June Reading Wrap Up


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


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


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?

4 Ways to Build Your Twitter Platform


In today’s world of comparing insight counts and retweets, it can be frustrating when your Twitter platform doesn’t grow as fast as you want it to. While there are quick fixes for this problem, such as buying followers (which you should NEVER do), nothing will help promote brand awareness like organic platform growth. 

But how do you build your Twitter presence in a meaningful way? 

Publish Quality Content
No one wants to follow an account that spams their timeline with countless self promotions. While yes, social media is a cheap way to get your product in front of people, the audience you reach is much more likely to follow and support you for the long run if you are publishing posts that help, entertain, or educate them in some way. Establish a ratio while planning your social strategy, and for every 8 posts you Tweet, limit only 2 of them to being promotional in any way. 

Follow Back
When you return the favor and follow people who follow you, those customers are much more likely to stay loyal to your brand, as well as engage with what you are posting. However, be mindful of who you do follow back, and avoid accounts that could be damaging to your business’ image. 

Engage with Others
Twitter is a social platform, meaning it was created for the sake of engagement. When you like, retweet, or comment on what others are saying, you will not only help foster relationships, but you will also get your own name in front of a larger audience. Be personable with your platform, and more people will want to do the same with you. 

Be Positive
Rarely do people seek out negativity on social media, so make sure you are keeping the Tweets you publish positive. Congratulate people on life events, encourage those who need it, or even post inspirational stories. Positive content will have a directly positive impact on the size of your platform. 

What are your best tips for building your Twitter presence?

What I’m Listening To: June 2017


Summer is here and that means BBQ, baseball, and music festivals.

Whether you’re planning on traveling out to a concert series in the coming weeks, or are stuck at home wishing you were, you can make your own with just a few clicks on Spotify.

The songs on my June playlist include:

California by Big and Rich
The greatest three minutes you will ever experience, this tune by my favorite duo will get stuck in your head, and have you laughing, for the better part of an afternoon.

Come Alive (Dry Bones) by Lauren Daigle
A beautiful song about trusting and having faith even in the hardest of moments, this masterpiece by Daigle is my go-to jam when I’m stuck in traffic.

Drunk Girls Don’t Cry by Maren Morris
Chock-full of word play, Morris’ best song yet says what we’re all thinking, and proves what a brilliant artist she is.

No Such Thing as a Broken Heart by Old Dominion
An inspiring tune of learning to love fearlessly, Old Dominion’s latest single is just as catchy as the band’s previous hits.

Two Ghosts by Harry Styles.
Enough said.

Daughter by Brandy Clark
My favorite song by my favorite songwriter, Clark’s witty revenge-filled tune displays exactly why she is the best wordsmith in Nashville.

Most Girls by Hailee Steinfeld
Another song that will get stuck in your head for days on end, Steinfeld’s latest is a self-empowered anthem perfect for just about anyone.

King of Anything by Sara Bareilles
It’s not summer without a throwback, and this song is exactly that. One of the most played artists on my Spotify, Bareilles’ spunk shines through in this clever tune about sticking up for yourself.

What songs make your playlist this month?

3 Tips for Writing a Query Letter that Gets Noticed


Query letters are powerful and often mean the difference between your manuscript becoming a best-seller, or never leaving the documents folder on your laptop.

But what is a query letter?

Quite simply, a query letter is an introduction that lets literary agents familiarize themselves with your work. As an author, you submit these letters to agents that you hope will sign you, and eventually, sell your book to a publisher.

No matter how amazing your novel is, it will never see the light of day (or the shelves at Barnes and Noble) if your query letter can’t grab an agent’s attention. Because of this, you need to spend extra time perfecting your letter with these three tips, before even considering submitting your story to an agent:

Follow a Formula
Unlike your work of fiction, query letters have no need for expansive creativity. Because agents get so many letters each day, it is best to follow a formula that is trusted, and has been proven to work. Keep your paragraphs short and clean, don’t brag about yourself too much, and always give the agent you are submitting to exactly what their guidelines say. When you follow the formula, you will be seen as a professional, and your work will have a better shot at moving forward in the publishing world.

Make it Personal
The quickest way to end up on the reject pile without the first page of your book even being read is to send an uninformed, generic query letter. Do your research before submitting and tailor your letter to each individual agent. Did you two go to the same college? Mention it. Is your work similar to another client of theirs? Write a quick line about that. By making it personal, your letter will convey how much you care and are committed to the publishing process.

Mention Your Accolades 
While the bio portion of your query shouldn’t turn into a memoir, always be sure to mention any literary accomplishments you have had, and how you are actively working in the writing world. Even if you haven’t previously been published in a major newspaper or won any prestigious awards, it doesn’t hurt to mention that you run a successful blog, or that you have a Twitter following of 25,000. By mentioning your accolades, you will pique the interest of agents looking for someone serious about establishing themselves as a writer.

What are your best tips on getting query letters noticed?

May Reading Wrap Up


How is it June already?

May flew by, with barely any time to pick up any books. Between the craziness of starting a new job and general beginning of summer madness, I was only able to squeeze in 5 books over the course of the month.

While I’m disappointed in the number of books I ended up reading, I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them – especially the novel by Mr. Man vs. Wild himself.

The books I read in May were:

  1. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
  2. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  3. Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography by Bear Grylls
  4. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  5. Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa

My summer reading list is piling up, and I’m hoping to be able to read way more over the next couple of weeks. What novel are you most looking forward to diving into this summer?

Top 8 Autobiographies to Read This Summer


Schools are out, temperatures are rising, pools are opening for the season, and summer reading is in full swing! To me, the best part about summer is being able to kick back and crack open a new book. While this season is typically known for lighthearted romances and young adult comedies, my favorite way to spend a scorching day is with an autobiography.

Autobiographies are the perfect way to learn more about your favorite influential figures, and immerse yourself in a different life for roughly 300 pages. Whether you want to hike a mountain or star in a hit tv show, an autobiography will take you on an incredible journey in a personable, insightful way.

This summer, opt for one of these eight autobiographies, and unleash an adventure unlike any other.

Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls
In his debut novel, adventurer Bear Grylls takes you through his days of intense training, ascent up Mount Everest, and forage into mainstream television.

Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
Even if the Netflix reboot of Gilmore Girls left you as disappointed as I was, Lauren Graham’s writing will bring you back to Stars Hollow, and even the world of Parenthood, in a way that will leave you painfully nostalgic for your favorite fast talking characters.

Sully: My Search for What Really Matters by Chelsey B. Sullenberger
The hero of the Miracle on the Hudson tells you of his life’s journey, including a look into that fateful day, and why being a hero is far from the most important thing in his life.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Telling the uncomfortable yet cathartic story of how she ended up thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed captures readers with her honesty.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
The couple may be famous for shiplap, but the Gaines’ book takes a deeper dive into how they got involved in the remodeling industry, and how their faith has kept them grounded throughout the HGTV chaos.

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
Perfect for fans of old-school Saturday Night Life, Martin Short recounts his days growing up and into the world of comedy.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
A follow up to her first autobiography, Mindy Kaling gives readers advice on how to live their best lives, and not be afraid to go for their (seemingly impossible) dreams.

Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
A songwriter by nature, Sara Bareilles puts pen to paper in this book to tell readers how her music career came to be, and the stories (and rumors) behind her hit songs.

What autobiographies will you be reading this summer?


3 Summer Road Trips for 2017


Summer is the perfect time to pack up your car and take a road trip. Whether you are looking to get away for just a day, weekend, or an entire vacation, there are countless travel options when it comes to your Midwestern adventure.

With a tank full of gas, you can get just about anywhere, but here are the three best summer road trip destinations.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic night at the Opry, or exploring 12 South, Nashville has something for everyone. If you’re feeling super adventurous, plan to head to town during CMA Fest, where you’ll be greeted by hundreds of thousands of country music fanatics, and free concerts.

A three hour day trip from Kansas City, Omaha is the perfect place to travel this summer. Full of historic museums and beautiful parks, this Nebraska city is a bustling metropolis in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention, Omaha has one of the country’s best zoos for people of all ages.

A trek to Colorado is one of the best ways you can spend your summer. Denver is a dreamland for thrill seekers, environmentalists, and families alike. Spend your days hiking mountains and reading at the Tattered Cover, and then spend your nights at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Only a nine hour trip from Kansas City, this town has an atmosphere unlike any other.

Where will you go this summer?

April Reading Wrap Up


April was a crazy month, but thankfully, I still found the time to finish 12 books.

These books all ranged in genres, authors, and plots, but each captured my attention in a way that wouldn’t let me put them down. I will tell you though – deciding to read Harry Potter for the first time may have been the best decision I’ve made so far this year.

The books I read in April were:

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson
  3. Bare Bones by Bobby Bones
  4. Penelope by Rebecca Harrington
  5. A Little House Reader by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  6. The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  8. Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
  9. Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  11. Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
  12. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Follow along with what I’m reading now by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!