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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Writing Prompt #69: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 31)

Week #31: Core Value.

The simplest definition of “core value” that I found is as follows:

  • Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.

This one was a big challenge!

As I thought about it over the course of the last week, the one I kept circling back to was that I’m incredibly grateful for my faith and belief in God.

The image below was created by Caralyn, the beautiful and amazing author behind the fabulous blog called BeautyBeyondBones.

BeautyBeyondBones (2)

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

I draw a lot of inspiration from Caralyn. Reading her posts always lifts my spirits, and renews my faith!

She’s also inspired me to get even closer to God. Because of her, I pray a lot more. I also pray a lot more out loud, especially in the car!

I’m excited to be participating in the upcoming Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation, which kicks off on August 10th. The idea behind the campaign is to “bridge the gap between generations through prayer.” I love it! Our Director of Children and Youth Ministries, Jeremy, started promoting this a few months ago, and I helped run the promotional video last month during both services. I felt immediately inspired, and filled with hope. I can’t wait to be a personal Prayer Champion for my young one throughout this entire upcoming school year! I firmly believe that participating in this campaign will strengthen my faith, and help me become a better Christian and a better person! I know that God is smiling on all of us, all the time, even when it’s dark and gray outside.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #54: “What To Pay For When Publishing”

Things I Learned About Self-Publishing

Image Credit: AbridgeClub.com

I was inspired to write this post from James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing.

Here’s the link to his original post:

As someone who has several novels / stories in the works (A never-ending cycle, it seems), I’ve gotten more and more curious about self-publishing in the last year or so. I have nothing ready to self-publish as of yet, but I like to plan ahead!

Jim offers this advice, as a self-published author on Amazon. You should be prepared to pay for the following:

  1. ISBN Numbers
  2. Copyright registration
  3. Cover
  4. Editing and Reviewing
  5. Advertising

He brings up some excellent points. Before reading his post, I knew that having someone else design the cover, as well as hiring someone else to edit and review your work, would definitely be worth the money. However, I didn’t think about ISBN numbers, copyright registration, and advertising.

Jim says that if you do decide to self-publish, you should be prepared to spend at least $400 at an absolute bare minimum. However, it’s also wise to spend a little more if you want your work to reach more people! (Don’t we all?)

Jim’s post made me research a little bit deeper. Keep in mind – Everyone has their own opinion, and the Internet is chock-full of advice about self-publishing.

There are so many avenues available now – It made my head spin! There’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and then a massive number of independent publishers. A Google search for “self-publishing” is almost overwhelming and panic-inducing.

Here’s a few links:

A lot of these articles tend to agree on several items:

  1. Purchase your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
  2. Hiring “book doctors” and getting it copy edited by a professional.
  3. Don’t just choose one medium – Consider publishing in print and e-book formats, and even audio books.
  4. Marketing is key.
  5. A good cover design is immensely helpful.
  6. Do your pricing research, and be mindful of the different percentages of the price that each company takes (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible, etc.) when a copy of your book is sold.

The bottom line – The publishing and self-publishing worlds seem to be constantly evolving. It’s hard to keep up with!

But, I’m glad that I have bloggers like James, among others, who are willing to write posts, offer advice, and answer questions!

Have you self-published anything? If so, what was your experience like? Can you offer any advice?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #68: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 30)

Week #30: Your Current Age.

As of right now, I’m 28 years old. As I’ve said several times before, I’m incredibly grateful to have been on this Earth for these 28 years!

It’s hard to believe that my birthday comes around again just a few weeks from now. The last year of my 20s! It always seems to sneak up on me now. When I was a kid, though, it was a different story. I was always slightly jealous of the kids who had their birthdays during the school year – Their parents would bring in treats for the whole class, and so on. It felt like it took forever for August to arrive!

But, in a way, I’m also lucky. My birthday is during the summer, so I never had to go to school on my actual birthday! I did go to work a handful of times on my birthday, but now I’ve started to deliberately take the day off, if it falls on a weekday. I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s like a mental health day where I can do whatever I want!

Here’s 28 things that I’m grateful for:

  1. Living on this Earth for so long!
  2. My amazing parents.
  3. My wonderful husband!
  4. Our families that love each other and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. A house that is livable and in a great neighborhood.
  6. A fridge/freezer full of food.
  7. Having good jobs that allow us to have our house, food, and spending money.
  8. A closet full of clothes.
  9. Excellent education!
  10. A reliable car that is able to make the 60-mile commute five days a week.
  11. Being able to travel frequently.
  12. A wonderful, stable church home that’s lasted for 25 years.
  13. My overall good health.
  14. The ability to see doctors when needed.
  15. Enjoying several passions – Reading, writing, American Girl dolls, movies, photography.
  16. Connecting and re-connecting with friends and family.
  17. Being able to go to a gym near the house to work out and strengthen my body and mind.
  18. Affordable Internet access.
  19. Easy access to a library system, where I can check out as many books as I want, at any time.
  20. Intelligence.
  21. Humility.
  22. Grace.
  23. Understanding.
  24. Being able to control my anxiety.
  25. Being able to listen.
  26. The power of prayer.
  27. Connecting with so many amazing bloggers, all around the world!
  28. Being loved and appreciated!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #15: The Sunshine Blogger Award – Number Three!


Image Credit: Found on Bookmark Your Thoughts

I’m honored and humbled to have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award for the third time. I was nominated by Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts. Thanks, Jenna!

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

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

The Rules

  1. Thank the person/persons that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people, and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award.

Questions from Jenna

One. What’s your favourite book from your childhood?

  • I read and re-read the American Girl “Central Series,” or the six books that were about the original Historical Characters, throughout my childhood. I had many of the books in my own library, and I checked out the others from the library. Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly were the original three girls when the company first started in 1986. Felicity was added in 1991, Addy debuted in 1993, and Josefina was introduced in 1997. Note – I shamelessly read them as an adult, too. I’m currently rebuilding my childhood collection!

Two. From the best of your knowledge, what is your favourite childhood memory?

  • I have so many! I think my favorite is playing with the kids in the cul-de-sacs of Leeward Drive and Leeward Court (where my parents still live), and hopping the fence in my backyard to access the city park. We had many neighborhood “Breakfast in the Park” get-togethers for years,

Three. What was your favourite subject in school? Why?

  • I’ve always loved English class more than anything else. I love to read, and I became a fairly good writer in elementary school. I think my love of reading and writing led to my decision to study journalism / Mass Media in college.

Four. If reincarnation is real, what would you like to come back as?

  • I’d love to be a guinea pig or a hedgehog. I had several guinea pigs growing up, and we took care of several for friends after ours passed away. My 6th grade Civics teacher had a classroom hedgehog named Curious, and I’ve wanted one of my own ever since.

Five. Name one reason why you would want to teleport to the future? What do you think it will behold?

  • I would love see if self-driving cars actually come to fruition, among other things. I would love to see revolutions in healthcare, cures for diseases (Cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, etc.), and agreement on tax reform!

Six. Who is your favourite hero/heroine in YA literature?

  • I loved Tally Youngblood in Uglies. Thinking about it, I need to read the rest of the series (Three more books). But, when I read it for my YA Literature class in the spring of 2011, I thought the book was revolutionary.

Seven. You’ve won a million dollars; what’s the very first thing you do with the money?

  • I pay off our mortgage.

Eight. It’s movie watching time; what’s your favourite movie genre that you’re most likely going to watch? Do you have a favourite movie?

  • Forrest Gump has always been my favorite movie! If I’m not watching that movie, anything with Tom Hanks is a good choice.

Nine. You can instantly travel to anywhere in the world; where are you travelling to? Why?

  • I’m headed to Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to visit! There are so many things to do there. My parents have been several times – They climbed Diamond Head in 2009!

Ten. You find a genie (with no restrictions) and are the lucky one to have three of your wishes granted; what are they?

  1. Have all of my novel attempts officially published and available to everyone.
  2. Have a library like Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast be built in my house / on my property.
  3. Pay off our mortgage, plus have about $20,000 available for several home improvements (New HVAC system, new windows, etc.)

Eleven. What book series or standalone novel would you recommend/do recommend to anyone? Why?

  • If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s one book that I re-read every single year, and it’s made a big impact on my life since reading it in high school.

Questions for the Nominees

  1. Do you have a favorite sports team?
  2. What movie are you most excited about for 2018?
  3. If money was no object, what would be your dream job?
  4. If you could do your school experience over again, would you have changed your field of study? If so, what would you pick?
  5. What is your favorite breed of dog?
  6. Do you have a dream pet(s)?
  7. If you could embark on a week-long trip in the United States, where would you go?
  8. What’s your favorite breakfast food(s)?
  9. If you could meet any author, who would you choose, and why?
  10. Is there a particular time period that you would want to live in?
  11. Do you have a favorite vacation or trip from your childhood?

And The Nominees Are …

  1. Dutch Lion
  2. daily(w)rite
  3. “An Tony’M”
  4. theexceptionalwriter
  5. Noveau Bohemian
  6. The Diary of a Muslim Girl
  7. Thriller/Suspense Film and Writing Festival
  8. Around the Library in 80 Days
  9. Bookends and Endings
  10. WilliWash

Please note: Your participation is completely voluntary!!

Thanks for reading! I’m so honored to receive this award.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂