A Year of Liam Conversations

I started to write a big introduction about how wonderful he is and how almost 9 years of marriage has been magical. Mostly, it’s been hilarious. I share the funniest (and most PC) stuff on Facebook, so I decided to scroll back through some of the conversational highlights of 2014. So, instead of going on and on about him, let’s just giggle.

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Happy holidays!

9 Christmas Songs That Won’t Annoy You

I just got done reading a blog about the “most annoying Christmas songs,” many of which I agreed with. Still, ‘tis the season and all that. I’d rather be jolly than annoyed, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites—at the very least, my favorite versions of some popular ones. When I set my Spotify to “private session,” there’s a good chance I’m listening to one of these songs, and I will be until the New Year.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas | Swear and Shake

Surprise! There’s a Swear and Shake song on this list. Who knew? But for real. Listen to Kari’s caramel vocals, the happy banjo, the festive uke. Who could hate Christmas while listening to this?

Underneath the Tree | Kelly Clarkson

Someone needed to knock Mariah Carey of the Christmas Pop throne. I love that Kelly Clarkson did it with this song. Will I hate it in ten years after it’s been overplayed and overperformed on every Christmas special ever? Maybe. But for now, it makes me smile.

I Never Spend a Christmas That I Don’t Think of You | The Statler Brothers

Guys. Bring this Christmas album back now. I grew up listening to this group with my family while traveling to various family holiday functions. The nostalgia is strong with this one.

Fairytale of New York | The Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl

Probably the most depressing Christmas song on the planet. But let me tell you, you haven’t experienced Christmas until you’ve seen a full, rowdy Irish pub come to a complete standstill the moment this song begins to play.

It’s Christmas Time Again | Matthew Mayfield

Mostly I love this one because it’s Christmas Matthew Mayfield style. Since I love his music and I love Christmas, getting them both together in one song is a pretty exciting gift.

It’s Christmas, I Love You | Daniel Ellsworth and Alva Leigh

Again, who’s surprised? Daniel Ellsworth on another “Jen’s favorite music” list. Well, I love his stuff for a reason, and this is epic Ellsworth. Fun, funny, quirky, intelligent, Christmas. What’s not to love?

Over the River | The Last Bison

I love that this folk band doesn’t try to hide or downplay their classical roots. Instead, they fold it right in, the way our ancestors surely did. It’s a study of the past, present, and future of music, and then, of course, there’s Christmas.

The Lights and Buzz | Jack’s Mannequin

It’s a few years old, but I’m still not tired of it. Maybe because I only listen during Christmas, or maybe because it’s Jack’s Mannequin. Either way, it’s a nice addition to the playlist, and a break from all the same ol’ songs.

Cuddle Up | Catey Shaw

This is less a Christmas song and more a winter song, but it’s cold outside. Her voice is adorable, and I can’t get enough of the bouncy beat. It’s perfect for invoking thoughts of lit trees, hot chocolate, and Christmas movies.

So, how many will you add to your Christmas list? What’s your favorite Christmas song this year? I wanna know!

Big Thanks to Biblio Cast!

On Saturday, I had the privilege of speaking with Don Theo III at Bibliocircus for their first Biblio Cast. This was especially fun for me, since Don and I went to high school together. We talked about Going Under: The Oracles of St. Ambrose, specifically how Chase Bradford is a “fish out of water” for most of the book. It’s a feeling we were both familiar with.

If you missed your chance to listen along, you can catch the podcast by following the link below. Huge thanks again to Don and Bibliocircus for hosting me.

Biblio Cast.

WHY Women Over 30 Should Stop Wearing These Things

A few days ago, this little article tripped its way through my Facebook feed a few times, so I clicked. I fell prey to the bait. The idea behind the blog is that women over a certain age should stop wearing particular items because, well, we’re just too damn old. Ridiculous. The more I thought about each thing on the list, the more I asked myself WHY we have to stop wearing them. With that question in mind, I went back through and realized there are some valid reasons, maybe, that a woman shouldn’t wear these things over the age of 30.

Leopard print

Sure, I guess a woman over thirty should stop wearing leopard print if the print is MADE OF REAL LEOPARD FUR. But only then, and only if you’re morally opposed to fur or allergic to cats.

Sparkly pants

The real danger with sparkly pants is a sunny day. These things, while cute on woman of any age, could potentially blind someone. On a cloudy day? Go for it.

Oversized sunglasses

If it’s not sunny outside, wear the sparkly pants but leave the oversized sunglasses at home. Otherwise, wear any old size sunglasses you want. It’s your face, your eyes, and your fashion sense.

Non-matching socks

Come on. You’re gonna have boots on anyway, so who really cares? There is absolutely no reason you can’t wear non-matching socks. Ever. Go mix ‘em up right now if that’s your thing.

Hoop earrings

Don’t ever, ever wear hoop earrings if you’re allergic to the metal.

Furry boots

With winter coming? Furry boots are a must. Only, they’re not a smart idea around my house because Hurley thinks they’re other animals and attacks. My personal choice is not to wear them because I don’t want my feet to be chew toys. No attack dogs in your house? NO REASON NOT TO WEAR THEM.

Furry anything

Look, people started wearing fur because it was warm and necessary. If you’re cold, wear fur. If you live in the tropics, it’s probably not necessary.

Tube tops

I have no justification for this. But still, if you like it, wear it.

Short dresses

Most of the United States will be in a polar vortex for a majority of the winter. That’s a pretty good reason not to wear short dresses. But if you’re impervious to the cold, show those legs.

Mini skirts

Again, cold. But if you wear furry boots and furry other things, you might just stay warm enough.


Um, I suppose if you’re not a farmer, you could do without these. But maybe you are a farmer. Or an Osh Kosh B’Gosh model. Or maybe you just like them. Seriously, wear the overalls.

Crop Tops

Ever sat in a chair that’s really cold? With a crop top, that cold hits right in the middle of your back. If that kind of thing bothers you, don’t wear a crop top.

American Eagle

Hey, even this snarky blog said their jeans fit perfectly. Do what you want.

Booty shorts

Definitely don’t wear these if you’re going to a job interview. Unless your interview is at Hooters. I don’t judge.

Old sneakers

Now this is ridiculous. Putting on your favorite busted tennis shoes after a long day in heels is better than a bubble bath. But if you’re about to model the latest Jimmy Choo designs, the Chucks must come off.

Cheap bras

The only reason you shouldn’t wear cheap bras is if you’re planning to go braless. Otherwise, who are we to tell you how much to spend on your unmentionables?

Glitter eyeshadow

If you have sensitive eyes, the glitter might irritate them. Otherwise, glitter eyeshadow is awesome! It covers the fact that you haven’t tweezed your eyebrows in a week.

Platform flip-flops

If you have weak ankles, platform flip-flops are a no-no. I avoid them at all costs, honestly, but I’d rather lose an eye than break my leg again. If you’re a thrill seeker? Go for it.

Abercrombie & Fitch

I agree with this one. Don’t give money to these people. They help perpetuate the myth that only a certain type of woman is beautiful, and you deserve to feel beautiful no matter what.


What’s not to like? They’re easy on your hair, meaning less breakage and smoother cuticle over time. Don’t wear scrunchies if you prefer the free-flowing mermaid look. Wear them if you’re dressing as Cyndi Lauper for Halloween. Actually, wear them whenever the hell you feel like pulling your hair out of your face. It’s your damn hair. (Thanks, Jasmine, for this contribution.)

So, yeah. I say women have a right to feel comfortable and beautiful in whatever they’re wearing, whatever others might say or think. Don’t let a snarky article make you feel like less. As long as you like it (and can deal with the consequences of wearing it), no one should tell you otherwise.

Why Halloween Is a Nightmare on Elm Street for Introverts

Someone just asked me what we plan to do this evening for Halloween, and my knee-jerk reaction was “Turn off the porch lights, lock the door, and pretend we aren’t home.” I have nothing against Halloween, or kids, or giving away candy. When I was a kid, I didn’t take issue with getting free candy. I just rarely take part in the whole giving/taking free candy, and for one very good reason: I’m an introvert.

The Three Times I Remember Trick-or-Treating

Aside from a ridiculous blitz of my neighborhood as a senior in high school and a scavenger hunt in college, I stopped knocking on people’s doors for free candy at a pretty young age. What I do remember about Halloween went a little something like this:

Age 6

“Well, hello there! And what is your Halloween costume this year?”

“I’m a cat.”
“Are you now? Can you meow for me like a cat?”


Age 7

“Oooh, and what is this cute rock star doing at my door?”

“Trick or treat.” (Shakes bag of candy meaningfully and stares over shoulder at Mom.)

Age 8

“Well, this is a creative costume! Did you make it yourself?”


“And did Mommy and Daddy help?”


“I suppose you want some candy, huh?”


I’m sure I went along with my sister and little friends to houses around town after that, but the story was always the same. I didn’t want to show off or do twirls. I didn’t want to explain my costume, which should have been obvious, anyway. I just wanted to grab my candy and go.

The One Time I Remember Passing Out Candy

As an adult, I got excited about the first Halloween when I’d hand out candy. Surely this would be different, right? I bought piles of it, ready to pass out to kids in the neighborhood, excited to see all the costumes and watch their faces light up when I gave them the good stuff.

Darkness crept in, and I turned on the front porch light. I sat on the couch, waiting for the doorbell to ring. With each passing minute, my stomach squirmed more. I was excited! Or scared? Yeah, maybe scared.

Finally, someone knocked, and I jumped to my feet. When I pulled open the door, a huge group of kids stood with bags and buckets at the ready.

“Trick or treat!” they chorused.

“Hi!” I said.

“I’m a lion!”

“I’m a tiger!”

“I’m a bear!”

Oh, my. I had no idea what to say. Each kid took his turn explaining his costume. Parents huddled at the end of the sidewalk, watching the whole interaction with expectant faces.

“That’s…nice. Here’s your candy.”

I waved, shut the door, turned off the porch light, and spent the next two weeks eating candy.

And then a married a guy just like me. So, that’s why we’re not doing anything. We’ll turn on a scary movie, or maybe just a rerun of Criminal Minds. We’ll leave the door shut, the lights off, and shush the dog if someone dares to knock anyway.


11 Songs that Should Have Hit Number 1 Before Taylor Swift’s Track 3

Look, we all make mistakes. The problem with Taylor Swift’s mistake is that she and her record company made millions of dollars and probably pissed millions of people off.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it goes like this: She released an album with a fake-out track—Track 3—which consisted of 8 seconds of static. That’s it. And it charted. In fact, it hit number one on the Canadian iTunes chart. Guys. NUMBER ONE. FOR 8 SECONDS OF STATIC.

Do you know how many bands out there put out fantastic music and never once see their names on bestseller charts? It’s a lot. A LOT. So, I thought I’d share with you 11 songs that should have topped the charts before Taylor Swift’s Track 3. I mean, really, every song in the world should have, but these are some beautifully crafted pieces of music that deserve the accolades Swift’s 8 seconds of static is getting.

Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes Sun Goes Out

Swear and Shake Like You Do

Bobby Long Devil Moon

The Shins Simple Song

Johnny Flynn Lost and Found

Keri Noble Dancing in the Morning

Kiernan McMullan Can’t Sit Still

Various Cruelties Chemicals

Kate Tucker Where Are You

Jukebox the Ghost Girl

Colony House Keep On Keeping On

Now YOUR turn. Which songs would you have liked to see on the charts before Track 3?

ETA: Looks like iTunes may have been responsible for the glitch, but Swift and Company haven’t commented yet.

Early Praise for The Morning Star!

So, since the slightly early release of The Morning Star for Kindle, a few reviews have come in. I thought I’d share some of my favorite lines with you!

Between an incredibly likable female protaganist and her oh-so-desirable fairy king boyfriend, you’ll be swept away into an entirely believable fantasy. As Lily begins college at Julliard, she struggles with normal problems, like bullies in her classroom and the fact that an evil fairy queen is after her. Well, maybe some of her problems aren’t so ordinary. But this definitely isn’t an ordinary book, either.  – Amazon reader


The long-awaited sequel to The Kingdom certainly doesn’t disappoint. – Goodreads reviewer


I loved how Jennifer pulls the Irish legends into America. It makes Ireland seem closer to home. I loved this story and could not put it down. I read it straight through. – Goodreads reviewer


Yay! Thanks so much to those who left lovely words about the book. I’m so glad to share these thoughts with all of you. If you’re waiting for the print version, no worries. The proof arrives this week, so it will be available soon!


The Morning Star Is (Almost) Here!

Wow. Well, this post has been a long time coming. I finished my first draft of The Morning Star back in 2010. Words flowed like water, and I finished the manuscript in less than three months. During my first round of edits, my laptop was stolen, along with the manuscript. Guys, I hadn’t backed up my story. All I had were bits and pieces I’d shared with my critique circle, but that didn’t even equal 5,000 words. I pretty much had to start over.

The second time through was much harder. Not only did my heart break every time I sat down to write, but I also couldn’t remember some of the amazing plot points I’d introduced (or solved) during my first go-round. I struggled through the second draft over the course of a year and a half, writing and rewriting as I remembered some of the more important details. In the meantime, I managed to write two other books straight through (and back them up DAILY to avoid further heartbreak), but The Morning Star was always there, screaming silently that it just wasn’t complete. A good friend talked me through some of the ideas I’d shared with her and reminded me of one I was so, so, so excited about, and that was it. I had the rest of the book.

Now, it’s here, finally. The second writing was brutal, but I feel the story is so much stronger. With the additional time, I was able to really flesh out some of the story, eliminate things that don’t matter in the long run, and really do Lily and Rioghan justice. I have to thank some INCREDIBLE people for their help in this journey – people who may not even realize how much they helped. As always, Melissa Fox, for her open and honest editing and her amazing friendship. Tiff Nichols, for always knowing where the commas go (and don’t go). Eva, Niki, Steph, and Gen for keeping me excited. And Grant Gill for this amazing cover.



The official release date is October 20, just in time for Halloween. That’s perfect, because this time, Lily and Rioghan investigate some American legends, like the Headless Horseman, and travel New England in the fall. I hope you’ll mark your calendars and pick up your copy when it becomes available. As always, it will be for sale on Amazon first, but you’ll eventually be able to get it from any of your favorite booksellers – both print and electronic.

Five Whole Books for .99!

The Oracles of St. Ambrose: Going Under is part of a five-book anthology, Bewitched Beginnings. The whole anthology is only .99 for a week. That’s five whole YA paranormal and fantasy books for less than one dollar. Click the cover below to buy!

bewitched beginnings


Bewitched Beginnings: Five full length YA Paranormal novels included in one bundle. Delve into the supernatural worlds created by Angel Lawson, Magan McMinimy, Jennifer M. Barry, Erin Danzer and Sharon Rose Mayes and follow the stories of strong young men and women as they hold their own against the forces of nature.


Wraith by Angel Lawson


Freak. Weird. Crazy. These are the names tossed around seventeen-year old Jane Watts by her fellow classmates. But things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes there’s a reason for talking to yourself in the hallway at school.

Jane struggles with adjusting to her new home and school after an abrupt move. She wants one thing in life—to be like everyone else at school, but that’s hard to do when you’re the new kid. But she does manage to make one friend, Evan—he’s sixteen, charming, and protective. Everything a girl could want in a best friend…with one minor caveat.

He’s dead.

Caught somewhere between life and death, Evan is tied to Jane and the living world unable to complete the journey to the other side. She thinks he’s here to be her friend, to take care of her, and that’s why no one can see or hear him.

That is until a new boy shows up at school after a rumored stretch in Juvie. Connor can see Evan and he’s not convinced the ghost is being completely honest. From his own experience ghosts tend to need something from the humans they connect to and Evan, despite his arguments isn’t any different.

Jane is resentful of Connor’s intrusion but realizes soon enough he’s right. Evan has secrets about his past and not only did his life end tragically but members of his family are still in danger. Jane must face her fears and battle Evan’s human demons to free both of them.


Going Under by Jennifer M. Barry


Chase Bradford, king of New York City’s high school elite, is dragged to Nashville for his senior year at St. Ambrose Academy. On his second day, the Queen Bee is found dead in the school swimming pool. Chase isn’t surprised, since he saw a vision on the water’s surface during swim practice just hours before Cheyenne died.

Before Chase can properly freak out, he discovers snarky writer Natalie and narcoleptic computer genius Bryan also possess unusual abilities. The three must work together to discover how Cheyenne died and why…before the killer can get away with it. But Natalie and Bryan are from different social circles and pose a threat to Chase’s elite status. High school politics are nothing new to Chase, but the psychic abilities are.

The list of suspects isn’t surprising, since few people actually liked the popular queen of the elite. Chase, Natalie, and Bryan follow every vision, every lead – even Cheyenne’s own father – right up to the shocking end.


Twins of Aurora by Magen McMinimy


Life seems relatively normal for eighteen-year-old Avalina, who spends most of her time hanging out with her outspoken best friend, Jess, her twin brother, Aiden, and his best friend, Nick. Avalina fights against the overwhelming crush she has on Nick, harassment from her cruel ex-boyfriend, and an over protective brother while trying to make it through her senior year of high school.

Their lives are forever changed when the mysterious Araios, who looks remarkably like Nick, appears at a party in their sleepy little town in Northern Idaho. Araios holds secrets Avalina has long forgotten, secrets of a past based in a world of magic, mythical creatures and a royal lineage.

Follow the group of friends as they travel through this thrilling new world while Avalina learns to control the magic she needs to save everyone from the darkness that threatens to destroy Aurora and all who live within it.


Into the Spiral by Erin Danzer


Being struck by lightning is just the beginning…

Seventeen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.

Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.


Blood Pact by Sharon Rose Mayes


Riley Spencer has spent most of her life doing what is normal for her: attending school, spending time with her mother, and training to hunt vampires. It was how she grew up as part of the organization and when Nick comes to town and joins her team everything changes. Now Riley and the rest of her team begin to question everything they have learned about vampires and the organization that trained them to hunt the vampires that hide in the world.


Win a Kindle Fire!

You can win a Kindle Fire just by telling others about Bewitched Beginnings. The link for the Rafflecopter is below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway