Tag Archives: book list

ROWdate: Writing, Reading, and the Redhots – Oh My!

It’s officially September, which in my line of work, means it’s Christmas.  I’ve been feeling all nostalgic already for summer.  I know I did accomplish a lot, but I still didn’t get to the full list.  Every summer, I make a commitment to get to the beach and read at least three times.  You know why?  It never happens.  How many times did I get to the beach this summer?  Once.  And I left after only an hour because there were a lot of bees around and the sand was piping hot.

Maybe the beach is overrated.  I like the idea of the beach.  But there’s probably a reason why all of the vacations that Joe and I take are to cities.  We’ve gone to Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Boston, MA, Toronto, Ontario, and this year our road trip.  You don’t see us planning vacations to resorts or taking scuba lessons.  While those sound found, I’m not sure I could handle a whole week of beach life.  I just don’t operate that slow.  You know, island time.

I blame my family.  Look at them.

Ok, I probably coordinated that…  We were in the Tetons, I was feeling epic.

Ok, so ROW80, I’m off of work today and it’s time to Fast Draft!  Since I also have to take my car into the shop, I’m hitting another summer to do and biking to the coffee shop to get my writing done.  See you tweeps at #teamsprinty and #FastDraft today!

Other news, The Redhots kicked off this past friday to a huge success!  Did you miss out?  I won’t hold it against you, just go rectify the situation right now!  It’s not too late to get the cutest redheaded version of Siskel and Ebert tear down and pump back up again the sexy series that’s sweeping the nation:  Fifty Shades of Grey.  So visit Marcia and I and tell us what you think:  50 Shades of Hot?  or 50 Shades of Not?

If you’re up for a readathon, there are several great ones going on.  Great New Books just announced the September book review of Hemingway’s Girl and will be voting soon for the next several months.  We’d love your input on what the hottest books this season include – what do you want to read with us?

Then Jenna at Lost Generation Reader is hosting a Harry Potter Readathon from Sept. 1st – December 15th.  I’ve actually never read any Harry Potter books, so I’m signing up for the first book, just to say that yes I have read Harry Potter.

I finished reading A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain this week and LOVED it!  Never would I have thought that foods like haggis and cobra heart and sheep’s balls would sound delicious.  But reading this book confirmed, once again, that my dream job would be traveling around as Tony’s quirky redheaded counterpart – no real experience, but an eager and gullible partnership could work well.  I also have the travel bug again.  Vietnam and Portugal are placing high at the moment.  Next year…

How is your summer winding down?  Are you looking forward to fall and getting more writing done?  What’s on your autumn reading list?

ROWdate: Where Did All My Summer Go?

I don’t know where this week slipped away to!  I suppose I’ll attack my goals this week like some people recommend ripping off band-aids.  Just do it!


No progress on the WIP.  The only writing I got done was some journaling on my trip (before I forgot it all), three handwritten letters for fun – something I used to do all the time, and preparation of a few blog posts ahead.

What I Did Accomplish:

-Again, I’m announcing the super fun new project that Marcia Richards and I are conspiring on.  It’s called The Redhots, and it consists of two redheads (us) sharing our opinions on everything we think is HOT or NOT!  Tune in this Friday for the first ever episode where Marcia and I discuss the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy.  Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!

-Also, I joined up with five other fabulous writers for an online book club called Great New Books, which is really getting an awesome response from readers so far, so thank you!  Our final days of the August book club pick, The River Witch, is happening now.  Tune in for September’s read, and please share your recommendations with us as well!

-Something else to look forward to:  More Author Interviews!  I’ve been busy reading and preparing interviews and blogs for two writers currently, so soon to be on the way – Michael Perry and Timothy McKinney.

Reading – In the last week, I completed The Devil Colony by DFW Writers Conference Keynote Speaker and NYTBS Author, James Rollins!  Loved this one as it takes place around Salt Lake City, Utah and Yellowstone!  Just started A Cook’s Tour by Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain!

-Writing Plan:  Just today the fabulously funny and intelligent Nigel Blackwell suggested another round of Fast DraftWhile I cannot commit to the full two weeks (being that I work in retail and we’re already planning for Christmas!), I will commit to Fast Drafting practices on the days that I have off to boost the non-existing word count of the present.  Thank you Nigel for the kick in the pants!

That’s what I’m up to!  How about you?  Did the week slip away from you too?  Did you make great progress?  What upcoming events or projects are you excited about?

A ROWdate: What Exactly Have I Accomplished?

Hello ROWers!  Can it be another week has flown by already?!

Well, my ROW goals are as always, ongoing.  But after returning from vacation, I had one busy week to dive back into.  Sadly, no writing got done.  That’s the big focus for this week and I have the next two days off to get crackin’!

Here’s what I have accomplished!

I’m on track with my reading, completing 2 books so far this month!  Hope to get a third, maybe fourth as well. 

I recently finished reading NYTBS author Karen Abbott’s newest book, American Rose:  A Nation Laid Bare, The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee.  Some of you remember that Karen did an interview with me, and I must say, this book is just as great as the last one!  WOW!  I had no idea Gypsy’s story was so sordid and full of survival at the same time.

I also finished Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, a debut novel for the author.  This book was my “I’m in a lot of weddings this summer, someone please commiserate with me!” pick.  Interestingly written.  Not how I expected it to be, but still kept my attention.  It’s as much dating sagas of the girls as it is the weddings they attend.

I did support my fellow ROWers and writers all around!

Tried to catch up on many of the blogs I missed while on vacation.  Cheered some of you on!  But also came across this post by Jenny Hansen of More Cowbell.  Jenny admitted that she, and her writing, were suffering from grief.  While she’s working on her memoir, many emotions surrounding her difficult pregnancy came flooding back.  Her post was one of great vulnerability and honesty, and I truly appreciate her sharing with us so that so many other writers had a place to speak their feelings and know we’re not alone.  She gave that gift to me in this post.  Jenny, thank you.

There is lots of love to go around, check it out!

Drumroll Please:  I successfully officiated the wedding of my best friend!

Photo courtesy Kelly Ottesen Photography

Well, she came out crying, so she totally set me off right at the beginning!  Dang you, Catherine!  But, I regained composure and it was a beautiful ceremony that demonstrated their love for one another the whole day through.  Both Cat and Aaron’s family invited me in as one of them and it was a full day’s celebration with delectable food, games, and even horseback rides!

Congrats to my best friend and her new husband!  So happy for you guys!

Other News and Announcements!

I’m so excited to share with you all now the two new adventures I’ll be taking on!  Many of you know and read about the end of The Life List Club, co-founded by myself and the talented Marcia Richards.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to maintain enough contributing writers with everyone’s crazy schedules, so for now we put that blog to rest.  But Marcia and I are busy bodies to the core and couldn’t dream of not hanging out together!  Seriously, we’d be heartbroken.

Sooo, after some fun brainstorming sessions, I’m pleased to announce that Marcia and I will be starting up a monthly column, so to speak, called The Redhots!  It’ll be news, reviews, and interviews coming at you live from two of your favorite redheads! 😉  You can see Marcia’s intro to it here, and I promise to get mine up and running tomorrow!  We’ll be kicking off our column on August 31st with a review of Fifty Shades of Grey!

And that’s not all…

While on vacation, I was contacted by the lovely Jennifer Lyn King and Nina Badzin to be a contributing writer for a hot new blog called Great New Books.  We’re actually starting up an online book club!  We’re discussing one book – which you the readers vote for – for a whole month!  We’ll have discussion questions, interviews, and giveaways and are always looking for your recommendations.  All the books we read will be published within the last year, so we’re going to give you the scoop on what’s new that you just have to get!

Ok, that’s all folks!  How is your week going?  Hope you got more writing done than I!  Have a fabulous weekend!

How Important is a Book Cover? Guest Post by Marcia A Richards

Hi, All! I’m filling in for Jess while she and Joe are out west on a well-deserved vacation. She’d better bring back a ton of pictures to share, right?

Jess does a lot of amazing book reviews here and we even get to meet an author now and then! That girl reads A LOT! So, in keeping with the theme of book reading, here are a few questions for you.

Do you read the blurbs on the book covers? Do you look at the publisher’s name, read the excerpt? Do you read the bits of book reviews on the cover?

Before eReaders became popular, the book cover was the conveyance of the main character or the tone of the book. The colors, the font and the images all melded into a message. It was how we knew if the book was right for us.

Walking into a bookstore or library transported me into a magical world of hushed voices, the scent of paper and ink, the visions of the authors’ imaginations. That world always promised a happy experience.

Today with many bookstores closing due to the popularity of eReaders and digital books, our children or grandchildren may never have that same experience unless we take them to a library.

Now that all eReaders present in color, we can see the beautiful book covers, teeny tiny as they are, and read the blurbs and review quotes. We can let the message of the cover flow through us, just as if we were physically standing in front of the bookshelf.

But do you still go looking for the cover on your eReader? Or do you read the synopsis and purchase the book based on that and price alone?

What is it about a book cover that attracts you? Is it the color or the image that draws you in?

For me, it’s the subconscious message the cover conveys. I get the feel of the book from the images and it gives me context.

Here are some examples of covers that spoke to me so loudly I had to buy the book:





What book covers have WOWed you? Do you need to see the cover before you buy?

If the cover isn’t important to you now, was it important before eReaders and what does that say about the effect of technology on us?

Marcia Richards is the author of Marcia Richards’ Blog…Sexy. Smart. From The Heart. Marcia writes about women, history, and the path to realizing your dreams. She has a Historical Trilogy and a collection of Short Stories in progress. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing with the grandkids or her husband, traveling or turning old furniture into works of art. She believes there is always something new to learn.

Come hang out with Marcia at: http://twitter.com/MarciaARichards or http://facebook.com/MarciaARichards .

Visit Marcia at: http://Marcia-Richards.com

A ROW Review

How can another week have possibly flown by again?!  I’m losing my summer days much too quickly!  This past week and the remainder of it has been CRAZY!

The Goals: 

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 4-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in 5 days, so I will need to get blog posts prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

The Progress (or Lack Thereof…)

  • No writing on the WIP.  I did however do SOME writing in my limited free hours to get blog posts prepped ahead AND exciting news:  prepare the ceremony for my best friend’s wedding!  Yep, you heard me right!  Yours truly, is an ordained minister!  I’ll be performing their wedding 5 days after I get back from vacation!

(Considering I made her cry when I read her what I’d written, I’d say I’m on the right track!  Let’s just hope I don’t cry, or I’ll be dubbed the Blubbering Vicar of Wisconsin!)

Me and my bestie, Cat, at our co-hosted Oscar Party last February! She’ll be the one in white at the wedding. 😉

  • I started On Writing by Stephen King, but then it was due back at the library and I couldn’t renew it.  So, I’ve decided to just go buy that one sometime this week!
  • I did finish reading These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf and I loved it!  So I definitely finished 3 books this month.  I’m now starting American Rose and Girls in White Dresses, which you can see on Goodreads by clicking their images in the sidebar.
  • In regards to preparing for summer vacation, that’s what I’ve been doing in most of my free time this week.  I did laundry, am 85% packed, practiced setting up the tent with Joe, went grocery shopping, and made a trip to Madison, WI where I picked up a really nice camera from my brother so I can bring you all back some sweet photos from Yellowstone!  (And oh yah, for those of you who think I’m accident prone, I made my own First Aid Kit!)  
  • No progress on the Suze Orman book.  HOWEVER…This must go announced:  I am officially DONE paying my student loans!!!  I got my confirmation e-mail yesterday!  Thanks to all of you who sent me congratulatory tweets!!!
  •   I’m of the opinion that one can always do more, so I will keep trying to get to more than just my assigned ROW blogs.  I’m loving meeting all of you and am SO IMPRESSED with your tenacity and unyielding determination towards your goals.  Keep it up, peeps!


How is your ROW week going?

A Review of Anna Quindlen’s Blessings


I just finished reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen.  My mom bought me this book for Christmas, and I admit, I wasn’t so sure I’d like it.  I had recently read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, and I was afraid the stories sounded too similar.  But I was way wrong.

I picked up the title again as part of this year’s To Be Read Pile Challenge, and I ended up loving Blessings.  If I had to describe the book as a food, I’d call it a soup book.  It’s a feel good kind of story.  It’s a tale of friendships, unlikely ones, and the bizarre and unplanned events that take place in our lives.

The Goodreads synopsis:

Late one night, a teenage couple drives up to the big white clapboard home on the Blessing estate and leaves a box. In that instant, the lives of those who live and work there are changed forever. Skip Cuddy, the caretaker, finds a baby girl asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep the child . . . while Lydia Blessing, the matriarch of the estate, for her own reasons, agrees to help him. “Blessings” explores how the secrets of the past affect decisions and lives in the present; what makes a person or a life legitimate or illegitimate and who decides; and the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community. This is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about whom “The Washington Post Book World” said, “Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.”

Anna Quindlen (goodreads.com)

Author Anna Quindlen is no slouch to the publication world.  With five bestselling novels, seven nonfiction books, and a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column, “Public and Private,” she’s achieved every writer’s dream.

If there was a stand out thing about this book, it’s Quindlen’s voice.  She writes characters the way someone you just met shares an intimate secret with you.  You immediately feel a bond to them.  You know they’re flawed, you may not agree with their actions, but you’ll defend them anyway.

The unlikely partnership of Skip Cuddy, a hired hand, with Southern Estate owner and matriarch, Lydia Blessing, is at the core of this book.  What could a man with calloused hands and no family have in common with an 80-something year old woman who never leaves the house?  If there’s a child involved, it turns out quite a bit.

I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I can’t give anything away, but there are some incredibly honest and moving scenes in this story regarding the raising of that baby.  Quindlen will make you redefine family and look at alternatives in a whole new light.

Plus the ending will surprise you!  I was sensing something was up, but didn’t know when we’d get any answers.

Overall, I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a hearty, comforting read.

What about you?  Did you read Blessings and enjoy it?  What else from your TBR Pile have you been reading now?  Or if you’re like me, what did you buy that you’ll be getting around to for 2013’s TBR Pile Challenge?  

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

ROW Check in!

The To Do List: 

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 4-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month– I have 3 books going right now, so I need to skedaddle!
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in two weeks, so I will need to get blog posts prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

The Rundown:

I’ll completely fess up that the whole page count goal and specific titles to read did not happen.  Not for lack of want, but just other interferences.  You might let me off the hook if I told you I led 4 full day trainings, made two trips out of town and worked a 15 hour day to complete a Fine Jewelry reticketing project.  Basically when I got home, I ate and then fell asleep on the couch in my work clothes.

I promise to have new pages to show by the next check in.  If I don’t, you have permission to publicly flog me.

What I Did Accomplish:

  • I was reading!  I finished both Blessings by Anna Quindlen and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich.  Got 2 entries in my library’s adult summer reading program!  Made great headway on These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf and started American Rose by Karen Abbott!
  • Also managed to cross off one more thing on the Summer Bucket List!  Joe and I visited Niagara Cave in Harmony, Minnesota!

Look how excited I am!!!

Excuse me, your flow rock is invading my blog post…

  • I am working on blogging ahead so when Joe and I are on vacation you won’t forget me!  I’ll be able to read and comment from my phone easily enough, and with 5 hours in the car, I’ll have time to hit up more blogs, which means more ROW cheerleading!!!
  • Other big news for the week is my fangirl dreams came true when New York Times Bestselling author Karen Abbott agreed to do an interview with me on my blog!  I would love for you guys to pop over and meet her; she’s been fabulous to work with!  Plus, she’s offering a FREE copy of her new book American Rose:  A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee!  Leave a comment here and enter to win!

Your turn!  How have you kept busy this past week?

#ROW80: Embarrassing Family Photos, Founders Day Appreciation, and Goal Update

First week check in for ROW80!  Round 3 has begun.  How are you all doing?  If summer’s got you down, feeling like you’re behind in your goals or missing out on all the barbecues, check out my guest post at the ROW blog this week on balancing family and friends along with your writing.  I titled it:  I Love You.  Forever.  Now Get Lost!  Go read it, you get to see a funny picture of me with my parents.  They don’t know I posted it!!!

For all you ROWers, how well do you know our ROW founder, Kait Nolan?  Test your Kait knowledge and learn even more in Kait’s fantasy revealing interview with me and about her single serving guilty pleasure!  Both posts are filled with trademark Kait Nolan banter, you’ll love it!

And Now Back to Business:

The Goals: 

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 5-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in a month, so I will need to get blog post prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

How’d I do?  Great!  On the goals I worked on this week.  I actually gave myself permission to enjoy summer for a few days and just catch up on reading and vacation planning (plus I knew I had some late nights at the day job, so this way they didn’t interfere).  Therefore, no writing on the WIP, just blogging occurred.


But, I finished reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen and will get a review up soon.  I made headway on the Janet Evanovich book too, and I did some research on the sites Joe and I are going to visit on our vacation in a few weeks.  And oh yah, I went and visited blogs again!!!  It was so nice chatting with all of you again!

This week it’s back to the grindstone.  Blogging ahead, work on the WIP at least 4 days, and keep reading, reading, reading!

How are you guys doing?

May I Show You aROWnd Town?


Last night I enjoyed a most delicious Thai food dinner of samosas, garlic naan, and navratan korma with a dear friend who’s moving out of town.  We had a movie night after dinner, and watched I Don’t Know How She Does It.  The film stars Sarah Jessica Parker and is based on the book by Allison Pearson.  I admit, I thought the film would be dumb.  Maybe a funny bit here and there, but nothing epic.

Thing is, I really liked this movie.  It was real.  The story is about Kate Reddy, a woman investor who travels around the country making business deals.  She also has 2 kids and a husband who’s own career is finally taking off.  Kate’s story could be any woman’s story.  She’s trying to juggle all of the hats she wears.

I’m sharing this movie for ROW80 day as a great flick to watch with your girlfriends and realize you’re not alone in your multi-tasking and yes, you can have it all!  Might help you set your ROW goals!

Round 3 of ROW80 Goals:

I was pretty flattered when Kait asked me to be a sponsor for this round!  I ran out and bought pompoms and glowsticks and made a mix tape and blew up some balloons!  I’ll be dropping by your blogs ROWers so please make sure I’m on the list, it’s not fun to watch a person walk away with balloons and a sad face on.  😉

Here’s what I’ll be up to this round:

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 5-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month– I have 3 books going right now, so I need to skedaddle!  I might do the Jane Austen read-a-long, we’ll see…
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in a month, so I will need to get blog post prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

I look forward to checking in with everybody!  And making some new friends!  Happy 4th of July Everyone!  And speaking of friends, look who made his own road trip up my way!

David N. Walker, from Where the Heart Is, and his lovely wife, Sharon, stopped in La Crosse, WI on their way north and I gave them a tour of the Riverside Park Friendship Gardens.  If you ever get the chance, you must meet these people.  David is a true patriarch, full of catchy advice and wisdom and a good hearty laugh.  Sharon cracks me up with her amazing directive abilities for all the pictures we took.  And she’s an avid gardener!  Here’s a little montage of our walk.

Sharon, David and I

We made a friend!

They even met my honey, Joe! (I totally got him that t-shirt!)

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Milestone Party: How to Survive Fast Draft and Dance Like No One’s Watching


Helloooo Out There!  Come one, come all; we’re having a party today!  Most of you know that about a year ago Marcia Richards and I founded the organization called The Life List Club.

What is the Life List Club?

A bunch of us writers got together to create our life lists – those things you want to do in life and never manage to complete.  We spent many months touring around each others’ blogs guest posting and getting to know our readers.  As the group adapted, we created our own blogsite, The Life List Club!  If you haven’t followed us, what are you waiting for?!  Click on over and sign up!

In short, you can get involved in the Life List Club in two ways:  as a Reader or as a Writer.  Anyone and everyone should be a reader.  As readers we encourage you to create your own life list of those “to do’s” that are lingering around or big dreams you’ve put on hold too long.  Your goals are anything that is right for you.  Post your life list on your blog, and share with us via comments and tweets how you’re doing!  You can cyber hang with us at the hashtag #LifeListClub.  Enjoy weekly posts filled with true stories, inspiration, and humor to boot to keep you motivated on your goals.

Hey Writers out there!  You can get involved by becoming a contributing writer for the LLC blog!  We’re currently accepting new writers to our rotation of posting and would love to hear from you!  E-mail me at jessi(DOT)witkins(AT)gmail(DOT)com if interested!  You don’t have to blog about writing.  We’re looking for a variety of goals to be covered so our readers can find multiple avenues of inspiration.

Here’s What We’re Celebrating Today!

Since launching the LLC blog, 3 months have gone by and we always have a Milestone party to celebrate the learning lessons and achievements along the way.  You can check out how all the Life Listers did by reading and entering our sweet giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card


Cue the Party Music!  

This is my new favorite song!  Why?  Because it involves splices of Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia from Dirty Dancing!  Duh!!!

My Goals:

  • Write Everyday.
  • Read 2 books a month.
  • Save money.
  • Work out at least once a week.

The Recap:

Write Everyday.

There were definitely days where only my minimum 5 things in the gratitude journal got written down.  Examples from the past few months include:  reading a good book, meeting bloggers I follow at the DFW Writers Conference, Joe cooking dinner, Bellavitano cheese, iced tea, leaving work on time, hammocks.  What really kicked my butt into gear on this goal was attending the DFW Writers Conference.  I decided to give Candace Havens’ Fast Draft a try.  Fast Draft is the idea that you complete your first draft of a novel in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.

Now before your eyes bug out of your head, know thatI hadto adapt this goal.  On day 1, I did get 20 pages written.  But once I was back at work, it was too difficult to get to 20.  I set a minimum of 10.  Ten pages was exactly ten pages more than I’d been writing everyday.  And this process takes a lot of planning!  I spent the whole week before blogging ahead, reading books, and getting emails sent out so I could focus on my writing.

Then week 2 of Fast Draft came around and I had a really difficult time.  I was having arguments with my boyfriend.  I was trying to assist planning 2 weddings/bachelorette parties/getting dress fittings for the upcoming marriages of my two best friends.  My sister underwent surgery for her third recurrence of cancer and was recovering.  We had company stay at our house.  The cupboards were getting bare.  And I was up until somewhere between 1 – 4 a.m. every night?  morning?  I’ve lost track.

It wasn’t my week.  Still, I always got some writing done!  The least amount was one page, and the most on those awful days was eight.  But that’s one more page or eight more pages closer to the “The End.”  Despite all that happened, I’m proud and relieved I’ve completed this challenge.  It taught me what’s important to me.  What I’m willing and not willing to give up, and it showed me who truly supports me in this journey and who doesn’t.  I would like to give Fast Draft another go for the next round of LLC goals.

Read 2 books a month.


Right now I think I have 7 books going at once.  I’ve had to postpone a few in order to complete others.  Books read just this month:  Back to Madeline Island by Jay Gilbertson, Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James, and Red by Kait Nolan.  I also coordinated an author interview with Jay, and have one next week with Kait!

I’m currently on track to complete my TBR Pile Challenge book Blessings by Anna Quindlen this month, as well as my first Janet Evanovich book, Three to Get Deadly, and the final book in the Fifty Shades series, Fifty Shades Freed.

Looking for more book reviews?  Check out my Bookshelf!

Save money.

Believe it or not, folks, I made myself a sticker chart to save!  And it helped!  I was able to budget better and reward myself for not buying more clothes or jewelry, etc. and had enough funds to travel to South Korea and to Texas for the writers conference.  Next trip I’m saving for is Joe’s and my road trip out west in August!

I still need to visit with a personal banker yet and look into some better savings options at the bank and read Suze Orman’s Women and Money book.

Work out at least once a week. 

This goal was a bit hit or miss.  I dove back into working out and did so many weighted lunges around the gym floor that I spent a good 3 days walking around like an old pregnant woman!  I was literally hobbling and could barely get in and out of my car.  I did start up at the gym again, weight training, using the elliptical and stationary bike.  Even if I didn’t make it to the gym, I would have a dance party in my room – just to move around!

I did improve my diet.  For several weeks I limited the amounts of red meat and cheese in my diet (mostly cause my boyfriend is doing that on his diet), but I also tried several great recipes from Self magazine.  I found 2 awesome breakfasts, and made two different chicken curry dishes.  I’ve been better about packing my lunches again and eating salads or peanut butter and jelly.  For breakfast on the go, I invested in some nut mixes to get protein in my system.  I cannot agree to switch to Almond Milk.  I still prefer cow’s milk!  LOL.


There’s my Life List recap!  Be sure to enter for all the great Life List Club milestone prizes by visiting our blogs!  You can find us all in the blogroll on the right.  And to enter for the $50 Amazon Gift Card, you’ve gotta get to the Life List Club blog!

But first, enter here!  Win an additional $10 I-Tunes Gift Card by subscribing to the Happiness Project and leaving me a comment about a learning moment or success story from your own life list!  I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

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