Week in Review: July 9th-15th

For years, I thought I was a solid introvert. I like reading, writing, and other solitary pursuits. As an only child, I was good at spending time alone and entertaining myself. And I actually liked it, too.

It was years before I realized what I actually was: an extroverted introvert. And while that tag of extroversion may on the surface seem like it makes things easier, I can assure you it doesn’t. Because what it really does is convince people you’re a full-blooded extrovert. And they miss seeing the introvert lurking underneath. So when you have an introverted day, people don’t understand because it seems like you’ve suddenly become withdrawn for no reason. When really, those tendencies were there all along. You’ve just been an introvert hiding in plain sight.

Being an extroverted introvert has been its own challenge on this journey of entrepreneurship. On the one hand, it allows me to put myself out there with little anxiety. Writing blogs like this, shooting videos, and meeting strangers are all in a day’s work. The extroverted side of myself can be depended upon to rise to challenges and meet them where they lie. But it’s the introverted side of myself that is a loose cannon. It always comes as a surprise when I wake up and suddenly my mind has declared that we are too over stimulated, we have been way too social lately, we need to pull back NOW and circle the wagons.

Working a normal job, you get a certain allowance for bad days I think. For days when you’re not “yourself”. Or not the self that other people see most often. But working for yourself is a new kind of challenge. There is an expectation that you are always “on”, always friendly, eager, and enthusiastic. Even on the days when you wish you could disappear to a cabin in the woods and chuck your phone into a lake.

I’m much too new at this to offer much helpful advice on being an extroverted introvert entrepreneur. But I am interested to know how you label yourself and what challenges and advantages you find this give you in your work, self-employed or not!

July 9th – 15th Week in Review:

I didn’t go ride on Monday the 9th because I had to go to a meeting in the morning in North Park. I like going to North Park so much better during the week. You get to enjoy all the same stuff, but it’s so much quieter and easier to park. 10/10 would recommend. If you work an abnormal schedule, I would definitely advise you to take advantage of most people being in the office and visit those areas like North Park, Hillcrest, and Normal Heights where parking is pretty impacted most of the time.

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Cute House in North Park

After my meeting I came home and did some work before I went to Del Mar in the afternoon to meet my new client. I’m very excited about this new project and looking forward to what we’re going to accomplish together.

Monday night, I had writer’s group again with more chapters of Shadow of the Magician up for review. There are two particularly thorny spots I had trouble writing in the book and tonight we discussed the first of them which, surprisingly to me, read much better than I had expected. I had expected comments like, “This is terrible. Just scrap this and start over.” So it was a relief that I did not get that. Still needs work, but it’s not beyond saving.

I switched my Monday riding day for Tuesday so Tuesday morning I went down and rode Pia first thing. After I was done at the barn, I had a little bit of time before I had to be at the dentist so I went to Mary’s Tack and Feed. If you’re a horse person, let me just explain that Mary’s is like Target. It’s utterly impossible to leave without spending at least $100 and buying at least one thing you don’t truly need. As such, I try to only go to Mary’s when I know I absolutely do need to get something. Those of you that saw my Instagram stories, thanks for playing along and indulging me! I had to go to Mary’s to pick up the metal nameplate I ordered for Pia’s new halter, buy a new pair of bell boots for Pia, and I needed to grab some more saddle pads because little girl is sweating through her pads on the regular. If you voted in my polls, I ended up getting the green AND the purple saddle pads. I tricked you. Bet you thought I was buying just one!

If you’re wondering why Escobar didn’t get any new gear it’s because they share a lot of things and in the case of something that they both need that needs replacing, Escobar gets to use it and I get a new one for Pia. Escobar is my delicate flower and I like to make sure he’s not going without. For example, I had two pairs of bell boots, but can only find one after the last show. So Escobar got to wear the remaining pair of bell boots because I am determined to prevent him from tearing his shoes off and hurting his feet. For you non-horse people, horses can accidentally step on the edge of their metal horseshoes and rip them off, which sometimes damages the hoof underneath and definitely leaves them vulnerable to other injuries. It’s like walking barefoot on rocks. Horses obviously can go barefoot and many do, but if they’re not used to it, it can be trouble.

Also for whatever reason, my old saddle pads don’t fit Pia. Same saddle, same pads, new horse, pads don’t fit. I dunno. And they didn’t shrink in the wash because this combination still fits Escobar (I checked). She’s narrower than Escobar so it really makes no sense to me. Anyway, despite me being a saddle pad hoarder, Pia has her own special pads.

After Mary’s I went to the dentist (good times). Took forever, but I got my filling and started the process to get a new mouthguard made.

By the time I was done at the dentist, it was already time for lunch. I went to Wich Which and then to the library because I needed to stay around UTC. Later that evening I went to Polite Provisions with my friend L. We got food at Soda & Swine and I met her new man so that was fun.

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Purple Haze at Polite Provisions

Wednesday morning I went out to the barn again and then home to work. At the beginning of the week I had decided this was going to be a major work day so I worked hard to make a dent in my to-do list. I was tired by day’s end, but I had made good progress in turning the tide.

Thursday was another big work day and I worked pretty much from the time I got up until late afternoon when I had to go meet a client in Carmel Valley. It was an evening appointment so I didn’t actually get home for dinner until pretty late.

Friday morning I went to the barn and then hurried to shower so I could go to Peet’s Coffee with my neighbor. Friday was kind of a scramble as I woke up and realized I instantly had issues with Instagram and it affected all of my clients. I skipped doing the Miracle Morning when I got up and instead did it when we got to Peet’s. 10/10 would recommend. I immediately felt more settled after taking time to do the ritual. So if you do the Miracle Morning, don’t skip it if you can’t do it when you wake up. Just do it later.

We got lunch at Chipotle on the way back from Peet’s and I did some work at home before I went to meet with a prospective client in Del Mar. Then back home to keep working.

Saturday morning I had planned to do some work on Shadow of the Magician. I did do that, but it was slow going. My brain felt kind of foggy. And when I switched over to client work, the feeling persisted. I was honestly so disappointed in how unproductive the day was. I was grateful when the boyfriend called me around 4:30 pm and asked me to meet him and some friends at Intergalactic. I was ready to be done with my crap work day.

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Ham Keeping Me Company

We then went to dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Now I know what you’re thinking, but the boyfriend and I have collected lots of restaurant gift cards over the years. Lots of gift cards. Case in point: we had $75 to Ruth’s Chris that we finally decided to cash in. I felt bad for the girl who waited on us though even though I felt some silent judging on her end. When we only ordered entrees, I’m sure her thoughts went something like, Man I am not getting a nice tip off this table. I couldn’t even interest them in a drink. LOL. We did tip though, even though she barely paid attention to us. And it was fun to go somewhere fancy that we ordinarily couldn’t afford!

Sunday I woke up, hoping it would be a better, more productive day than Saturday. But it wasn’t and my introverted feelings deepened. Nevertheless, I did go to work. Worked on Shadow of the Magician again in the morning and again had a difficult writing session. But I realized that, chapter-wise, I’m officially halfway through the revision. Wordcount-wise, I’m more than halfway. So yay for that!

Elliot got groomed Sunday morning too and then after lunch I went to Panera, hoping that the air conditioning would help me focus. It helped a little and I got some things done, though again, it was kind of a dismal work day. When the boyfriend got home from work, I got him to watch an episode of Black Mirror with me. Of course, I chose a scary one. Of course.

What I’m Reading:

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson (Finished!)

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology edited by Lisa Mangum

Warstorm by Victoria Aveyard

Deep Work by Cal Newport

S.H.E. by Shannon Hogan Cohen

What I’m Listening To:

It felt like I listened to a little bit of everything this week.

What I’m Watching:

Black Mirror

What I’m Loving:

Instagram Polls

 

Undercurrents

Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath

Fear is primal. Instinctive. Unavoidable. And right now, there is something you fear—and you can feel it. Creeping up behind you. Lurking in the darkness that lives under your bed, or in your closet. A nameless dread. 

In Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath, twenty-three talented authors, including New York Times bestsellers Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Jody Lynn Nye, have stood on the shores of their psyches and looked out over the ocean of possibility and wondered “What lies beneath?” 

The sea creatures and sea monsters that answered their calls range from a giant kraken that rules the deepest ocean to the smallest puffer fish that creates intricate works of underwater art. Creatures of classic mythology—mermaids, sirens, and sea serpents—swim alongside more unusual beasts—underwater cats and singing whirlpools. These stories dive deep into the fears many of us face, including loss, abandonment, death, and physical, mental, or emotional danger. When the fears we keep buried beneath the surface rise up and threaten to consume, we must make a choice: conquer or be conquered. 

This anthology is the fourth volume produced by the alumni of the Superstars Writing Seminar, and all royalties benefit the Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

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After attending the Superstars conference this year, I picked up the newest anthology, Undercurrents. I’ve never been a big anthology reader though I own several (including all the rest of the Superstars anthologies).

But since I’ve been so busy lately and not had much time for reading, I found reading an anthology to be the perfect antidote to never feeling like I’m finishing anything. Instead of reading a chapter before bed, I get to read a whole story!

And, I really liked this anthology. I think every story in it was well-written, unique, and fresh. It was interesting to see how people interpreted the theme of “what lies beneath” and what they did with it. Many of the stories were more “classic” and involved krakens and sea monsters and sirens. But none of them were exactly conventional. Other stories took the theme of “what lies beneath” to thoroughly unexpected locales like Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. The stories also covered a range of genres from horror to sci-fi to fantasy and even contemporary fiction. There was only one story in this anthology I couldn’t really get into, but I think its style just didn’t appeal to me.

This anthology is a great one to have on your shelf and if you’re a person who is obsessed with the sea or sea monsters, you will definitely want to add this one to your collection!

 

Recap: Superstars Writing Seminars 2018

Okay, so this conference happened at the end of January…yes, JANUARY! Better late than never on this review, right?

One of the reasons I did still want to do this review though is because this is the best writing conference I’ve ever been to. Seriously.

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Jonathan Maberry During a Breakout Panel

My neighbor has gone many times before and she was always telling me how would I like it and I should really come. I was resistant mostly because it’s an investment to travel to Colorado Springs where it’s held every year. What if I didn’t like it? What if I didn’t get anything out of it? It’s a long conference – it would be a lot of time off from my job and there was hotel, airfare, and meals.

But after the SDSU conference went on hiatus for 2018, I decided I would apply for the scholarship open to first year attendees. And after the application process, I was now so invested I had basically decided I was going to go even if I didn’t get the scholarship. I didn’t so I registered for everything in November.

I was excited about our hotel because the conference takes place at the Antlers. The Antlers is a historic hotel and while the hotel as it stands is not the original (it’s the third hotel of the same name on the same site), what’s notable about The Antlers is that Nikola Tesla might have stayed there instead of at the Alta Vista in 1899 if The Antlers hadn’t burnt to the ground the year before. You can read more about my Colorado Springs historic hotel research here. And while the Alta Vista has been gone for more than fifty years, I figured The Antlers would have some info about its history somewhere in the hotel. And I was right! They had pictures! I actually spent an hour one day walking around the hotel and photographing all of their pictures to file with my research. I didn’t expect to have much time to explore Colorado Springs  (and I didn’t) so it was nice to be able to get those photos.  I actually went to Colorado Springs a few years ago and took myself on a photographic research tour. You can see that story and photos here.

By the time January rolled around, I was pretty stressed. Superstars ended up being sandwiched between two horse shows and my birthday. I’d also picked up a couple clients and was trying to do that and my regular job beside it. I considered not going to the conference even though everything was pretty much already paid for because life felt very overwhelming. But I took a deep breath, told myself I would figure it out, and packed my bags for Colorado.

We flew into Colorado Springs which I have never done before. It was weird to be in my home state, but not seeing my family or any of my friends. I did have one friend I planned to go see in Colorado Springs, but as luck would have it, that didn’t end up working out so it really was a trip home without seeing any of the people who make it home.

One of the things that makes Superstars different is that there’s an emphasis on tribe and community. And that starts from the moment you show up because other members of the tribe that live local or are already in town volunteer to pick people up from the two airports. My neighbor and I ended up getting picked up with a guy from Texas who had also never been to Superstars before. We’re now all in a writing group together so if you needed a reference point for how well the tribe thing works, that pretty much tells you all you need to know!

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Branden Sanderson

My neighbor has been coming to Superstars for years so she knew tons of people which meant I immediately got introduced to tons of people. Everyone was very nice and welcoming even if I was a little overwhelmed. But after a few days, I started to remember people and made a few friends of my own.

Overall, what set this conference apart for me beyond the instruction was the people. So many friendly people. And so many people invested in making relationships, not acquaintances. I still talk to and interact with people I met at the conference beyond the ones that are now part of my writer’s group. And that is pretty darn cool.

Okay, so on to the instruction! I can honestly say I learned so much at the conference. It’s really a conference about the business of writing, how to make it a business, how to build a brand, and how to build a career for a lifetime. The first day is optional and it’s a “craft day” which is your traditional writing conference fare of topics related to the actual writing of stories. It was definitely good, don’t get me wrong, but the business of writing sessions were really life-changing for my process and my work.

I’ve always been very serious about wanting to write books. I’m also just pretty practical (at least in this sense, the rest of my life is debatable) and I’ve worked hard to find and create a career outside of writing. Because I love writing, books, and everything associated with being a writer, but I have no interest in starving for my art. That’s my personal line in the sand and you can say what you want about that, call me not a “real writer” or not dedicated enough because I don’t write everyday or because I’m not willing to be a starving artist, but I don’t care. I know who I am, what I was put on this Earth to do, and I also know how deep my dedication runs.

Anyway. Mini rant over. So, what was really life-changing for me was I really came around to the idea of thinking of each of my books as a product. It’s not a book, it’s a product for sale, and if the market does not want it, there’s not much you can do about that. You can attempt to fix it, but at some point you might need to concede defeat and try something else. That has been really life-changing in my approach to my process and goals. I’ve been working on Shadow of the Magician off and on since the spring of 2012. I wrote a couple drafts of another book called Haven’s Gate in the meantime that I never was able to get representation for. And I wrote an untitled draft of the first book in a sci-fi trilogy. But I have largely been consumed by this project at different points over the last six years and I’ve lost track of what number draft I’m on. I think six or seven because the story has had three huge development shifts that prompted complete rewrites. But my point now is that this is the last time around. If this doesn’t do it, I’m moving on to something else because life is short and I have more stories I want to write.

I took tons of notes during the lectures and really learned so much that I didn’t know about the way publishing works, whether it’s traditional or self-publishing. I met writers at all different stages in their careers, published and not. I got to hear from Branden Sanderson, Jonathan Maberry, James Owen, Dave Farland, and Kevin J. Anderson which was all really fantastic. I also had lunch with Jonathan and dinner with James a few times. Those are the kinds of experiences that Superstars gives you!

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Dinner With James Owen and New Friends

I also got to practice pitching my book and finally felt like I truly get the difference between the hook, the pitch, and the synopsis and how to create them. This is essential information for any aspiring authors and it’s an art all in itself. If you’ve ever asked me or someone else whose writing a book what the book is about and you got back a rambling, disjointed answer, it’s because writing the book is one thing. Being able to distill the 85,000 words that are in the book and the 40,000 that are on the cutting room floor and the 30,000 that make up your notes and the countless books you read while doing research and all the internet rabbit holes you went down into just a paragraph or a pithy sentence is a mighty tall order.

I am looking forward to heading back to Superstars next winter for the 10th anniversary conference! You can find out more about the 2019 Superstars Writing Seminars conference here and if you have more questions about my experience, just let me know! Also if you are thinking about going, I can get you a discount code for $100 off your registration! This discount is good until November 1, 2018.

 

Week in Review June 23rd-29th

I usually try and write this blog as the week is happening so I don’t forget things.

Didn’t do that this week. Definitely forgot things. Lol.

You’ll remember that one of the things I did after starting Minute Marketing was clean my desk/office. While I was doing that was I found a bunch of papers and things that were never filed or thrown away dating back to 2013. Seeing that date on the papers was shocking. I couldn’t believe that there were things I really hadn’t touched or done anything with in five years.

Then, my friend C texted me her new headshot. She mentioned that it had been five years since the last one so it was time for an update.

I. Was. Shocked.

We took our headshots on the same day. Had it really been five years already?

I questioned her and she said the picture was taken the year she turned 21 (I remember that, she turned 21 shortly after we met) and she was about to turn 26.

So she was definitely right, but I can’t even believe five years has gone just like that.

Now that I’ve been doing this weekly blog review of what I did the last week, I’ve started to like it. Similar to what happened when I started writing my book reviews on this blog, my memory is improving. The weeks feel like less of a clump and more like distinct entities. Hopefully this weekly blogging will help me keep the years of my life straight.

Because, honestly? The last five years were kind of a blur.

Sure, there were fun things and bad things, things that stick out in my mind that I know exactly when they happened and things that stick out that I have no idea when they happened. But none of the years feel very separated from each other.

Time and memory are tricky things.

Anyway, let’s dive into the week (what I can remember of it, anyway):

I’m not positive about all I did during the day Saturday. I know I worked on Shadow of the Magician because I hit my target goal of the weekend of nine chapters edited. I think I did some work after that. I probably did. I work every day right now. I know I took Elliot for a long walk, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Then the boyfriend and I cleaned and dusted the living room on Saturday night before going to Wings-N-Things as a reward.

Sunday, I know I worked on Shadow of the Magician again and then I think I did some work. I took myself to Sprouts to go grocery shopping, which was fun because I took my time looking around at what they sell. We also ended purchasing plane tickets for our Puerto Vallarta trip in November, so that was good. Bit of a struggle figuring out the flights. Not a lot of US carriers service that area from San Diego. We ended up deciding to fly out of Los Angeles because we have friends up there and were able to book the same flight out as them. Not sitting together though because Delta wanted to charge us $600 more to pick our seats (not an exaggeration).

My back was hurting on Sunday, too. I have issues with my SI joint on one side and I get random flare-ups every 6-8 months. Just a side effect of falling off horses too many times. Usually I can attach it to something, but this time the only thing I could think of was the walk the day before or the fact that I have a new chair. Elliot was also limping around so we were quite a pair. Elliot has arthritis in one of his ankle joints and is supposed to take pain medication, though I have not been so good about remembering to give it to him daily.

Monday was BUSY. I had back-to-back meetings in the morning. First one was at Holsem Coffee in North Park and I got THE most delicious chai latte there. I modified the one they have on the menu so here’s what I got that was so good: chai latte without the maple, with almond milk instead of regular, and sweetened with vanilla. Mmmm.

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After that meeting I drove home to get on a video chat with a prospective client. Decided I don’t really like video chats. Kind of kicked up my anxiety. Pushed through it to do some work the rest of the day before I got on another call with one of my clients and then it was time for writer’s group. We had a smaller group and it was more of a brainstorming session discussing each other’s books and how to get through our problems.

Tuesday I rode Pia in the morning. My trainer is going away for a couple weeks so we packed in as many rides as possible before she left. Pia was not so good on Tuesday and my back was still bothering me. I did a lot of work on Tuesday after that since I didn’t have any meetings or calls.

Wednesday I went back to the barn in the morning. My back was feeling much better all on its own and I had a much better ride on Pia. I went home and had to call AT&T because they were trying to charge me for another month even though I returned my box. Got that sorted just in time to go to another meeting with a potential client at Panera Bread. I tried the frozen blood orange lemonade from their summer menu…it tasted nothing like lemonade and was like drinking an orange juice slushy. After the meeting I headed back home to do some work.

Thursday I had my final ride with my trainer before she leaves and Pia was good again. My back was also good. I’m honestly surprised I got over that flare-up so quickly. It usually hangs around for a week or so before gradually subsiding. This was like 2.5 days of pulsing pain and then back to normal. Not complaining, just weird. Someone recommend I see a DO (doctor of osteopathy) since my condition is a chronic condition and I have not found a solution, just methods of managing it. I will probably give that a try just to see if their methods make a difference. But that will be after my expensive trip to the dentist – the joys of adulthood!

I listened to a great podcast (linked below) which inspired me to try and make my work time more efficient. I did end up getting a lot done before I went to meet another prospective client in Del Mar. Got a little caught in the fair traffic, but not too bad. I then drove to my friend K’s apartment because we had bookclub that night.

I love my bookclub. We’re multi-generational! It’s my friend, K, her mother, her mother’s friend, myself, and another woman whom K knows because she used to babysit her grandchildren. The differences in ages and life experiences make our book discussions really fun. We meet every two months, usually at K’s apartment. We read The Book That Matters Most and had a summer potluck “barbecue”, which involved barbecue and picnic foods, but we didn’t actually do any grilling.

Friday I went down to the Bahia for Social Media Day. It was a nice event, I learned some thing (always good), and we had lunch literally on the beach behind the Bahia. It was a grey, gloomy day which was a little depressing. I really hate June gloom.

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After I got home, my neighbors came over with a fruit tart. I’d been taking care of their cats, plants, and house while they were away. I had to medicate one of the cats twice a day so my training from when I used to work at a veterinary clinic came in handy as kitty definitely did not want me sticking that syringe anywhere near her mouth.

The boyfriend and I tried a new place on Miramar called Bowl to Go for dinner. The meat was definitely tasty, but they don’t give you much meat for the price. They give you a ton of rice to fill up the bowl, which is fine, but then they charge $7.50 for about $2 worth of meat.

Tried to go to bed earlier, ended up reading a lot of Undercurrents (tagged below) and then I discovered there were ants in the bedroom. Apparently they liked our laundry. So we ended up doing laundry at 10pm. Ugh. So over the ants. I keep putting out poison traps, which kind of works, but they retreat into the walls and then pop out at another, different spot when they find something else to eat. I know I should bomb the house, but it’s such a hassle, especially when you have pets. Anyone have suggestions for me?

What I’m Reading:

Rise of the Youpreneuer by Chris Ducker (Finished!)

Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath edited by Lisa Mangum

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson

What I’m Listening To:

On her podcast this week, Amy Porterfield had Brooke Castillo on to talk about productivity, mindset, and taking action. SUCH a great episode. You can listen to it here.

What I’m Watching:

Nothing this week.

What I’m Loving:

This honey goat cheese I got at Sprouts last weekend. SO good!

Tribe of Mentors

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice By the Best in the World By Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, shares the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure book—a compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life.

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Tribe of Mentors was actually my first Tim Ferriss book. It was a Christmas gift and I have been reading it off and on since the beginning of the year. I finally finished it this month as I knocked out the last 200 pages or so during my Miracle Morning reading time.

This was a good book, but it is dense. You don’t need to read it in order or read every page or even read it in a short span of time. Each interview is between 1-10 pages. There’s a forward by Tim where he discusses the methodology and how he chose the questions he asked. But he asked the same questions of everyone, though not all answers were included for each person. So really can just start anywhere in the book.

I read this book cover to cover as I read most things (unless I peeking ahead). But you could just open this book to random sections or just skim through to read the interviews with the people you know and like. I enjoyed the experience of reading cover to cover because I read interviews from a lot of people I had never heard of, but who had great advice to give.

This book is one I would recommend buying since you’ll likely want to underline or otherwise mark up passages. This book was so beautifully bound and pristine I was hesitant to start marking it up myself, but halfway through I decided I was leaving some of the experience on the table by not interacting with the text. At some point, I’ll have to reread the beginning so I can mark that up, too. This is a book I plan to hold onto as I’m sure I’ll revisit it often and get something new out of it each time I read it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading what successful people have to say and also to anyone who engages in personal development work – this book is a great choice for Miracle Morning reading!

I’ll leave you with the passage that resonated with me the most:

“The entire universe is not just outside, but also within us. We have unlimited power – the power to solve any problems facing us or facing others. We get to create our realities. It’s a simple and small belief, but it can change the course of humanity. Being mini gods mean we never lack. We know we already have everything. We don’t need a million dollars. We don’t need a trillion followers. We are complete. We are full. So full that we can give without counting. The day we will all start acting like mini gods is the day there will be peace in the world.”

The Book That Matters Most

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

Because my life was so chaotic this spring, I missed my book club for only the second time ever since it started 3.5 years ago. So I didn’t have a hand in choosing this book and when I saw the selection, I took one look at the cover and went, this looks like a book I’m not going to like very much.

In general, I don’t really like women’s fiction. Anything that starts with so-and-so’s marriage has fallen apart and I’m out of there. I don’t really like books that primarily focus on relationships. It’s fine if there’s a romance in a book I’m reading, but I almost never enjoy books where the romantic relationship is the central focus. Weird, right?

So this book had two strikes against it: the cover, which immediately made me think this was one of those chick lit books and the back cover description, which confirmed it for me.

But. Surprise! I actually liked this one. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?

I liked the concept going in of the book club and the books that matter most and I was happy to see how it played out over the course of the book. It got me thinking (of course) about the book(s) that matters most to me.

And I’m not sure I have an answer for that. Not yet. I mentioned before that I’m closing in on 1,000 books logged on Goodreads. So, I’ll probably save my judgment about what book actually mattered (or matters) most to me until then.

I really liked the writing style of this one. Really liked it. So much so that I think I may check out some other books by Ann Hood. Has anyone read anything by her? What do you recommend? Anything you think I’d like?

Though I did enjoy it, I still would put this book into the category of a beach read or vacation book. It entertained me. It didn’t move me to tears or break my heart or anything like that. But I enjoyed the story and can confirm that I definitely misjudged this one.

And, if you are a person who actually likes women’s fiction and chick lit, I’m sure you will love this one!

 

Stranger Things Adapted For Fiction and Other Bookish News

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Enjoying this new series? I’ll be back next week with the latest rumblings in the literary world!

* Love the Netflix show Stranger Things? There’s a few books based on the hit show headed your way this fall. Check it out here.

* NPR reported that in the last half a decade, the number of U.S. adults who are reading poetry has nearly doubled. This doesn’t surprise me as my Featured Poems posts are usually well received! Read their report here.

* Check out these new releases by Simon Teen that are slated for release in Spring 2019.

* Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of their 10 best books of 2018.

* Buzzfeed created a list of 27 YA books to read beside the pool this summer.