Tag #94: “Books as First Dates Tag”

I’ve seen this blind date with a book idea in libraries and bookstores! Image Credit: Hawaii State Public Library

I was tagged by the lovely Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts! Thank you!

Here’s the link to Jenna’s post, where I was tagged: Books as First Dates Tag

Jenna discussed her ideal first date. For me, it’s definitely biased, but my first date with Al was absolutely magical. The original plan for September 4, 2010, was to go to dinner at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and then wait for Chicago to perform as part of the American Music Festival. We had a lovely dinner, and then strolled along the boardwalk. We kissed for the first time that night, and I legitimately saw sparks and fireworks. We talked for hours. I think he took me home at 1:30 a.m. Turns out, he knew he wanted to marry me after that first date, so I think it worked!


The Creator & the Rules

The creators of this tag is Alice @ Love for Words! The rules are …

↠ Link back to the original tag.
↠ Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
↠ Tag 5+ bloggers.
↠ Have fun!


One. First and Last: A book/series you’ve read and enjoyed, but can’t bring yourself to read again.

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy. It’s a really good book, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. Some of the visual images I got will haunt me forever.


Two. With a friend of my friend: A book/series someone recommended to you that turned out to be different from what you had expected

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. Many of you know my feelings about Allegiant, so we’ll leave it at that. I don’t have the books in my collection anymore. I was so disappointed. I haven’t picked up any of Roth’s other books since.


Three. Double date: A book whose sequel you immediately had to read

The Hunger Games! I didn’t have the sequel after finishing it, so I immediately went out and bought both Catching Fire and Mockingjay.


Four. Let’s go to the movies: A book/series that should be adapted to the screen.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.


Five. Dreamy stargazing: A book that made you go ahhhh and ohhhh

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.


Six. Fun at the fair: A book full of colours

Mosquitoland by David Arnold.


Seven. Amusement park adventure: A book that was a roller coaster

Smashed by Koren Zalickas.


Eight. Picnic with cherries: A book whose food descriptions made you feel all *heart eyes*

I agree with Jenna, the descriptions in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban always make my mouth water.


Nine. Trip to the museum: A book that taught you valuable stuff

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.


Tag – You’re It!

Kristian – Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table

Destiny – Howling Libraries


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #6: The Ebony And Fire Writing Club – What Projects Are You Working On?

Welcome back!

Buckle up, friends. Expect a post about The Ebony and Fire Writing Club coming to you every week for the foreseeable future!

I’m so thrilled with the reaction and support that I received earlier this week when I announced that I was joining the club in my Writing Adventures #5 post. If you’re interested, contact Tiana or Phoenix!


Here’s the link to Tiana’s newest post: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club: What Projects are you Working on?

Here’s the link to Phoenix’s newest post: From The Ebony and Fire Writing Club: Tell Us What You’re Working On!

Also, here’s the link to the main club page: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club


Here’s my details!

My Current Writing Project

I’m currently editing my draft of “Experiences From Camp.” This is the novel that I started during my first-ever NaNoWriMo in November 2012. It took 6 1/2 years, but I finished the first draft on March 30, 2019. I’ve sent it to several people to read and critique since then, and I’ve received some really good feedback.

For Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020, I printed out the first draft, threw it in a binder, and went to town with a blue pen and hot pink Post-It notes. Now, coupled with the reader feedback I’ve received so far, I’m translating it into a second draft on the computer. Once the second draft is done, I’ll send it back to my readers. I have set a deadline of sending the second draft to my readers no later than June 30, 2020.

Writing Advice

You don’t have to write a novel! You may enjoy writing poetry, fan fiction, blog posts, short stories, or free verse. It doesn’t have to end up as a book or something published. As long as you’re writing, that’s amazing! You have a gift. And, since you’re on WordPress, you’re creating!

I recently wrote a short story for a contest, and I had so much fun! It was a great way to stretch myself and actually submit something.


What are you working on?

If you feel comfortable, tell me what you’re working on in the comments! I’ve always enjoyed supporting others and being a cheerleader.


Stay tuned for another Writing Adventures post, coming soon!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #5: The Ebony and Fire Writing Club

Image Credit: H.R. Phoenix

I’m embarking upon a new adventure! It’s been well over a year since my last Writing Adventures post, but this one is special.

Here’s the link to Tiana’s original post: The Raven Writer’s Accountability Club

Together with Phoenix, she’s starting a club of writers. It’s so exciting!


After her original announcement, they changed a few things. Here’s Tiana’s update post: Announcement! The Ebony and Fire Writing Club

Here’s the link to Phoenix’s post: New: Join the Ebony and Fire Writing Club Now


If you’re interested, click on either one the Ebony and Fire Writing Club posts, and comment with your name.

The idea is those who want to participate will do a weekly post about the progress they’ve made with their work.

Tiana and Phoenix are also setting up donation pages through Ko-fi (Please note: This part is completely optional, it’s not a requirement to join) to give club members special access to writing advice, tips, tricks, and inspiration.

I’m really excited to participate! I’ve admired Tiana since she started her blog, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Phoenix better, along with the other club members.


What about you? Have you joined any blogging clubs or groups? What abour on social media?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #83: “The Stolen Sapphire: A Samantha Mystery”

I received this book through a fun gift exchange on Facebook. I’m part of several American Girl groups, and one of them started an Elfster gift exchange last year for Christmas. The group has done it three times since then. It’s been very popular!

I don’t remember ever reading this particular mystery, so I was thrilled to get it!

The book is a solid 171 pages, which is great for American Girl’s target audience of 8 years old and up. Being a mystery, it does have some frightening moments, but it’s also an easy ready, with shorter chapters and a good story.

Set two years after Samantha’s original books, she and Nellie set sail on the RMS Queen Caroline, headed for Europe. Now eleven years old, they want to have fun on the voyage, but are accompanied by a French tutor to help them keep up with their schoolwork while they miss school for two weeks. Along the way, they meet quite a cast of characters. When the legendary blue sapphire disappears, everyone on the ship is a suspect! And Nellie appears to be hiding something as well.

For years, Samantha’s character has been criticized as snobby, stuck-up, and privileged. Her original books are set in 1904, and it’s no secret that her family is wealthy and of high society. However, Samantha is kind, and reaches out to Nellie and her sisters, especially when they realize they have all been orphans due to their parents’ early demises.

This mystery was exciting. The first night reading it, I only made it through the first two chapters before going to sleep. However, the next night, the story was so engaging, I couldn’t put it down. Before I knew it, I had finished the book. I wanted to figure out who the thief was! For a book aimed at young girls, I loved how it was really hard to guess the real culprit. It was like I was playing detective with Samantha and Nellie, navigating the ins and outs of the ship, which was more modest than other ocean liners of the early 1900s.

I was pleased with this book. It has the right amount of character development, conflict, suspense, and mystery. I want to read the other Samantha mysteries now, and go back to re-read her original books, too.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 4 – Family Visit)

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One of the views from the boardwalk at John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach. This is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

After resigning from my job on August 13th, I was asked to leave the company immediately. Given I had a bit of paid vacation ahead of me before starting my new job on September 3rd, I was toying with the idea of visiting my Grandpa Stricker in Florida. Thanks to the encouragement of Mom, Dad, and Al, I decided to book a flight and spend several days in the sunshine.

I flew down on Tuesday, August 27th. Southwest was great. I changed planes in Baltimore, and landed in Tampa a little earlier than scheduled. I rode the Super Shuttle with several people from the airport to Grandpa’s condo.

After I got settled, I caught up with my Aunt Marny. I hadn’t seen her in person since my wedding in 2015!

For dinner, we had amazing chicken salad from this place called Chicken Salad Chick. It started in Auburn, Alabama. It has 135 locations total, as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, and up through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio. There is one location in Virginia! If you live in the Richmond / Glen Allen areas, you’re in for a treat!

On Wednesday morning, Aunt Marny asked if I wanted to have brunch at the Sweet Sage Cafe and Boutique in North Redington Beach. I didn’t hesitate!

I had their delicious “two’s two’s” item, where I chose French toast, bacon, and yummy eggs. There was sangria, too.

A happy accident happened to me, too. I had been casually searching for a 4ocean bracelet after one of my co-workers at Riverside had bought one. The boutique sold them! I picked the green one, and found out later it’s the “sea turtle” one. Perfect!

One of the many funny signs inside the Sweet Sage Cafe.

The exterior is so colorful and calming.

Love Radar!

Hook, Line, and Drinker.

After brunch, we went to John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach.

Pelicans taking a rest.

A fun tiki bar boat tour.

A beautiful heron.

An old-fashioned taffy pulling machine in action.

On Wednesday night, we went to PJ’s Oyster Bar early for happy hour and seafood!

Aunt Marny and I both enjoyed a Yuengling. We all got something different – Grandpa had his shrimp, Marny got clam strips, and I got the crab cakes, fries, and Caesar salad.

There were Blues Brothers statues everywhere!

I had a really good trip. I’m glad I took the time to visit!

Have you visited Florida?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Book Review #77: “Mosquitoland”

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I’m going to go out on a limb here, and declare that Mosquitoland is my favorite book of 2019.

I had a feeling this book was special when I found it at Barnes & Noble last year, while I was looking for books to purchase with the gift card I received for my birthday.

I fell in love with Mim, the main character, right at the start. I loved how Arnold addressed mental illness, psychiatric care, and dysfunctional families. I was rooting for Mim the entire time on her journey, which became quite a map of routes, detours, and exits.

I admire Arnold and his creation of his characters. I love how he used music throughout the story. The resounding theme of being on a journey stuck with me the whole time. It was quite a ride.

Arnold is so good with his words and storytelling, that I felt like this story was a mix tape of coming of age, mystery, suspense, a bit of horror, and all of it was delicious. I could hardly tear my eyes away from the book. I wanted to know what happened next.

I found myself a bit surprised with the end of the book. No spoilers — But it was an interesting turn, something I hadn’t considered. It made me like Arnold even more as an author.

I look forward to reading more from Arnold – He has three more books I’m eager to devour.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #89: “He’s a disabled Gulf War veteran with a new purpose: Save birds nearly wiped out by pesticides”

Injured veteran finds purpose

Vallieres shows an owl to a veteran during a demonstration at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. Found on CNN.

Around the middle of April, I stumbled upon a fascinating headline whilst browsing CNN.com, as I do nearly every day:


Robert Vallieres served our country. He came home from the Gulf War broken, and nearly died. He’s battled a traumatic brain injury (TBI), chemical exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other things.

However, he’s channeled his recovery into volunteering with the New Hampshire Audubon Society.

He’s helping to track and rehabilitate peregrine falcons and bald eagles.


What started it all? His son, who was three at the time. He asked his dad what type of bird he saw. Vallieres bought a bird identification book, binoculars, and they started learning together near their home in Concord, New Hampshire.

In the newspaper, he saw an ad for a birding trip in the state’s White Mountains. He signed up. What stunned him was when a falcon grabbed a bird in mid-air. And it helped him appreciate and enjoy the outdoors – Using all your senses.

Unable to work, the New Hampshire Audubon Society was looking for volunteers to count and track peregrine falcons and bald eagles. Both were nearly wiped off the map due to the pesticide DDT, now banned, which killed unhatched chicks in the 1960s.

The New Hampshire Audubon Society was thrilled to have Robert come on boarding. With his military training, a lot of the same skills applied to counting and tracking these birds.

“Finding rhythm or purpose in life besides myself,” says Vallieres, “Not to get stuck on myself, to have an outlet and be semi-physically fit.”


In addition to volunteering, Robert built a nesting box for kestrel falcons in his yard. It worked. He now has breeding pairs.

He also works to rehabilitate birds for Wings of Dawn, a local wildlife hospital.

He also takes birds to the New Hampshire Veterans Home monthly. The home was so impressed with Robert that they applied for and received a grant to get dozens of binoculars for residents to observe the birds on the property. They also purchased more bird feeders so the less-mobile residents can experience the visitors.

He still struggles with migraines and painful scar tissue. Seeing birds take flight, however, helps him lift his own wings.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth

Writing Prompt #197: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 28)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 28 – Your favorite theme park

Image result for disney world

Image result for disney world

Disney World!

We went to Disney for part of our honeymoon in November 2016. You can read more in my Adventure Time post. Here’s some photos!

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

The Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

Pixar Studios! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait!

Pixar Place! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait! I guess we just have to come back again …

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

Obligatory.

Obligatory. Spaceship Earth!

We are planning to go back to Disney in the fall of 2020, to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary and experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the first time!


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #4: “A Step By Step Guide to Creating A Media Kit”

I’ve been following Brianna Marie Lifestyle for quite a while! I saw this post in my email inbox recently. I felt it was such an important post – I needed to share it!

Here’s the link to Brianna’s post:


I’ve heard of Canva for a while now, but now I need to sit down and actually use it!

I really liked Brianna’s post, and I intend to follow every step. I really think it will help elevate me, and the blog!

Also, this post is reminding me to get a new headshot done – It’s beyond time to update it!


What about you?

Do you have a media kit?

Any recommendations?

Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Adventures #3: Finishing The First Draft of My 2012 WIP

finish-line-900

Image Credit: Cottonwood Creek

Welcome back! I haven’t posted any new Writing Adventures posts for several months, but I’m excited to get back to it now.

Here are the links to my previous posts:


I’m very excited to be *this close* to finishing my first draft of my 2012 Work in Progress (WIP). I set a goal earlier this year to finish the first draft before December 31, 2018. I’ve mentioned before that my best friend, Melissa, has offered to edit the first draft for me. But, I have to finish it first!

Reading the last two Writing Adventures posts made me so proud of myself. I’ve made so much progress on this piece just this year!

In June, right before the second Camp NaNoWriMo session of 2018, here were my observations about “Experiences From Camp”:

  • I started this during NaNoWriMo 2012, which was my first-ever NaNoWriMo. I wrote around 10,000 words by the end of that month.
  • In March, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for the very first time, thanks to Madi’s encouragement.
  • During Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018, I exceeded my goal and won Camp! My goal was 20,000 new words. On April 30th, I surpassed my goal with approximately 20,256 new words! Yippee!
  • June 2018 monthly goal: Write 1,000 new words.
  • Sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 before the end of the month.
  • Set my Camp NaNoWriMo goal before the end of the month.
  • Current word count: 34,130 words.

In August, I posted my Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 recap.

  • Before Camp started, my word count was 34,719 words.
  • In 31 days, I added 11,916 words.
  • I was so excited to add almost 12,000 new words!

Now, as of today, December 8th, here’s where I stand.

  • Current word count: 46,646 words.
  • Countdown to 50,000 words: 3,354 words.

I feel so confident that I will reach 50,000 words, or more, before the end of the month. I can feel it!

In fact, I think I’ll end this post now, so I can get back to it!


What about you? Are you writing anything special?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂