Thursday, September 10, 2020

Life - Now and Then

Happy Thursday, y'all!

What's everyone been up to?

Today, I'm musing. Thinking about the past, the present, and the future.

It's strange to me to think that we'll eventually refer to time as before COVID and after. I'll admit, I was a bit worried there in the beginning, before the studies of people on my particular brand of medication were done. Having an immune system that acts like the Hulk on steroids is no joke. Many of the folks in the group I'm in (specifically for this medication) have gotten the 'Rona and did just fine. Seeing as I'm relatively healthy otherwise, I relaxed a little when I read those posts and the studies that came out of the first group of deaths and survivals (from actual doctors, not the news).

Yes, I still wear my mask everywhere, but I was a shut in before all this mess. Not too much has changed with that. But so many things have changed with me as a person...

Do you find that to be true? Did you experience any kind of growth during this quarantine and everything that happened because of it? I'll turn comments back on for this post so I can hear from y'all. Spammers have been out of control or I would've done it sooner. Nothing like waking up to fifty notifications about comments that are all BS. *eye roll*

I was struggling with a lot of things: loss of my alone time, loss of motivation, loss of concentration... I could go on and on. But sharing my cooking has really helped me pull myself back together. Added bonus: I GOT A NEW PLANNER with hourly slots. I can't even tell you how much these things help me. I'm back in the groove so much more now than I was before.

Of course, there are still adjustments to be made. My kiddo is home most of the time now, so I still need to plan around that. She has no issue barging in on me while I'm working. Haha. It is what it is for now, but I need to get back to writing. There's no way to explain to anyone what interruptions do to a writer's train of thought unless that person is also a writer. I need silence and a strict schedule.

Know what writers also need, I've found? A guarantee that what we're doing won't be yanked out from under us suddenly. When we commit to a book, to putting words on the page, we need to feel like it'll be complete at some point or we lose all desire to sit down and work at it.

At least, that's me. If I think that tomorrow will be the end of my writing career, I start to wonder why I'd even bother with another book or why I'd worry about finishing what I'm working on. What's the point?

Thankfully, I've still been working on the second installment of Recipe for Redemption with Tia and Kelly. This one is Izzy's story, and it's shaping up to be one helluva novel. With that will come an all new set of recipes (that I get to create) for the book.

How fun is that?

Anyway, I do wonder when, or if, things will return to some semblance of what they were before. I'm thinking things will change in ways we can't even fathom yet, but I also look forward to a future where there's not a big question mark hanging over everyone's heads.

Things that happened in my life during quarantine: EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO GOT CANCELLED. A new job and total move to a different state (for me) threatened. Hubby lost his job and had to find a new one. Everyone was home all the time. Kiddo struggled with her social life from being housebound. Finances went tits up along with the old job, and we had to do some major adjusting quickly. I gained the COVID-20 around my middle. My arthritis finally hit a breaking point, and even moving started causing pain. I started a new medication for my MS that has weird side effects. SO MUCH. Ugh.

But all that aside, I've learned a lot, too. I've taken on deep introspection, and I've started to realize my emotional triggers more deeply than I did before. For that, I'm grateful. I now know why I burst into tears after a particularly intense workout and why I get so damned upset when things change without advance notice. It's taken a lot, but I'm getting there. 

How about y'all?

As you all know, I also started a cooking channel over on YouTube. Feel free to join me!

Now I just feel like I'm rambling, so I'll head on out of here. I hope everyone has an amazing week ahead.

Until next time, WRITE ON.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Baking, Cooking, and Recipe Submissions

Welcome back, everyone! I know the blog has been silent, but I've been busy learning... stuff. Since all this COVID-19 crap started, my brain has been in Dug and squirrel mode. I haven't been able to focus on anything much, so I turned to learning. That's always been my go-to fix. I believe I could've been a professional student. I love to learn. ALL THE THINGS!

Since the pandemic, I've gone through tons of bread flour. Practicing, reading, and filing information away for later use. Check out some of my bakes:

Now is later. I've launched a YouTube channel where I'll be sharing the following:

  • Recipes of my own.
  • Recipes submitted by folks.
  • Bread recipes.
  • Recipes I find on the web.
  • Bonus videos when something interesting is going on (like a new food hitting the market)

As far as recipes I find on the web, they'll be stuff I want to try and/or want to see how long they really take from start to finish. Yes, all the bread in the image above is coming. I'm planning one video a week on Mondays.

I WILL take requests, too. If you have a recipe you've never been able to nail, shoot it my way, and I'll give it a go. Describe the issue you're having during the making. Maybe together, we can figure it out.

I also leave in my crazy bloopers. Ha!

If you'd like to join me over there, here's the link to my channel: 

And here's my most recent video:

Next week, I'm doing basic bread, so that should be entertaining.

I hope to see you all over there. Let's relax and do some cooking and baking!

That's all for today, folks! Until next time, BAKE ON!


Friday, March 20, 2020

An Open Letter to Whomever Will Listen Concerning COVID-19

Happy Friday, y'all. I know a ton of people are going crazy because of quarantine, but hopefully, this will give you something to pass the time. Yeah, I know I'm going to go on and on here, but it's time we all started thinking about this. Grab your coffee or tea, get comfy, and let's get going.

To Whomever it May Concern (or to those folks that might listen),

It's time to stop reacting to things that are happening with the COVID-19 outbreak. Just. Stop. It. What's happened has happened. There's literally nothing you can do about it. No amount of complaining will fix it. No amount of saying it's not real will make it go away. It's very real. Those things that happened are done. Over. In the past. Untouchable.

How about you start looking to tomorrow? Or perhaps the next day? Next week, maybe? All of those?

Plan for what's coming, not what's already happened. I know you see it. You're not going into this situation blind. You have models from other countries that will tell you exactly how this virus will progress and what it will do. Think forward rather than backward. Put resources where they'll be needed tomorrow and not where they were needed yesterday. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is coming.

We've known this was coming since December. And if someone like me, who's not as smart as so many others, saw it and planned for it, I have to wonder why you didn't. Why you didn't look at the people you govern and care like a mother does for her children? That's literally your job. It's not to make the right step or be infallible. You need to be human and care. Then take the steps to protect the ones you're supposed to protect. Admit when you screw up. We can handle that. Humility will get you everywhere. Then give us an actionable plan you've truly thought through and not some half-assed solution that addresses what happened before today.

Denying there's anything to worry about will make people lift their eyebrows at you. We're smarter than that. Give us some credit, will ya? Because you're not taking it seriously, there are thousands (possibly tens of thousands--I have no idea) on the beaches in Florida, tens of thousands (more?) still going out for dinner in crowded restaurants, and who knows how many traveling everywhere.

You have to convey the seriousness of the situation to the public, even if you have to eat a little crow along the way. Make people listen to protect them. That is your job.

There are so many states refusing to shut down. Do it before it gets out of control, or you won't be able to control it. That much, I can promise you. For every ten known cases, how many do we not know about? Think about that. We're smart enough to figure it out. Why aren't you?

People are hoarding because they're terrified. They know they don't have all the information. They're not freaking stupid. They know there's something y'all aren't telling us. Humans can handle the truth when you give it, but you have to be honest. If we feel like we're being lied to, we overreact and think the worst. It's hard to have conspiracy theories if someone is being blatantly honest and presenting you with a plan.

Yeah, I know, I know. You're being honest. You don't think there's anything to worry about. *insert eye roll* If that's true, then why declare a national state of emergency? Come on. We're not idiots. Stop treating us like we are. Please.

We have a hard time getting behind something we don't understand, and we don't understand this thing. What you're saying will happen here doesn't match what we're seeing happen elsewhere. Because of that, people are either all over the beaches in Florida or holed up in their homes, afraid to leave.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Do what you need to do to get this crap under control. We won't hold it against you. Maybe if you're honest with the information and take needed precautions (huge thanks to all those counties in GA that have already shut down--appreciate y'all for caring--not sure it'll matter in the long run because of the other guys), we might actually have a chance. If you continue to lie, we're all screwed.

How about you start ordering ventilators today instead of the day you realize you need them. You know it's coming. Tomorrow is changeable. Yesterday is not.

For all you people calling this COVID-19 a hoax or a scare-tactic from the media: Do you think the whole world is in on some conspiracy to scare you? Come on. You're all smarter than that. And for what it's worth, every time you cite those things above? You're saying those lives lost already don't matter and the ones that will be lost in the coming months don't either.

Honestly, I've lost one parent, and if one of y'all acts stupid and causes me to lose the other because you didn't listen? Shame on you. Shame. On. You.

Look past what you're being told and examine other countries. There are plenty of case studies out there for you to look at. Don't be sheep. Think for yourselves. Then get your kids, siblings, parents, and friends on board. Get those college kids off the beaches. Quarantine them at home for a month after. This is what you're gonna have to do to keep this thing from spreading.

Y'all, wash your hands. Stay home whether you feel sick or not (if you can). You know this thing is contagious way before you show symptoms. Think of others. If you hoarded toilet paper out of panic, that's okay. Give a roll to an elderly person. Just leave it on their porch. They'll be grateful.

AND STOP FIGHTING. It's not worth it. Nothing is worth that, not even the last loaf of bread at Walmart. If you need to know how to bake bread, there's a video on my FB page that walks you through it. If you need to wipe your butt, use a rag and throw it in the washer with some bleach. It's what our great-great grandparents did. They made out just fine.

Also, please thank a nurse, doctor, truck driver, or EMT today. They're the ones keeping this country moving, and they'll be the ones that have to keep going, day after day, no matter how sick they get.

I'm disgusted at the blatant disregard for human life I'm seeing, but I'm also touched by the kindness I see happening everywhere. Be the kindness.

I hope someone hears this and we all start paying attention.

Peace and Love, Fellow Humans,


Friday, March 13, 2020

An Author and Reader Guide to StoryOrigin - Part One - Signing Up with SO and Integrating Mailing Lists

Hey all! I hope you're doing well and staying out of the way of the mess hitting the fan right now. Today, I'd like to introduce you all to a platform that's been getting a lot of traction called StoryOrigin. I'm not gonna lead in with a bunch of yakkity, so just grab your coffee or tea and let's get going!

*******AS ALWAYS, THERE IS NO COMPENSATION FOR ME TO DO THIS AND NO AFFILIATE LINKS ARE USED****** That being said, know that all opinions are my own, and I'm free to give them. ;)

First off: What is StoryOrigin?

StoryOrigin is a platform for authors to gain new subscribers to their newsletters through group promotions and swaps, give out ARC copies, have a universal book link page, and distribute audio codes. Newsletters are a huge part of most authors' marketing efforts, so you need to know how to make the most out of every tool available!

But there's more! I know, right? StoryOrigin is also a site for readers to find ARC copies and keep up with how they're doing on their reviews.

If you don't have a mailing list and want to use StoryOrigin for some other reason (ARCs, audio code distribution, etc...), this post isn't for you. Scroll to the bottom of this page and find the links to the next parts!

Best of all, right now, it's free, so let's get you enrolled!

There's a lot to go over, but we'll start with signing up, integrating all the mailing list types, and press forward from there. All posts will be listed and linked on all posts for easy navigation.

Start by going to the StoryOrigin homepage:

Click Login in the top right hand corner.
Click Signup! Where it asks if you're new to us. If you've already gotten this far, feel free to skip to the relevant content. :)
Enter Name and Email Stuffs. I'm making dummy accounts that will be deleted once this tutorial is done. If you have an author website, feel free to click to add it. You also need a privacy policy IF you have an email client that requires one, so go ahead and link it.
Next, you'll see a page that looks like this. We're gonna start at kinda the bottom and work our way up.
Go all the way to the bottom and click Author Profiles.
Right now, you have to have a new account to manage more than one profile, but hopefully, this functionality will be available soon. You should see your author name and website (if you added one) listed.
Let's go one higher and click on Integrations. This is where you'll connect your mailing list and a VERY important function of the site.


Click the blue button to integrate and select your provider from the list. I'm going through each one, starting with MAILCHIMP, so if your provider is different, scroll down until you find that instruction. Select Mailchimp from the dropdown and click Authenticate Mailchimp.
Sign in to your Mailchimp account and click Allow.
There you go! All done! You should be taken back to the page on StoryOrigin that shows your Integrations. Your Mailchimp account should be listed like so:


On to the next one: MailerLite Click Integrate Email Provider and choose MailerLite from the dropdown. You should see this:
Your API key is found by clicking your name in the top right hand corner on MailerLite, selecting Integrations, then clicking USE next to Developer API. Will look like this:
Copy it. Go back to StoryOrigin and paste the string of letters and numbers in. Click save. MailerLite is now on your list. You should see it back at your Mailing List Integrations page.


Now, we'll go on to ActiveCampaign. Click Integrate Email Provider and choose ActiveCampaign from the dropdown. StoryOrigin walks you through this one:
Follow the directions (copyable text on ActiveCampaign is a little difficult to see, but it DOES copy):
and click Save. ActiveCampaign should be added to your Mailing List Integrations page.


Now we're headed to the next one! AWeber! Click Integrate Email Provider. Choose AWeber from the dropdown.
Click Authenticate AWeber, log in to your AWeber account, click Allow Access, and it should appear on your Mailing List Integrations page (I couldn't do this one because they want a credit card up front).


But we're moving on to ConvertKit! Integrate Email Provider. Choose ConvertKit from the dropdown.
Click on the hyperlink: Click here in the text. It will bring you to the page shown below. You can also get there by logging into ConvertKit, choosing Account, then Account Info. The arrows show where the info is on the page. You have to click SHOW to get the API Secret.
Click save, and ConvertKit will be added to your Mailing List Integrations page. And that's it! Super easy to add your mailing list(s)!

Next time, we'll go over the next two tabs up: Subscribers and Posted Mailing Lists.

Links to all other posts in this series will go below this line (I'll add them as they're completed).
Part Two - Subscribers and Posted Mailing Lists

Thanks for reading, and remember to WRITE ON!


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Guerrilla Grannies and Upcoming Releases

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Like I said in my last post, I'll only be around the blog to discuss new and upcoming books. Well, I'm here! I have so many things in the works right now. Let's not get bogged down in leader fodder. Grab your coffee or tea, and jump right in!

My releases for the next few months are as follows:
Gray is the New Black - Guerrilla Grannies - Mission One -- December 9, 2019
'Twas the Night Before - A Magical Holiday Romance Anthology -- December 17, 2019
Vanquished - Angles and Vampires - Book One -- January 21, 2020
Pushing Up Posies - Guerrilla Grannies - Mission Two -- February 20, 2020
Breaking Bad-er - Guerrilla Grannies - Mission Three -- April 8, 2020

Here are the covers! Aren't they prettiful?

I have Diablerie, book two of the Angels and Vampires series, halfway done, and Breaking Bad-er is also halfway there. I'll be finishing the planned Guerrilla Grannies books first, and then I'll let you know when Diablerie will release.

Anyway, about Gray is the New Black and why I wrote it.

As many of you may know, I lost my mother a year ago in September. She LOVED The Golden Girls and Designing Women. I thought: Why not bring a bit of Charlie's Angles into the mix? and my Grannies series was born. I had the pleasure of reading my mom the first five chapters of Gray while she was sick in bed. She laughed so hard she lost her breath. Yeah, I've been working on that book for that long. I fell into a bit of a rut when she died, and I ended up writing Manipulation instead of finishing Gray. Every time I read that book, I'm reminded of her. It's both a good and a bad thing.

I miss her like crazy. She was the one I ran all my ideas past, and she was always the first to get a book I was working on.

That pug on the front of the book is featured heavily in the story. His name is Biscuit, and he was a real pug that belonged to a very good friend of mine. He passed not long before my mom did. To help ease the pain, I put him in a book so my friend would have a little piece of him forever.

Anyway, before I depress you some more, if you'd like to read chapter one of Gray, you may do so on my website here. If you're a subscriber to my newsletter, you'll get something really special this Friday, too.

If I don't talk to you before Thanksgiving, please have a wonderful holiday!

Until next time, WRITE ON!


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

So, I Did the Thing, Bit the Bullet, Whatever, and I'm Writing an Open Letter of Sorts

Hi all! Long time no see, eh? I've been a busy bee, publishing, writing, doing all the things, and setting up my first *gasp* real newsletter. Bet you're all wondering what happened to me, eh? Grab your coffee and settle in. Let's do this thing.

This blog is handy when you need information, and according to one reader, I wasn't doing enough about providing that information. Hence the death of new posts.

I usually don't let comments get to me, but that one was particularly nasty. If you're out there reading this, commenter, congratulations! You won. I stopped blogging altogether. Now where do you get your tips and tricks or general information? Was it worth it, being nasty to someone you don't even know? You not knowing what was going on in MY life at that time and typing out that comment was the literal last straw for me.

My husband was in chemo, and I was dealing with my own medical issues that I'm not going into here because it doesn't matter. I pushed through. I'm still around, just not here where I have to listen to your crap and have no way to block you.

Here I was, busting my fingers each day on a post when I was worn out, taking time to capture screenshots and/or make how-to videos (all free and with no ads, mind you) when it was all I could do to get out of bed and stay that way each day, and I was met with your crappy words.

I can't block you from my blog because you commented here anonymously (and I didn't approve said comment). Way to be brave, hiding behind your computer screen, tearing other people down, and telling them they aren't doing enough for YOU.

But I DO have control over other things: My Facebook (I do love that block feature), my IG (same block feature), and my books. That's where I've been spending my time. Not here, where you can make me feel small.

I DID NOT STOP. I just stopped here.

Now, I've started a newsletter, because I DO miss talking with the people that matter/care and come to me for news and advice on all things bookish.

Guess what? I can block you there, too, and that was my final deciding factor in making one. Oh, and I also got super fit with the time I got back from not blogging, so that's something I guess I should thank you for. #Winning

If y'all have made it this far, thanks for being staunch supporters of my blog (unless you were that commenter). I tried to help others more than I helped myself, and my newsletter will have news from the Indie world, some musings of my own, a great book quote, and information about books that have recently released (mine and others). Perhaps I'll even drop in a review from time to time. Who knows?

You can subscribe here if you're interested.

If not, no hurt feelings, but know I won't be back here unless it's to scream about my new releases, and ALL comments will be turned off on ALL posts thereafter. I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.

I wish you all the best.

Jo out.

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Release - The House

Happy Monday, everyone! Today, I bring you the release of THE HOUSE! I'm super excited about this book for several reasons. I'll tell you why, but first, grab your coffee or tea! Got it? Awesome. Let's get going!

We'll start off with some fun facts!
  • This book is written in first person. Not anything you've ever seen from me before (I'm a third-person writer), and it kinda skeers me because I've never done it.
  • It's told from the house's POV, as though the house is speaking to the reader, so it's done as an observer--the house remembering watching the people living inside and telling you the stories.
  • The House is a collection of short stories within one, longer, story.
  • There are five shorts:
    The Butcher
    Fred, Marna, and Kimberly McDade
    Lacy Mae Ritter
    Mark and Olivia Cullpepper
    The Writer
  • Guess who The Writer is!
  • If you guessed Jo Michaels, you'd be correct. Yes, I wrote a book with a story in it about me writing a book for the entity telling us the story.
  • Confused yet? It'll all make sense when you read the book. I promise.
  • Now for the sucky part! I know, I know! Sorry.
  • If you plan to read Intensification (the third story in the Pen Pals and Serial Killers series), you MUST read it first. The House gives too many things away about Intensification. They're tied and twisted together in several ways.
Here's the book trailer!! :D

Now for all the things like details!

Title: The House: A Killer Collection of Short Stories (Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Book Four)
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length: 218 printed pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle  ~  Paperback

This house is cursed, and everyone who lives there is in grave danger.

Ever wonder what stories you’d hear if walls could talk?

What if those walls witnessed unimaginable horrors?

Inside these pages is the story of one such house. What it sees, the people it meets, and what happens when a terrified spirit is invited to stay.

Story 1 – The Butcher
Story 2 – Marna, Fred, and Kimberly McDade
Story 3 – Lacy Mae Ritter
Story 4 – Mark and Olivia Cullpepper
Story 5 – The Writer

The House is a collection of short stories that ties in with the Pen Pals and Serial Killers series by Jo Michaels. You’ll find a couple of those characters named, and discover how one grew the teeth he used on the women he captured later.


Excerpt time!

Story 1 – The Butcher

My yellow paint; pretty, white shutters; and pristine porch were sullied by the first man who dwelt here. I call him The Butcher, but his name was Butch Campion, and he was thirty-seven. His face is one I’ll never forget, and the atrocities he committed are things I still shudder to think about. We met one month after I was born. He walked in, so proud and full of himself, his feet sending vibrations through my floorboards as he tromped through, checking every room like he was planning to bring a whole family in and bring them up. I thought we’d get along famously and was looking forward to warming the feet of small children as they played.

Once the papers were signed, and I was his property, things went well for a month or so. He’d go to work, come home, sit on the threadbare couch, and drink beer. To my chagrin, he didn’t seem to have a wife or children, so there was nothing for me to do during the day except sit here.

It was after that first month that I started to figure he might not be my ideal owner after all. My lawn was never cared for, and the ivy growing nearby was allowed to spring up, threatening to take over the cute porch the builders thought to add. Butch would go out and bring home booze of some kind, cigarettes, and fast food. He never cooked, and he left wrappers and empty boxes all over the place, making me smell like a trash can. Roaches scuttled in, intent on a good meal, and he’d squish the ones he saw, leaving their carcasses to decompose where they met their gruesome end.



Are you ready?

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!