7 Quick Takes about books, Instagram stalking, and cat videos because I’m short on time

November 8, 2013 | 26 comments

— 1 —

Things are heating up with the book! I sent the acknowledgements in earlier this week, they’re typesetting it next week, and I just got word that it is officially scheduled for a Spring 2014 release, and will likely be available for pre-order in December. I should have the all-clear to show you the cover any day (and have warned Ignatius that my self control is running low and there may be an accidental Twitter upload if I’m asked to wait much longer).

For most of this year, I would often go a week or two without hearing anything about the book at all. Now, almost every day there’s something I need to do or an email to reply to that’s related to the book, which I take as a sign that we’re getting close. This is so exciting!

— 2 —

Speaking of which, if my post seems short today it’s because I just found out that I need to cut my acknowledgements section in half due to space constraints. In my publisher’s defense, what I turned in was kind of long. Or, really long. Okay, I pretty much wrote a sentence extolling the virtues of everyone I’ve ever met (and a few people I haven’t).

I don’t know if this is a personality quirk or something that would be stressful to anyone, but the idea of cutting my acknowledgments section by 50% is just agonizing. The thought that I might forget to mention someone who helped me through this process — or not having the space to rave about how much I appreciate them — is the kind of thing that people like me lie awake agonizing about for very long periods of time. So my post today will be a bit short so that I can get back to that (agonizing about it, not working on it).

— 3 —

We all need to finish up our winter reading early and clear off our calendars starting in March, because Spring is going to be a huge season for book releases. A bunch of friends and friends-of-friends are releasing books within a few weeks of mine: Melanie Shankle, Lisa-Jo Baker, Tsh Oxenreider, The Nester, and Elizabeth Esther all share Spring release dates for their new titles. It’s like Santa Claus is coming with a bag full of goodies, and he knows that people who love memoirs by bloggers have been really, really good this year.

— 4 —

I think that I’ve become the creepy stalker woman of Instagram. I keep following people who have no idea who I am and only have like 10 followers and probably would prefer that only friends and family and non-internet-weirdos follow their posts, all because I’m addicted to having a bunch of photos from really cool places in my feed.

It all started when I noticed that you can click on the location where a picture was taken, and then see all the other pictures that were taken at that same location:



Now it’s become a personal contest to seek out the most hidden, exotic places in the world, see who is taking pictures there at any given moment, then follow them all to see where they go next!

(This is why people like me should not have internet connections.)

— 5 —

The other day I mentioned to Yaya, my Southern Baptist mother-in-law, that I was going up to the church for confession. She was curious about the concept, and we ended up discussing it for a while. She said she’d often thought of what I told her after my first confession, about the power of verbalizing your sins for someone else to hear. She considered it for a moment and said, “I guess I could go up there and do that. Although I think the people would be shocked by what I have to say!”

Evidently the impression I gave is that Catholics stand up in front of the congregation and shout a list of their sins for the entire church to hear. I laughed for a very long time when I imagined that that’s what she thought I was doing all those times I went down to the parish to “go to confession.”

— 6 —

I finally created a “Best Of Blog Comments” folder. I get so many fascinating / hilarious / insightful responses that I’ve been meaning to do it forever, and now it’s all set up. In case you’re wondering which comment finally pushed me over the edge, it was this one from Lynne, in response to a post where I talked about my toddler loudly demanding wine in the grocery store:

The screaming for wine made me laugh. It reminds me of a time my (then) 2 yo (now 23) was misbehaving in Target. I gave him a swat on the bottom (discreetly and gently, of course) and he began to scream, “Don’t spank my p#nis!” Repeat that ten times in a screaming voice in the middle of Target sometime and notice how the world seems to be whirling in a collapsing vortex with you at the center. My mother’s wise words to me? “That’s what you get for teaching him that word!”

I tried to read the sentence about the world whirling in a collapsing vortex to Joe, but each time I ended up gasping and laughing so hard that I couldn’t speak. Finally I had to just push my laptop over and let him read it for himself.

Thanks for being so awesome that I need a “Best of Comments” folder, guys.

— 7 —

Let’s start the weekend with pets in small spaces, shall we?




  1. Kendra

    My book (about confession for kids) should be coming out from Ignatius/Magnificat in early 2014 as well! I’m pretty sure I hear from them less than you do . . . 🙂

  2. Melody

    I’m so excited for your book to be out soon! I can’t wait to read it. The confession take above is awesome. As a non-Catholic, lately I have decided it would be pretty cool to experience a liturgical year. So I’m going to try out some Episcopal and Catholic churches around here and maybe go to one for a while…maybe I’ll learn all kinds of new things about confession and stuff, too! 😉

  3. Michelle

    Love the comment. I decided after reading one of Popcak’s books to teach my twin boys the “proper name” instead of wee wee and for good reason. So I said to one of them the name and he then asks, as he points to his rear end, “Is this my buttness?” I had such a laugh over that one.

    Love that Yaya too!

  4. Tracie

    I am now on my way to become a creepy location-stalking woman on Instagram. The ability to find pictures by location is something I didn’t know about. How fun!

    “That’s what you get for teaching him that word” is totally something my mother would say to me. Great comment!

  5. TheresaEH

    Thank you for the video ;D You need to call your wine, juice like Grace Patton does !!!! ;p

  6. Kathryn

    Jen, I am so excited about your book. Your hard work is bearing fruit – how awesome! And, that Instagram tip is genius. GENIUS! Have an awesome week.

  7. Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy I put my cup of tea down BEFORE I read about your mother-inlaws vision of Catholic confession!


    Though you could tell her, that is how it was done in the early Church. Public confession was the norm for a very, very long time in the Catholic Church. I am SO glad that changed!


  8. Tammy

    Is there any chance you will ever post the best of comments folder so we can all read it? I am experiencing just a tweak of book-envy, but Im going to get over it because in reality, I don’t think writing a book is God’s will for me, so Im not gonna do it, besides, I don’t have the needed attention span : D

  9. Juliana

    RE: Confession. That is actually how the early church did it–you got up in the nave and announced your sins to the community and then received absolution. Personally, I would find that terrifying and hard. I find going to confession with the priest hard enough!

  10. Amelia

    Yaya’s vision of confession is hysterical! Oh my word…although I think they actually do that in some churches (like I think I read that the Amish or something might confess their sins publicly).

  11. Smoochagator

    OH MY GOODNESS. I don’t find that Target spanking comment funny, I find it TERRIFYING! Because I can totally imagine the feeling of the world whirling into a life-sucking vortex around me. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

    And I LOVE that video. Why are pets so insistent on getting into tiny spaces? Don’t they freak out? Is claustrophobia unique to human beings? And why is it SO FUNNY to see a big fluffy cat in a tiny box? Deep thoughts on a Friday morning.

    Oh! And your tip may have revolutionized my Instagram experience. I found most of my IG “friends” by clicking on hashtags to see who has posts photos similar to mine (#dogsofinstagram, #catsofinstagram, #clothdiapers, #babygram, #art, et cetera) but now that I know I can find people by location, I’ll be able to waste even MORE time on that app! Thanks, Jen!

  12. Michelle

    Congratulations! That is super exciting! I would love to write a book or be part of a book when God provides the opportunity! My book club is reading “Sex, Style and Substance”. We just started it yesterday, and everyone enjoyed the first chapter written by you! We all loved how ‘real’ you were!

  13. Katrina

    Ha! I read the comment to Chris this morning and his response to the kid’s reaction was, “Game, set, match.” Oh my goodness, I can so see Ryan proclaiming that since he notifies me of his body part at every bathing.

    I’m with you on the Instagram stalking!

  14. Susan

    Confessions and Comments – absolutely hilarious!! I know that the day will come when I will wish I would have written down all of the funny things my kiddos have said over the years. I hope that part of my memory is still in tact when I’m old!

  15. Mary B

    Yaya’s concept is pretty close to what you will see in some, generally very Southern and generally very fundamentalist, Protestant churches. They would likely call it “giving your testimony” instead, but especially new members may be expected to stand up in front of the entire church, give a litany of all their sinful behavior in the past and then tell how they were saved. I have a very good friend who was having a major struggle with this recently as she was joining a church of this type and some of the issues she was expected to share with the whole congregation were things that one might not really want everyone to know about, say, ones marriage, as an example.

    Even the Southern Baptists used to get in on the act sometimes. My mom’s uncle, got “churched” (i.e. thrown out of the congregation) for playing minor league ball on Sundays. To get accepted back into the congregation after being churched, you had to stand up in front of the congregation, confess whatever misdeed got you in trouble with the church, and then promise not to do it any more. As far as I know, he never did.

    This may have something to do with why most of us ended up being Episcopalians.

  16. Hannah

    I thought that a lot of Southern Baptist (at least the services I have attended) had altar calls where you would confess to a minister your sins…

  17. Lynne

    I’m so excited for your book, and for you to be able to do this, and for the end of your efforts to be near, and that you are having a cool life “moment”. Now maybe you’ll be rich and can take a family vacation to Bora Bora, which is the tropical place I fantasize about.

    What does it say about me and my life that getting a mention here brought tears to my eyes? You’ve written a book. I’ve written a comment. I’m just wondering if Joe found it anticlimactic after that build-up.

  18. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    Chiming in with all the others excited about your book. You know what I really love, though, is your excitement for all the ladies you know who are also publishing books. I’ve been reflecting on encouragement vs. competition quite a bit this week with some things going on at work, and we need more encouragement and less measuring up. Love it.

    I read that comment on your post a while back, too and almost peed my pants laughing. My mom had a friend years ago whose daughter was trying to get her way about something in the store and on being told no yelled out “stop touching my vagina!” Yeah, I’m guessing the mom felt about the same way as they walked out of the store. Crazy kids…

  19. Megan Marie

    I always feel weird following other bloggers on Instagram….but when you followed me back, it made my day! I felt like I’d been followed by a celebrity….it was a pretty awesome day for me : )

  20. Tori

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that video. I really needed that 🙂

  21. J.R. Baldwin

    I think you should share the best comments!

  22. Theresa Sismilich

    The story of the woman in the grocery store reminded me of an embarrassing moment of my own with my eldest son who is now 30. He was a very verbal child at an early age but had difficulty pronouncing the letter s. He tended to substitute the letter “f” for “s”. He was probably 2-ish and we were in the drug store waiting for a prescription to be filled. So I walked around with him in the cart to pass the time. We approached an end cap of lollipops and soon my son was shouting, “Mommy, look at all the _uckers!” You never saw me move down an empty aisle so fast in your life! And that’s the truth of it!

  23. Erika Marie @ Simplemama

    I’m so excited about your book! Can’t it be March already?

  24. Lynne

    Jen, This maybe be one of those things that everyone’s been looking at for three years, but I just saw it and it’s the most adorable set of baby photos ever!! This woman takes her sleeping baby and creates fantastical scenes around him. Another item in the category of “something to do when you have nothing more pressing to do”–which may be never! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.272737989465111.65505.267308623341381

  25. Dorothy

    Aww, bummer, I missed the linkup time! Ah well.

    Definitely going to go check out that blog comment section! I love sass and awkward situations. Speaking of which…

    My little brother, when he was about 3, would not stop shouting, “OI! That’s gotta HOIT!” over and over again while riding in the shopping cart through the commissary. Not nearly as bad the Target situation, but talk about inexplicable – he had never been exposed to that kind of accent. She had so many stares…

  26. Micaela @ California to Korea

    A very belated comment: I just finished reading Our Lady of Kineho by Immaculee Ilibagiza and her acknowledgments are several pages long- at least 5! I would have the same problem as you’re having.

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