Category Archives: No1Jenn

Advice For Writers From Literary Agents

Jenn Sheppard:

And if you get any constructive criticism, do not be defensive and shrug it off—see if you can use it to make your pitch better. So many people give up after a few rejections. Keep the process moving by honing your letter as well as your manuscript/book proposal. And stay positive! This is a hard one, I know, but bitter and frustrated authors send out that vibe and I can always sense it–in person and even in query letters. You are selling your project, so sell it with a smile on your face.”

Originally posted on Writers In The Storm Blog:

Writing on PaperBy Chuck Sambuchino

Literary agents are full of great advice for writers. That’s why, whenever I am concluding an interview with an agent, I always end the encounter by asking “Is there any other piece of advice you’d like to discuss?”

This open-ended question often draws a fantastic answer, as the agent’s most passionate advice will pour out.

That’s why I’ve gone through a whole bunch of literary agent interviews and cobbled together some of the best writing tips that agents have passed on over the years. There was so much good material that I had to break it down into multiple columns. This is Volume I, and you can check out agents’ helpful and inspiring advice below.

And I want to take a moment and say that I’m excited about being a recurring new contributor to Writers in the Storm. You will be seeing more columns from me on…

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My compass

Fill the tank and drive the car
Pedal fast, pedal hard
You won’t have to go that far

These Lady Antebellum lyrics are helping me through some tough times lately, especially the hook: “When it’s all said and done, You can walk instead of run, ‘Cause no matter what you’ll never be alone.”

I came upon some unexpected circumstances and my roommate and I have to move out of the house we just leased in Cape Canaveral. My heart is not right with this loss. Personally, I feel like people have been letting me down left and right and professionally, I feel restless waiting on others to get their act together or I’m just ahead of the curve, like before my time, or I don’t belong here anymore and I’ve reached the glass ceiling in terms of what I can accomplish; maybe I’ve achieved all I can in Florida. So I’m opening myself up to the possibility of settling somewhere else when I used to think I would live in Florida forever. Now I’m not so sure.

Something my dad said recently struck me and made me feel tremendously better immediately (Pops always has a way of doing that!) He said something like, “You know what the best thing about freedom is?” And I looked at him blankly, thinking of a million answers and knowing none of them would be what he was thinking. He answered, “You get to choose who you hang out with.”

So there.

Timing is everything

Last week my sister asked if I would subject myself to any “forced family bonding,” this weekend, to which I agreed, but then Saturday when my dad called and told us that his wife passed away unexpectedly, within a few hours we had hopped in my truck and hit the interstate to Asheville, N.C.


You know what they say, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Pops is doing ok and just glad his girls are here. We’ve been cleaning up the place for him so he can feel comfortable again. Every morning we sit on the couch with our laptops and catch up on the news and gossip. He told me I need to start updating my website more often – “just a sentence or two everyday,” he said.

So, here I am. Yesterday my sister and I ran up and down the mountain road across the street from his house. It’s a mile up and a mile back and probably one of the steepest roads on Earth.

View from the top
View from the top

“The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arise from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost” – Arthur Schopenhauer


The One-Man Rac…

The One-Man Race

Part of the reason why I love wearing my Garmin GPS heart rate monitor watch is so I can compete against myself as explained in this story about “Defeating Your True Competitor.”

You are your own truest competitor in every sense. Every time you approach the starting line, every time you’re facing that barbell, every time they are counting down to the start of a WOD, there is no one else present in that moment except for you. Have the consciousness and frame of mind to literally see it this way and I promise you your performance will drastically improve. Having thoughts of other athletes during competition and training will serve no purpose. They are at best a distraction, and at worst a stressor that can completely take you out of your game.


Right before I interview a racer, I try to read some inspirational stories about athletes or living the dream; today it was, “Why You Should Stop Hacking Your Life and Invest in the Journey.

Now let’s examine what happens when you try to be the very best you can be at something you are inherently passionate about. Suddenly the heart beats faster. The palms begin to sweat. Maybe it’s excitement. But more likely it’s fear. That’s right, fear. Commitment — total dedication to the core — is about as scary as it gets. It’s not just hard. It’s without a doubt the most difficult thing imaginable. Because if you take that risk, truly put yourself completely on the line and fail (or succeed — yes fear of success plagues more than you might imagine), then you will have to reckon with yourself. Terrifying!

Just breathe

 The quieter you become the more you can hear. – Baba Ram Dass

I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga for the past few weeks at a small studio in Merritt Island and I’m hooked! I’ve finally found a place, other than racing through the woods riding my dirt bike, where I have to be completely in the moment and focused on the next posture ahead.  Relaxation is the number one reason why I jumped on the hot yoga train.

1.  Unplug – This class is 90 minutes, all of which are for you – a great escape from the daily rat race. There is no time to think about problems or your ‘to do’ list. You will be 100% focused on your body and your breath.”7aa35af85b78ee70331a7131df7cf97eThis 90-minute hot yoga - The style is practiced in a room well above body temperature (approx. 40.6 degrees Celsius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit - only burns about 300 calories and my heart rate rarely reaches 165, but I’m gaining so much from the classes AND leaving a lot there, too.

“The heat can be intense, however after a few classes it becomes a warm and welcoming sensation; after feeling some of the benefits of heated studios, students come to appreciate the temperature.” 

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 8.52.49 AMMy clothes are completely soaked when I leave (I’m the girl wearing the most clothes sweating profusely.) I’m convinced the hot yoga really helps to loosen up every muscle in your body but it’s especially helping to relieve some of the swelling and leftover pain in my ankle. There’s only one pose of the 26 postures in Bikram Yoga – Fixed Firm  Pose - that I can’t quite get into, yet.




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Minimum wage hike: A weak economic antidote Obama can’t ignore

Jenn Sheppard:

Considering I’m currently working at the local coffee shop for $7/hour plus tips, this minimum wage struggle is real. I am thankful to have more than one income…

Originally posted on Fortune:

Ever since the February 2013 State of the Union address, when President Obama announced his support for a higher minimum wage, the issue has captivated a nation worried over stagnating middle-class wages and income inequality.

It’s no surprise that Democrats across the country have clung to the issue, as it’s quite popular. A CNNMoney poll released Tuesday showed that 71% of Americans favor raising the minimum wage, including 54% of Republicans. Heck, even former Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have come out in favor of raising the wage floor.

But policy experts are less enthusiastic about the move. At a Fortune event on Monday, economists Peter Henry and Glen Hubbard (former Obama and George W. Bush advisors, respectively) agreed that there are more effective ways to help the working poor than raising the minimum wage.

And at a policy speech to business leaders on Wednesday morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew laid out a comprehensive plan…

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May flowers

Well, it’s been more than a month since I blogged because I haven’t really had any time to myself lately. I moved to the coast from the city and I’ve been trying to get settled in a new neighborhood. I also started a part-time job at a local coffee shop since I’m not teaching this summer. My ankle is finally healed to the point where I can run/jog a couple of miles a few times a week.

Yesterday, I raced for the first time since January’s surgery and I’m happy to report that my ankle was the LAST thing on my mind when I was out there. For one, my bike handling skills were a little rusty and this course was loaded with roots and rocks and it really kept me on my toes just trying to keep the bars straight. My hands were the worst though and I had arm pump within a few miles after the start. Thankfully, the course was laid out in my benefit as the last half of each lap was 4 or 5 miles of wide open fields. Toward the end of the  10-mile lap, the course muddied up a bit and I crashed once in a mud hole when I lost control and the bike went sideways. After picking myself up off the ground, I started the bike and was just getting back into my groove when I slipped on some slippery roots and wadded bad, taking a handlebar to the chest and knocking the wind out of me. I thought I was hurt (read: dead), hearing a few cracks as the handlebar crushed into my sternum. Bad thoughts entered my mind but I shrugged it off, moved my shoulders and arms around a bit and took a deep breath – all good!

Handlebar to the chest. It looks better in person.

I picked myself up off the ground AGAIN and vowed not to crash again, rode another lap and a half to the checkered flag. I was able to lead from start to finish and grabbed the win, which was thrilling (even though there were only 2 of us in the class).

Smooth is fast!
Smooth is fast!

Here are the Garmin stats from the race:

I traveled 31.75 miles for a total of 1 hour, 42 minutes and 8 seconds.

I burned 805 calories at an average speed of 18.7 MPH. My max speed was 43.8 MPH!

My average heart rate was 177 BPM and my max was 197!

Click here for a link - Hare Scrambles – Sumterville by no1jenn at Garmin Connect – Details.

Thumbs up for first place!
Thumbs up for first place!