September Reading Wrap Up

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I’d say September was a pretty great reading month. With 15 books finished, I’d be crazy to ask for more.

Maybe it was due to the start of autumn, maybe it was because of the lack of good tv, but either way, I was on a reading roll for the past four weeks. While some of the books I read were my all-time least favorites (coughSchumercough), a couple of these novels have skyrocketed to the top of my must-read-again list (if you haven’t read a book by Renee Carlino, you haven’t truly lived).

Without further ado, here are the books I read in September:

  1. Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins
  2. The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
  3. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  4. Ape House by Sara Gruen
  5. The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
  6. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  7. Making Faces by Amy Harmon
  8. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
  9. Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
  10. Girling Up by Mayim Bialik
  11. Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
  12. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  13. Slammed by Colleen Hoover
  14. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  15. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

As always, you can read my reviews on these books and stay updated with my current reading by adding me as a friend on Goodreads.

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August Reading Wrap Up

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In August, I was able to squeeze in quite a bit of last minute summer reading – 12 books to be exact.

From the best memoir I’ve ever read (The Glass Castle) to the finishing my first ever read through of the most iconic series of all time (Harry Potter), I’d say my reading list in August was one of the year’s best.

The books I read in August were:

  1. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
  2. Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  4. Tracks by Robyn Davidson
  5. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
  6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  7. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  8. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
  9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  10. Lucky in Love by Kasie West
  11. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  12. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Keep up with my reviews of these books and what I’m reading next by adding me as a friend on Goodreads.

3 Books to Read Before Summer Ends

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School buses are making their rounds through neighborhoods, pools are announcing closing dates, and pumpkins are beginning to appear in storefronts downtown. Yes, fall is looming in the air, but summer isn’t over yet!

My favorite part about this season has always been summer reading. Whether you regularly thumb through a novel while at the pool or prefer the comfort of air conditioning while you devour a biography, nothing beats a good book during the hot summer.

Make the most of the summer you have left with these three books:

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Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
A quick, fast-paced read, this work by the famed Me Before You author will take you on a journey with a handful of short stories that fly by over the course of an afternoon. With this book, you’ll laugh, cry, and even get to explore Paris without leaving your own backyard.

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The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
There’s a reason this book is regarded as one of the best memoirs of all time. Dive into the world of the Walls family, and discover for yourself what it means to love unconditionally, and forge your own way of living. Not to mention, once you finish the book, you can treat yourself to a viewing of the top-rated film staring Brie Larson in theaters now.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston
A humorous take on Cinderella meets Comic Con, this book by Poston is a retelling unlike any other. Full of geeky jargon and lovable characters, Geekerella gives a fresh look into the life of a downtrodden princess and her unexpected prince.

What books are you hoping to finish by the time autumn arrives?

July Reading Wrap Up

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Summer is one of my favorite times of the year to sneak in a little extra reading. Maybe it’s the heat that makes laying around with a good book and air conditioning so appealing, or maybe it’s the extra hours of daylight.

Either way, last month I was able to finish 11 books.

  1. The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  3. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
  4. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  6. My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill
  7. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  8. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
  9. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  10. This Life I Live by Rory Feek
  11. The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Check out my thoughts on this books and what I’m reading now by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!

Why You Should Write Like You Have a Deadline

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As an aspiring author, the best thing you can do to better your craft and get you closer to seeing your novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble is to write. While that’s no secret, all writers are different, especially when it comes to how quickly they can get words down on the page. 

Some writers can crank out upwards of 1,000 words a day, while others struggle to complete 500 in a week. Are either of these writers better than the other? No. However, writing like you have a deadline, even when you don’t, can often mean the difference between finishing your manuscript or always wishing you had. 

Approaching your writing like you are on a deadline:

Provides Instant Motivation
We all have days that simply don’t have enough hours in them, but giving yourself a deadline gives you the extra dose of motivation that is often needed to finish your book. This inspiration will keep you moving toward your goal, and give you a tangible finish line to look forward to. 

Gets Words on the Page
Deadlines are great scare tactics. Either you meet them or you don’t, and nothing feels worse than letting your creative self down. When you give yourself a date that your draft needs to be finished by, you will work harder to fill the blank pages of your manuscript, which in turn, gets you one step closer to publication. 

Eliminates Excuses 
YouTube, Netflix, Twitter, and Goodreads all too often become excuses for us to avoid digging into our work in progress. By giving yourself a deadline, and making your writing a priority, you will crave completing your novel over a useless binge-watching session. Besides, these typical excuses can make great ways to treat yourself once your book is complete.

Have you ever written on a deadline before? How did it compare to regular self-paced writing?

3 Secrets to Getting Published

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As a writer, it’s likely not a secret that one of your main goals is to get published. Sure, writing just for the love of writing is great, but you’re probably kidding yourself if you say you don’t dream about one day finding your novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. 

While the publishing industry changes daily and there is no one set in stone path that will get your book on the New York Time’s Bestseller list, these three tips will get you pointed in the right direction. 

Network
Rarely does one ever get published without the help of others in the industry. Make a point to reach out to agents, publishers, and other authors you admire. Building relationships with others in the field will help open new doors and opportunities. But be careful to never promote your work right away to new contacts – instead, focus on building lasting friendships. The business aspect will follow when the time is right. 

Build a Platform
In today’s world of social media, it is vital that new authors have a presence online with a meaningful platform. Whether through Twitter, Instagram, or a blog, by continuously building your platform and posting quality content, your likelihood of getting noticed (and ultimately getting a book deal) by a publisher increases significantly. 

Write
The best way to help your work get published? WRITE. Embrace your manuscript and put in the effort to make your book as good as it possibly can be through several rounds of edits, beta-readers, and then even more edits. Constantly working on your writing is the only guaranteed way to improve your craft, and since the quality of your writing is the ultimate factor between your book selling out on Amazon or living in Google Docs forever, it is best that you make the process of actually sitting down to write your primary focus. There are a lot of mediocre books out there, but by ensuring yours is great, you increase your chances of getting published infinitely. 

What are some of your favorite helpful publishing secrets? 

Supermarket Small Talk: 5 Minute Fiction

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Supermarket Small Talk

“Megan?”.
Oh no.
“Is that you? Oh, of course it is!”.
I wish it wasn’t.
“It’s been so long!”.
Not long enough.
“How long has it been? High school?”.
Ugh. “Yeah”, I say with a smile faker than Heather’s new cheekbones. “It’s been a while”. I give her a polite nod and turn around, pretending to be engrossed in the latest tabloids, and praying the 17 year old cashier will get a move on.
“How have you been?”, Heather doesn’t take the hint, expecting me to humor her constant questions.
Since I can’t tell her that I spend most of my time in public avoiding soul-suckers like her, I give her the always acceptable, “Fine”.
“Oh, life’s just great isn’t it?”, she muses.
Not this particular moment.
She keeps going, “Adam and I just moved into a farmhouse, and my blog is really taking off!”.
Her blog about how hard life is in upper-class suburbia. 
Yes, I’ve read it.
Stop judging me.
“What have you been up to?”, she narrows in
“Contemplating how badly I want these bananas, or if ditching them and this conversation would be worth it”.
“Excuse me?”.
Shoot.
I said that one out loud.

Read more 5 Minute Fiction pieces by yours truly.

June Reading Wrap Up

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Somehow, between work, writing, and Sporting KC games, I was able to squeeze in 6 books this past month, including the longest Harry Potter. Don’t ask me how – I’m considering it a miracle.

The books that I read in June consisted of both timeless classics and releases so new that the pages were still warm. Without further ado, here are the books I read over the past 30 days:

  1. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  5. By Your Side by Kasie West
  6. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Check out my thoughts on these novels, and become my book friend by adding me on Goodreads!

What was your favorite book you read in June?

What to Expect from John Green’s New Book

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It’s been 5 and a half years since John Green has released a new book. 5 and a half years of waiting, questioning, and most importantly, re-reading all of his previously published novels. However, last week Penguin announced that a new work from the acclaimed author is slated to hit shelves on October 10th. 

Turtles All the Way Down will be Green’s 6th stand alone novel (not counting the brilliant Let it Snow), and readers across the globe are anxious to crack open its spine. 

But what can we expect from this long awaited book?

While I won’t pretend to be able to read the mind of the genius that is Green, as a fan, I can tell you that Turtles All the Way Down is sure to include:

Creatively Complex Characters
If there’s one thing John Green is known for, it’s creating engaging characters that you feel are your best friend by the time the final chapter ends. While some call them pretentious, these characters are a staple to Green’s plots, and never disappoint when it comes to their quirky habits. 

Adventures You Wish Were Real
Green’s novels have a tendency to take you to another world while giving you the inspiration to get out and explore your own. I’m  betting, just based on the short summary we’ve been given, that his new book will be no different. Because who hasn’t gone on a spontaneous road trip with friends in search of a missing girl the day of your high school graduation? 

Puns That Will Make You Roll Your Eyes
A nerd at heart, Green never fails when it comes to jokes that will leave you groaning out of clever frustration. Whether it’s a carefully crafted insult or witty word play between friends, Turtles All the Way Down is sure to give readers the laughs (and eye rolls) we’ve been craving since The Fault in Our Stars ended. 

Approximately 300 Pages of Enjoyment
No matter what the pages of Green’s new book hold, it can be guaranteed that readers will be given hours worth of enjoyment as we make our way from the front to back cover. Sure, there are skeptics that say Green’s new works will never live up to the past, but no matter what the reviews end up shouting, Turtles All the Way Down will be a book none of us will forget. 

What are your expectations for Turtles All the Way Down?

6 Places to Explore in Kansas City this Summer

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Summer is in full swing, complete with BBQ’s, sunburns, and temperatures exceeding 80 degrees well before noon. While many people regard summer as a time to sit back and do nothing for weeks on end, Kansas City has a lot to offer for those bold enough to embrace the heat and adventure that comes from leaving your own backyard. 

You don’t have to go far to have an epic summer experience. In fact, some of the best places to go and explore this season in Kansas City are:

Starlight Theatre
Whether you’re a Broadway geek, concert fanatic, or comedy guru, Starlight has a show for everyone. Catch a classic stage show like Mamma Mia or Something Rotten, or even laugh along with comics like Jim Gaffigan.  A beautiful venue in the heart of Swope Park, Starlight will have you humming showtunes all the way home. 

Kansas City Zoo
Get up close and personal with animals from all over the world at KC’s infamous zoo. Explore Africa, Australia, and even the cool off with the penguins, all in a single afternoon. If you’re feeling really adventurous, make the hike over the to free-roaming kangaroos who, quite honestly, terrify me. 

Cafe Gratitude
No summer quest is complete without good food. Cafe gratitude is a vegan, gluten-free friendly restaurant in the Crossroads that is just as hip as it is delicious.  

First Fridays
Let your inner artist shine at First Fridays by exploring the work of local creators at this monthly art fair. One of the most popular weekend traditions, this heartland staple is a great way to get to know a new part of town. 

Sporting Kansas City 
Ditch the stereotypical Kansas City sports teams and opt for a couple of hours in the Cauldron watching Sporting play soccer. At the top of the MLS leader board, SKC will keep you on the edge of your bleacher until the final whistle blows. 

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Escape the brutal heat with some free air conditioning and culture at the Nelson. With classic works as well as constantly-evolving new collections, this museum always has something new to teach you. 

What are your favorite Kansas City summer activities?