Two Year Blogiversary – Remembering How My Blog Saved Me

Last week marked Jen’s Pen Den’s 2nd blogiversary!

I know. I’m surprised my blog has lasted this long too.

But since it has–and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon–I’ve decided now’s a good time to remind myself why I created Jen’s Pen Den, and to think about how far I’ve come since its inception.

You see, for those of you who don’t know, my blog wasn’t born out of boredom, curiosity, or a desire to build my author platform. It was created in a moment of desperation, right when I was on the verge of giving up on my writing dreams.

In the summer of 2013, I hit a low, low point.

The option contract on my YA manuscript had expired after two years of hard work, and my attempts to find new representation had failed (again and again and again). All I kept hearing from agents, producers, and publishers was, “I like your story, but I don’t love it.” In other words, “It’s meh.” In other words, “You suck, your writing sucks, and you’ll never be good enough to succeed in this business.”

I was devastated.

My writing came to a halt, and I spent the better part of six months debating what to do.

I could shelve my YA manuscript and write a new book. But, ugh, why bother? I was a meh writer who wrote meh stories. Nobody would ever want my work. So, then what? Throw in the towel and pursue a new career? That sounded worse than wasting a billion hours on a novel that would inevitably get rejected. I could hide under my bed and wait for my problems to vanish on their own–ha! Or wish upon a star and pray for a superhero agent to emerge from the gloom and save me from my deep, dark despair–haha! Or I could just curl into a ball and cry. Which I did…a lot.

I was beyond lost. More lost than I’ve ever been in my life.

In a last ditch effort to save myself and my dreams, I decided to start a blog.

I had no idea what blogging was, or how to run one, or if starting one would help me climb out of the black pit I’d fallen into. But I had to do something–anything–that might get me back on track.

Turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Within a few days of publishing my first post, I clawed my way out of that horrible, black pit. And within a few months, I rose up and struck back at all the vicious doubts that had taunted me since my option contract expired.

Soon enough, the negative voice within me changed from, “You’re not good enough, and you’ll never be good enough!” to “Get the hell out of my way, I’m coming through!”

I can’t explain how grateful I am I started this blog. Jen’s Pen Den has given me everything I’ve needed to ditch the past and focus on the future. It has gifted me with a supportive community, countless learning opportunities, and a therapeutic outlet to voice my hopes and fears.

It has also helped me pave the way to my dreams.

During the past two years, I’ve written a dozen short stories, made it to the finals of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge twice, and came to terms with who I am as a writer and began working on a new novel. I’ve even started an editing service.

Looking back now, it frightens me to think how much I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t started my blog: Newfound confidence and passion. Valuable writing lessons. New story ideas. A never-say-die attitude. Amazing, supportive, “I totally get it” friends.

Let’s face it. Without my blog, my life would be completely different. I wouldn’t have discovered what I’m capable of or met so many incredible people. And I definitely wouldn’t know, for a fact, that writing is what I love to do.

And I’ll never consider giving up on it again.

In honor of Jen’s Pen Den’s 2nd blogiversary, I wanted to share my top ten posts from the past year. Thank you to everyone who has made this blog what it is, and for allowing me to share my experiences, stories, and random ramblings with you. You guys rock!

Top Ten Posts

  1. The Ark – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  2. Why You Should Enter the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2015
  3. Inevitable – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry
  4. La Jolla – 1st Round – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge
  5. Jen’s Editing Tips: The Power of White Space
  6. The Accidental Fall – 3rd Round – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  7. Confession: Rejection Has Made Me Stronger
  8. Oh, The Horror – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  9. Jen’s Editing Tips: Kiss Your As’s Goodbye
  10. Confession: When It’s Time To Move On
  11. It’s Official – I’m A Freelance Editor

Here’s to another year of blogging and writing!

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Photo credits: giphy

One Year Blogiversary – How My Blog Saved Me

I can’t believe it! Jen’s Pen Den has been up and running for a year!

So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you about why I started Jen’s Pen Den. It wasn’t because I was bored, or curious, or eager to the take the next step in building my author platform. It was because I was on the verge of quitting. Of giving up on writing all together.

Last August, I was in a low, low place. The option contract on my YA manuscript had expired months before, and my attempts to find new representation had failed. Everyone who passed on it kept telling me the same thing: “We like it, but we don’t love it.”

In other words, “It’s meh”.

AKA, “You’re a meh writer”.

AKA, “You suck, your writing sucks, and you’ll never be good enough to succeed in this business.”

Suffice it to say, I was devastated. I stopped writing and contemplated what I should do. I didn’t want to give up–that’s not in my nature–but what else could I do? Start a new book? Ha! Why? I was a “meh” writer. Why spend a billion hours on a book that was just going to get the same lukewarm reactions from agents and publishers?

Because you love writing, a stubborn inner voice reminded me.

Oh. That.

Ugh.

I battled myself for months. I didn’t know what to do. Start writing a new book? Or start looking for a new career? Fight for my dreams? Or throw in the towel? Punch and kick and scream? Or crumple up and cry?

Solution: Start a blog.

I had no idea what blogging was or how to run one, and I had no idea if starting one would help me climb out of the black pit I’d fallen into. But I had to try. I had to do something. I wasn’t ready to give up on my dreams yet.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

In essence, my blog saved me. Within a few weeks of starting Jen’s Pen Den, I climbed out of the black pit I’d tumbled into. Hope returned–slowly but surely–and I gradually rose up and struck back at those vicious doubts inside of me. “Give up, give up, give up!” soon turned into “Fight, fight, fight!” I entered writing contests, started a new book, wrote a short story, and finally had the strength to tear up my old YA manuscript and start over completely.

Now, almost a year later, I’m happier and more passionate than I’ve ever been about writing. I’ve kicked all of those ugly doubts in the butt and knocked them down for good.

One of the main reasons I’ve been able to fight back is because of you guys.  You helped raise me up out of that black pit with your friendships, encouragements, and long distance cheerleading. I can’t thank you enough for your support.

…I’m not crying. I’m not!

Out of curiosity, I went to my stats page and looked up the top ten posts of the year. If you’d like to check them out, here you go!

Top Ten Posts

  1. The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents
  2. How Do You Share Backstory Information
  3. Chasing Monsters – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge Entry
  4. About Jen
  5. Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is
  6. “Muck and Mire” – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2013
  7. Into Paradise – Final Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  8. Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  9. Jen’s Pen
  10. Over The Edge – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Thanks again for all of your awesome support. Here’s to another year of blogging and writing!

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Photo credits: giphy

Happy Book Anniversary: Progeny by Patrick C. Greene

One year ago, Patrick C. Greene released Progeny, a shivery, nail biting tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats with their doors locked and their blinds shut.

-12As many of you know I live in Colorado. Which means I’ve heard plenty of tales about Bigfoot. Or Sasquatch, or Harry, or whatever you’d like to call the towering half-man, half ape creature. Yet, before reading Progeny, I was never truly scared of the mythical being.
Now, I am.

Another wild scream assailed them, urging them on even faster till muscles and lungs burned, fueled only by terror.”

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Synopsis

“Owen Sterling is a reclusive author living in a secluded house deep in the woods. When he welcomes his son Chuck for a summer visit, the eleven-year-old suspects something is not right at his father’s home. His worries mount when he witnesses a confrontation between his father and some local hunters. Zane Carver is the local gun-shop owner who confronts the author over Owen’s refusal to let anyone on his land for hunting or camping. He defies the recluse, taking a hunting party onto Owen’s property. Soon, Zane and his buddies discover the writer’s secret . . . a deadly secret; a creature whose infinite rage they have unwittingly ignited . . . that is now hunting them.”

Jen’s Review

Progeny is a rip-roaring quick read that’s told so vividly, you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie. It’s one of those stories that builds its premise slowly but surely, enticing the reader to turn the pages faster and faster as the terror heats up. In fact, I’d say for the last third of the book, I was curled in a fetal position, afraid to even look out my own window lest I see a giant monster staring in at me.

Deanna reflexively turned toward Chuck–but her eyes were drawn to the window of the door behind him. A massive dark form was there, filling the window frame, peering in at them with huge eyes that eerily reflected the firelight.

For me, Progeny was all the scarier because of my fear of the woods (don’t you dare laugh!). I don’t know how many times I’ve walked through the forest and heard a twig snap or seen a footprint that was way too large to be a deer or rabbit. Furthermore, I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard from friends who’ve come upon a mountain lion or bear while hiking. The woods are teeming with life, and in Progeny, they’re teeming with a life that’s far more alarming than any mountain lion or bear.

Lightening flashed in an extended strobing burst, silencing Zane–and giving all of them a brief glimpse of the massive hairy beast standing less than ten yards behind them…Then it was dark again.”

Yet, despite its many terrifying moments, Progeny had its touching moments, too. Bigger than the battle between man and Bigfoot is the battle between man and son. The word “progeny” means offspring, descendent, or son. In this book there are three distinctive father/son relationships, and each one has their own complexities and dramas and heartaches. Yet, although these three father/son pairings are different from each other, they also share a painful similarity: loss. Loss of respect. Loss of innocence. Loss of control. Loss of love. Loss of life! Patrick C. Greene does a terrific job of telling a horror story that goes beyond monsters lurking in a forest. He tells a story of monsters lurking within living beings. Of anger and sorrow and regret. Of broken relationships and misunderstandings that wreak more havoc than Bigfoot himself.

If you’re looking for a heartfelt yet suspenseful read, this is it! And what better time to read such a scary story than right now, on the eve of Halloween?

Jen’s Rating:

4 Star

Read more about Progeny here!

About Patrick C. Greene

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Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.

Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.

Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard. Visit the website : www.PatrickCGreene.com

In addition to his novel Progeny, and the short story collection Dark DestiniesGreene has several film projects in the works, and just finished writing his second novel, The Crimson Calling-the first in the action-adventure vampire trilogy, The Sanguinarian Council.

Let’s all congratulate Patrick C. Greene on this one year anniversary of Progeny. And let’s all thank him for writing such a gripping story and sharing it with us!