A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Whew. Here I go. Nervous as hell. Pitchwars first timer.

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The Basics:

  • I am almost 46, having completed my first novel at age 43, so I have a bit of a late start.
  • I have a wonderful husband and two awesome kids, all very supportive of my writing. The best part of all this writing is that I have inspired both my children, ages 10 and 12, to write!
  • I have a BS in Agricultural Journalism (that is a thing) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. buckybadger.gif
  • We currently live in a small town in Southern Wisconsin, but I grew up on a horse farm near Green Bay (Go Pack Go!). I spent my childhood showing horses throughout the Midwest. What a fantastic ride!
  • I usually hide my nervousness with humor.

A Few Things I love:

  • My Family. (Duh!)
  • Books: If it’s fiction, I probably love it. Lee Child, Emily Giffin, and everything in between.
  • TV: Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, Mad Men…
  • Movies: Anything with Ryan Reynolds.

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  • Animals: Especially my stinker of a rescue dog, Cosmo and horses.

My Novel:

My Pitchwars manuscript is a Contemporary Romance, about a woman, her horse and a man.

When Willa Wray, Olympic Gold medalist, falls off her horse, she suffers a career-ending injury and a heart-breaking breakup with her boyfriend. She goes home to her parent’s horse farm in Wisconsin to heal her body, but childhood crush Shaw McAlister shows up to heal her heart.

I would love your criticism, prospective mentor, it will make me a better writer, and this story that I love, a better story. I’m a hard-working Wisconsin girl, and have a positive attitude so I think you would enjoy working with me.

I look forward to pitching to you and (crossing fingers) working with you! Thanks for taking the time to read my bio.

-Jodi

Thank you Lana for putting this together. Check out all the other great bios here.

Pedicure.

“I want to polish your nails, Mom.”

For just a second I flinched. It was the beginning of summer, flip flop season and I didn’t really want to walk around with toes like that… Wait a minute, I thought to myself, Toes like what?

Toes painted lovingly by my 10 year old daughter? Toes with slightly crazy colors? Toes with designs I would never think of or dare to paint?

What would people think of a 44 year old woman wearing such a pedicure? Suddenly I realized who was going to see my toes; a bunch of moms like me at Target on a Tuesday morning, or maybe at the school gym during my son’s basketball practice. Who cares what they think? (Well, I did.) But I realized I cared more about what my daughter thought. Weren’t the thoughts flowing through her head and heart more important than what a bunch of strangers think of my polish choices? And again, who really cares what someone thought about my nails, if they even noticed them at all.

I had quite an “aha” moment right there. Since when was worrying that someone may find me a little eccentric more important than allowing my daughter the joy of doing something special for me? How often had I said no to her doing my hair or makeup or makeup because I might leave the house later? The time we spend together is so much more important.

Right then and there I had an attitude adjustment.

“I would love for you to do my nails, sweetie.”

“Really?” She sounded astounded. “You’re sure it’s ok?”

She ran to get the polish and by the time she returned, I decided she would do my nails the entire summer.

This was the first, and I thought it was marvelous!

This was the first, and I thought it was marvelous!

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And the second also very fun!

Fun for a vacation to the North woods.

Special for a vacation to the North woods.

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Photo pre-clean up, but you get the idea!

So I have to say, I was a little self conscious of this one, only because it was worn to my Grandma's funeral. Grandma would have loved the artistry though, I am sure.

So I have to say, I was a little self conscious of this one, only because it was worn to my Grandma’s funeral. Grandma would have loved the artistry though, I am sure.

Probably my favorite!

Probably my favorite!

Although this one was awesome too!

Although this one was awesome too!

 

Geometric!
Geometric!
And lastly, the one my daughter calls the

And lastly, the one my daughter calls the “Galaxy.” It was a beauty.

I’m going back to boring old single-color nails for the fall. They hardly ever peek out anymore now that the weather has gotten cooler, but they had a good run. If I am lucky she will offer to do my nails again, and you can bet there will be no hesitation from me.

Grandma.

Today I lost my Grandma. Actually nine of us did, and 10 more lost a Great Grandma. We each have our own memories. These are mine.

She was 91. I was lucky, I had her in my life for almost 45 years.grandma and grandpa

Grandma was always a part of a set: GrandmaandGrandpa. One’s name always went with the other. They were married nearly 70 years, and still living at home together until recently when Grandma became ill.

Grandma was a beautiful woman and a woman of great faith. She attended church every week, the same church her entire life. She married Grandpa in the same church as her mother, and both my mom and I were married there as well.

There is a story that a football landed right in her lap at a Green Bay Packer game. I believe she was at the Ice Bowl.

My earliest memories of Grandma are at their house on the farm. In the kitchen with it’s painted white cupboards, I would beg for cookies from the cookie jar, or a piece of red licorice from the shelf highest up.

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She always had the radio on, an old one that only played AM stations. It seemed to perpetually play Paul Harvey.

When I “helped” Grandpa with the cows, Grandma always put plastic bread bags over my shoes and secured them with rubber bands. That way I wouldn’t get manure on my shoes when I went out to the barn.

When mom and dad went on vacation, I always stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. They would take me to Ponderosa for dinner and if it was Saturday, we would watch Lawrence Welk.

Grandma and I often explored the attic or she would let me try on her sparkly clip on earrings. She often brought geraniums in the house in fall. Go ahead, break a branch of geranium and take a whiff. Every time I smell that smell, I think of her, probably because Grandpa and I had a record of hitting and breaking them with a stray ball thrown in the house.

More recently, my husband and children have gotten to know “Great” Grandma. Their memories are different, whether at Christmas or the family wiener roast, but plentiful. I am glad they all had the chance to receive her love and feel her hugs just like I did.

Goodbye Grandma. I am sure you are in Heaven watching over us.

Run!

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About a year and a half ago, my daughter asked if she could join our local chapter of Girls on the Run (GOTR).

What is Girls on the Run, you ask? GOTR is a fantastic organization, and if you haven’t heard of it, here is a quick down and dirty right from the website:  Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. In other words, an awesome program that helps girls build character and confidence, culminating with running a 5K.

So, as I said, she asked me if she could join this great program.

My brain froze. “How is she going to do this with Type 1 Diabetes. I can’t run with her, how will I know she is ok? She’s only in the 4th grade, I can’t expect her to take care of this on her own.”

Then the voice of reason reminded me of something our endocrinologist always says, “What would you do in this situation if she didn’t have type 1? Whatever that answer is, that is what you should do.” I took a deep breath and realized that if it weren’t for type 1, I wouldn’t have hesitated. What gave me the final boost is that a friend who also has type 1 was a coach.

My daughter loved the feeling of freedom she gained from GOTR. She loved running. She loved being with her friends without me lurking in the background.

Fast forward a few weeks. My daughter asked me to be her running buddy for the 5K. My brain froze. “I don’t run. My daughter runs, I have friends who run. I don’t run.” My best friend (a runner) offered to run for me, but when I sat down and really thought about it, I reasoned with myself. “I should run with my daughter. What a great bonding experience. How hard can it be, I mean she’s only in 4th grade.”

We had a practice 5K. My daughter left me in the dust, but I was able to slowly jog about half of it and walked the rest. The real GOTR 5K was next, and I was so inspired by GOTR that half way through the run I committed to coach the next season. (The endorphins made me do it!)

Last fall I helped coach my daughter’s GOTR team, and what a great experience that was. We started as a group of girls and women who may or may not have known each other. We had some girls who had never run any distance before. We had girls who were shy or maybe had only a few friends. We had girls who had no confidence in their ability to run 3.1 miles. Over the ten weeks we became a group of friends. A group of girls and women who supported and cheered for one another. A group of girls who, no matter what age or grade they were, had something in common with one another.

Our fall practice run was on a crisp autumn afternoon. We had some veterans on the crew, some 4th or 5th graders who knew what to expect, but we also had girls who had never run as far as we were about to. We set off and what a sight to behold, girls who had just weeks before, never run more than across a playground, were completing their goal of running a 5K. One by one they crossed the finish line, breathing hard but with smiles on their faces. They had done it.

Days later, we completed the GOTR fall run, and those darn endorphins took over again. I volunteered to be the head coach for our GOTR chapter for the spring session.

Yep, you heard that right. By the time the race was over, I was convinced I had what it takes. I still couldn’t run an entire 5K, but somehow I felt moved to be a bigger part of this organization.

I never regretted that decision. It was a little bit of extra work, and a little bit of extra worry for all those girls, but what I got back was something so fulfilling. I felt like maybe I’ve made a difference in even one of those girls lives. I like to think that the support that I gave helped them in some way. And I hope that my involvement made my daughter proud.

I was my daughter’s running buddy again last Saturday, and again she left me in the dust. But you know what is cool? My son was inspired by all this running, and he entered the run too. He’s nine years old, but that day he was my support system, my running buddy. He kept me running, he kept himself running, and the three of us all reached our goal. We all were able to run the entire 5K without any walking, some of us slower than others, but we ran. I am so proud of both of my children, and I am proud of me.

Nevertheless, the time has come to hang up my coaching sneakers, as my daughter has come to the end of her GOTR career. I will always look back fondly to the miles I shared with her and all the girls on our team.

 

Agents.

The past year has been an educational one for me in regard to book publishing. I am not yet published, but have no doubt it will happen. In the mean time though, I thought I would share with you what I have learned so far.

A year ago I posted that I finished my first book, a fiction novel, The Stalking Horse. I thought I knew a lot, but in reality I was an uneducated boob! I knew virtually nothing about:

  • Finding an agent
  • Query letters
  • Manuscript length, and apparently
  • Fiction genres

Twitter has become my new best friend. In my initial search for agent was spent on Google. What I quickly learned is that A LOT of literary agents are active on Twitter. I started following each agent I could find simply to learn what I could from the experts. I currently follow about 450 agents and the information I have learned from their posts has been phenomenal.

Secondly, I thought that writing the book was the hardest part of getting published. Boy was I wrong! Actually it is the query. The query letter is a one page formal letter sent to, in my case, potential literary agents to “pitch” a novel in hopes of getting representation. Now I feel I am a really good writer but this one little page has been the bane of my existence. Fortunately I was lucky enough to win a query review from a professional so I have had some guidance, but the art of describing your novel in a couple of compelling sentences is a daunting task.

Then there was the little task of lengthening my manuscript. As it is, it still might be a little short at 55,000 words, but nevertheless I feel this book is complete at that length. In the past year I have reworked my book probably 15 times, adding and paring as I saw fit.

Finally, I thought my book was a Thriller, but I learned it is actually a Cozy Mystery. I read a lot of books, and I was sure mine was a thriller, but as soon as it was identified as a cozy mystery, it seemed so obvious. Genre is really important because certain agents represent only certain genres. Send it to the wrong agent, you’ve just wasted your time and the agent’s. You don’t want to do that, the literary agents have enough to do without having to sort through a missent query.

I have learned a lot, and I have received rejections. Through it all I will keep writing.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”  Samuel Beckett

Kidneyversary.

Sixteen years ago today I donated a kidney to my Dad. I am not looking for kudos because believe me, it was not a selfless act! This benefited me as much or more than anyone else including my Dad. Seriously, who doesn’t want a healthy Dad and happy Mom?

I wanted to share, because today is our Kidneyversary (it’s a word, trust me), and also because I wanted to remind everyone the importance of organ donation. I am not an expert on organ donation, but I do know some basic facts. If you want more scientific data, go here for a start: organdonor.gov

There are some organs you can donate while living, like I did. That is known as a live donation. Other organs are available only from cadaver or deceased donors, and you need to make your donation wishes known for it to happen. No matter the donation, it is vitally important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, 18 people die each day in the U.S. because of the shortage of donated organs. The good news is that on average 79 people per day in the U.S. receive potentially life-saving organs.

My story is simple, my Dad needed a kidney and I learned there was such a thing as live donors. (The most common donations come from cadavers, but the success rate is better from a live donor.) Most of us are born with two kidneys, but we can live fine with one. I didn’t see how he wouldn’t get a live kidney. My Mom offered hers immediately, but learned she was not a match. I volunteered, but he was concerned about me going under the knife for him and wasn’t crazy about the idea. Nevertheless I can be stubborn, so I went in to get tested to see if I was a match. Low and behold I was a pretty good one, and was finally able to talk him into it.

Kidney donation back in 1998 was a little more barbaric than it is now, so I am left with a 10 inch scar and am missing a rib, but today it is usually done with a laparoscope and a small incision. The scar doesn’t bother me at all though, I am actually fond of it. Other than the scar (and the missing kidney and rib!), I am physically no different than I was before. I did what I did to make my Dad healthy, so he and my Mom could be happy and grow old together. What I had no idea would happen was the emotional change in me as well.

How do I best explain the feeling I had? I don’t know. The closest I can come is to say, “I stopped giving a shit.” I really did.

I stopped thinking that my job was my identity, which was good because at the time I was in sales and not very good at it! The man I loved lived across the country and it seemed insane, but I decided we needed the relationship to work. It did, we are married and have a beautiful family. I spent more time with my family and friends. I tried to say “no” more often to things I really didn’t want to do. I tried new things. I decided I needed to write.

So today my parents are healthy and happy, I have a wonderful family and friends, I am fortunate that the work I do is work I like, and I write. Is my happiness due in a large part because I donated an eight ounce chunk of me? Heck yeah it is. Donating my kidney changed my life, and better yet it saved a life.

Please consider donating your organs, whether as a live donor or after you are gone.  As of today, there are 123, 252 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ. If you choose to donate, it is a no-brainer that you will forever change the lives of others, and the pretty cool thing is that it will probably change yours as well.

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