and lots of other goodies, so don’t miss out 🙂 Before you go…
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Check back soon for an exclusive sneak peek at the first TWO CHAPTERS!
Happy Friday everyone! I’m actually playing hooky from work today. Shhh…don’t tell anyone!
April showers bring May flowers…The past week in Pennsylvania has been fairly damp and rainy. Perfect weather for snuggling up on the couch with blanket and good book! I actually really love the rain, especially when I’m home (days like today 👍🏻)
Here is a recap of my thoughts/activities from this past week:
1.) Okay, I know I said I don’t watch a lot of TV (I really don’t…I think) but last night I watched the new ABC series Imaginary Mary. It was hilarious!!!! I only watched the pilot episode and maybe I was just in the mood to laugh, but it was hysterical. It’s like Ted (the movie) but from a female perspective. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s available on the ABC app.
2.) Need a pick me up? Then you need to watch Jamin’s Downtown Disney Flashmob Proposal. I’ve seen it countless times and it always makes me smile 🙂 There’s dancing and Disney and Bruno Mars and a cute couple….#goodtimes
P.S. The intro is a little long…but trust me, you won’t be disappointed 😉
3.) I’m ridiculously excited about this new notebook I picked up in Staples the other day. Do I need another notebook? No, no I do not. But I am sucker for pretty stationary, especially stationary with inspiring quotes. Isn’t it pretty?!
4.) I hate traffic. Mr. M and I attended our money conference on Tuesday night (I talked about this in first FFF post). The event was being hosted in a historic theater (read: no parking) in a suburb of Philadelphia. We knew we would be hitting rush hour traffic so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the event; it was general admission seating and the event was sold out. We did not, however, expect to be stopped at the same stoplight for over forty-five minutes. Seriously, ever time the light turned green, and we didn’t move, I felt my life slowly slipping away. I’m a fairly patient person, but traffic is something I cannot deal with. After driving around for another half-hour looking for parking (this was a downtown area with noparking garages) we made it to the show—flustered and exhausted—but we made it just in time.
P.S. The show was great 🙂
5.) I have a girl crush on Alicia Keys. I love her spirit and honesty and I think she’s an amazing role model for women. Plus, I recently heard that she never wears make-up (I don’t know if this is true?) but if so, it makes me love her even more. And her voice! I’ve been known to sing (read: perform) her songs a time or two. Not saying I do it well but…
Okay friends, that’s all I got this week! Make it a great weekend!
Another week has come and gone. Most Fridays I’m caught somewhere between “Where the hell did the week go?” and “Thank God it’s Friday!”
Here’s a recap of what’s been up in my world 🙂
1.) Dieting Issues: I decided that March was going to be the month that I cleaned up my diet. No more junk food, no more chocolate 😥, no more eating out…basically no more fun. And guess what? I did really well for the first twelve days. Then, I fell off the wagon one night, which snowballed into the next day and then the next. Now here we are March 31st and there’s been little to no progress on Mission: Lose Ten Pounds by Summer. But seriously, why does dieting have to be so freaking hard?! I heard analogy about dieting many years ago that I think sums it up perfectly: “Dieting is like masturbating…it gets the job done but it’s not as satisfying.” #Facts
2.) I attended a “TA Talk” at a local university this past Wednesday. Essentially it’s a free workshop that features The Fulbright Exchange teaching assistants who have worked at college the past school year. Mr. M and I attend every year; it’s so interesting to hear about education in other countries, different value systems, foods, language, etc.
Interesting fact: One TA was from Nepal and to say “hello” or “goodbye” in Nepali is the expression”namaste”. Being a yoga instructor (and huge yogi!) I was super excited to learn this 🙂
Side note: If you’re not familiar with The Fulbright Exchange it’s an incredible, federally-funded exchange program for teachers and/or graduate students seeking advanced placement within certain fields. You can read more about it here –> Fulbright Exchange
3.) I’m not much of a TV watcher but I started watching The Arrangementon the E! Network. Anyone else watching it? The premise of the show is that a no-name Hollywood actress is hired to be the fiancée of an A-list celebrity. who recently went through a very public breakup. There’s a lot of back story – the A lister is a bit closed off and belongs to some spiritual cult (for lack of a better word) and the no-name actress has her own secrets. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it but every week I tune in to see what happens so I guess I’m lovin’ it 🙂
4.) I’m a closet nerd (okay, maybe not so closet 😂) and I love learning the origin of sayings that we use in modern language. Take the expression “caught red-handed” for example. A co-worker and I recently got into a discussion about this phrase. I thought it had to do with fire alarms; supposedly there’s dye inside of them that ruptures when pulled and therefore can (potentially) identify the person who pulled the alarm. I’ve never researched this though, so this theory could be complete myth. 🙂
My co-worker claimed it had something to do with bank bags; a dye pack is placed inside a bank bag (during a robbery, for example) and then can later be triggered using a remote, wireless device. The dye pack ruptures and coats the bills with ink (I’m not sure if it’s visible or not) and makes the bills easily identifiable to authorities.
But those two interesting theories aside, Google tells us that the true origin of the expression “caught red-handed” dates back to 15th century Scotland and refers to someone who is (quite literally) red-handed due to blood from either murder or poaching. Who knew?
5.) Friday night is pizza night in our house. As far back as I can remember Friday nights were always pizza night. My family would order a pizza and my older sister and I would each pick out a movie to rent at Blockbuster…those were the days!
Mr. M and I still do this; Friday nights are our time to relax, eat some pizza, and watch Shark Tank. #LifeOfTheParty
Spring is finally here (yay!) and while there still may be snow on the ground in Pennsylvania I’m smiling because it will be flip-flop weather soon 🙂
Okay so here’s a run-down of my week:
1.) Is anyone else getting an annoying amount of ADS for Mahabis? No? I’m the only one??? Seriously?! For the past week (maybe a bit longer)their ADS have been popping up everywhere…from my Facebook feed to Twitter to Pinterest to Instagram! I can’t help but think that the universe is trying to tell me something, like maybe I really need these slippers in my life 😊 . I think I’m falling victim to their marketing tactics because I found myself clicking on their website and shopping around. They’re wearing me down, man! I *almost* purchased a pair before I came to my senses and gave myself a stern talking to. The conversation went something like this: CJ, they’re slippers! Yes, but… They’re ninety-eight freakin’ dollars!!! Do not buy them!
I bowed my head and closed the browser. But hey, maybe I’m the one missing out here…anyone own a pair and can let me know?
2.) Avocado Toast is everything. I first had avocado toast while vacationing in Edinburgh last summer. I love avocados but was skeptical of eating it on toast—don’t ask why, I’m weird like that—but that all changed the second I tasted the most amazing, delicious, tasty, crunchy, oh-so-good toast in the world. One bite and I was hooked and I’ve done my best to duplicate the Scottish version.
I usually make this on the weekends (during the week I don’t have time to sit and eat breakfast so I typically grab a smoothie on the way out the door).
Here’s the recipe:
2 slices of sour dough bread, toasted
1 ripe, avocado, pitted and sliced
Sun-dried tomato spread
Mix equal amounts: chia seeds, sesame seeds, red hot pepper flakes, and crushed sea salt (sprinkle over toast)
P.S. Also pictured is another absolute obsession of mine – Honest T: Moroccan Green Mint…seriously it’s the BEST tea ever but I think I’ll save rambling on about it for another post 🙂
3.) This picture:
I pinned this picture the other day on Pinterest and I’m still thinking about it. Even though it’s such a simple photo I absolutely love its meaning. Reading (and writing!) takes you on a magical adventure (sorry this sounds so corny, but it’s true 😊 )to explore new worlds and cultures, it shifts perspectives, broadens the mind…it’s like traveling while curled up on the couch with your favorite blanket. It’s perfection.
4.) My deadline is approaching for current WIP: Forever Hearts (May 1st) and I’m nowhere close to being done. Current work count = 28,729 *hangs head in shame*
But in my defense I do my best work under pressure; I need a deadline. That being said I see a lot of late nights in my near future!!!
P.S. I really, really want to share my “blurb” but I’m still tweaking it. I will soon, as in next week soon. I promise! <– See, I told you I need a deadline 🙂
5.) Mr. M and I purchased Fitbits (I know, we’re really late to the party) and I’ve become borderline obsessed with checking my heart rate. My resting heart is rate low (typically in the 60-65 range bpm range) but the second I start doing anything physical it shoots up… a lot (90 bpm or higher). It comes down fairly quickly but still it kind of freaks me out…like am I going to die or something? It’s probably just a sign that I need to more physical exercise and less sitting. But then again, I’m sure it’s fine 😉
There are so many different types of Fitbits. Based on a friend’s recommendation we got the FitBit Charge 2:
It’s pretty, but I’m not a huge watch/bracelet person so it’s been an adjustment wearing it all of the time.
Until next time here’ a super cute puppy to make you smile:
P.S. You’re welcome for getting that song stuck in your head 🤣
Welcome to my first FIVE for Friday post : -) First, let’s all take a minute to rejoice because it’s FRIIIIIDAYYYY, my absolute favoriteday of the week. There aren’t many things that I love more than driving home from work after a long week knowing that I am free for the next forty-eight hours. No alarms, no making lunches, hell, no bra if I so choose, which btw I don’t. Sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time but that’s neither here nor there 😉
I thought it would be a nice end to the week to share five highlights from my week; complete randomness, from the products I’m loving, beautiful and inspiring quotes, trivia (I love random trivia and have an intense urge to share it with the world), to funny stories, to music I’m listening to, to my current works in progress… you get the idea!
Let’s dive right in:
1.) Random fact: I recently read that there are six people in the world who look exactly like you and there’s a 9 percent chance (statistically speaking) that you will meet one of them. Now, I can’t cite a credible source (it was a meme) but if this is true it’s pretty cool…and a little creepy. I wonder what my “twins” are doing right now?! Maybe they’re wishing for spring as much as I am even as the snow continues to fall outside!
2.) Product shout out: Paula’s Choice Skincare line is a godsend! I have super sensitive/oily skin and have struggled with acne since adolescence. In fact, I am still struggling with it into my thirties, which seems a bit ridiculous if you ask me. PC Ultra-Light Mattifying Daily Fluid is awesome because it’s super light and contains SPF 30+ to protect my skin. I wear it every day and have never broken out once. The only caveat: it’s a little difficult to find. Amazon is hit or miss so I’ve been ordering it from the DermStore.
Click the pic if you want to check it out –>
3.) I’m a podcast junkie. I have a long commute to work (about an hour each way) so I use this time to catch up on the goings on of the world. If you’re into finances (I know what you’re thinking: Is there anyone who is actually interested in finances? *Raises hand proudly and shouts* “ME!”) a great podcast to check out is the Dave Ramsey Show. It’s a talk radio show that is 100% free and I’ve learned so much about budgeting, bills, and investing since I’ve started listening. His motto is to live “debt free” and he outlines a step-by-step plan that it’s easy to follow. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, Mr. M. and I have tickets to attend Dave’s live event in April and I’m über excited for it!
4.) What I’m reading: Nicole London’s Mr. Popular. I’m about halfway through and I’m liking it so far. I’ve been in a bit of a book funk lately and I downloaded it on a whim, but I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ll keep you posted 🙂
5.) One of Mr. M’s best friends is staying with us this weekend (he’s flying in from California) and he and Mr. M have a TON of bro-dates planned. What does this mean for me? The house 100% to myself. As much as I love Mr. M, every girl needs some time to herself every now and then. I’m planning on getting a lot of writing done on my current WIP, Forever Hearts—more on this next week 😉 . Notice I used the word planning because sometimes I fall victim to the magic lure of Netflix and then all bets are off. Wish me luck!
How was your week? Any exciting plans for the weekend? Leave any questions or comments below. I love hearing from you.
Until next week….here are some cute puppies to keep you company 🙂
Okay, I’m going to be completely honest here…when I started self-publishing (October 2015) I had no freaking clue what I was doing. (SPOILER ALERT: I still don’t 😳 )
I wrote a decent book, found a great editor (shout out to Vivid Words Editing 🙌🏻 ), hired a cover designer, booked a one day release blitz, and released live on Amazon.
Literally….that’s all I did and I expected sales. I know, I know….commence eye rolls and sarcastic What was she thinking?! comments now. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you that sales for my first book, Snowbound, were pitiful, yet I was still happy (read: ecstatic) when I sold 35 copies. I write under a pen name and literally no one in my *real life* besides my husband new I had written/released a book, so these sales were all from strangers who were interested enough in my cover/blurb to take a chance on me. Score!
Here’s the book –>
Fast forward to August 2016, Book # 2: Off Key. As with all things in life, I lived and learned. I did a bit more to get the word out, but nowhere near what I should have done. I didn’t utilize my mailing list (however small it may be 😉 ), I didn’t tweet or post daily, I didn’t blog or release excerpts. Are you screaming at me through your screen yet?! Because this shit is freakin’ sacrilege to indie authors. Here’s what I did do: I hired a PR company (they were expensive — at least for small time author like me), hired a company for a book review tour, hired a separate blog company for a cover reveal, release blitz, and five-day blog tour. I should also mention that I did some author takeovers in various blog groups/reader groups on Facebook. And yes, I sold more books—YAY!— but not enough to cover my expenses. Still (with a lot of encouragement from Mr. M.) I kept a positive attitude.
Personal note: Mr. M is a successful business owner and is super comfortable with the idea of “spending money to make money.” I am ultra-conservative and have mini panic attacks when outgoing money supercedes incoming money, but I digress.
Cover of Book # 2 –>
Okay, so here we are October 2016 and I’m set to release my third book, Knockout. By this point I’m a little beaten down and question whether or not this whole “writing thing” is working out. I hire the same PR company and book review tour company, and participated in a few author takeovers. Sales? Not great, but you already knew that didn’t you?
Cover of Book # 3 –>
What did I do wrong? How much time do you have?!
No but seriously, here’s the list:
1.) Didn’t utilize my mailing list to its fullest potential (if at all)
2.) All of my books are standalones — which is great — but the story lines are completely independent of one another which is not great for building a fanbase.
3.) Didn’t have a website or blog
4.) Didn’t post nearly enough on social media.
5.) Did not use FB effectively.
6.) Had unrealistic expectations about how readers would find my books…because if I’m being 100% honest I’m a minnow in a sea of freaking sharks! There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of romance books. Why should a reader take a chance on mine? Because I’m special? (I’m not.) Because I work hard? (We all do.) Because they owe me something? (They don’t). I’m a reader just like you and guess what? I’m incredibly picky about what I read. Big names mean nothing to me (I’ve read NYT Bestselling authors that have me scratching my head and saying really?) But reviews DO matter to me. One negative review can sway me from one-clicking. And my guess is you’re exactly the same. Low reviews/no reviews make me question: Why isn’t anyone reading this book? It’s a terrible catch-22. A new author doesn’t get reviews but needs reviews to entice readers. #TheStruggleIsReal
6.) Didn’t release consistently enough—I’m cutting myself some slack on this one because I do have a full-time job (and a life!) outside of my writing career but still I could have used my free time more efficiently.
Now comes the part where I list everything I did right. Ha! I see you laughing at me! I did hire a professional editor and book cover designer but this post is about marketing and I think we can all agree that I did very little right in terms of promotion.
I wish I could say I have all the answers…but I don’t. Even more frustrating any seasoned, successful author will tell you this business isn’t a one size fits all. Translation: what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander 😉
I can refer you to some great resources. J.A. Huss’s Blog and her Marketing Tip Monday posts are incredibly helpful. Also, check out Whitney G. and Nicole London’s new blog: The Indie Tea. I’ve been subscribed to their newsletter for quite some time and have gathered a lot of useful tips/strategies. They are also hosting an indie authors retreat June 2017, so maybe we’ll see each other there?
My goal for 2017 is to do better 🙂 My time has been spent researching and learning on how to be a better business woman because like it or not, authors are equal parts writer and entrepreneur. I can’t compare myself to big-name authors, but progress is progress…even if it’s only 1 more book sale a day than before… and that’s good enough for me…at least for now!
Questions, comments, encouragement, random thoughts…be sure to leave a comment. I promise I’ll answer. Seriously, I will, probably immediately 🙂
Our Italian holiday has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday I was procrastinating packing and trying to get everything ready for our departure. And now it’s over and I’m left waiting for the inevitable crash that always follows a jam-packed vacation. We saw and did so much that it’s impossible for me to include everything. Okay not impossible, but it would take a really, really long time to write about it all and I know you don’t have time for that!
So I’ve decided this blog post will be more like a Photostory, highlighting some of my favorite moments of the trip. Enjoy 🙂
As you can tell, we were on the move A LOT! And now that I’m home, I’m thinking I need a vacation from my vacation 🙂
Comment below and let me know if you’ve been to any of these (or any other cool) places around the world.
Positano, Italy is the second stop on our ten-day travel adventure. The city is incredibly beautiful and warm for this time of year (much warmer than we anticipated—nearly 70 degrees every day!) The landscape is stunning and Mr. M and I cannot stop taking photos, but if I’m being honest, the pictures don’t do it justice. It is something you need to see for yourself and if this city isn’t considered a “Wonder of the World” it should be!
The only downfall is the city is incredibly vertical; you are literally scaling the mountain with every step you take. There are 240 steps alone to reach our villa. I’m not joking. 240. We counted.
When our host greeted us at the bottom of the mountain she politely asked if we would like to hire a porter to carry our luggage to our room (10 €/suitcase). I immediately agreed —it had been a long day of travel and I don’t relish the idea of carrying (a.k.a rolling) my suitcase on the uneven cobblestone streets, let alone up many, many steps. Mr. M hesitated (I think he was trying to be macho; either that or just plain ol’ cheap) but then he reluctantly agreed.
And thank God for that porter because I was barely able to make it up the steps with just my carry on bag! As we neared the top, huffing and puffing, sweat sliding down my back, I got the message loud and clear: CJ, you need to get in better shape…which of course I will…after our vacation 😉
It’s been two days since we first arrived, and while those stairs still aren’t easy (let’s be honest, they never will be unless your a freakin’ Olympic athlete!) they are getting easier!
We’re off to see the ruins of Pompei and the famous Mount Vesuvius. (Side note: I compared Sean’s temper to Mt. Vesuvius in Knockout and I’m so freakin’ excited that I get to see it today! #booknerdproblems)
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! Hope you’re enjoying your day and eating all of the food 🦃 🦃 🦃
Hi all! I’m back with an update of our Venice adventure, day two!
We had an amazing weather day to walk about the town. Okay maybe not great by most people’s standards but for us it was perfect 🙂 The air was cool and the skies were overcast, the temperature a mere 60 degrees—ideal for walking around and exploring the city!
We started the day by purchasing Vaporetto travel cards. The Vaporetto is the Venetian equivalent of the metro system. At first it’s a bit tricky; there are multiple lines and many of the stops are eliminated if the docking pier is unavailable (we were kicked off four stops before our intended departure point and were kindly told to finish our journey “by foot”). BUT it’s the cheapest way to get to the surrounding islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
Tip for anyone planning on visiting Venice: Purchase a Tourist Travel Card. You can buy them in increments of 24, 36, 48 hrs. etc and are far cheaper than a single use card (7 € one way!)
We planned on seeing all three islands in one day (silly tourists!) but only made it as far as Murano. It took us longer than expected to arrive to the island and when we finally got there it was so cool that we stayed a lot longer than we anticipated.
Do you know anything about Murano glass? To be honest going in I didn’t know much about it, other than it’s a really expensive, handmade glass indigenous to the island. But today we got to see a glass blowing demonstration, learned how they add different chemicals to the glass during the blowing process to add color (it’s seriously like a chemistry lesson!), saw several different techniques on how the molten glass is shaped, and learned how the cooling process takes a minimum of twenty-four period to avoid cracks.
There were a few factories open for tours (we went in two) and tons of shops selling every glass product imaginable. And you know what? I wanted to buy it ALL!
It’s sooooooo freaking beautiful! Vases, hand cut glasses, chandeliers, dishes, you name it, they sell it. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of the actual glasswork since the artists have a strict no photography policy in place, but I do have some pics from the island itself and will post them below 🙂
I promised myself I’d be good on this trip. No buying stuff you don’t need, I warned. You don’t use half of what you have now. But all of that went out the window the moment I stepped foot on that island! I couldn’t seem to stop myself from going in every shop. EVERY. ONE. Mr. M smiled and indulged me every time I murmured, “Do you mind if we check out this store?”
I was on a mission for the perfect lampshade. Not really a lampshade, but a hanging light figure, something like the picture (middle one!) below…
I had it my mind (still do!) that I needed one of these light fixtures for our new house to hang over the kitchen island. “I know it’s a lot of money,” I told Mr. M, “but just think, every time we see it we’ll be reminded of our time in Venice!”
So we perused all the stores, looked at all of the beautiful lights, and then…we spotted it. It was perfect —square, outlined in black which would go perfectly with our countertops, but funky enough with it’s multi colored cube splotches. We both agreed; this is the one.
We chatted with the shop owner, made sure the light was compatible with U.S. wiring, and I even bartered, knocking 70 € off the price! The owner disassembled the fixture (it was two pieces). Painstakingly, carefully he packed Piece One with tissue paper and bubble wrap. On to Piece Two, same procedure: tissue paper and bubble wrap. Only this time as he set the piece onto the bubble wrap and began to turn it we heard a telltale crack. I looked to Mr. M. Je looked at me and then the shop owner, and then the words: “Il roto.”
My heart sank as the owner carelessly unwrapped, then tossed away my beautiful shade.
“Il roto. Sorry.” He repeated with rueful expression.
We smiled politely—accidents happen and we understood— but I was bummed! In a moment of desperation I actually considered asking the man, “Can you sell it to me anyway? I’m sure I could glue it.” But I dismissed the idea because Mr. M reminded me that it’s a lamp shade and will get hot, and really, did I want a broken, glued together lamp shade front in center in our kitchen in our new house? I don’t care my inner child whined, but I knew he had a point.
So, the moral of the story is, no lamp shade for me! But I did get a really cool glass pen (I’d post a pic but it’s all wrapped up!) that I plan to use to sign my books. If anyone wants a signed paperback let me know —I’m dying to break it in 😉
I know I’m rambling on, so I’ll finish here, but just wanted to mention the Rialto Bridge where we ended the evening. The Rialto Bridge is the most popular bridge on the main canal and probably all of Venice. It’s iconic—it’s covered, lined with shops, and a popular spot to see gondoliers. When Mr. M and I were first dating we watched a travel show on Italy. From this show is where I first heard about the legend of the Rialto Bridge. The legend is this: If you and your significant other kiss under the bridge your love will last a lifetime.
For years I though this legend was so cool (and romantic ❤️ ) and one of the reasons I always wanted to go to Venice with Mr. M. When we were planning our trip and I mentioned this legend he had no recollection of the TV show or the legend! We went there tonight (pics below) and kissed on top of the bridge… it’s not exactly the same but I figured it gotta count for something, right? 😉