Saturday, April 22, 2017

JBronder Review, Guest Post in "What Cathy Read Next," BookBub Ad -- What a Week!

This week has been busy for "The Existence of Pity," and super exciting! I love to get the word out about my book, and I've enjoyed meeting fellow book-lovers!
 JBronder Reviews wrote a great review and posted it on her beautiful blog (check out the picture in her header, wow!).  Here's a link: JBronder Reviews

Then there was a beautifully done guest post from Cathy of "What Cathy Read Next," thoroughly whetting the appetites of her readers to dive into my novel. Thank you, Cathy! Here's the link: What Cathy Read Next

Finally, I have a BookBub ad! I feel like I've arrived! BookBub is a website that "alerts millions of happy readers to free & discounted bestselling ebooks." Even if you're still on the fence about ebooks, Kindles, and the like, this website is great about keeping readers up-to-date on the latest books out there, including mine :)

Here's a link to my author page.
Jeannie on BookBub  
Click the "follow" button to find out when my ebook goes on sale... which is NOW! 99 cents for today and tomorrow only!

Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

WanderTHEMES Travel Changes Lives

Carlos Munoz and I went to the same school in Cali, Colombia: Colegio Bolivar. We met up on Facebook after many years, and when I saw what he was up to, I had to learn more! Here's what I found out.
Hello Carlos! What is your company called, and when did you start it?  WanderTHEMES Experiences. I started working on it in my head in 2014. Real steps began in February 2016. My registration in the state of Texas is July 17, 2016.
What do you do?  We do custom designed theme travel. Our team is uniquely knowledgeable about the world. We have traveled and lived everywhere. We can take you to places, events, and activities no one else can! So let us know where you would like to go and/or what you would like to do and we will design your trip for you. We also have our signature experiences that have excited travelers before you.
Being the owner of WanderTHEMES seems like the dream job for travel buffs. How did it come about?  Actually as an advertising/marketing professional all my life I really focused on how people experienced life and things. I was driven by a desire to find out the why of people's and nationalities' behaviors and how they affected others. You, Jeannie, had a unique experience in Colombia and your Colombian-ness shows just like it does the other MKs (that's missionary kids).
I also started a Master's in Historical Research later in life (almost finished--in thesis stage). My focus is the Mexican Revolution, a country I lived in for 11 years and where my kids grew up. I, too, have a little Mexican-ness, it's in my heart. It is this search for deeper things and other countries that took me to create WanderTHEMES. I want to help people write many travel stories and have travel change lives. When the moment came to change careers and technology allowed it, I started WanderTHEMES.
What has been your favorite travel experience with WanderTHEMES?  My first booking. It was with a group of horseback riders from Cali's Club Campestre (that's Country Club) who now live in Germany, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Bogota, and Cali. They wanted to re-connect and I created an experience on a ranch between Idaho and Wyoming. They are going to drive 40 unbroken horses 140 miles in 6 days. It'll be a full experience, with a chuck wagon, tents, and all. great horses. They are so excited!
The travel researching new places and things to do is always my favorite, but as a moment, I would say that was it.
What is your favorite story about your travels with WanderTHEMES?  Last year I went on a trip with a group in Mexico. We caved for many hours in the dark, rappelled down holes in the ground so deep, 40-foot trees grew way down at the bottom. The days were full of intense experiences, like jumping 20 feet into the water in the dark. We had to trust our guide and just jump--the water was down there. We then floated down an underground stream for a long time, crossing caves the size of cathedrals. When we got to daylight we actually missed the dark! Needless to say, we became very close to the group and I realized how these intense experiences connected us on a deeper level.
And finally, since this is "A Writer's Cup," what's in your cup?  Depends on the time. I drink black Colombian coffee in a big cup so it's not a tinto (a small cup of sweet coffee). About 3 cups in the morning. Water most of the day, because I dehydrate easily. Soda the rest.
To find out more, go to the WanderTHEMES Facebook page:
their website:
or Instagram:  @wanderthemes_travel
Thank you, Carlos! Maybe we can design a trip based on The Existence of Pity and see the sights in Cali, then head to San Andres Islas like Josie did! Thanks for your time, and happy travels!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bringing "The Existence of Pity" to Life, Part 2

Here's an excerpt from "The Existence of Pity" and some pictures of the seminary in Cali.
"The Baptist college campus was the only place where I felt truly safe in Cali.
Even in my house, with Brandy barking at anyone who passed by, I felt a vague sense of unease, that I wasn't completely protected. But the seminary was surrounded by a high brick and metal fence, and a gun-wielding guard was on duty at all times. I could roam the wide open space in peace, missing Aunt Rosie and thinking about Alejandro.
I wandered around the campus the day Aunt Rosie left, ending up in the library on the second floor of the main building. Only a few students were sitting at the tables between the bookshelves, and I walked out to the balcony, where bougainvillea was taking over. I liked to study the scale model of old Jerusalem on display in a glass case, with its tiny people and elaborate temple.
After a glance at the model, I looked around to make sure no one was watching me. I stole inside the library again and searched among the concordances, books on ancient languages, and inspirational stories, until I found a book about the saints. Flipping through its pages, I came across the perfect saint for my problems. I wrote his name on a piece of paper and headed back home."  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Commute Delight

I love my commute, and the main reason why is since I work part-time, I don't have to do it every day.
Even this lovely drive along what's literally called Scenic Highway would get old day in and day out. These pictures, taken out my car window, don't do justice to the beauty and diversity of my drive along the causeways and waterways, the mansions and hilltop overlooks,  the moors found in Milton. And right now, the azaleas are blooming everywhere. It's breathtaking.
 I'm not big on change. I like listening to the same songs in the same order when I run the same course, I like eating the same breakfast every morning (cheerios and cherries with soy milk -- weird, I know), and settling into writing with the same routine of computer games. (I wrote a short piece about my writing process, See the post here.)
On my drive to work, though, one of my favorite things to do is look for new things. One house has two dog statues that look completely real, but they can't be; they haven't moved in all this time. I've named them Liz and Eddie. During the holidays someone had a 20-foot blow-up of Rudolph's Abominable Snowman in their front yard. There's no telling what's going on at the gold house with it's fountains and Bentleys!
Although I'm watching countless home improvements and new construction, what makes me happiest are the little touches I notice. A new planting area, a tire swing from a tree, a holiday wreath on the door.This is a beautiful world because people are making it beautiful, and I challenge you to find that beauty along the roads you travel.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Bringing "The Existence of Pity" to Life

The setting of my novel, The Existence of Pity, comes from my youth. I grew up as a missionary kid in Colombia, South America, but I certainly didn't experience the conflict Josie faced. This is a picture of our house as it looks now. The current owner has made it more beautiful, but I miss the towering bougainvillea around the front door.

Cali's Baptist Seminary
Here is just one of many photo of the Baptist Seminary across the street. Although much of the land has been sold, the open fields and grand buildings make the place as impressive as ever. 
 What follows is an excerpt from my book about the Plaza de Caycedo:
Plaza de Caycedo

Cali's downtown streets swarmed with people as we headed toward the park to sit on thick concrete benches under towering palm trees. Some Colombians were dressed for work, moving quickly past us, while others relaxed with their friends in jeans and T-shirts.
"That looks fun," I said, pointing to a group kicking a soccer ball around.
"Yeah." Aunt Rosie leaned back and closer her eyes. "Do you realize, Josie, we could be anywhere in the whole world?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know; it just seems like people are the same wherever you go. Every city has a park for people to hang out in, and it usually has a statue of an important person in the middle." She opened her eyes and pointed to the bronze image of a man clutching a flag. "Who is that, anyway?"
"I'll go find out." I jumped up to read the plaque. Returning, I told her the statue was of a man who helped Cali gain its freedom from Spain. The park had been a public market in the 1600s.
As cathedral bells rang out, I looked around the old park with new eyes, wondering how much -- or how little -- had changed in three centuries. When the bells finally stopped chiming, I pulled out my camera to take pictures.
"I'm glad you like your new camera," Aunt Rosie said.
"Maybe I'll become a photographer for National Geographic one day." I took a picture of the statue with palm trees behind it, then one of the soccer ball flying in the air. "I'll travel the world, visiting all those parks."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Kiss From Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau died on February 12 of respiratory failure two days after retiring from his long and amazing career making beautiful music. He was 76.  His album Breakin' Away and its upbeat hit with the saxophone solo, "We're in This Love Together," had me buying my own sax at a yard sale. I love his music; his songs are still on my playlists after three decades. And one of my all-time favorite memories is meeting him on my twentieth birthday in New York City.
After my brother moved to the Big Apple, I visited him over Spring Break and saw the Twin Towers, the Saint Patrick's Day parade, the subway, Central Park, and Dave's speck of an apartment. When Dave's girlfriend, a page for NBC, happened to mention Jarreau was singing on "Saturday Night Live" I begged her to get me in. She couldn't get me a ticket, but she told me to just walk in like I owned the place and no one would care.
On Saturday the 17th of March, I gathered my birthday courage and, with my heart pounding out of my chest, walked down the long corridor in 30 Rockefeller Plaza slipping past a man standing at the door to Studio 8H. A talkative group of tourists distracted him, giving me the opportunity to grab a seat. I'd been warned there was a good chance Al Jarreau would be backstage, but I spotted him talking to someone in the audience. Keeping a low profile, I sneaked closer to him. When he finally turned his attention to me, I remember laughing with him, having someone take our photo with my little disc camera, and wishing the moment could last a little longer.
Photo by Natalie Zokan
Back at Baylor University, I had my little disc developed at the local H-E-B (a Texas grocery store chain), hoping my picture with Al Jarreau turned out. As you can see, the picture made my day, my year, my decade. He's kissing my head! I had no idea he was kissing my head and Al Jarreau is kissing my head!
Meeting Al Jarreau came about as a result of a series of miracles and a little moxie, and it reminded me that good things would come to my life. Every 20-year-old needs to know that. Thanks Al, for so much more than just beautiful music. I will miss you.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lottery Ticket Lucky

Thursday, January 19, was so lucky for me, I had to buy a lottery ticket.

First, I woke up to a 3x5 inch picture of my face on the cover of the Lifestyles section of my local Gulf Breeze News, and no, it's not a mug shot! Thanks to Lisa Newell, who told my town about The Existence of Pity. My daughter said people were congratulating her in the high school halls.

Then, at 2:31 pm, I got a message from The Book Doctors. They had written an article about me and put it in The Huffington Post. Yeah, you read that right, THE Huffington Post!

But my luck didn't stop there. My older daughter and I were traveling that day, heading to her home for six months in Virginia. (She's taking a gap semester and serving AmeriCorps at a beautiful state park.) On our way through North Carolina, we stopped at Red Adept Publishing and I got to meet Lynn McNamee, the woman who made my dream of publishing a book come true. Her dog Cody is adorable, and so is Louie!

Now THAT'S what I call a red-letter day, so of course I had to buy a lottery ticket. And guess what?? I didn't win. But I still feel so lucky, and grateful!

Once more with the links to the two articles: Gulf Breeze News and The Huffington Post.