Mastering daily posting with A to Z Challenge


 I believe 2012 was the first year I participated in the A to Z challenge, and I did so with my former blog. I managed to post everyday (though I believe some were late), and I actually completed the work as part of a group within a group with some fellow contributors at the Yahoo! Contributor Network. In the end, I believe the daily motivation of that group probably helped me see it through to the end.

I say this because I attempted to complete the challenge in 2013 and 2014 and failed both times. I think I kept up for a great deal of 2013, but in 2014 I completely tuned out early.  I ended up landing a job as a full-time reporter, and while I had time to complete the challenge, my thoughts were elsewhere. 

This year, I remain a reporter, but I’m also extremely motivated to maintain my websites through regular submissions to my blog. I’ve been much better about posting regularly so far, but if the old adage about habits holds true, I need to keep it up for a month to make it stick. I’m going to start here, and then move the habit to my othe rproperties later. 

I’m looking forward to keeping up this year and also following several persons participating in themes. I signed up after the theme reveal day, but I think I will use a “Word of the Day” theme in which I will pick a random word and then blog around it in free form. 

I can’t wait to read posts from everyone else and to also share my own. 

‘Beyond All Dreams’ offers romance, little intrigue

 beyond all dreams elizabeth camden

When I first started reading Christian fiction, Julie Klassen and Siri Mitchell were my mainstays, but over the years, while they remain favorites, I probably more eagerly await releases by Elizabeth Camden and  Jody Hedlund.

Camden’s latest release was worth waiting for with its coupling of historical elements, such as the transition of the Library of Congress in the late 19th century, and a good romance. However, unlike many of Camden’s prior works, this book doesn’t deliver heavily on the intrigue (there is no Bane). There are very few moments where one feels a great deal of real concern for Anna O’Brian’s safety as she seeks to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death on a navy research ship in the late 1800s.

As Anna looks for answers she also loathes and then befriends a young Congressman who becomes involved in the web of secrets while also dealing with family secrets and troubles of his own. 

Luke Callahan provides an excellent brash bit of comedy in a book that can feel like a comedy of errors at times as characters act and react a bit contrary to reality.

The book is pleasant altogether, and I would recommend it under the right circumstances. 

Note: I received an eGalley of this volume to facilitate my review.

‘Rebel Heart’ contains catchy mix of Madonna sounds

Madonna. I have not always counted myself as a fan. Sometimes I find her different personas a bit overdone. I’m not sure how often one can revisit a matador’s outfit before it gets old…but the music of Madonna has grown on me over the years, and I’m back in her corner. Her new album Rebel Heart — Available on iTunes does nothing to take me back out of it.

Rebel Heart contains 19 tracks that run the gamut from the dance pop that has been Madonna’s charting tour de force in recent years as well to more twangy numbers that remind me of the “Don’t Tell Me Era” without as much vocal reverb. There is a little something for everyone, and I would classify Rebel Heart as a potential play through album on a car trip, but I will probably be more likely to hit the repeat button on a few different songs depending upon my mood.

“Living For Love” gets brownie points simply for being the lead single. I could already bounce along to it in my head prior to receiving the album for review from hearing it on the radio and seeing it performed live on the Grammy’s. It’s catchy albeit a bit anthemy in the lyric department. It’s a fist pumping, a bad love isn’t going to get me down kind of tune, and it works.

Track 2 on the album is “Devil Pray,” and I actually really like it. The beat is good, and the song makes me think of the possibility of recovery in general. Name dropping narcotics is also always relevant.

“Unapologetic Bitch” and “Bitch I’m Madonna” are also catchy and clubby. “Illuminati” fits the latter descriptive but not the former so much. It’s one of those name dropper songs without the flair of “Vogue.” Speaking of retro Madonna, there are the proverbial “Easter Eggs” in the album. I caught a couple of song snippets that definitely briefly brought to mind former hits and “Vogue” is directly referenced. I think its fun for an artist with such a storied career to harken back to themselves. Continue Reading…

Planning, Organization and Tools and Ashley

Erin Condren Life Planner Cover Bloom Where You Are PlantedAshley is not a naturally organized person. I have a very sharp mind for remembering some things, but I don’t always leave a paper trail behind me which makes it difficult to substantiate my day to myself. Did I do enough for me throughout the course of my day? By “enough for me” I don’t mean mani/pedis. I mean enough toward my own career goals and not those that will grow another place, another entity. My entity.

In an attempt to get ahead of myself and become one with myself and my larger life plan, I revisited a company I had done business with in 2012, Erin Condren. Erin Condren’s Life Planners are cute, practical alternatives to the BlueSky planners I have heavily favored in recent years. They offer lots of space for planning and, as a bit of reprieve, for indulging in a bit of sticker fun or miniature scrapbooking on a weekly spread for Monday through Sunday.

So many occupations and disciplines seem like those who practice them are blessed with a magical talent that makes them able to do what us mere mortals cannot — and they are full of the extremely talented. However, most jobs or crafts feature unique tools that allow those who master them to create the beautiful or extraordinary in a more streamlined way.

I feel like these planners (and other organizational tools) help me in such a way. They are unique and specific enough while having a bit of interchangeability to keep me interested and, relatively, consistent in tracking my days and bringing ideas forward while looking on something attractive.

What brings up this conversation topic? I added my latest cover to my planner — I love the message of
Bloom Where You Are Planted” and the cover is a welcome pop of color for spring. It’s my third of the snap-in and snap-out variety, and I think it is probably my favorite yet.

Interested in Erin Condren? Want to save $10? Click through with this link — — to save — full disclosure, I get $10 if you order. I don’t think you will regret it…which makes it a win-win.



My senior year is in view…almost done

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