was nice, but it will be nice to get back into the swing of things.

I did get a lot of stuff accomplished, though. I’ve had lots of little itty-bitty things to work on, blog posts to write, and other projects around the house. It was also really nice to just hang out… We got a lot of snow a few weeks ago, so the kid and I played outside every day. Walks in the snow, a snow fort, snow balls, a conversation about yellow snow, a snow couch, three big snowmen, and soooo many snow angels… I read and watched a lot of TV, too. Some of it is for my TV class, but I also got caught up on a bunch of stuff I have been meaning to watch. I feel like I was a lazy college student on winter break, but I still got stuff done, too.

More on that coming soon! 😉

Listening: Matt Nathanson: Sings His Sad Heart
Reading: William Rabkin: Writing the Pilot
Watching: Friends from College season 2 on Netflix

Winter Update

The semester is finally over and I feel like I can breathe a little again…

Of course, Christmas is right around the corner, and #KidGoodwin will soon be on winter break, so it’s not like I’ll have a ton of time to relax! But I do plan on taking some time to work on some small projects and things that have been piling up on my to-do list.

For starters, I have some blogging to do for here, for Go With The Goodwins, and for MotherHustle, plus I have some social media stuff to work on for my MOPS group.

I have a short story from my nonfiction class this semester that I’d like to see if I can find a home for. I also have an idea for another story I’d like to write for a family magazine.

And then I’ve got to get ready for next semester and beyond. I’m taking a TV writing class which should be really interesting… and I’ve got a lot of TV to watch to get ready! I have to watch the pilots for Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, The Affair, Downton Abbey, Grey’s Anatomy, The Sopranos, West Wing, Gossip Girl, My So-Called Life, and a few others… In a fit of procrastination I watched the pilots for Grey’s  (which I’ve seen) and Downton Abbey (which I hadn’t seen!) and well, let’s just say I’m now on Season 4 of Downton

Next semester, I’ll also be doing an independent study that will involve me working closely with one professor to revise, edit, and expand a short story that I’ve already completed. I’m really looking forward to that and I’m REALLY looking forward to hopefully having a much easier semester. My two classes last semester wore me out!

Which is why I also plan to catch up on sleep, tr_U2A2699y to take better care of myself, and relax a little before classes start again at the end of January.

Wish me luck!

If you’re reading this, I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 
― Neil Gaiman


 

Cookies… a Goodwin family tradition.

Years and years ago, around the holidays, I would come home from work and bake a different batch of cookies (or my mom’s pumpkin roll) every day. I’d eat the cookies, sure, but I really liked bringing them to school and sharing or sending them home with friends.

Before we were together, and with a thousand miles between us, I guess my husband was doing the same thing. Only he went kind of crazy and would make dozens and dozens of different kinds all at once and store them in the freezer until Christmas rolled around.

As if he wasn’t already sweet enough, he mailed me a couple boxes of cookies when we first started our long-distance relationship. When we moved in together in 2012, I just kind of let him do his thing. We lived in a townhouse, the kitchen was kind of small, there was only room for one baker.

He went to town. He started baking in the fall, freezing cookies and saving them for the holidays. He sent me to my work Christmas party with a tray of cookies so big that people thought I was dating a baker. I remember someone asking me, “Is he a baker?” “No, he’s a lobbyist.” He bought little boxes and packed them up for coworkers and friends. He mailed cookies across the country and around the world to people.

When we got married in 2013, we didn’t have a wedding cake. We just had cookies! That was a nod to Tommy’s cookie habit and my growing up in Pittsburgh. At any special event in Pittsburgh, especially weddings, there’s always a cookie table!

In 2015, we had our first cookies and cocktails party. We made around 30 different kinds of cookies and invited probably 50 or 60 people and served cookies, snacks, hot chocolate, and booze. We did it again in 2016. (We took a hiatus in 2017 as we had just moved back into our home after a year of remodeling.) Each time, we sent people home with bags and boxes of cookies, determined to get rid of the cookies. We just make ’em so people can take ’em!

The cookies have usually been his thing, but I’ve helped out every now and then – making things like pizzelles or trying to make gingerbread men.

This year, I’ve tried to make up for lost time and decided to get our holiday baking started early. It’s only November but we already have 20 cookies made, with at least 6 more on deck, and plans for more after that!IMG_7590

The kid has even gotten in on the cookie baking, and helped make a couple batches. What can I say? It’s kind of a family affair.

Anyway, we have the date set for our cookie party and I’m really looking forward to it. We didn’t get to have it last year and people kept asking us about it, so… we’re back! Can’t wait to celebrate the holiday season and chow down on a ton of cookies! (And sip some festive adult cocktails, too, of course.)

I would LOVE to hear what some of your favorite family holiday traditions are. And I would REALLY LOVE it if you’d share some of your favorite cookie recipes! Please post links in the comments!

October Update

This month has been a blur and I’m already counting down the weeks to the end of this semester. I’m about halfway there. I’m loving it, but I’m stressing. There’s a lot going on! I’ve been busy, busy, busy but things have been going really well. I’ve been busy reading and writing for school, MotherHustle, and other things here and there. I just printed out book number 6 and plan on reading, revising, and editing over winter break. I also have a huge list of books to read for fun while I’m out of school… We’ll see how many I can actually get through!

We had some awesome family pictures taken recently… Look at my cute family! My husband and I just celebrated our five year anniversary. Five years married, but several years in the mak_U2A2363ing… We were high school friends and sort-of-but-not-really college sweethearts back in the late 90s. It took us awhile, but we finally wound up together! It’s been an amazing five years. It’s never been boring, that’s for sure!

For Halloween, I seriously had to put my crafting skills to the test, y’all. Could we just go to the store and buy the kid a Halloween costume? Nope. Paw Patrol? Nope. Some superhero? Nope. PJ Masks? We could each be one of the PJ Mask kids! I’d dress up as Owlette. But… Nope.

The kid insisted, back in September, that he wanted to be Geo from Team Umizoomi. Team Umizoomi is a Nick Jr. cartoon that ran from 2010-2014. Nick Jr. still shows the reruns, and the kid looooves his shapes and numbers, so it’s one of his favorite shows. But is there any Team Umizoomi merch anywhere? Nope. Halloween costumes? Heck no. (Unless you want one from Etsy that costs like $300.)

I tried to tell myself that the kid would change his mind. I even took him to Target and walked up and down the Halloween aisle several times to show him all the other (already-made, prepackaged) costumes. No interest.

He still wanted to be Geo. And he wanted me and the hubby to be his sidekicks, Milli and Bot. I am not a Pinterest mom, but I think I did a damn good job making our costumes. And I made freaking Umi car.  We wore these costumes to Boo at the Zoo, to church trunk-or-treat, to his preschool Let’s Pretend Parade, and of course out trick-or-treating. He loved it. Insisted on wearing his helmet and roller skates – which were really a pair of my socks stuck on over his shoes, with little felt circles for wheels sewed on every time. Didn’t complain or fuss about his costume once. And he REALLY got into trick or treating!

 

We’re not sure what he liked better… trick or treating or handing out candy to the kids that came to the door. Either way, he had a blast. It was so much fun hearing him say “Thank you!” “Happy Halloween!” “I love your costume!” over and over again.

And of course, after all the excitement and candy, he passed out almost immediately.

Can’t think of anything else exciting to share. I wish I had more to talk about, but I’m currently just swimming in research notes for my literature class, trying to stay afloat until the break!

Reading: The Best Of Us: A Memoir – Joyce Maynard
Listening: Matt Nathanson Sings His Sad Heart
Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (and writing a paper about it for my lit class!)

 

Growing Pains

Sometime last week, I was sitting at my desk in the office, writing, and I felt a strange, sharp pain in my groin. While I was just sitting in my chair. It was a deep twinge, almost as if the bones in my right hip and thigh were grinding together, and it came out of nowhere. I tried to think of what I’d done to cause such a pain. I had gone for a walk through the neighborhood that morning, but that was it, just a walk. I hadn’t been running. I hadn’t tripped or stumbled or lost my balance or done anything to tweak a muscle or anything.

But suddenly, it hurt like hell. Was I sitting wrong? I have terrible posture, so I could understand that making my back hurt, or even my neck, but… my… hip? Thigh? Groin? Pelvis? What in the world had I done?

I chalked it up to just getting older, but man, did it suck when the kid woke up from his nap. Just getting up off the couch or the floor to fetch fruit snacks and play cars caused me to wince. I tried stretching my legs and hips, but nothing seemed like it was helping to ease any of the pain. If anything, it was getting worse – a searing pain from way up at the top of the inside of my thigh down my butt and the outside of my leg. WTF.

I tried spraying some BioFreeze on the area. It didn’t really work. Let’s just say that’s not an area that you really want to go numb. I finally downed some ibuprofen and that seemed to help.

Thankfully, the next day, it was reduced to a dull ache, and the day after that, it was gone.

So weird, right?

Fast forward to tonight… I was lying in bed, trying to get comfortable, when one of our cats came and decided that she was going to use my pelvis as a pillow. Fine. Didn’t bother me. If I rolled over, she’d go, too. But then, there was something about the way my hip/thigh had rotated open…

That caused the mysterious pain started to come back.

I laid there for awhile, trying to figure out what the hell I’d done now that would have made my leg hurt. I thought about the way my hip/thigh/leg was positioned when it started to ache, and honestly, just tried to remember another time my leg turned out that way. It’s not like that’s a normal position. I might have been lying like that (because I was flat on my back with a cat lying on top of me) but it wasn’t really a natural way to sit or stand or…

And then it dawned on me.

That is how I stand. When I pick up the kid, I always hold him on my left hip. And in doing so, I shift all my weight to the right foot, and pivot that hip.

It’s not like I hold the kid all the time. He’s not a “Carry me!!!!” kinda kid. But when I do… it’s always in the same position.

Sure enough, a quick look at the Google machine and I’m reading all about pelvic girdle pain and other mom injuries. I’m going to need to start working out. I’m going to have to start switching hips. He’s getting so big. Pretty soon, I won’t be able to hold him at all!

Not only does it hurt, it’s kind of breaking my heart.

So this is 39.

Today is my 39th birthday. It honestly doesn’t feel any different from any other day.

There are different types of birthday people. There’s the “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND I’M READY TO PAAAARTY!”-people. Some people celebrate their birthdays all month long. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the “Please don’t make a big deal out of my birthday!”-people.  Then there are the “Please don’t make a big deal out of my birthday!” except they actually really DO want you to make a big deal out of their birthday-people.

I am definitely in the “please don’t make a big deal out of my birthday” camp. I don’t need the fanfare. But it did kind of get me thinking…

Shouldn’t I be more excited? Next year is the big 4-0 but I don’t really care about getting older. I don’t feel like I’m getting older. I mean, I’m tired and parts of me hurt a lot, but I figure some of that can be blamed on chasing after the kid all day and then taking grad school classes at night and generally just overdoing it.

I don’t know. I guess I feel like I should have more emotion (excitement? pride? nostalgia? happiness? fear of impending old age? total devastation?) about reaching a milestone like a birthday that ends in zero. Milestone birthdays deserve big celebration and hullabaloo, right? (God, I must be getting old if I’m voluntarily using a word like hullabaloo.)

So I sat down a couple weeks ago and tried to come up with a list of 40 things that I wanted to accomplish over the next year to commemorate turning 40. I didn’t get very far. In fact, my list was so lame, that before I even got to 10, I deleted it.

I know some people do stuff like this and would write “RUN A MARATHON” or “HIKE THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL” or whatever, but I just don’t have any of that in me.

My list: IMG_1609

  1. Publish books 5 & 6
  2. Summer residency at Harvard
  3. Start thesis
  4. Trip to Napa
  5. Summer home exchange
  6. Exercise regularly
  7. Lose 15-20 pounds

The problem with my list is that it’s mostly all stuff I’m planning on doing anyway. I mean, the exercising and weight loss, I’m working on. Books 5 and 6 are already done; I just have to figure out what to do with them. The summer residency at Harvard has to/will happen, and after that, yeah, I plan on starting my thesis.

While some stuff is kind of obvious and is already in the works, I worry that I don’t really know what I want to do after I get done with school. I worry that I’m 39 and I don’t have things figured out. And I worried for a bit that my lame-ass attempt at a list means that I’m boring, but I just couldn’t think of one damn thing to add to the list that I really, really, want to do in the next year… because right now, I’m already doing everything I want to do! I’m pretty happy with everything that I’ve got going on in my life… even if I’m not sure where I’m going or what I’m doing. It’s still a pretty bad-ass feeling.

So… happy birthday to me!

And as my gift to you… you can head on over to Amazon and download my first book, Here We Go completely free on Kindle!