"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pen & Prosper's 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide!

"Tis the season to be jolly!"
And there's no better way to add joy to the holiday than through thoughtful gift giving.
Whether you're in the market for items to present to a fellow writer, or undecided as to what to ask Santa for yourself, today's list has got you covered like a blanket.

In no particular order, here's what Jen recommends to provide "warmth" to those you care about, this winter.


Books are to writers what rain is to plants: they help us grow. And the options are unlimited. Choose from writers' reference guides, romance novels, or even poetry books. You can't go wrong here. If you're seeking guides to help you blog better or earn a bigger income, I hope you'll consider titles from my popular Ebook series. To learn more, or to order, check out what's available here:


Today's journal entry can become tomorrow's blog post, or anthology story, or poetic piece.  And journals are great for both men and women. Need I say more? Score yours at Amazon.com or your local Dollar Tree Store.


This little item packs a lot of punch. I ordered it from Figis.com to provide nature sounds to help improve my quality of sleep on those restless nights.
This multi-media night light features sound effects, an alarm and more.  Sweet dreams to you!


Adult beverages are the perfect accompaniment to holiday dishes and can add more joy to family gatherings. Here's a helpful guide to better inform your choices. 

I love the versatility of decorative throws. And you will too. They can be used to accessorize your home, or to cuddle under while you watch TV and sip tea. I purchased this leopard version to place in my home office to add a little style and oomph. Prices range from about $9.99 to $59.00 in an array of colors, fabrics and sizes.


Teas are economical, reported to have health benefits, and come in an assortment of flavors and herbs. 
I highly recommend Celestial Seasonings.


There's something to be said for the care, time and creativity it takes to give lovin' from the oven.
 I should know; I enjoy making these personal gifts and receiving them.
Make it something chocolate to double the pleasure. For an extra added touch here, it's often nice to bundle them in a pretty basket with specialty coffees and flavored syrups.
Armed with these timely suggestions, you're sure to be a big hit with the family, friends and co-workers on this year's gift list.
"Ugly sweaters" optional.
Here's wishing you and yours a bright, beautiful Christmas filled with your heart's desires.
Thanks so much for your readership and support to Pen & Prosper in 2017.
Please note: I will be on blog break for the holidays until January 16, 2018. 
Your turn.
What's on your wish list this Xmas? What did I miss? 
Anything appeal to you on this list? Curious.
Image credits:
All photos by Jennifer Brown Banks


Friday, December 8, 2017

The 3 R's Series Rocks More Writing Leads & Reads!


How to turn new clients into repeat customers

Choosing a Domain Name for your blog

Become a successful International Freelance Writer

Seeing Beauty in Today's World

5 Savvy ways to make Money with your blog

When is it okay to Write about Personal Stuff?


Writers Helping Writers

Writers' Workshops, Conferences & Programs


Chicago Writers Association*Let's Just Write!




While browsing the vast selection of titles at one of my local video outlets, I came across a movie that definitely had promising potential. This flick featured Vince Vaughn (of which I am a huge fan). 
And it offered a bonus of a fun holiday theme.
How could I go wrong, right?

Read on. 
In the true spirit of couple-dom, Reese Witherspoon and Vaughn end up making the rounds to visit a quartet of relatives for Xmas (hence the title)-- once their exotic vacation plans fizzle out.
In the process, they find their resilience (and commitment) tested through kin-folks who fail to understand the meaning of boundaries and good taste.

Though the storyline was cute and relate-able, it really didn't deliver. 
The "funny" felt forced, and so it ultimately fell short for me.  

In all fairness, there were a few funny scenes and interesting moments, but overall, I wasn't impressed. So, unfortunately I'm gonna have to rate this movie 2.5 stars out of 5.

This wraps up this edition of Pen and Prosper's 3R's series.
Thanks for reading, folks.

Image credits: Popcorn-Pixabay.com
Book- Freedigitalphotos.net

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Food 4 Thought Friday-Be Less Busy!

Life is so uncertain. Unpredictable. Unrelenting in its many lessons.
The last time I published a post here, I was excited about holiday plans, social events, and the anticipation of a big holiday "spread" that would undoubtedly spread my waistline with the ease of butter.
But, I've never really been a calorie counting-salad eating-diet Coke drinking chick.
Why start now?  I was on cloud nine, "as visions of sugar plums danced in my head."

Then it all changed. In 72 hours.
I got a call from my mom that my brother died unexpectedly.
I can't begin to tell you how that rocked my world. How it changed my perspective.

As is human nature, I immediately began to reminisce.  I thought of all the good times.
I remembered all the plans that Pete and I  "tentatively" had, but never quite found the time to get around to.

He loved my cooking! We were supposed to get together at his new place soon, where I would whip up some comfort food and share some laughs.  Also on the list was a plan to attend local real estate seminars (of which we both shared an interest). But, I got busy. And so did he.

I'm sure you can probably relate. In these fast-paced, hectic, demanding times, we find ourselves trying to fit more in than can reasonably be accommodated; particularly if we factor in restful sleep and self-care. But, take it from me, we must make time for family, friends and loved ones.

If I could do things over again, I would do it differently.
Unfortunately, real life doesn't provide a "rewind" button. Bummer.

So, the moral of the story here?
Be less busy. Make sure that your activities and routines reflect your values.
Spend less time on Facebook and more on cultivating real conversations that create real bonds and future memories.

Put your cell phones down at the dinner table.
Cherish each day. Tomorrow is not promised.
And tell those near and dear to you that you love them. While you can.

I love you Peter...Rest in peace.