Friday, May 27, 2016

A new book baby is born

I'm interrupting my usual Fitness Friday post today for a very special announcement. I haven't been that great with my workouts lately anyway. And this is something I am super excited about.

Introducing my latest achievement ....

Kate Marks is hitting it out of the park as general manager of the Portland Pioneers. Her childhood friend Reid Benjamin is struggling to hit anything at all and, as a result, has suddenly found himself out of a job. When Kate hires him as hitting coach for the Pioneers, she's determined to keep everything strictly professional, but she has underestimated Reid's charm. His proximity has forced her to face a past she would rather forget. Reid wants another chance, but Kate isn't convinced he's changed his game.

I started writing this story more than 10 years ago, and it had an audience of one. I lost my one-person audience when there were just 40 pages written and the story just kind of took a backseat for a while. I kept it on a thumb drive that somehow never got lost in my many moves over the next few years. I picked the story back up during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2012 and finished it a few months later. Well, I finished writing it anyway.  But it wasn't done.

I put it aside again for a bit while life changes happened. Last year, I decided it was probably time to start editing it and getting the book out there for people to read. I recruited some beta readers to help me with edits and proofreading. They offered fantastic feedback and ideas, which I worked with as I went through the story again. And again. And again.

I have probably read this book more than a dozen times.  I'm sure I didn't catch every little thing, but I'm ready to let it go out into the world as it is.

Then I worked with a girl I knew from high school (and to whom I remained connected on Facebook) on the cover concept and design. I am so thrilled with the way it turned out.

I'm so overjoyed to share this book, which is the first in a series of baseball romance novels I plan to release over the next few years.

"Dropped Third Strike" will be available on June 6, 2016. You can pre-order it here if you are so inclined. You can also add it to your bookshelf on GoodReads.

I plan to have a book release celebration locally on the day of the launch. I'll also be doing an online celebration via my Facebook author page if you're interested in joining the fun.

The next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind. I feel a bit narcissistic celebrating this book in such a big way, but I am very proud of it. Writing might not make me a lot of money, but it gives me a lot of joy. I am so thankful to the support I received from family, friends, and fellow writers throughout this process.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Questionable trends

Sometimes I look back at trends of the 80s and 90s and wonder what we were thinking.  Will that happen again in 20 to 30 years?  Who knows.  But here are a few fads I recalled that make me cringe now, though I'm sure I participated (or tried to) in all of them.

Banana clips

Honestly. Why did we ever think this looked good?

Acid wash jeans

These look like someone made a mistake with the detergent and ruined a perfectly good pair of jeans. 
How is that fashionable?  
Then again, I'm kind of a plain denim person anyway. 
Apparently these are not completely out because I found a lot of purchase links while I was searching for an image.


Squeeze gel candy

There were some different brands of this. 
Pure sugar in a gel form. Mmmm.  Or not. 
Just looking at it makes me want to go brush my teeth.  
Did I really ever eat this?


Candy cigarettes

Who thought it'd be a good idea to give kids candy that looks like cigarettes? 
And how did they pitch it in their company meeting?


Water snakes

Do I really need to go on about why these are weird?


Dear Diary

I won't lie. I totally wanted one of these.
That's probably why I have a blog now.

These were just a few of the things that came to mind. I'm sure if I let my brain mull it over a bit longer, this post would double or triple in size. But let's hear from you.

What trends do you look back on and shake your head? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 5/25

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ...

... that I only have to work a half-day tomorrow before going to a baseball game with my department for the afternoon. Weather permitting, of course.

... that I have an ACTUAL three-day weekend coming up. I don't know the last time I had three days when I didn't have to work at any of my jobs. I almost don't know what to do with myself. (Don't worry, I'll figure it out.)

... that my book publishing process has suddenly hit a sprint. Once the cover was done, it's been off to the races. I'll be doing a cover reveal this Friday and a big celebration on the actual release day. If you want to help me promote it, sign up here.

... that I've had two manicures this month, which means my nails have looked really good. This is not typical for me. And I probably can't keep it up either. But it's been fun.

... that my stomach is starting to tolerate real food again after some poor weekend decisions. I've been doing a lot of brown rice and applesauce, but I had a burger last night and I survived.

... the Texas Rangers Rougned Odor bobblehead that showed up at my place over the weekend.

... Ernie Halter's cover of the Justin Timberlake song I can't get out of my head (and don't want to, quite frankly).

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Date Yourself Challenge recap

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I signed up for the Date Yourself Challenge as hosted by Veronica Grant. I didn't know exactly what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to learn more about myself and figure out why I've always struggled with dating.  I can honestly say I got all of that and more.

Here's a day by day account of each of the challenges and my thoughts:

Day 1: Do something that brings you joy.
I usually only buy myself flowers when I'm having a bad day/week, but why not celebrate the good times with beautiful blooms as well?  I feel like this is a huge sign about what I expect from a partner. I don't just want gifts or kind gestures when times are tough or he's done something wrong. I want them "just because." Because he's thinking about me or just wanted to surprise me.


Day 2:  Be adventurous.
I always plan out my races, sometimes months in advance. I've never registered for a race on the day of. Until May 14. I woke up that morning with two races to choose from. One was right in my neighborhood on trails I know well. The other was in a park I'd never been to. I chose the second one. The race was small and very local. The route wasn't well-marked, and I took a wrong turn and ended up having to make up my own route for a little while.  And I didn't have my watch or any apps running to tell me how far or fast I was going.  And it was still a great run. I felt really good when I finished.  I don't tend to be a spontaneous person, but maybe I should be once in a while.


Day 3: Romance yourself.
My breakfasts (even on the weekends) are usually something easy and quick. On this day, I decided to take a little more time and prepare a brunch -- three-cheese omelet, fresh avocado, turkey sausage, whole wheat toast, and a mimosa. Delicious.  Even though I enjoy the simple things in life, occasionally it's fun to have a little splurge.


Day 4: Do something that makes you feel beautiful.
When I was younger, I never imagined I'd wear red lipstick.  Then I discovered this shade (Firecracker by Mary Kay), and I love it.  I feel beautiful every time I wear it. Sometimes doing just one thing different can have an effect.


Day 5: Do something that makes you feel connected.
During my lunch hour, I went for a walk around our recreational ponds. With only my music for company, I was alone with my thoughts as I walked. It was perfect.


Day 6: Do something that makes you feel strong.

Now, this was not to be a physical kind of strength, but more a show of your intuition and being strong in that sense. I really struggled with this one and there's no photo. During a roundtable discussion at work, we were debating liability on a claim. There's one woman in my department who is far more experienced and usually better at assessing/arguing liability. But when she was presenting her argument today, I didn't agree with her. There were some things I think she wasn't considering. Usually, I would not speak up, but today I did. I didn't necessarily "win" the debate (there really was no winner), but at least I spoke up and gave the group something else to think about.


Day 7: Do something that makes you feel sexy.

I shaved my legs (above the knee) and wore lace underneath my work clothes.


Day 8: Do something that makes you feel confident.
People hate on selfies, but I love them. When I post a selfie, it's because I'm feeling good about myself. I refuse to feel bad about sharing a moment of high confidence.


Day 9: Do something that makes you feel smart.

Reading makes me feel smart. Especially non-fiction. Above is my current selection and I'm slowly working through it. I spent some time with it on this morning before leaving for a road trip with friends.


Day 10: Do something that makes you feel loved.

This was a rough day. I had too much fun at a wedding the previous night, so I mostly spent the day recovering. I suppose just taking care of myself was my effort to feel loved.


This was an excellent learning experience. I think the biggest thing I took away is that I am and can be all of these things -- beautiful, smart, sexy, relaxed, loved, confident. etc. And I can create all of these feelings for myself. I don't need anyone special to spark them. I also met a community of women who, like myself, are amazing but have struggled in the dating arena.

Ironically enough, the day after I posted about taking on this challenge, I started dating someone (sorry, no additional details on that for you yet).  Still, I carried through with these exercises because I believed it would help me form a better relationship with myself and also help me learn more about what I wanted in a relationship with someone else. So far, all of that has been true. Because of the challenges, I feel more aware of who I am, what I have to offer, and what I want from someone else. It was a very enlightening and empowering experience. I look forward to learning more in the Dating Mindset Bootcamp.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Music Monday: Welshly Arms - "Legendary"

I was exposed to Sam Getz when he was touring with Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers. I immediately saw how talented he is, but now I'm realizing I only saw a glimpse. I recently started listening to his band Welshly Arms and I am obsessed.  Their latest song has been in solid rotation since it was released less than two weeks ago.

If this song isn't picked up by the Olympics or some sports playoff run, it'll be a huge mistake.

You know what else would be a mistake? Missing a chance to see these guys live. They will not be playing small venues for much longer.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 73

Sorry this went away for a few weeks. Life has been crazy busy (in mostly good ways) and I just haven't been great at reading blogs lately.  I'm trying to get back to it though.  Here are some of my recent favorites.

Steph talked about losing a friend and all the feelings she went through.  I think grief is something we discuss far too seldom.  But it's a healthy thing to go through. We need to be more open about it.

Joey hit me hard with "Sometimes Excuses are Truths." Wow. Just wow. I related to so much of her post.

I bought the new Meghan Trainor album recently, and I'm loving her song "Champagne Problems." The words began rolling through my head as I read Karen's post about first world problems. Go share with her some of your favorite first world frustrations.

Steph and Jana want YOU to be a part of their fabulous podcast, "The Armchair Librarians."


And now, a moment for self-promotion. I have a new book coming out on June 6.  I will be doing a cover reveal on Friday. I'm looking for bloggers who would like to help me promote my baby. Leave me a comment and/or email me so you can join in.

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Woofin' It 5K recap

I am a planner. I tend to pick out my races months in advance and register very early. This past Saturday, I woke up not knowing which race I was going to do that day. I ended up driving across town to a park I'd never been to before and writing a check roughly 30 minutes before I started running. That is about as spontaneous as I get, folks.

The Woofin' It 5K was locally organized and benefited a local animal rescue organization. I tend to like the local races a lot more than then huge ones, and animals are, of course, a cause close to my heart.

It was breezy and chilly, and I hadn't run in a week or more, so I was unsure of how the race would go. I had opted not to bring my watch and figured I'd use the Nike running app on my phone. I ended up not doing that because I couldn't get it started in time, so I just ran blindly. In several ways. The route was not very well marked so I (and about five other people) ended up making a wrong turn. We sort of made up our own route until we found people from the race again.

My FitBit said I ran right around three miles though, so it worked out fine. Without my Garmin or app, I don't know my time or my exact distance, but I'm kind of OK with that. It felt good just to run without being concerned about pace or how much further I had to go.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: Woofin' It 5K
Sunday: Off
Monday: Yoga at home
Tuesday: 2-mile walk around the ponds at work
Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Off

I have been slacking big time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 5/18

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ...

... the Harry Potter-themed painting I did over the weekend at Pinot's Palette. I'm definitely not an artist, but I seem to do OK when people walk me through the steps.

... that I got to have dinner and drinks with my friend, Danielle, last night. I don't get to see her often and we had a lot of catching up to do.

... these three songs. Completely obsessed with them.

... FaceTime. I converted from a Samsung Galaxy to an iPhone a few weeks ago. I'm still getting used to where everything is, but so far I like it. My best friend and I video chat each month, and other video chat software has been failing us for months. FaceTime is solid.

... this wine someone shared with me recently. I'm not a huge fan of Dave Matthews (he helped create this wine -- the cork even has song lyrics), and I don't usually like chardonnay, but this was really good.

... that my designer sent me the first draft of my book cover last night. You guys, I am so close to having this book ready to reveal and put out there. It's exciting!

... the Date Yourself Challenge I'm currently working through. It's been really fun, empowering, and thought-provoking for me. It also inspired me to buy myself these beautiful flowers, which I've been enjoying.

What are you loving right now?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Detours are OK

Not long ago, I wrote about how having a dream job is a pipe dream. I got some interesting feedback on here, on Twitter, and on Facebook.  I continue to think about that post and the topic often.

Over the past few years, I've had some moments of doubt and confusion about the fact that I'm working in insurance instead of the field for which I earned a degree. It felt a bit like I was a failure and I wondered if my journalism degree (which I'm still paying for, by the way -- yay private college) was a waste of money.

Lately, I began to realize I'm surrounded by people just like me. I don't know how I didn't see it before.

Sure, I have a few friends who are in their dream job or at least the job they always planned to have. But there are also many who, like me, are in a job outside their degree. For some, it's just a stopping point along the way to their ultimate goals. For others, the job in their major didn't fulfill them or simply didn't work out, so they found something else.

I fall into the latter camp. Communications just didn't work out for me. And I'm not sure I feel bad about that anymore. While I miss some aspects -- talking to people, writing, and the constant variety -- there are also a lot of uncertainties in the field. My job in the insurance industry gives me a lot more financial stability and opportunities to move around. Plus, I'm still using my communications skills. I have to talk to people, draft/edit letters, and meet deadlines. That's not so different. And there is plenty of variety. I am constantly learning new things about traffic laws and statutes.

Plus, this allows me to keep writing as my hobby. I have done more work on my novels and this blog since leaving the communications arena. Writing is now my outlet and something I do for fun instead of something I have to do. 

I think the reason it bothered me for so long is that I'm a planner. I like to know where I'm going and what I'm doing. And when I say I'm going to do something, I do it. I don't like uncertainty, and because of the way some situations have worked out, I've had a lot of uncertainty in the past few years. I feel like it's leveling out now, and I'm feeling better about where I am.

While it's good to have a plan, maybe it's OK to be re-routed once in a while.

Are you working in a job in your college major?
If not, how do you feel about the change?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Music Monday: Matt Wertz - "Smoke"

Friday is going to be extra great this week.


Because the new Matt Wertz album will be out that day.

He's been slowly releasing a few tracks from it, and each one just makes me want the full album more. I've been a fan of Matt's for about 11 years now, but his current sound and songwriting is about as strong as I've ever heard it.

Here's one of the tracks from the new album. I'm absolutely enamored with it.

If you like it, be sure to pick up Gun Shy later this week.

Oh, and he'll be touring soon too. If you're lucky enough to have him come to your city, get out and see him. He's fantastic live.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I'm loving Wednesday 5/11

I'm loving ...

... that Rachel is hosting this link-up again. It's a fun one to join.

... that I got to check another ballpark off my list last weekend. I had a great time at Busch Stadium and ended up seeing a pretty great game with a fellow Rangers fan.

... having a solid group of close friends who just "get me." I don't have to explain myself or the things I do and say. They just accept me as I am. It's an amazing feeling.

... this coffee mug. I've had it for a few weeks now, and I'm obsessed with it.

... that I'll be brewing beer with a friend in a few weeks. We inadvertently took the winter off from our brewing sessions. I'm excited to get back to it.

... that I'll be looking at Kurtis Gabriel every day at work this month.

What are you loving this week? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Show Us Your Books: April

Life According to Steph

Once again, my reading progress is still a bit slow. I just haven't had/made the time to work through some new books.  I only finished three this month.

This was my book-to-movie selection for the month. The book was funnier than I expected, and even though it was very science-heavy, I was still able to follow it very easily.  It was fiction that read like non-fiction, which was fascinating to me. Of course, I was also invested in finding out what happened to Mark Watney and the rest of his team.  It was a really good read, and I enjoyed the movie adaptation as well. I'm a Matt Damon fan, and I thought he portrayed Watney pretty close to how I would have pictured him.

I picked this up after hearing Stephanie and Jana discuss it on "The Armchair Librarians." I wouldn't say I "liked" this book, but it was very well-written and engaging. I'm in awe of any author who can make me read and finish a story about an unpleasant subject and an unlikable main character. Alissa Nutting did just that.  It was as engrossing as it was disturbing.

Jennifer Weiner is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I have read nearly everything she's written, and this book was a little different than the others. It was a really unique story, and I had a hard time putting it down. I needed to find out how it all ended. I needed to find out what happened to these characters who were as flawed as they were lovable.

What are you reading?

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