Tag Archives: 2019

Putting 2019 In the Rear View

It’s officially 2020. A new year. A new decade. A new chapter. The past week has been full of those end-of-year, search-the-soul, write-something-witty-and-inspiring (or gritty and real) to share online from seemingly everyone.

Not me. I’m still not someone who does resolutions. Plus the last half of 2019 was one of the hardest six months I’ve ever endured and I’m not sure I really want to do anything but celebrate that I survived with my family and my sanity intact. You know, put the whole last half of 2019 in the rear view and never look back.

That’s what I I told myself anyway. I wasn’t going to be just another end of the year looking to the future blah blah blah among the masses. Turns out I can’t help myself. Although I am going to be real. Vulnerable even. So bear with me…

There was a little re-vitalizing of this site midyear 2019 – you might have noticed (if any of my readers are still with me after the recent neglect of my website) but appearances can be deceiving. The reality is that was part of a class at school – one of the last of my degree program. Which means I wasn’t slaying anything, just scraping by with what I hoped was at least a passing grade that term. It is an apt metaphor for my year…

Here’s the biggest thing I want to take away from 2019, and why I can’t help myself from this post. I am a college graduate – with a Bachelor of Art in Creative Writing and English and a minor in Communications. I never want to look back. Further, I want everyone reading this to stay in school and understand the importance of an education. I’m glad I did it. Even more glad that I did it on my terms and got a degree I wanted rather than the easy one building on my IT experience.

Truth is, I almost immediately am reaping the rewards with a shiny new promotion at work, managing a technical support team, which was the exact reason behind my doing it in the first place. Everything works out for a reason. I just wish I didn’t have to go through such a shitty three years because I had better things to do thirty years ago when I graduated high school. But I digress.

What also happened – the flip side of the shiny degree coin – is that I didn’t write anything of substance for the past year while I was working on reading and analyzing/deconstructing literature others have written. I am publishing two stories in 2020 but both are stories I wrote originally more than two years ago before college consumed me. Worse, it feels like I am starting over since I’m so damn rusty. My daily writing habits? They are as good as gone. Most days I waffle between the urge to give in and veg on the couch in front of whatever show my family is currently binge watching and the self-doubt and imposter syndrome telling me why bother.

The two extremes – successfully finishing my degree but also losing so much ground with my writing efforts – are currently at war within my psyche. 2020, I’m looking at you and am vowing to end said war.

It isn’t all sadness and despair, though. We took an island vacation and for two glorious weeks I read for leisure and slowly regained both connections to my family (it’s hard to maintain deep relationships even with those you live with when you’re as consumed as I’ve been trying to finish as quickly as possible) and myself. Specifically that piece of myself that creates something from nothing when I nurture it.

Suffice it to say that I was successful in comparing less last year as I set out to do and I finished what I started. As for the rest of the shit show that can be chalked up to 2019 (including the torn meniscus I suffered with for most of the year), I say good riddance. 2019 will always live in my memory as the year I hit the bottom while achieving my greatest measurable accomplishment – all at the same time. Here’s to the future – may it be brighter than last year!


2019 Books Archive

Time once again for an old favorite… the recap of what I read last year so I can look back on it with satisfaction and celebration. And what is this? Also within the first week of January? Yes, life is slowly getting back to normal in every area of my life. As always, this list is mostly for myself but if you’re looking for recommendations or get ideas of what to put of your list, then I’ve paid it forward for a fellow author, too. This year in books in chronological order looks like this:

  • Where Should We Begin: The Arc of Love, Esther Perel – an Audible Original that I found fascinating.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1), Patrick Ness – a YA read that Big Sister (who’s an actual adult now) recommended. It was entertaining but not enough to read more.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee – assigned reading for my Lit class. I’m sure I read this as a kid (also as assigned reading then) and it was interesting to have an adult perspective this time. A classic, but I’m not sure why it is still held up as the best example of literature when so many other books have been written on the topic more recently.
  • Power Moves: Lessons from Davos, Adam M. Grant – another Audible Original that was very political and fascinating. A very quick read.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer – a book club pick that at first I didn’t think I would like but which grew on me and stuck with me after I finished. Recommended read.
  • Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks – requiired read for Lit class. This one I really liked. Gritty, real, relevant. Highly recommended.
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson – I thought this was the book by an author I saw on a TED talk but wasn’t. It was still a good book, but not the one I was looking for. A great topic for anyone – especially if you suffer with the “what will other people think” syndrome.
  • Brave, Rose McGowan – I devoured this book and found it a fascinating look into all the things in our society that came to a head with the #metoo movement. If you’re political and a feminist, this is a must read. If you’re not, why not start your journey with this book?
  • The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, Lex Williford (editor) – required reading for Lit class. I didn’t read the entire thing but liked what I read.
  • Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane, Brett King – for the tech geeks and the futurists among us. This was a recommendation from one of the ladies in my book club and it was a very eye opening look at the technologies that exist today and how they are predicted to change our experience of the world in the future. Highly recommended.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford – book club read that was not especially noteworthy. Another wartime novel if you’re into that genre.
  • The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides – one of the best books I read this year. The structure and pacing added depth to a fascinating premise and left me completely satisfied. I couldn’t put it down.
  • 2018 Associated Press Stylebook, Associated Press – textbook
  • McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook, Laura Killen Anderson – textbook for my Copy Editing class. The logical and detail oriented part of me actually really loved this class even though it is a LOT of work. Not that I ever have, but I will definitely never take a copyeditor for granted!
  • This is PR: The Realities of Public Relations, Doug Newsom – textbook, obviously. For a class I ended up getting a ton of relatable information out of. I have zero regrets about my Communications minor.
  • Out of My Mind, Alan Arkin – an Audible Original that I thought was going to be about mental health but turned out to be new age meditation nonsense that didn’t resonate with me.
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – book club pick that I would not have read otherwise. I had tried to read it before unsuccessfully. While I don’t regret having read it, I can’t say I totally enjoyed it. There’s something about irony and British humor that just doesn’t resonate with me.
  • The Last Days of August, Jon Ronson – Audible Original that was like a train wreck you just can’t look away from. Don’t waste your time.
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley – book club pick. It was my first cozy mystery and I can safely say that I’m not a fan of the genre. I need my murder on the page and bloody or I am not satisfied, I guess.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Dr. Brene’ Brown – I love everything Brene’ Brown. Each book builds on each other as her research grows and evolves. If you haven’t read anything by her, start with this one. It is amazing. Big Sister had to read it for her English class and she loved it, too.
  • Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney – a book club pick and a great thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Lucky Suit, Lauren Blakely – a romance novella that was a quick and satisfying read. Pretty sure this was also an Audible Original.
  • Educated, Tara Westover – I’m not always a fan of the memoir but this one was fascinating about a woman who was home schooled by a conspiracy theorist and religious extremist. Highly recommended read!
  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., Dr. BrenĂ© Brown – another great one with the focus on working relationships and leading effectively while being vulnerable from my favorite shame researcher. Seriously, if you haven’t read Brene’ Brown you really need to fix that.
  • The 3-Day Effect, Florence Williams – a quick psychology-based study about how getting into nature and away from constant connection to the world can affect us.
  • Profit First, Mike Michalowicz – a fantastic business book for entrepreneurs who want a way to be profitable in their business from the beginning.
  • Mala, Melinda Lopez – another Audible Original that I think was actually a screenplay that was acted out.
  • I, Jedi, Michael Stackpole – a Star Wars book not based on any of the movies. I’m a Star Wars movie fan but had never read any of the tie-in books. This was one of our keynotes at Quills and is said to be one of the best. It felt to me like what fan fiction must be like – a story that feels familiar because the world is familiar but it isn’t any of the characters you know.
  • Social Media for Writers, Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine – assigned reading for my New Media class and a great reference book for writers. I’m distilling this down to key takeaways for a class I want to teach to other writers because it was invaluable.
  • Create Your Writer Platform, Chuck Sambuchino – also assigned reading for my New Media class and a great book to establish what people actually mean when they talk about having a platform as an author.
  • Social Media Communication, Jeremy H. Lipschultz – textbook for class of the same title
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama – I admit, I had no real opinion (good, bad or indifferent) about our former First Lady. After reading this, I am a huge fan. Highly recommended especially for working moms. I loved this book. It was also a book club pick after I read it on my own.
  • Eat Fat, Get Thin, Mark Hyman – my new healthy lifestyle approach grew from the basics of this book that did an amazing job explaining why American’s are more obese and sicker than any other time, and how to correct it. At the risk of sounding like a keto-obsessed freak, everyone should read at least the first half of this book for all the science.
  • The Murder House, James Patterson – book club pick that was a very satisfying thriller.
  • It’s Not What It Looks Like, Molly Burke – an Audible Original that I can’t even remember much about.
  • The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders, Michael D. Watkins – nothing earth-shattering about this book except that it takes concepts you can get by reading several other business leadership books and boils them down into an easy to consume summary. Truth: I saw the senior leadership team reading it while I was going through the manager interviewing process and wanted a leg up in speaking their language. Maybe it helped?
  • Skyward, Brandon Sanderson – a surprisingly good YA book that the whole family loved – listened to on our summer vacation road trip.
  • The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides – re-read when it was picked for book club. Even better the second time!
  • I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney – I picked this one up because I liked the first book by this author. It was a pretty good thriller but not as good as the first I read by her.
  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert – recommended to me by a coworker. One of the best books about effective approaches to nurturing creativity. If you’re a writer, this is a highly recommended read!
  • Three-Fifths, John Vercher – I loved this book and the ending still stays with me. Highly recommended contemporary drama #ownvoices read.
  • Organizational Behavior, Talya Bauer – the last textbook I will every read for my undergraduate degree!!! Surprising timing: getting to take away HR concepts to apply immediately as a new manager.
  • Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, Lisa Cron – a craft book for writers. One of the better ones that started very strong and resonated with great ideas and approaches to story but which then derailed (for me anyway) when the author tried to then tell me how exactly I had to execute said ideas. I loved the first half and skimmed the second half at best. Still a great read for writers.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver – book club pick that was extremely difficult to get into but which finished amazingly.
  • Stillhouse Lake, Rachel Caine – a great strong female character thriller that came highly recommended by a friend. I loved it and will definitely read more in this series.
  • The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling – a great mix of horror, science fiction and thriller that I picked up at a writers conference and loved.
  • The Ninja Daughter, Tori Eldridge – the first book I’ve read specifically because of who the editor was so I can decide if my books would be a fit for them. It was good!
  • The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon, Todd Zwillich – very cool insider NASA story for the space geeks among us which sadly took a turn in the middle. The ending made up for the whiny middle section and I am overall glad I read it.
  • Polaris Rising, Jessie Mihalik – holy shit this one was good!! The best of so many things that I love all rolled into one: space-based science fiction with a strong female lead and a steamy romance that was well done and didn’t detract from the fact that this is first and foremost a scifi action story. I can’t recommend this one enough. Another of my top reads for the year.
  • Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn – an okay book but which I thought was going to be about something that it wasn’t (based on the cover blurb). Kind of disappointed by the ending but overall not sad I read it.
  • Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King & Owen King – so long but reminiscent of the old Stephen King with a giant cast of characters that all contribute to the story in meaningful ways.