Tag: fictionbooks

Nico & Sofia’s Story: How Much I Want; Miami Nights #4

‘How Much I Want’, is bringing us back to Miami and the Giordino family and friends.

‘How Much I Want’ can be seen as a continuation of Nochebuena (the Miami Nights holiday story)—though you don’t necessarily have to read it before starting ‘How Much I Want’.

This is Nico & Sofia’s story.

Sofia and her son Mateo were introduced in the first book of the series ‘How Much I Feel’, and have been spotted throughout the other books as well.

Nico is the older brother to Maria, Dee, and Milo and cousin to Carmen, Domenic Jr. and others.

Nico had the reputation of a player, but was working on changing after meeting Sofia when she started working at his family’s restaurant.

Sofia has her plate full—working, taking care of her son, and finalizing her divorce.

Image (c) Wildfire Marketing Solutions

She’s noticed Nico, but at the same time has ‘sworn’ off relationships.

What happens when the relationship-shy Sofia decides to give Nico a chance?

Mix in the possibly dangerous ex, ‘lost’ family, and the rest of the Giordino family—and you have ‘How Much I Want’.

So pull up a seat, a cool beverage, and a fan; then sit back and enjoy ‘How Much I Want’. I loved the latest trip down to Miami, and I may decide to binge read the series again on the next stormy, rainy day that I’m stuck inside.

I give ‘How Much I Want’ five out five stars, and I totally loved Nico and Sofia’s story. I look forward to the next story in the series, and can’t wait to see how the family grows.

Another winner by Marie Force.

This is an ARC review and all images have been supplied by Wildfire Marketing Solutions

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Introducing the first of the Wilder Brothers: Eli

Welcome to Texas, and the Wilder brothers series.

This is a ‘spin-off’ series focusing on Eliza’s brothers (who were first briefly introduced in Inked Obsession [book two of the Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins mini-series]).

One Way Back to Me is the first in the series and focuses on Eli and Alexis and takes place about two years after ‘A Night for Us’ (the free prequel to the series).

Eli and his brothers bought land from a retired Air Force general, and are slowly figuring out the ‘civilian’ life—including how to run a resort and winery.

Each brother has their own little piece, and the resort and winery are going well—but they need a wedding coordinator.

They’ve gone through two wedding coordinators in two years, and are desperate for one that will last.

Who should apply for the job—the one woman that Eli didn’t think he’d ever see again—Alexis.

Alexis applies for the job, as she is need of a new beginning after the disastrous end to her marriage.

The brothers hire her on as the new wedding coordinator for the Wilder Retreat and Winery.

Alexis and Eli realize that their attraction to each other wasn’t just a ‘one-night’ thing.

While they’re trying to figure out their relationship—someone comes ‘knocking’.

What does Alexis’s ex want? How big of a pain will the Dodge family be, and who is being hired as the top chef???

The answers to those questions, and a ‘surprise’ visit from a few familiar faces from Colorado can be found within the pages of ‘One Way Back to Me’.

I absolutely loved this book and the introduction of Eliza’s brothers. I will freely admit that when I read she had six brothers—I had my fingers crossed that there would be another spinoff series.

Carrie Ann did not disappoint with this book. I loved Eli and Alexis’s story, and am going to have to hold off until all of the Wilder boys get their happily-ever-after before I can decide on my ‘favorite’.

So, grab a drink, pull up a chair and settle in to find out what the Wilder boys are up to and I’m hoping to see a glimpse of Eliza and family in each additional book.

I give ‘One Way Back to Me’ five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Warning: Ranting and reviewing last months goals. 2022 is becoming a rocky road.

So, we’re two months into 2022, and I’m getting really tired of living through historical events. I’m hoping to ‘reset’ come March, and become a little more productive than I’ve been the past two months.

I mentioned last month, that I felt like I should treat January as the ‘tester’ month—well, if January was the ‘tester’ month, February was ‘flat’ and I need to really ‘reset’ this coming month and figure out the daily schedule—when I say I’m going to be working (researching/writing/editing, reading or doing crafts) and when I decide I’m done for the day.

So, we’re now about two weeks shy of starting year three of the pandemic (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m scared that we’re starting to ‘normalize’ this damn virus and all its variants. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘January in Review’ on February 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 76.2 million cases and now as of February 28th —we have reached a little over 80.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 4.2 million cases). Numbers are going down—I think in part to kids getting vaccinated (five and up), and others getting their booster shots.

So, why am I getting tired of living during historical events? Well, I could go on and on about the damn pandemic—but now it is the possibility of world war III that may be on the horizon that is pissing me off.

Last week Russia invaded Ukraine for absolutely no damn reason. While there have been swift sanctions against Russia, they haven’t stopped or turned around. My respect for the Ukrainian population is through the roof considering the odds against them. Also—I don’t hold anything against the general Russian population (considering the number of people who have been protesting the war, both in person and via writing). My irritation/grief/anger is towards particular individuals (whom I’m not naming—because I’m not giving them those ‘seconds’ of fame).

Somehow we need to develop both a universal anti-bullying law and a universal ‘pay/earning/savings’ cap and then work on improving education and other aspects of life.

Looking at the world—problems are arising from the huge gap in wealth between people. I truthfully don’t think that anyone needs to be a multi-billionaire or aim for becoming a trillionaire.

Also—there is no planet B, and trying to colonize Mars or the moon—that isn’t happening anytime soon. True there were plenty of sci-fi shows in the late 1990s/early 2000s that showed humans conquering space and starting colonies on far-flung planets—but that would require both belief and funding for science (two things lacking in the current day and age).

So, it would be nice if the huge companies would pay their employees above a ‘living’ wage, pay their fair share of taxes, and possibly give back to help protect the planet that we all call home.

So, in a nutshell—I’m tired of bullies (political/economical), and wondering when the next ‘disaster’ is going to strike. Therefore, before looking ahead to setting goals for March, I need to look back at the goals I set for February and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for February included:

  1. At least 120-140,000 steps
  2. Daily Intentional Movements (walking, chores, lifting weights, yoga, pilates, ect)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. No spend days/No-spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings
  7. Daily craft time
  8. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 120-140,000 steps; I actually managed to reach the goal step, and actually slightly surpassed it. I managed to get 140,796 steps in during February. This included mostly walks with Chaos through the neighborhood and a short walk at Boomer Lake. We had quite a few winter days (snow/ice) that had me house bound.

Daily Intentional Movements:

There was ‘daily’ movement—though some days it was just ‘wandering’ around the house. There were eight walks with Chaos, a short walk at Boomer Lake, a couple of times shoveling the driveway & sidewalk (snow and/or ice), and doing chores. I’m still in the process of ‘developing’ a intentional movement calendar/game-board.

Reading at least one non-fiction book:

The only non-fiction book that I finished this month was ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson. I have been bouncing between several others, and also added quite a few others to the reading list as well.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

So, I read numerous fiction books this past month—but have only done one mini-book review:

Inked Craving (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The other books that I read this month included:

  1. Tattered Stars by Catherine Cowles
  2. Rescuing Annie (Delta Force Heroes #12) by Susan Stoker
  3. Someone Like You (Wild Widows #1) by Marie Force
  4. Cry for Me by R. Sullins
  5. The Redeeming Love series (nine books) by J.E. Parker

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

Didn’t do so well this month—my response to the possibility of the world ending is to spend money. Aiming to improve during the month of March—I’m planning on only a few ‘large’ orders from Amazon and the handful of e-book preorders.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings:

Time outdoors was dependent on the weather this month (as that is usually the case during the winter and/or summer months). I did manage to take Chaos for several walks, did a short walk at Boomer Lake (it was really windy that day), and spent some time outdoors.

Meditation/sitting quietly is still a work in progress. Due to elderly cats that are having ‘issues’, I’ve decided not to have a ‘permanent’ meditation area. Instead I’m in the process of designing an meditation area that can be put together when I want to meditate, and then taken apart afterwards.

I’m getting better at both daily gratitude journal entries and doing the daily oracle drawings. I only ‘missed’ a day or two of the drawings, and for the most part have managed to find something that I’m grateful for each evening.

Daily Craft time:

This is still something that I’m also working on improving. When I have ‘free-time’ I either decide to read, or possibly play the game Klondike. Though there have been a few days that I took the camera out, or did a color-by-number on the kindle. The craft goals for March include: a new cross-stitch project, and at least eight days of photography (either iPhone or actual camera).

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched two short Skill Share courses on mind mapping:

Mind mapping-beginner’s guide and Mind Map Mastery

These two courses were chosen because I wanted to ‘refresh’ myself on the basics of mind mapping. Since I’m in the progress of trying to both increase and ‘diversify’ my writing portfolio (via the blog, LinkedIn, volunteer writing, and other future prospects)—I want a ‘better’ way of brainstorming (instead of just a ‘vomit’ list of words and bullet points).

So the only goal that I basically ‘missed’ was the limited spending challenge goal. I realize that I’m an impulsive buyer, and when I get frustrated/irritated/scared/angry I have a habit of spending money to make myself feel better. The goal moving forward—only to play Klondike in the morning and/or late evening (and only spend money on the game possibly once a week), read at least three non-fiction books before buying more, and to limit the ‘amazon’ purchases.

This coming month that will probably be limited to three (possibly four) purchases. I have a rather large one ready to buy (numerous spirituality books, dog treats, and some more thread for cross-stitching); I will need to purchase my niece her birthday present at the end of the month, and the download of turbo tax (on the compatible laptop).

There may also be one or two more donations to groups that are giving support to Ukraine during this shit-storm that they’re enduring.

Over the past few months (and if I’m honest—the past few years), I’ve had the silent debate on how to connect all of my various social media platforms together. We’ve all been told that when it comes to job searching (or even starting our own businesses) that there are certain topics shouldn’t be touched on (unless they’re the direction you’re going in). Those topics are usually politics and religion.

We’re told to keep things ‘neutral’ or to have more than one profile (and keep one of those ‘private’ to where it can’t be spotted), on these topics. I’d thought of doing that—but have come to the realization that I’m not going to do that.

I know what I believe in (education for all, human rights for all, women’s right to chose, climate change is real, freedom of religion, and freedom to marry who ever you want—just to name a few), and I do share memes and other things that point out when others in power don’t hold up to those beliefs—and I’m no longer going to apologize for my beliefs and stances.

With that being said, what are my goals for March?

March goals will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; Hopefully with heading towards spring, there can be at least one walk at Boomer Lake and several walks thorugh the neighborhood with Chaos
  2. Figuring out my intentional movement calendar/board-game (aim for at least five minutes of intentional movement each day)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Finish two-to-four (if not more) fiction books
  5. Recommit to the limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings, and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health
  7. Craft time–complete one new cross-stitch project and at least eight days of photography (iPhone or camera)
  8. Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

In addition to the above goals—I’m also going to work on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and all other goals as well).

I’m also sending happy thoughts/good vibes to the people of Ukraine fighting for their country. War doesn’t solve anything, and as my grandfather (a WWII vet) stated: “War is hell”.

It seems that this decade isn’t going to be ‘smooth sailing’, and each year gets bumpier than the last. It seems that as a species, we have yet to ‘learn’, ‘process’, and ‘internalize’ that statement: ‘War is hell’. I’m afraid that until we manage to realize that, and fix a whole plethora of problems, we’re not going to escape the past—we’re going to keep repeating it (with different names and locations).

So, if you follow me on other sites—you will see me making political and religious statements. I won’t apologize for those statements, but will say this—if they (the statements/memes or whatever) make you upset/mad or whatever—ask yourself, why? I don’t share things to offend, but I do share to help try to educate, but also to show my stance of various topics.

Therefore on the eve of this new moon, I send healing thoughts and vibes to the people of Ukraine and Russia. Nothing is gained through the loss of lives…

Namaste…

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Back to the Montgomery Ink World: Review of Nothing But Ink

Welcome back to the Montgomery Ink world.

‘Nothing But Ink’ is set within the Fort Collins branch of the Montgomery family, and features Clay and Riggs.

The story also features an appearance by some of the members of the Denver branch of the family.

Clay is first introduced back in the ‘original’ Montgomery Ink world (Inked Expressions), and has grown up a lot since then.

Riggs was first introduced in ‘Inked Persuasion’ as the owner of a local bar ‘Riggs’ that the Montgomerys frequently go to.

Unknown to the others—Clay and Riggs knew each other in high school…

Coveted looks have been shared up to this point…when they take a night just for themselves.

Clay doesn’t think he has room for someone else in his present, not with having to care for his cousins…

Rigg’s past is back to haunt…

Can they find their way back to each other??

The answer, plus the more can be found within the pages of ‘Nothing But Ink’.

It was nice to see Clay and Riggs get their story, and to see how far Clay had grown since Inked Expressions.

I enjoy every trip back into the Montgomery Ink world (and probably should schedule a weekend to binge read all the interconnected series), and Nothing But Ink, delivered another breathtaking hit.

I give Nothing But Ink, five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who likes a second-chance romance and it’s a ‘perfect’ introduction to the world if you haven’t read any of the previous books.

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Looking Back at 2021: I’m a bookworm. Now to plan for 2022 and beyond

While looking ahead to a ‘blank slate’ of 2022, I realized that I should also reflect on 2021 and the ups, down, hills, valleys, and everything in between. The post will probably seem a little bit ‘rambling’—but that is due to just writing what I’m thinking and not really organizing my thoughts beforehand.

We were still in the grip of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic during 2021. While there have been several vaccines approved (the Pfizer one received full approval from the FDA and CDC towards the end of the year), there is unfortunately still a good portion of the population that is refusing to get vaccinated.

Come early March, we will be entering year three of the pandemic—hopefully we’ll be seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ by summer????

I’ve still been isolating at home (only leaving the house maybe a couple of times a week—one to get the paper on the weekends, then an occasional walk either at Boomer Lake with my camera or through the neighborhood with Chaos) for the most part this past year. Like everyone else, I would like for things to return to a ‘new normal’—but I also understand that it will take awhile for the ‘new normal’ to emerge and everyone to get on the same page.

I’m not planning on doing any type of travel this year (thanks omicron variant and anti-vaxxers), but hopefully maybe able to do a small trip sometime between 2023 and 2024.

Since the number of cases is still skyrocketing due to the omicron variant—I plan of trying to get my booster shot sometime within the next two weeks.

The only huge crisis we had this past year was with Rolex—when we took her to get an allergy shot, she developed the rare side effect of hemolytic anemia. So, the past few months have been a roller coaster as we try to help her overcome the anemia. So, far she’s had two blood transfusions and is on numerous medications—we’ll hopefully see if she can be weaned off of two of them entirely next month (I’m assuming one of the meds will be lowered again this month).

Chaos doesn’t care of strangers (which is both good and bad), so when I do have to take him into the vet—he has to be given meds to mellow him out. I’m hoping to possibly start taking him for longer walks (to where we might encounter other people) this coming spring.

In terms of my career—I think I’ve figured it ‘out’ (at least a little). I’m going to go in the direction of remote/contract/online science/medical communications/education with the end goal of creating my own freelance business (melding copywriting [medical/science communication/education, health/wellness, and personal/professional development] with blogging [hobbies, travels, and personal/professional development]). Therefore, the blog/website will be getting update throughout the year as I work my way in that direction.

I managed to land a ‘volunteer’ medical content writing position with a company in Canada during the summer—so I’m getting my ‘feet’ wet in the regards of summarizing scientific papers and other topics for the general public. In addition, I put in my application for a couple of freelance writing position and then a medical writers position—didn’t get any of them, but I was proud of the fact I went ahead and applied for each of them, being a total ‘newbie’ in the online medical writing world.

I’ve joined another accountability group—which is good, but since I’ve really ‘narrowed’ down what I want to do (remote/online writing and/or data analysis), I’m having problems finding the job postings. I’ll be working on those assignments, and giving updates throughout the next few months (which will include ‘linking the blog/website’ to my LinkedIn account).

Those were some of the highlights for the year, so how did 2021 go in general?

In terms of steps—I had a rough goal of at least 1,825,000 steps (breaking down to basically 5,000 steps per day). I managed to get 1,979,594 steps for the year, with the following monthly breakdown:

January:          159,685

February:        146,418

March:             197,430

April:              187,411

May:               187,855

June:               149,009

July:                140,686

August:           154,591

September:      157,114

October:          160,753

November:      168,476

December:       170,166

The months with the lowest number of steps happened to be during the summer, when it was a little too warm (or humid or both) to be outside walking either on my own or with my dog.

While I’d set the goal of completing nine workout programs throughout 2021—I managed to complete three, and then spent the rest of the year concentrating on more ‘intentional movements’ than fitness programs.

I also had set the goal of reading a minimum of 80 books (30 non-fiction and 50 fiction), and the actual total number of books that I read last year was a minimum of 127 books (12 non-fiction and at least 105 fiction). These included new and rereads (all of which were within the fiction category).

I met the goal of at least fifty fiction books (actually doubled it), and almost met half the goal of non-fiction books (thirty).

The non-fiction books I read during 2021 included:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny
  2. Badass Habits: Cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero
  3. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  4. The Joy of Missing Out: Live more by doing less by Tonya Dalton
  5. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–A creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  6. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
  7. Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong by Kristen Hadeed
  8. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  9. 25 Ways to work from Home by Jen Ruiz
  10. Write to Speak by Mike Acker
  11. I want to do all the things: finding balance as a polymath, multipotentialite, and renaissance soul by Arcadia Page
  12. The More of Less: Finding the life you want under everything you own by Joshua Becker

In terms of fiction books read during 2021 (new and re-reads), I managed to read (a minimum) of 105 fiction books, and they included:

  • Loved You Once (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Moment Like You (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Defying Our Forever (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #22) by Marie Force
  • Catalina (The Alders #10) by Avery Gale
  • I re-read the first nine books in the Alders series by Avery Gale
  • The Shadowdance Club (7 book series) by Avery Gale
  • Masters of the PrairieWind Club (11 book series–as of Feb 2021) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unexpected–Jax (The Billionaire’s Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  • Loving Arms (Slick Rock #30) by Becca Van
  • Reckless (Slick Rock #31) by Becca Van
  • Exception to the Rule (Beautifully Imperfect #7) by Becca Van
  • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  • Re-read the entire Fatal series (16 books) prior to State of Affairs coming out
  • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
  • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
  • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
  • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #32) by Becca Van
  • Royal Line (Tatter Royals #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd
  • Come Together (Butler VT #7) by Marie Force
  • Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Green Mountain Series (7 books) by Marie Force
  • First six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force
  • Vortex: A FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter
  • Wiretaps and Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday
  • Catnip and Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday
  • My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston
  • Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #23)
  • Finally You (Luna Harbor #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Love Under Two Explorers (Lusty, Texas #43) by Cara Covington
  • My Bad Decisions (On My Own #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Morgan Brothers (5 books) by Avery Gale
  • State of Grace (First Family #2) by Marie Force
  • Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #16) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Gatekeeper (Dragon Knights #17) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Falling for Fallon (Masters of the Prairie Wind Club #12) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unnoticed–Cooper (Billionaires Obsessions #17) by J.S. Scott

I’m pretty sure that there are probably another 20-30 books that I re-read during the year, but didn’t keep track of–what can I say, I’m a book worm and I would rather spend my evenings reading than watching TV.

While I had decided on doing a ‘no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month’, the only month that I really succeed at it was January. I ‘slipped’ and spent more money throughout the year than I really should have. I’ve pledge to restart the challenge this year, and to do better than I did last year (not aiming for perfection—but aiming for progress).

While the goal for 2021 was to finish at least twenty e-courses, I managed to finish nine throughout the year. I’d found that if I managed to watch several in a month, I ‘took’ the next month (or two) ‘off’ (probably unintentionally—letting ‘Pam’ win an unspoken argument). The courses that I ‘watched’ and ‘completed’ included:

On Skillshare:

  1. Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content
  2. 3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog
  3. Finding your inner creative
  4. Personal Branding: Your Copywriting Secret Sauce
  5. Create a simple digital marketing plan
  6. Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

Two Cheeky Scientist Association Advance Programs:

  1. Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Intellectual Property Pack

Then on Udemy:

  1. Understanding and developing Emotional Intelliegence

The goal for 2022 will be to at least double (if not triple) the number of e-courses that I watch/finish.

One big accomplishment I that managed to get done during 2021 was the creation and updating of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The first one that I did in February/March was an ‘assignment’ from a coach, when it became obvious (to her) that I was struggling with figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Since that first one—I’ve modified it four times, adding in a ‘bounce zone’ between the comfort and the stretch zone, and have watched the comfort and stretch zones (along with the bounce zone) grow, and the risk zone shrink.

I also created a personal/professional board game as well to help me ‘figure’ things out—and I’ve discovered the ‘biggest’ drawback on the game is that everything is ‘open-ended’ (such as review immunology or review cell biology).

I managed to teach myself basic cross-stitching this past year, and even finished three abstract design pieces. I started to do a more ‘nature’ based piece, and will probably try to turn it ‘abstract’ as I didn’t like how the cacti were turning out. I managed to spend quite a bit of time over the year up at Boomer Lake with my camera (one thing I still need to do is curate and delete all the really dark and/or blurry pictures I’ve taken over the past few decades).

Overall, 2021 was an okay year—not great (I mean there is still the pandemic), but also not a totally horrible year either. I’ve made progress in terms of personal and professional development (while some may see the past two years as ‘unemployed’—I view them as investing in myself)—maybe not as much as I’d originally liked, but still managed to do quite a bit. I’ve decided the career direction I’d like to pursue (remote/contract/online science/medical communications/writing and possibly data analysis), with the long-term goal of creating my own freelance business.

Therefore, heading into 2022, I’ve decided that:

I’ll have an overall BINGO card for the year (similar to what I tried to do for 2021), in addition to having BINGO cards for non-fiction books, e-courses, and intentional movement.

If I read a non-fiction book or complete/watch an e-course that isn’t on either of the current BINGO cards—I’ll write them down to put on an additional BINGO card.

The goal is to have at least a single BINGO on each of the cards (Bonus to have a totally checked BINGO card), and to have at least one BINGO on the overall yearly BINGO card as well.

I will transition into a remote/contract/online science/medical communications position. To help achieve that goal—I’m aiming at writing and publishing at least six scientific blog posts/articles by the end of the year. Each will be a minimum of 1000 words and will probably cover different topics I find of interest (or sub-topics within a specific ‘niche’).

In addition, I’m planning on writing at least two small literature reviews (being somewhere between 1000 and 1500 words), on one or two science topics, in addition to the larger project I’ve had bouncing around in my head for the past year.

I will also finish updating/modifying the blog/website to showcase the addition of science/medical writing in addition to my pieces on personal/professional development, hobbies, and travels.

Overall, I plan on 2022 being the year of ‘change’ and ‘growth’—growing as a science communicator, changing/transitioning into a ‘new’ position, and also finding my online ‘tribe’.

How was your 2021, and what do you have planned for 2022?

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Time to grab a book, a reading nook, and read the day away: It’s National Book Lovers Day!

So today (August 9th) is ‘National Book Lovers Day’, and it is a day that encourages us to find our favorite reading spot, grab a good book (or two), and read the day away.

Here are some random facts on early books:

  1. The first books had either parchment or calfskin for pages
  2. The covers were usually made of wood and covered in leather
  3. They had clasps or straps to keep them closed
  4. The first public libraries appeared during the Middle Ages, and the books were often chained to shelves or desks to prevent theft.

I’ve always been an avid reader to the point where I would usually be accumulating huge to-be read piles (or actually entire to-be read bookcases) during high school and college.

I got my first e-reader shortly before I finished graduate school (as a way to help cut back on the number of boxes of books Id’ be having to move), and for the most part that is what I’ve stuck with over the years.

I will use my e-reader for reading most books (whether they’re fiction or non-fiction), but when it comes to having a ‘referenec’ book (usually a textbook)–those I prefer to have in physical form (easier to highlight, make notes, and so forth). As I movemore into freelance writing, the bookcases will once again be propagated by books–just the larger (and heavier) textbooks.

While I could try to list out all my favorite books, I thought I’d share some of my favorite fiction books so far from this year:

  1. Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  2. Inked Persuasion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  3. Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #23) by Marie Force
  4. Billionaire Unexpected: Jax (The Billionaire Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  5. My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  6. My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  7. State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  8. As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  9. My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  10. How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  11. A Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd
  12. Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  13. Come Together (Butler, VT #7) by Marie Force
  14. Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Yes, there is a trend in the authors–I usually have a small list of authors that are automatic buys for me, three of the above authors I’ve been reading for quite a while (Marie Force, Carrie Ann Ryan, and Rhyannon Byrd), while the others I’ve only started reading since the pandemic. If I really like the series, it won’t matter how long it is between books–I’ll purchase the next book (I think it’s been roughly fourteen years between the release of the second McKendrick Warlock book and the third–but I liked the overall plot of the series, I’m personally waiting for Colin’s book).

I’ve also bought a large number of books by ‘new’ to me authors over the past year (mainly through special sales), which I’m going ot be working in around all the pre-ordered books that I will still be getting throughout the year. I’m hoping to slowly expand my reading genera from contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance to also include mysteries/thrillers, and ‘normal’ science fiction/fantasy (in addition the non-fiction).

Here are a few of those books that I’m going to be reading over the next few months:

  1. Familiar Kitten Mysteries Bundle (Books 1-6) by Sara Bourgeois
  2. The White Magic Five and Dime: A Tarot Mystery by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco
  3. Phoenix Rising (Complete Series) by Annie Anderson
  4. The Dark Emeralds (Books 1-3) by Jerry Lambert
  5. Dead to Me: Arcane Souls World (Grave Talker #1) by Annie Anderson

Also over the past two years or so, I’ve been trying to balance out the fiction reading with some non-fiction reading, and here is a list of some of the books I’ve enjoyed reading:

  1. Minimalist Money Makeover by Michelle Moore
  2. The No Spend Challenge Guide: How to stop spending money impulsively, pay off debt fast, and make your finances fit your dreams by Jen Smith
  3. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  4. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  5. Reboot Your Life: Energize your career and life by taking a break by Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, and Jaye Smith
  6. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
  7. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  8. What your clutter is trying to tell you: uncover the message in the mess and reclaim your life by Kerri L. Richardson
  9. YouMap: Find Yourself, Blaze Your Path, Show the World! by Kristin Sherry
  10. The Year of Less: How I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can buy by Cait Flanders
  11. Pause: Harness the life-changing power of giving yourself a break by Rachael O’Meara
  12. The Latte Factor: why you don’t have to be rich to live rich by David Bach and John David Mann
  13. Girl on Fire: How to Choose Yourself, Burn the Rule Book, and Blaze Your Own Trail in Life and Business by Cara Alwill Leyba
  14. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton
  15. The 12 week year: get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
  16. Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  17. Hello Fears: Crush your comfort zone and become who you’re meant to be by Michelle Poler
  18. How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up by Emilie Wapnick
  19. 25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money online by Jen Ruiz

These are the books that have resonated somewhat with me, either in terms of finances, career, or trying to par down on the amount of stuff I own. All three of these areas are things I’ve been trying to focus on for the past eighteen months. I had decided right before the pandemic that I was going to take a ‘reboot break’ to focus on my health and finding the ‘right’ job.

Once the pandemic hit—I switched gears to more personal/professional development and ‘escapism’ (buying large numbers of books [both physical and electronic], craft supplies, and organizational supplies). I’ve worked through a small number of the courses—but have acquired a large number of books.

So, those are areas that I’m still focusing on (especially trying to get the impulsive purchasing under control again), in addition to expanding the genera I read.

Here are some of the non-fiction books that are on my to-be read list:

  1. The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify your strengths and create success on your own terms by Beth Buelow
  2. The Freelance Introvert: Work the way you want without changing who you are by Tom Albrighton
  3. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers in World War II by Liz Mundy
  4. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict
  5. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney
  6. Just Do You: Authenticity, Leadership, and Your Personal Brand by Lisa King
  7. Owning It: Take Control of Your Life, Work, and Career by Kris Taylor
  8. Stepping Stones: A journey through the ice caves of the Dordogne by Christine Desdemaines-Hugo and Ian Tattersall
  9. Work Quilting: Piece together diverse income streams; live an insanely awesome life by Vikki Walton
  10. What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
  11. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  12. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

So, there you have it: some of my favorite 2021 fiction books, and some of my favorite non-fiction books from the past few years. In addition to some of the fiction and non-fiction books I plan on reading over the next few months.

Curious to know–who are some of your favorite (automatic-buy) authors?

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The ‘dog days of summer’ hindered some goals

So the year is officially over halfway over–there are only 153 days left in 2021. While it seems things are still speeding up (I swear that yesterday was May 31st), I have a bad feeling that we’re possibly heading to another lock down (or at least a emergency declaration) within the next few months. The number of people getting vaccinated is starting to decline, and the main variant of the virus (the delta variant) is said to be as contagious as chickenpox. While the vaccine will prevent you from dying (unless you have numerous other underlying issues), you can still spread the virus–so please, get vaccinated, wear a mask, and still practice social distancing. It would be nice if we could end the pandemic before the start of a new decade.

I’m truthfully trying to stay away from the news right now (I’m tired of all the irritating/disturbing news), and I’m fully aware that by doing that I’m exercising my ‘white privilege’. While a good portion of the US population has gotten (or is getting) their vaccine, our total number of cases currently is now slowly going up. When I published ‘June in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 34.5 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 35.7 million (So there was an increase of a little over 1.2 million cases for the month). So, the numbers are going back up (June only had ~500K new cases), it’s going to be scary to see what the numbers are in a couple of weeks when various schools (both public and colleges) start up again.

Therefore, I’m going to continue to self-isolate, wear a mask when I have to go out, and even cut back on the frequency of walks at Boomer Lake (or perhaps go a little earlier in the mornings).

Before looking ahead to August (midway through the third quarter, and a new set of goals, plus the plans of become slightly more productive), I should look at the goals I set for July and see how I did with each of them

The goals for July included:

  1. 135-150,000 steps, these will hopefully include at least one walk at Boomer Lake and then I will have to figure out how I’m going to get the rest in–due to the fact we’re going to be heading into the ‘dog days of summer’
  2. Finishing up LIIFT4 and starting the second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Read one to two non-fiction books (and write small reviews)
  4. Read two to three fiction books (and write small reviews)
  5. Finish the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and work through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries
  8. Craft time (start the cross-stitch project, and possibly create at least one necklace)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course
  10. Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two-to-three days a week)

So how did I do with each of them?

135-150,000 steps–I managed to reach the minimum number of steps (and actually slightly surpassed with a a total of 140,686 steps), since I was able to do two walks at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I know that I can put movies on and march in place/circles to get in the steps (I’ve done it in the past)–I just didn’t feel like watching TV this past month.

Finishing LIIFT4 and starting MM100

I was actually almost finished with LIIFT4 (the lifting portion), when I semi-sprained my wrist mid-month. I had been doing some yard work and tried to cut a thick branch with the pruners and placed a little too much pressure on my wrist. I then decided I would focus on ‘intentional’ movement again while waiting for my wrist to heal. Even though there is some slight discomfort (every so often), I will be restarting LIIFT4 (possibly going light for awhile) on Monday, and then starting my second round of MM100 in September (finishing up 2021 with the program).

Read one to two non-fiction books (and hopefully write small review)

I’m currently a little over a third of the way through ‘The More of Less’ by Josh Becker. July was more fiction reading than non-fiction reading (in part due to the frequent mild anxiety attacks I’d been having).

Read two to three fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews)

The fiction books I managed to read this month included:

The Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd

Come Together (Butler, VT #7) by Marie Force

Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

In addition to binge reading the Green Mountain series and the first six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force (to be able to red book seven).

So far, Inked Obsession is the only one that has a review up on the blog currently. I’m working on the other two (A Scent of Magick and Come Together), and they should be getting posted sometime during August.

Finishing up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and working through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

I have my first ‘drafts’ of the editing assignments finished (I may go back and try to re-edit one or two of the assignments [see if I can get the word count down a little more for one of them]), and am slowly working on the writing assignments.

I didn’t watch any of the videos from the Regulatory Affairs Council program.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

While this will be covered in a little more depth in my limited spending check-in post, I will say that I did spend a little more this month than I had originally planned on.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries

Well, we’re in the dog days of summer—so if I was outside it was usually sitting in front of the fan (though I did manage to get two walks in at Boomer Lake this past month). I’ve been good at doing my evening meditation/sitting quietly for a few minutes before bed.

In terms of the daily gratitude entries, I’d been pretty good at doing those up until the past week or so. Goal for August—gratitude entry before other work in the evening.

Craft time (start the cross-stitch project and possibly create a necklace)

I have started a cross-stitch project. I haven’t gotten very far with it, but it is going to be an abstract design (actually really—no design, but trying to use each color of thread at least once), that I hope to finish by the end of September.

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I started working through the one program ’15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them’ last week (I’ve managed to watch at least five videos, and am about a quarter of the way through the course).

Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two-to-three days a week)

Nope, this still hasn’t happened. I think the main reason is that I’m trying to put too much stuff on the ‘plate’ each day, and if something has to be ‘left’ behind (as in not finished or started), it is usually this—refreshing Spanish.

While there were a few goals that I didn’t meet (refreshing Spanish, working through various e-courses, and having a ‘good’ limited spending month), I did manage to get a few other things accomplished.

I applied for, and was accepted as a volunteer medical content writer. While it isn’t a paid position—I’m gaining experience in medical content writing, and a company I can use as a reference at some point in the future. It is also helping me focus on topics that may not be of total ‘interest’ to me, but of interest to others.

Therefore, going forward I’m going to have to try to get better at time/project management—so that I can get things checked off the to-do list, but also generate content for others (currently just the medical content company).

I’m also working on trying to add more science and health posts and pages to the blog as well, with the goal of having at least one to two new pages a month, in addition to one to three new posts a month.

I’m keeping my goals fairly consistent—as that is how they become habits. Since I still slightly struggle with a few of them (limited spending, working through e-courses, and so forth), that means they’re not habits yet, and even when they become habits—they will still have a spot in the tracker journal.

As we move into the last five months of 2021—we may be facing another ‘shelter in place’ order (depending on how bad the delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus continues to spread), which means focusing on my mental health may take priority again this fall. The past couple of days, I’ve felt my anxiety spike just over the thought of picking a new template for the blog, rearranging the order of pages (possibly combining some and removing others), adding new pages and ‘rewriting’ my home and work with me pages.

While, I don’t like the semi out of control feelings that the anxiety attacks produce—I’m acknowledging the sensations and working through the feelings. The redesign of the blog may take a few weeks (or possibly even a few months), but I’ll get it done. When the anxious feelings really spike—that will be when the computer is shut down, and I pick up the cross-stitch project and stab the cloth over and over again (it actually helps).

So, the first seven months of 2021 are over, who knows how the last five months are going to go (especially in terms of the pandemic)—but I know that I will keep showing up daily, working on laying the foundation to an online career and presence. That career and presence will be multi-facet, mainly so that I don’t lose interest as I move forward.

Therefore the goals for August will include:

  1. 135-155,000 steps; I will probably need to put a movie (or three) on to get the steps in this month. We’re in the middle of the ‘dog days of summer’, and the delta variant is surging both in town and the state–this means I’m going to have to start limiting both the number of walks and the time spent up at Boomer Lake.
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO program, and roll the dice to figure out the next advanced cheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three of the four non-fiction books I’ve started over the past two months
  5. Read two to four fiction books (write small reviews for at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude entries in the journal
  8. Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

The goals are similar to last month; I just decided I’d leave off refreshing Spanish currently (since I have enough on the plate, when I also add in the weekly content I need to write for my volunteer position).

If another ‘shelter in place’ order is given this fall, I will probably have to go through various social media accounts and limit the number of political things I see (I’m totally pro-vaccine, pro-mask, and pro-social distancing; I just get tired of seeing all the stuff in regards to those who aren’t following the guidelines).

The blog/website will be getting a ‘new look’ over the coming weeks/months as I try to streamline how things look, and what type of ‘work’ I’ll be offering (writing/photo stock/project management and so forth). The domain name won’t be changing for a while (possibly late fall or early next year), depending on how things work out.

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What type of post would you like to see more of: science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths?

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