Writing Prompt #158: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter N)

The ABC Book Challenge - K

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “N”:


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

  • I was introduced to Barbara Ehrenreich in my freshman year of college by way of this book. I plan to re-read it soon. It’s a powerful book regarding minimum wage, and how a lot of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes not even that.



  • I first read this book in eighth grade. We were studying the Holocaust, and it left a profound impact on me. Everyone should read this book.


Nineteen Eighty-Four

  • This book creeped me out for quite a while. However, I feel the need to read it again soon.


November Blues (Jericho #2)

  • I really like and enjoy Sharon M. Draper’s books. I’ve gained a greater perspective of African-African teenagers through her fiction. The Jericho trilogy is one of my favorites.


Number The Stars

  • I was assigned this book in fifth grade. Originally, I really struggled with this book. It was one of the first times that I read so fast that my comprehension suffered. Through this book, I learned to slow down in my reading, especially assigned books, and my comprehension improved. Also, Lois Lowry is one of my favorite authors!

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “N”:


The Night Circus

  • I’ve wanted to read this book for several years. The author wrote this book during NaNoWriMo!


North and South

  • I’m part of a Facebook group called The Book Drunkard. This book has been recommended to me several times, so I need to find it at the library soon.


A Northern Light

  • I’ve heard so many good things about this book!


Northanger Abbey

  • I learned about this book from Wishbone! I know I have a greater appreciation for Jane Austen now than I did years ago.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter N? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #157: “‘Celebration Party’ January WIP Writing Challenge!”

celebration party

Image found on Didi Oviatt’s blog.

If you haven’t checked out Didi Oviatt’s AWESOME, and, frankly, kick-ass blog, do it!

Here’s the link to her challenge post:

Before I got to the end of Didi’s post, I knew which characters I wanted to use!

So, without further ado, please enjoy my “Celebration Party” scene!

Fireworks weren’t illegal to purchase in Maine. Every summer, like clockwork, the camp counselors were able to fill their cars and SUVs at the ready. The closest firework stand to Camp was only ten minutes away.

Not everyone approved of the idea, however. Emily, the Camp nurse, was naturally uneasy. Belinda Barnes, the Camp director, never thought it was the best idea. But, as long as everything was done safely, that’s all she cared about.

The counselors wanted the fireworks to be a complete surprise. Most summers, the Bangor fireworks spectacular could be witnessed in full from certain areas of Camp. Sadly, this year’s spectacular had been cancelled due to severe thunderstorms in the area – The first cancellation in quite a few summers. Camp’s atmosphere on Independence Day was just as stormy, with disappointed and grumpy campers. It had rained and stormed five out of the last six days, and rainy-day activities were running out of steam. So was a lot of people’s patience.

July 6th dawned sunny and beautiful, and everyone’s spirits naturally lifted. The day was full of lake activities, nature hikes, and a bit of mischief. Kristin and Brennan bent the rules a little, and stole away to their secluded picnic table spot for some hanky-panky. Counselors Andy and Melissa almost went skinny-dipping in the lake. And Ashley and Stephanie enjoyed their first true romantic moment together, which felt like fireworks to both of them.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, one of the most spectacular sunsets stretched out across the sky. Everyone was in awe, which gave Andy, Melissa, and a few other counselors enough time to set up the surprise.

The crickets started chirping, and everyone tuned in to the bullfrogs along the lake. They knew a surprise was being revealed, and everyone waited with bated breath.

Andy and Melissa shared another kiss right before the fireworks show was about to begin. All safety measures were reviewed and checked. The spot along the lake shore was perfect, and they couldn’t wait to see the camper’s faces light up.

Andy, the oldest counselor, was in charge. The first three fireworks were disappointing duds. But, Emily, of all people, kept the crowd hyped. The fourth firework finally shot off with a brilliant burst, and hearing the crowd’s cheers and whistles made it all worth it.

Melissa, right by Andy’s side, winked. “Let’s give them the best show ever.”

Andy nodded. The next 30 minutes felt like Camp had their own fireworks spectacular. Fireworks of every shape, size, and color were shot off in rapid succession. The noise across the lake only increased, and the counselors felt incredible. It was a great celebration all its own.

Minutes after the grand finale, through the hazy smoke the counselors could still hear the cheers and whistles. Kristin and Brennan were dancing in ankle-deep water of the lake, and so were Andy and Melissa. Ashley and Stephanie shared a kiss, not caring who saw. Everyone was celebrating in their own way, and it felt great. The atmosphere of Camp that night turned completely around. All thanks to roughly $1,000 of fireworks.

So, there you have it!

Thanks, Didi! Looking forward to February’s challenge!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #155: “North Island, New Zealand” (Reblogged)

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love lighthouses. I’ve had the opportunity to visit and climb several of them on the East Coast – Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. One of my dreams is to visit every lighthouse in the United States, and climb as many as I can. That’s no small feat!

For Christmas 2017, my sister-in-law Savy bought me this incredible book, Lighthouses of America. I love it! I plan to review it here on the blog soon.

For now, though, I’ll be admiring this photo of North Island in New Zealand. And thinking about the next lighthouse in my vicinity that I can visit and climb.

Do you like lighthouses? Where do you dream of traveling and exploring?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

North Island, New Zealand

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Book Review #68: “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”


Image Credit: Amazon

I think I first heard about this book from friends on Facebook, who all said what a powerful book it was.

Then, author Matthew Desmond was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air in April 2018. My local area, Hampton Roads in Virginia, was specifically mentioned in the interview regarding high numbers of evictions in three separate cities. It stung, and propelled me to want to learn more. As soon as possible.

I bought the book in August, and finally started it in late December. But once I started, I could not put it down. By the time we came home from the farm on December 26th, I’d flown through Part One. I was itching to go to bed that night, eager to dive in to Part Two. It only took me a few more nights of intense reading to finish it. I came away from it with a greater understanding, and appreciation, for being able to own my own home with my husband. It’s one of those books that makes me realize how good I have it, especially as a white woman with no children.

I’m drawn to books like this because of the human interest. I was reminded of the term “ethnography,” which is the systematic study of people and cultures. Author Matthew Desmond settled in Milwaukee, in the trailer park and other low-income neighborhoods, to not only interview people for the book, but to learn about their lives, and specifically what they go through day by day. The housing crisis and recession of the late-2000s began while he was conducting interviews, and it’s referenced in the book as well.

However, the housing crisis and recession are not all to blame here. It’s just one factor. There are many other factors involved with eviction and those who struggle with it. Landlords have profited by buying cheap, often dilapidated houses or buildings, charging rent, and then sometimes refusing to fix inherent problems in these properties. The tenants complain, nothing gets fixed, and rent can go unpaid or withheld. There are certain processes for evictions, but they vary greatly. There are voluntary and involuntary procedures. It’s definitely not black-and-white.

When someone is evicted, that goes on their record. It’s exponentially harder for parents with children to find an affordable place to live, and eviction(s) exacerbate that problem. Multiple evictions are even more problematic. It’s a vicious cycle, where parents want to protect their kids from negative influences and crime, but can’t break out of those areas because of their eviction record. Welfare benefits can also be affected. If you’re lucky to have a job, getting evicted can cause immense stress, affecting job performance and more. Choices have to be made, painfully – Pay rent, or the utilities, or the car repair, or a need for your kids. Kids are uprooted, shuffled, changing schools, and also stressed. It’s a horrible experience all around.

Desmond’s dedication to these interviews, living in their space, researching the processes and procedures, and soaking up everything he could about eviction shines through this book. It’s depressing, in more ways than one, but incredibly informative, educational, and eye-opening.

This is one of those books, in my opinion, should be studied and taught in schools, especially upper levels of high schools and colleges/universities. It’s an important issue that needs more focus, discussion, and change.

My eyes were opened widely to the multiple problems regarding eviction. I thought I knew a few things, but this book turned my thinking completely on its head. The book focused specifically on Milwaukee during a set number of years, but there are eviction problems and issues throughout the entire U.S.

That was one of the focuses of Desmond’s interview with Terry Gross – Thanks to receiving a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 2015, Desmond has started The Eviction Lab, where a dedicated team of researchers and students from Princeton University are creating the first-ever eviction database in the U.S. At the time of the interview, in April 2018, the Lab had already collected 83 million records from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

The book was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2017. That says something, too.

“Stabilizing a home has all sorts of positive benefits for a family,” Desmond said in the interview.

Desmond has written two other books, and co-authored one on race. I look forward to reading and seeing more from him.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #154: January Goals

Happy New Year!!

Here are my goals for the month of January:

  1. Help Al maintain our new and improved budget spreadsheet.
  2. Check out savings and investing apps.
  3. Clear the clutter in my Lady Lounge.
  4. Donate, donate, donate.
  5. Continue work on my 2013 WIP.
  6. Reset our cleaning schedule.
  7. Get back on track with The ABC Book Challenge posts.

Here’s the breakdown:

Help Al maintain our new and improved budget spreadsheet.

  • We decided to start a Google Doc that has all of our budget items for 2019. Hopefully, this will be much more manageable and less frustrating!

Check out savings and investing apps.

  • Since I listen to a lot of podcasts, there are always advertisements. I’ve heard about Robin Hood, an investing app. I don’t know if I’ll commit to it, but I want to check it out.
  • One app that our sister-in-law loves and swears by is ibotta.

Clear the clutter in my Lady Lounge.

  • I started recently – I spent nearly two hours in there last Saturday afternoon. I filled four donation boxes, finally organized my bookshelf, replaced the light bulbs in the ceiling fan fixture, filled a trash bag completely, and cut up at least 10 various-sized boxes for recycling.
  • Next weekend – I want to concentrate on the filing system.

Donate, donate, donate.

  • I’m long overdue to make a few trips to the thrift store and the library.

Continue work on my 2013 WIP.

  • Current word count: 14,247 words.
  • My rough goal is to reach at least 17,000 words before the end of January.

Reset our cleaning schedule.

  • I started using our wall calendar to mark what area of the house needed cleaning every weekend. This was a good system for us, since we typically divide and conquer the cleaning together. Just need to get back to it.

Get back on track with The ABC Book Challenge posts.

  • My original plan was to post these every Monday, but it’s fallen by the wayside recently. However, I’m committed to posting one every Monday in January!

Do you have any goals for the month of January?

If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #153: December Goals Recap

New Year Ahead

Image Credit: First Baptist Church

It’s the end of 2018! Wow!!

Here’s the link to my December Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Finally reach at least 50,000 words for my 2012 WIP. — Accomplished!
  2. Finally send my 2012 WIP to my best friend for the first round of editing. — Did not accomplish.
  3. Make an outline for the remainder of my 2013 WIP. — Did not accomplish.
  4. Start planning next steps for my 2014 and 2018 WIPs. — Accomplished!
  5. Decorate for Christmas. — Did not accomplish.
  6. Read at least three books. — Did not accomplish.
  7. Enjoy Al’s company holiday party. — Accomplished!
  8. Seriously send some snail mail! — Did not accomplish.
  9. Be a Secret Santa! — Accomplished!
  10. Take donations to the library and thrift store. — Did not accomplish.
  11. Make an “essentials only” spending list for 2019. — Accomplished!
  12. Enjoy Christmas and New Year’s! — Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Finally reach at least 50,000 words for my 2012 WIP. — Accomplished! 

  • December 8th: 606 new words
  • December 9th: 217 new words
  • December 30th: 620 new words
  • December 31st: 2,372 new words
  • Current word count: 50,461 words
  • I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!
  • I DID IT!!!!!

Finally send my 2012 WIP to my best friend for the first round of editing. — Did not accomplish.

  • I haven’t finished the story yet.

Make an outline for the remainder of my 2013 WIP. — Did not accomplish.

  • This was put on the back burner.

Start planning next steps for my 2014 and 2018 WIPs. — Accomplished!

  • I have a timeline established for these two. I want to use Camp NaNoWriMo in April to work on the 2014 WIP, and then the July session to focus on the 2018 WIP.

Decorate for Christmas. — Did not accomplish.

  • Since we didn’t celebrate at home this year, we decided that the tree wasn’t necessary.
  • I wanted to put up the wreath on our front door with battery-operated Christmas lights and Christmas ribbon, but that didn’t happen.

Read at least three books. — Did not accomplish.

Enjoy Al’s company holiday party. — Accomplished!

  • We had ourselves a good time!

Seriously send some snail mail! — Did not accomplish.

  • No effort at all.

Be a Secret Santa! — Accomplished!

  • See the photos below!

Take donations to the library and thrift store. — Did not accomplish.

  • The boxes are stacked and ready, but they didn’t make it to their destinations this month.

Make an “essentials only” spending list for 2019. — Accomplished!

  • Here’s my list: A new pair of glasses, a new pair of prescription sunglasses, my first pair of Rothy’s shoes, continuing Rodan and Fields skincare, and a new business suit.
  • A good chunk of the rest of my money will be squirreled away!

Enjoy Christmas and New Year’s! — Accomplished!

  • We had a wonderful time at Al’s parents for Christmas. We took almost a week off of work, and it was great. Al had nearly two weeks off altogether.
  • No New Year’s parties for us – Just a quiet night at home with our dogs, a delicious dinner, and watching movies until midnight, with Martinelli’s sparkling cider.

Final Thoughts

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to six out of 12 goals. I’ll take 50 percent. Not bad for the end of the year!
  • The six goals that I did not accomplish: A lot of these were due to time constraints, and lack of motivation and effort.

What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of December?

Come back tomorrow to see my January Goals!

Happy New Year!!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #152: My Favorite Things of 2018

Favorite Things - Quote Master

Image Credit: Quote Master

I’ve seen several blog posts like this pop up in the last week or so. I wanted to do my own!

Also, I wanted to capture how many books I actually read in 2018. Several blog posts mentioned this, and I wanted to tally mine. One young lady read 110 books this year. That’s incredible!

So, before starting the lists of favorites, here’s my tally for books and Book Reviews for 2018:

Ratings Tally

  • 5 stars: 2
  • 4 1/2 stars: 8
  • 4 stars: 5
  • 3 1/2 stars: 1
  • 3 stars: 1
  • 2 1/2 stars: 0
  • 2 stars: 0
  • 1 1/2 stars: 0
  • 1 star: 0

ARC Reviews (First year ever!)

I really enjoyed reading these two books. I hope to read more ARCs in 2019!

Now, on to my favorites!

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Aquaman
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • Blockers
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Christopher Robin
  • First Man
  • Game Night
  • Incredibles 2
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout 
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Favorite TV Shows

Favorite Podcasts

  • Assassinations (Parcast)
  • Conspiracy Theories (Parcast)
  • Female Criminals (Parcast)
  • Hostage (Parcast)
  • Kingpins (Parcast)
  • Small Town Dicks
  • The Adventure Zone – “Amnesty” (Maximum Fun)

Well, that wraps up my favorite things for 2018!

What about you? What were some of your favorite things of the year?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂