Writing Prompt #71: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 33)

Week #33: Something You Look Forward To.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next few months, as we start to wrap up the year 2017, for several reasons.

I start what will hopefully be my LAST paralegal class next week! It’s Legal Writing, and I’m excited about it. I just ordered my textbook, and I’m excited to be in the presence of a new professor!

September kicks off Labor Day weekend, which is usually the weekend that Al and I celebrate our dating anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s almost been SEVEN years!

The following weekend, I’ll be heading to the “Mimosas in the Mountains” event – A fancy term for Savy’s bachelorette weekend! I’m so grateful that she invited me along and has included me during their wedding planning and festivities. I’m so excited to spend a weekend with her, Crystal, and several of her amazing friends! I may die a little when we go on this supposedly epic hike on Saturday. But, that’s why I just bought KEEN hiking boots and socks! Thank you, Amazon Prime!

October 14th is Nick and Savy’s wedding! It’s gonna be fantastic. I can’t wait!

The weekend after is Hampton Comic-Con! We’ve never been, so it sounds like it will be fun!

Then, as we make our way into November, we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Time flies, doesn’t it? Two weeks after that, it’s Thanksgiving!

December dawns with the spirit of Christmas. My anticipated graduation from TCC is a week or two before Christmas. I’m excited to celebrate Lyndsey’s 30th birthday around the 16th! And then, we’ll blink, and we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve and Kathryn’s birthday!

Needless to say, these last few months of 2017 will be exciting!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #80: My Love for American Girl

American Girl - Etsy

Image Credit: Etsy

Some of you have probably figured out by now that I have loved Pleasant Company and American Girl for, well, forever.

I wanted to give you a bit of an inside look into my love and passion for these books and the dolls!


Here’s a few articles that I read and reviewed while working on this post:


Before we dive into my love / passion for these books and dolls, here’s a brief history of Pleasant Company and American Girl.

Pleasant Company was launched in 1986 by former textbook writer Pleasant Rowland. The idea was sparked when she wanted to buy dolls for her nieces, ages 8 and 10 at the time, and the only options available were Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies.

She then took a trip with her husband to Colonial Williamsburg, and she was inspired by the history there. She thought girls would be interested in learning more about history by connecting with dolls associated with certain historical time eras.

There were three original Historical Characters when the company started in 1986:

  • Kirsten Larson, 1854
  • Samantha Parkington, 1904
  • Molly McIntire, 1944

Here is the complete list of Historical Characters the company has created:

  1. Kaya, 1764
  2. Felicity Merriman, 1774
  3. Elizabeth Cole, 1774 (Felicity’s best friend)
  4. Caroline Abbott, 1812
  5. Josefina Montoya, 1824
  6. Marie-Grace Gardner, 1853
  7. Cecile Rey, 1853
  8. Kirsten Larson, 1854
  9. Addy Walker, 1864
  10. Samantha Parkington, 1904
  11. Nellie O’Malley, 1904 (Samantha’s best friend)
  12. Rebecca Rubin, 1914
  13. Kit Kittredge, 1934
  14. Ruthie Smithens, 1934 (Kit’s best friend)
  15. Molly McIntire, 1944
  16. Emily Bennett, 1944 (Molly’s best friend)
  17. Maryellen Larkin, 1954
  18. Melody Ellison, 1964
  19. Julie Albright, 1974
  20. Ivy Ling, 1974 (Julie’s best friend)

In 1995, the company debuted its American Girl of Today product line, where girls could pick from a variety of hair, eye, and skin colors to make their own dolls. Today, it has been relabeled several times, and it’s now branded as the Truly Me line. The company even offers dolls without hair for girls with alopecia, hair loss, or going through cancer treatments.

In 1998, Rowland sold Pleasant Company to Mattel for approximately $700 million dollars!

In 2001, American Girl launched its “Girl of the Year” (GOTY) line. With the exceptions of Lindsey (2001-2002) and Kailey (2003-2004), all GOTY dolls have only been available for one calendar year, with the new doll being unveiled on January 1st.

Along the way, several Historical Characters have been archived – Samantha and Nellie, Kirsten, Felicity and Elizabeth, Molly and Emily, Marie-Grace and Cecile, and a few others. The decision was made for all the “Best Friends” dolls to be archived by August 2014. Caroline Abbott was the most recent character to be archived, in spring 2015. The only two Historical Characters to have been brought out of the archives, so far, are Samantha, and Felicity.

In the summer of 2014, American Girl revamped its Historical Characters line into the BeForever line. The original six-book set was redesigned into two main volumes, and then what’s called a “Journey Book,” where a modern-day girl goes on a journey with one of the Historical girls.

Currently, in 2017, the BeForever line has approximately 10 characters, with the 11th being Nanea Mitchell, 1941, scheduled to officially debut at the end of August. Gabriela is the current GOTY. There is a new Contemporary Characters line of 18-inch dolls, consisting of Tenney Grant, Logan Everett, and Z Yang. Logan Everett is the company’s first boy doll. Z Yang is the first doll to be created from American Girl’s popular YouTube channel. The WellieWishers are a series of five 14.5-inch dolls, designed for younger girls. Bitty Babies are also available for children ages 3 and up.


Now, if I remember correctly, I was given my Bitty Baby doll in 1994 or 1995. I have some photos from a few vintage Pleasant Company Holiday Catalogs below.

Before I even received my first 18-inch doll, my “American Girl of Today” that I named Stephanie, I absolutely fell in love with the American Girl books!

Pleasant Company Catalogue Holiday 1991

These are the original “meet” books – This photo is from the Pleasant Company catalog for the holidays in 1991. Image Credit: Mental Floss

Before the BeForever line was introduced, each Historical Character had a “Central Series” of six books. I’ll use Molly’s name as an example:

  1. Meet Molly: An American Girl
  2. Molly Learns A Lesson: A School Story
  3. Molly’s Surprise: A Christmas Story
  4. Happy Birthday, Molly!: A Springtime Story
  5. Molly Saves The Day: A Summer Story
  6. Changes for Molly: A Winter Story

The six books cover approximately two years of each character’s life. I loved reading and re-reading these books. There were beautiful illustrations in every one! My personal library had all of Felicity’s books, and Samantha’s, in hardcover. I borrowed the rest from the library, over and over. When I was in speech therapy for most of elementary school, I distinctly remember reading Felicity’s books out loud to my parents as practice.

Eventually, I gave away most of my American Girl book collection to other girls, and the library. Now, I’ve been feverishly rebuilding my childhood library, and then some! I have a huge copy paper box in my office space that is overflowing with books. I’m so excited to get my huge bookcase from my parents, and promptly fill it up.

In addition to the Central Series, American Girl has published other contemporary titles for girls, and I owned many of them (Games and Giggles, Tiny Treasures, Help!, The Care & Keeping of You, etc.). They have also published multiple short stories and mysteries featuring the Historical Characters. I’m also very fond of the 22-book History Mysteries series, as well as the eight Girls of Many Lands books.

I will never stop loving the books!


Photo montage!

This is the most recent catalog that I received in the mail. It’s significantly smaller than the older Pleasant Company catalogs. This one is about the size of a small magazine, roughly 50 pages total.

This is one of the vintage Pleasant Company catalogs that I recently purchased from someone on Facebook. I loved looking through these as a kid, over and over.

This is my current “stash” of doll stuff in my office!

 

I have Molly’s desk at my parents’ house! I found it in really good condition from a Facebook post a few years ago – I only paid $30 for it!


This is from one of the Pleasant Company catalogs. I remember starting at these full-size photos for hours!

Here’s some photos featuring the American Girl of Today line!

I loved the Snowflake Jumper when I received my American Girl of Today, who I named Stephanie. I need to do a second blog post when I get all my dolls from Mom and Dad’s!


My Stephanie is currently dressed in the School Jumper outfit at Mom and Dad’s. I also had the Girl Scout Uniform, and I took Stephanie to a few troop meetings!


I had the Cheerleader Outfit for many years – I eventually sold in it a lot of AG clothes to a woman at my office building for her 6-year-old daughter. She emailed me the following weekend, saying that she gave the box of clothes and accessories to her daughter early, and she and her friends loved everything!


I now own the Culotte Dress after years of wanting it. Facebook is an amazing resource for all things Pleasant Company and American Girl!


I didn’t have that swimsuit set, but I did have the In-line Gear and Baxter the Bunny!


This was the outfit that my doll Stephanie arrived in, for Christmas 1997!


I remember loving all the girl outfits and accessories! My parents said no, though. They didn’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes that they knew that I would quickly outgrow!


I love the Jeweled Headband, and those AG Earrings! I also had a very similar haircut from fifth grade through middle school.


I loved these outfits – Totally 90s!

I absolutely love the older catalogs! I’ve had so much fun recently, looking through the three that I recently purchased. So many memories!!


Here’s a fun quiz:

Here’s my results:

2bf1ec0b-ae8c-4690-85a3-e684df75d79f

“Hey, Molly. You either wanted to be a Samantha but got stuck with a mom who gave you Molly (raises hand reluctantly), proudly wore glasses, loved World War II, or all of the above. Either way, be proud of your inner Molly — though you suck at doing math.”

I’ve always loved Molly! I definitely wore glasses, from sixth grade on. And I definitely suck at math!


This past week, American Girl officially launched their newest product – “Create Your Own” American Girl!

Not the best photo. But, meet Bethany, my true look-alike!


Bethany loves to daydream. Her fave place is the city, and her fave things are reading & writing.

The new doll line is a bit more expensive than the other dolls, around $200. But, after nearly 20 years of having a blonde doll, I think it’s high time that I have one that actually looks like me!

My doll collection, at the moment, consists of five dolls:

  1. Stephanie, my American Girl of Today, 1997 — Mom and Dad bought Stephanie for me for Christmas. I was a very happy 9-year-old!
  2. Molly McIntire, 1944 — Molly was the first doll that I bought with my own money, right before she was archived in 2013.
  3. Kit Kittredge, 1934 — Al bought her for me for my birthday in August 2016.
  4. Chrissa Maxwell, Girl of the Year, 2009 — I quickly identified with Chrissa’s character several years ago. Her story revolves around bullying. Chrissa came home to me in early 2017.
  5. Unnamed American Girl of Today, circa 1996 — I bought this doll off eBay in 2016, trying to help out someone on a Facebook group with creating Harry Potter dolls. That never happened, so I kept her. I may turn her into Hermione Granger someday 🙂

I have a few other dolls on my wish list. Aside from Bethany, my Create Your Own, I would love to eventually own Nanea, 1941, and Maryellen, 1954.

Nanea Doll - American Girl Wikia

Nanea Mitchell, 1941. Image Credit: American Girl Wikia


Maryellen - American Girl Wikia

Maryellen Larkin, 1954. Image Credit: American Girl Wikia


As long as I live, I don’t think I will ever get “too old” for American Girl. It’s been such a staple in my life since the mid-1990s!

I’ve always appreciated Pleasant Company’s and American Girl’s dedication to historical accuracy. I give immense credit to these books for making me love history!

I’ve written Book Reviews on several of the new BeForever books, including Maryellen’s and Melody’s stories. For my birthday last week, Al bought me the two Classic volumes of Felicity’s books, and I can’t wait to read those. I’m also very excited for several new releases this winter (I may or may not have already pre-ordered these from Amazon):


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #70: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 32)

Week #32: A City You’ve Visited.

I will always feel like a part of me belongs in New York City. I don’t ever want to live there now, although I used to dream about it for years. Yes, I was that kid who wanted to leave Virginia far behind and either start by going to college there, or become a famous writer and live in an apartment and enjoy the city.

Being born at Mount Sinai Hospital, it’s directly across the street from the west side of Central Park, one of the most amazing parks in our country. I could spend hours upon hours looking at Google Images of people’s photos. When I take Al to visit the city for the very first time next summer, I want to spend as much time in the park as possible, getting as many photos as I can. I have fond memories of practicing softball with my dad when we were there to visit the hospital. I need to find those photos and share them. I’m definitely an awkward 13-year-old there, but we had so much fun.

My parents took me back to the hospital every summer until I was 16 years old. The story that’s been told is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses say, “Our greatest joy is seeing these children grow.” The last time we were there as a family, in 2004, there were two gigantic bulletin boards on one wall of the unit, completely covered in pictures of kids who “graduated” from the unit. Most are school photos, but some are family photos. Every single one is precious. My parents did that for a few years, and we found an old photo of me on the bulletin board when we were there. It was staggering to see how many photos were there. My parents have a photo of that visit – Me, Dr. Ian Holzman, and my mom – on their refrigerator.

But, the nurses also remember the babies who didn’t survive.

When I was 18, and a senior in high school, the Oscar Smith Chamber Orchestra was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. It was such an amazing experience to close out my high school years. It rained the entire weekend, but everyone had a blast. Many of my classmates had never seen the city, and one long weekend wasn’t enough to take it all in. We played our hardest. I almost cried as we walked out on stage, seeing the historic venue from that perspective absolutely took my breath away. Many of our families were there to support us. My mom invited the head nurse from the Mount Sinai NICU, Doris Haddad, to come to the performance. She cried. She gave me flowers. It was awesome! I graduated from high school about two months after we performed.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot of New York City throughout my life – Broadway shows, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center before and after 9/11, the Statue of Liberty, being on the plaza at The Today Show, Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwarz, Macy’s, the New York Public Library, the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Tribeca, Soho, the subway, The New York Times building, different museums, Katz’s Deli, Ellis Island, Governors Island … I could go on.

But, now, as an adult, I’m realizing that I’ve only seen a very small fraction of what the five boroughs have to offer. When we visit next summer, I want to see Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn, The Bell House (home of NPR’s Ask Me Another), Coney Island, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Queens. I want to experience a variety of restaurants. I’m sure there’s many museums that are new and different, too. Plus, I’ve never been to an American Girl Store. The New York store is one of their flagship stores, so, why not?


Have you ever been to New York? What did you like about?

If you haven’t been to New York yet, what do you want to see or experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #55: A Must-See, Incredibly Powerful Message from Beautiful Seventh Grader’s Slam Poem

Slam Poetry

Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

I found the video below on Facebook recently, and it spoke volumes to me:

Background: At the end of this past school year (The video was posted on Facebook on May 25th), this beautiful 7th grade girl at Queen Creek Middle School delivered this incredibly powerful slam poem. This was part of the end of her 7th grade writing class.

Caption from 12 News: “When a 7th grade writing class at Queen Creek Middle School presented poems for their end of year assignment, one student stood out with a powerful message.”

It’s been viewed over 33 MILLION times.

According to the public comments, this beautiful young lady is named Olivia.


Her teacher publicly commented on the video. His name is Brett Cornelius. He was the one recording Olivia’s performance, and obtained her parents’ permission before sharing it.

“She presented this for almost every single 7th grader. They were moved to tears, as was I. She’s brilliant beyond words, and this poem is just the icing on top of her perfectly cooked cake. What’s even more incredible is that she worked on this for over a month, truly digging into the raw depths of teenage hood and expressing her feelings of the good, the bad, and the ugly of walking the halls of the school as a young woman. She’s humble and honest, that’s for sure. I’m proud to have met this little lady!”

“I am her teacher and that assignment was one I went back and forth about assigning for weeks. Obviously, there are no regrets. She transferred to our school, so unfortunately I was not prone to her incredible educational aptitude, but we worked tirelessly to give her creative outlets to express herself. Her parents advocated for her the entire way, too. She’s a blessed child, that is for sure. Thank you!”


It’s hard to hear some of her words, but her message is profound.

I think I’ve watched this video at least a dozen times since I shared it to my own Facebook timeline on Friday, July 21st. And, every time, it’s given me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

This doesn’t apply to just middle school, or just 7th graders, or just girls.

Yes, Olivia directly addresses middle school girls, but her message is more powerful and more far-reaching than that.

I saw myself in Olivia’s words. I saw myself in Olivia’s voice. I saw myself as Olivia struggled to hold back her emotion. I saw the tears in her eyes, as I felt tears in mine.

I saw myself in middle school – Glasses, braces, acne. Experimenting with makeup, but not allowed to wear much of it. Trying to be my own person, but also wanting to fit in.

I saw myself in high school – Exchanging my glasses for contact lenses. No more braces. Wearing makeup a bit more often, but not too much. Trying to keep up with the rigors of IB, while not showboating to the kids in orchestra and gym who were the regular kids.

I saw myself in college – Finally, freedom! But, with that freedom, I also endured a four-year-long abusive relationship. When I finally saw the light at the end of my junior year, I saw a shell of myself. I was broken. My confidence had vanished, although I’m sure I was still super enthusiastic on the outside. Deep down, I knew I needed to leave, to escape, but I was also terrified that no one else would love me, no one else would want me.

I even saw myself now, in the present day – I struggle with body image. I struggle with the fact that I’ve gained 25+ pounds since graduating from college six years ago. I’m getting better with my eating habits, and I drink far less soda than I used to. I drink at least 75 ounces of water every day, if not a little bit more. I only consume alcohol sparingly now (The good stuff is expensive, haha!) I know that my day job is a major contributor – I’m behind a desk eight hours a day. I wear makeup almost every day, but I don’t feel like a clown. I feel grown-up and professional.

But, I’m also a human being. I have feelings. And it’s okay to have these feelings.

The point I’m trying to get at is Olivia’s message is important for EVERYONE to hear. Maybe that’s why it’s been watched over 33 million times. What this amazing young woman wrote and performed (by memory, no less) is a reminder to everyone that we hide behind our true selves.

For me, personally, I don’t want to be so afraid. I don’t want to be so scared of or disgusted by my body image. I want to embrace it, as best that I can, at least. I want to continue to be confident. I don’t want to fake it until I make it as much anymore. I want to be as genuine as possible.

Can I do that? I know I can.

Olivia, you’ve certainly inspired this 29-year-old. Let’s do this. Thank you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #79: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday Quote 2017

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I wrote a Getting Personal post on my birthday last year, and I received a lot of positive feedback. I thought I would continue this tradition every year. For me, it brings the past year into focus, and it makes me feel good.


Since this time last year, I’ve lived in my own house with Al for over a year. I’m so happy that we’ve reached this point. We have independence. We’re navigating our way through “adulting” the best that we can. I’m happy that we both have stable jobs that give us good benefits, as well as modest incomes. We’re paying our bills and saving money, but we’re also able to have a little bit of spending money, too. Our house is certainly big enough for the two of us, but we also have room to entertain and (eventually) grow our family. We’ve already had adventures in dog-sitting, and we’re thinking about getting a cat, or two.

It’s amazing to look around, in almost any room, and realize that it looked completely different when we bought the house. We still have several projects on our list – Matching blinds for the rest of the windows, finishing renovating two dressers for two bedrooms, blackout curtains for our bedroom, painting an accent wall in the living room, and finishing my office – but we’re enjoying working on them together. And that’s the whole point, right?

It’s also hard to believe that I will likely, finally, earn my Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies as 2017 comes to a close. Wow. It’s been a long five years, with a few semester breaks here and there – Like not taking any classes for the two semesters before my wedding, for instance. (Best. Decision. Ever.)

I’m officially registered for Legal Writing this fall. I’m headed to campus again on Thursday nights from late August through mid-December. I’m excited to take this class – This is one of the main classes that I have looked forward to since starting the program. Better late than never, but here we are. Keep your fingers crossed that this is truly my last class before graduation!

I’m also glad that I had the opportunity this spring to prepare for the boards (exam) to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Many thanks to Shana for keeping me in the loop. It’s funny how things work out – I was hoping to take Legal Writing in the spring, but an English prerequisite was in my way, and I couldn’t register. During the Super Bowl in February, Shana told me TCC Workforce Solutions was offering the CPC exam prep class again (She took it in the fall of 2016). I was able to sign up in the nick of time, with the class starting two weeks after she told me.

I was incredibly nervous, but also excited. This was new territory for me. I’d had some exposure to ICD-10, CPT codes, and HCPCS codes through the nature of my job and my work, but not a lot. Casey, my former manager, encouraged me for years to get certified, and I finally took the plunge.

Medical coding is HARD. There’s three different sets of codes, and each code is for something different. It also depends on your interpretation of the doctor’s notes, which isn’t always easy.

Test day was Saturday, April 8th. It was almost six hours long! Luckily, I was able to answer all 150 questions before time expired, plus check my answers. I didn’t feel like I completely failed, but I wasn’t super confident that I passed.

About a week later, I discovered that I had passed the exam by accident. AAPC sends emails about meetings, and one of those emails started with, “Dear Laura Beth, CPC-A.” I almost fell out of my chair at work. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, so I logged on to AAPC to see my score. I ended up passing with a 76 percent score (I needed at least a 70). I tore out of my cube and ran down the hall to tell Casey. I was jumping up and down!

I found out later that I was the ONLY ONE in my class to pass the boards. I was floored. There were 15 people in my class. It was amazing!

So, now I’m certified. I have to earn a set number of continuing education units (CEUs) by a certain time next year, but going to AAPC chapter meetings every month, plus doing webinars, add up. I was pinned by the Peninsula Professional Coders last month during a special ceremony, and there were several others who are newly certified. It feels nice to have such a supportive community. Being certified also opens the door to new job opportunities. I’m very happy at Riverside, but it’s nice to have different options when thinking about the future.

There have been some challenges this year, but nothing insurmountable. Casey left Riverside for another opportunity in mid-April, which was devastating to me.

We suffered with a broken AC unit at our house for about two weeks, at the peak of the hot weather. We know now that we need to replace our HVAC before next summer. We decided to forgo a wedding anniversary vacation this fall, but we’re planning to go to New York City in the summer of 2018!

I have a lot to look forward to as I start the last year of my 20s:

  • Former work colleagues becoming true friends.
  • Enjoying my slight obsession with LuLaRoe.
  • Being part of the Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation UMC.
  • Celebrating seven years together with Al on September 4th.
  • Heading to the mountains for a weekend in early September, celebrating Savy’s bachelorette and making new friends.
  • Helping Nick and Savy celebrate their kick-ass wedding at the Vardaro Farm in October!
  • Celebrating two years of marriage with Al on November 14th!
  • Being with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Helping Tony and Rachael celebrate their wedding in December.
  • Finishing my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt by reaching at least 50,000 words, and then editing begins!
  • Reading many more books.
  • Continuing blogging, and meeting many more amazing bloggers!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #24: The Book Titles Tag

Kristin Kraves Books

Image Credit: Kristin Kraves Books

The lovely ladies at Thrice Read did another awesome tag!

Here’s the link to the original post:


1. Title that’s the story of your life

  • Survivor, Chuck Palahnuik.

2. Title that describes your perfect weekend

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King.

3. Title of an adventure you’d like to go on

  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson.

4. Title you want to name your child

  • Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger.

5. Title of your ideal job

  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, Francine Prose.

6. Title of a place you’d like to visit

  • I’m totally stealing their answer – Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs.

7. Title of your love life

  • A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks. I immediately thought of this because on our first date, Al and I took a walk on the boardwalk at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and that’s where we kissed for the first time!

8. Questions you ask yourself

  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume.

9. Title of a kingdom you want to rule OR name

  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett.

10. Title you’d name your band.

  • The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, Ann Packer.

11. What is your current mood?

  • The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin.

12. What is your favorite color?

  • The Green Mile, Stephen King.

13. How do you feel about 2017 so far?

  • Stealing another answer – The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey.

14. Where do you want to travel?

  • The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern.

15. What are your summer plans?

  • The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner.

16. What are your 2017 goals?

  • You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero.

This was such a fun tag!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #16: Blogger Recognition Award – Number Five!

Many thanks to Jenna, the amazing author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, for nominating me! This is the fifth time I’ve received this award, and I really appreciate each and every nomination!

Here’s the link to Jenna’s post, where I was nominated:


The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Give a brief story of how you started your blog.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 10 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment (or ping) on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

How Hot Shot Headlines Started

I majored in Communication Studies, Mass Media, in college. That’s a fancy title for journalism. I also minored in English, Writing & Rhetoric. In 2007, I had dreams of being the next Katie Couric, or at least eventually living and working in New York City. Four years later, I graduated, and headed back home to Hampton Roads. I worked a few temp jobs before I got my first “big girl” job at a major health system, learning everything about health insurance, plus the ins and outs of contracts, analytics, percentages, and communicating via email and the phone.

Five years have passed, I’m still with Riverside, and my blog has continued to grow. I’m not getting paid to be a journalist, but I’m just as happy with writing about whatever I want, whenever I want, and throwing in some news articles and hot topics for good measure.


For New Bloggers

  • Don’t be afraid to write how you feel – Don’t hold back profanity, etc. Your blog is your own. Just as long as you’re not trashing your current employer! You don’t want to lose your job.
  • Post as much as you want, but don’t be afraid to take a break. I don’t write blog posts at all when I’m on vacation with Al, for example. I’ve also gotten burnt out several times. But, when I give myself a break, I start to miss blogging, and then I come back to it refreshed and rejuvenated!

And The Nominees Are …

Disclaimer: Do not feel obligated to accept this nomination or award – It will not hurt my feelings. Several bloggers I know do not accept awards, and I completely understand! The purpose of these awards are to recognize that you’re an awesome blogger! I don’t want to pressure anyone into anything!

  1. trainhrtraining
  2. Little Blind Book Finds
  3. YRM
  4. Chinese Characters Decomposition
  5. Delphine’s Babble on Some Good Reads
  6. Texas Law Student
  7. DJ Art Love
  8. Jina S. Bazzar – authors inspirations

Thank you again, Jenna, for this nomination!

If you have any questions, please contact me! I’m happy to listen.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂