Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Life Right Now. I haven’t done a Life Right Now post in a long time, and well, there’s a lot going on these days, so I figured I would share some updates! Things have been crazy, in a good way, and I am about a week away from wedding madness season, so life is about to get interesting (and tiring, but again, in a good way). Here’s the happs:
Making bookmarks! I may or may not be obsessed with these watercolor bookmarks. Drinking Corona Light and lots of Chardonnay. Also lots of Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brews. Reading so. many. amazing. books. Seriously guys, I am on fire with the YA reading and it’s so good. Some recent faves are Legend, the Firebird series, and Caraval. Wanting to finish my YA novel! Playing Hamilton! Four and a half months until I get to see it again!
Wishing there were about six more hours in the day. Enjoying the new season of Southern Charm. Minus Landon. Waiting for A Court of Wings and Ruin to come out so I can start the series. Liking our new living room set up (the key was hiding Matt’s instruments and Squirt’s toys). Wondering if I am going to be able to find a literary agent this year. Loving the inspiration from the LA Times Festival of Books and YallWest. Hoping my YA book gets published! Needing some sleep. As always. Wearing shorts and tees and flip flops. Welcome to summer!
Following lots of pretty bookstagram accounts, find mine @coffeebookswinerepeat! Noticing why the term “threenager” was coined. Knowing that summer is going to be crazy busy! Thinking about my next contemporary romance book. Anticipating lots of long, hot days coming soon! Celebrating the publication of my first contemporary romance novel! Buy it here! Laughing at Squirt (as usual). His personality is really coming out these days and he is constantly amusing me. Feeling happy, excited, hopeful, and accomplished.
So last week I published my very first book. It honestly feels weird to even write that sentence. But I did it, I can check an item off my bucket list. Something I wrote is out there in the world (and not just on a blog). And I wasn’t going to tell y’all about it for numerous reasons that I am going to bore you with in this post. You know, before I tell you to go buy my book and leave me five star reviews. But first, some history…
I wrote my first “novel” when I was eleven. It was handwritten in one of those 350 page multi-subject spiral notebooks. It was a junior high love story with a heroine who bore an extremely close resemblance to me and a love interest who may or may not have been solely based off of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I think it goes without saying that it was not good. But I mean, I filled a 350 page notebook at the age of eleven, so there’s that.
I wrote on and off throughout my junior high and high school years. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper, and my favorite English teacher was my creative writing teacher, Mr. O’Brien. He kind of ruined me for creative writing teachers in the future because he understood my point of view and my voice without me having to explain it. See, even though my writing style has (hopefully) matured over the years, my subject matter really hasn’t. I still love to write about love. My ebook can only be described as contemporary women’s fiction. And while the genre is quite popular and can be extremely lucrative, it is one that (in my opinion) is looked down upon by those who consider themselves to be “serious” writers.
In college, I was an English major. In my junior year, I had to pick a specialty. I knew at that point I was likely going to end up teaching, but I chose to major in Creative Writing instead of English for Educators. The main thing you do in creative writing classes is workshop your writing. So you bring in twenty copies of your short story, the whole class reads and critiques it, then you revise it and turn it in for notes from the professor. My work was consistently disregarded (on the nice end of the spectrum) and ridiculed as brainless fluff (on the harsh end). It wasn’t until my senior seminar (aka the last class I had to take as a creative writing major) that I had a professor get it. This is what he wrote on my main story I submitted to him: “This is great for what it is.” Did I write some ground-breaking, award-winning, super deep and intellectual, thought-provoking piece? Nope. I wrote something fun and light, think classic summer beach read. And for the first time in college, someone was able to see it for what it was, and not think about it in light of everything it was not. The fact that it took that long for someone to get it, and the fact that I had ONE professor in four (okay, six) years of college willing to see my writing for what it was, put a huge damper on my desire to write. For most of my “career” as a writer, I felt like I was not good enough, maybe even not a real writer, because I was writing commercial stories instead of artistic stories (and yes, there are those writers out there that are commercial and artistic. I’m not one of them. At least not yet.).
A couple of months ago, I started writing again. Probably because I felt a resurgence in my desire to create after separating myself from the brain suck that was my job last year. I set out to finish a novel. Not because I plan to make money, not because I plan to make this a career. More to prove to myself that I could do it. I mean, I’ve had the dream since I was eleven. And I read a lot of contemporary women’s fiction, and while a lot of it is great, some of it I read and think I could do better. So I figured why not throw my hat in the ring. And let me just be clear here, I love this genre, I love the story I wrote, and I had FUN writing this book. And if no one reads it, or if everyone who reads it hates it, I’m okay with that. Because I did it. And I’m proud of myself for that.
So why would I not share it with all of you fine folks? Well, about halfway through writing this novel (titled Casting Call, btw) I came up with an idea for a young adult series. And once I fleshed out the idea, I realized that I NEED to write this series. It is a concept that I completely love, and it is a story that I have to tell. And it is the type of series that could potentially land me an agent and possibly even a real publisher (making me a “serious” writer). But I also couldn’t just set aside Casting Call and jump into a new project. Part of the reason I wanted to write Casting Call in the first place was to show myself I could finish it. So it needed to be finished. For a while I started writing the series while still working on Casting Call, but then I decided to put the series on hold and finish what I started.
I finished the writing of Casting Call a couple of weeks ago, and spent the following weeks editing and formatting. I didn’t hire an editor because this was not a project I intended to invest money in (#selfemployed). Luckily, I have done a lot of editing and proofreading in my time so I felt comfortable doing it on my own (and yeah, I’m sure there are typos and mistakes, please feel free to point them out ;o)). And while I do plan on looking for an agent to represent my YA series, for Casting Call, and any subsequent novels I write in this genre, I decided to self publish only as an ebook on Amazon. While I wouldn’t call the process easy by any means (formatting is a bitch), it was way easier than going the “traditional” route. And it allowed me to publish a book I love on my own terms.
Work on my series is going to continue soon (I sent out a rough rough rough rough draft to some of my amazing librarian friends (shout out to Becky and Kristen!) for some notes). It is so different from anything I have ever written before that I am finding it is taking a lot more time and effort than what I am used to when writing. But it is also an extremely gratifying piece to work on and I hope that I can do the concept justice.
I think this is the point where I introduce you to Casting Call, and ask you to throw a few dollars my way ;o) Casting Call is a fun and light-hearted novel about a young actress named Emily who is making her professional theater debut. Things get dicey when she finds herself falling for her leading man–a guy who is off limits for multiple reasons. She has to decide what’s more important, her career or love. I loved being able to travel back to my theater roots as I wrote this novel, and I really ended up falling in love with both of my main characters. I would love to turn this novel into a series as well, assuming I can find the time to balance it with my YA series.
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading this totally rambly and personal post. I really debated whether or not I should even share this on the blog (because anything on my blog automatically gets thrown out into the social media world), but this experience of writing and publishing has meant a lot to me, and it wouldn’t have felt right to not share it at all (God forbid we have any emotions these days that don’t get shared!). If you are a fan of contemporary women’s fiction, or you want something fun and light to read, please check out Casting Call. And if you love it, please leave me a review. If you don’t love it, you can leave a review too, but just be nice about it :oP And if this is totally not your kind of read, please don’t feel like you have to read it! Reading books that aren’t your thing is rarely fun, and reading should always be fun.
Also, you might have noticed that I used a pen name for this novel. Since I am planning on writing another series in a totally different genre, I wanted to separate the two. So this book has my pen name for romance, Michele Matthews (which if you know me, you can figure out where that comes from), and my other series will have my real name (assuming it makes it to publication of course!).
I would love to hear your thoughts on writing, whether they are about my experiences or your own. I would also love to build a writing tribe sometime soon, so please reach out if that is something you might be interested in! Thanks friends, for reading this and for allowing me to always express whatever it is that is on my mind. You’re the best!
Well, friends, another month has flown by, and here we are, already six days into March! This past week I’ve been battling a nasty cough and cold which means I have basically accomplished nothing for the past few days and I am way behind. Bleh. Not a great way to start the month. I’m feeling a little bit better, and I know I gotta get back on the horse so that March is not totally lost for me! Before getting to my March goals, here’s a recap of how my February went (and I’m blaming my total lack of goal completion on the fact that it was a short month…):
February Mini Goals and Priorities:
–Put together my media kit. Nope. Still didn’t happen. Maybe this month?
–Contact hotel’s for Sister’s bachelorette party I actually did finish this task, only to have plans change.
–Organize tax info I made some tax progress, but I am not done yet, so still gotta work on this.
–Read four books. Check!
–Write 10k words in my novel Nope. Only knocked out about 4k. All in all, it was an uninspiring month for me, writing wise.
Ugh, so after killing it in January on social media, I took a big hit this month and only met my Instagram goal. Here are my numbers as of today (which is technically already into March, but it still counts!):
Holy hell folks. Where did the month of January go?!?! Like seriously, it is February 1st and I am still thinking it’s December. January obviously flew by, and while it was a great month in a lot of respects, there is also a shit ton of stuff that I just did not get done. But, I did make some progress, and that should be celebrated, so let’s first take a look back at my goals for the first month of 2017 and how I did:
January’s Mini Goals and Priorities:
–Put together my media kit — Yeah, didn’t even start this one so it’s back on my list for February.
–Start planning my sister’s bachelorette party — Haven’t done much for this, but I did research some hotels, so it’s not a complete failure.
–Start getting my tax info organized — LOL
–Read four books — Crushed this one, I actually read seven!
–Organize stuff for @mynerdycloset (my Instagram pop-up shop) and post more items for sale, and on a more regular basis — I took a lot of product pictures, but I only posted one item, and that was technically in February.
January’s Social Media Goals: Not going to lie, I pretty much killed it on social media this month! These were my goals:
Here’s hoping February is a productive month! Business is starting to pick up on the wedding coordinating front so I might not have as much time to devote to my blog/social media/novel goals, but I am going to do my best to kick some ass and take some names! Happy February y’all!
This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a discount, free product, or monetary payment in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.
Well, my friends, we are now halfway done with the first month of 2017. I don’t know about you, but this is about the time I typically lose steam with my resolutions, which is why I didn’t make any this year! Instead of resolutions, I made myself some promises that are not so all-consuming that I am setting myself up for failure. One thing I would like to do is take a little bit better care of myself. Now that I am mostly working from my home, my daily look has gone from cute to pajamas with no stops in between. And while I can totally get on board with the PJ’s look when I am in the comfort of my own home, out and about, it ain’t so cute. So I am trying to step up my fashion game a bit this year, and I have found that it is super easy to make a big difference with a couple of small changes. Mostly these changes come in the form of accessories, and one of my favorite new accessories is my JORD Wood Watch. These watches are absolutely stunning, and they are so unique! When mine arrived, I was sold just on the box alone.
I love the simplicity of this particular style of watch (the Frankie 35 in Zebrawood and Navy). It’s perfect for giving my everyday looks some style, but it can also be dressed up for wedding consultations and networking events (and when it comes to investing in accessories, I am all about versatility).
Now, let’s talk about how I am stepping up my work-at-home-mom style game. This is what I usually wear when I am running around town hanging out with Squirt. (Full disclosure here: my makeup never looks like this on a normal day…I do have a small amount of vanity folks.) You can see how basic (and boring) my look is: jeans, white T-shirt, and flip flops (and no pedicure, because it’s winter y’all).
But by making just a few small changes, I can totally take this look from bleh to stylish mom. I swapped out my regular jeans for skinny gray jeans (which I am obsessed with) and my flip flops for nude ballet flats (cuter, but still comfortable enough for toddler chasing). I added a long necklace (also doubles as toddler hypnotizer when needed) and my JORD Wood Watch (also great for keeping track of time out length, should your little angel need one).
I may not be winning any style awards anytime soon, but hey, I think we can all agree that look number two is way more interesting than look number one.
If you are interested in checking out JORD Wood Watches for yourself (which should be a duh), then you will want to click on this link right here to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to use to purchase your very own JORD Wood Watch. In addition, just by entering the giveaway you get a code to receive $25 off your purchase, what what! But please make sure you jump on this deal fast because the contest ends on January 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm (you can redeem your $25 credit until April 30, 2017).
Seriously folks, so in love with my new watch and I am so happy that I have found a couple of easy style tricks to make me feel a little more human and not like a total slob when I am running around LA. Make sure you take advantage of the awesome JORD deals available!
Do you have any easy style tips for me? Let me know if the comments!
If you read any blogs, I’m sure you have seen your fair share of 2017 Goals posts over the past couple weeks.Well, I am no different, I just got off to a slow start already (go me!). But one of the things I love about my motto for 2017 (which you’ll see in a little bit) is that I don’t care if I’m late to the game! This year is about making a life that works for me and for my family. 2017 is the first full year I will be totally self-employed, which means the hustle is gonna be strong with this one y’all. So let’s do this!
These are my goals for the entire year of 2017:
Coordinate at least 35 weddings. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but the truth is, wedding coordinating is my main source of income so it’s time to get to it. I currently have 15 weddings booked for this year, so I have some work to do to meet my goal. But I’m gonna work it!
Finish writing my book. I recently started a new writing project that I am REALLY excited about. Despite the fact that I have a degree in Creative Writing, I haven’t done anything novel-writing wise probably since college. Now that all of my brain power isn’t being sucked out in the world of education, my creative juices are flowing again and I am pumped to get back in the game.
Travel to three new places. We have a couple of trips tentatively scheduled for summer time, but nothing concrete yet. I’m dying to go back to New York, but I also want to branch out a bit and try some new locations.
Blog on a schedule that works for me. Not going to lie, there were a couple months in 2016 when I was KILLING it on the blog. I was posting three times a week and doing A LOT of work promoting my posts. And while I saw some moderate results traffic wise, it did not even come close to the amount of hours I was putting in. So for 2017, I’m going to post when I feel like it. I love blogging, I have been doing it in one form or another for seven years. But it doesn’t always make me happy, and it certainly isn’t bringing in the big bucks. So for now, I will blog when I have something to say and won’t when I don’t (imagine that).
Read 52 new books. I was reading like fiend over Matt’s Winter Break, but now that I am back to being home alone with Squirt during the week, I have slowed my pace way down. Gotta get back on that train!
Make mini monthly goals/priority lists. Last year I made some pretty strict schedules for myself and they just didn’t work for me, so this year I am going to try to give myself a little more freedom and set some broader goals each month. These will kind of be combo to do lists (like you see below) and goals for the month. I will also have some social media target numbers for each month (that will not include blog pageviews) as I do want to continue to grow my presence there (for numerous reasons which I will expand on later).
Get a literary agent. Part of writing a book is the whole aspect of getting people to read it. I am still looking into going the self-publishing route, but I do want to at least put some feelers out in the world of literary agents and see what happens before I commit to self-publishing.
Be present in my time with Squirt. This is hard for me because I am essentially a work at home mom. I am home with my kid, but I also have shit I need to get done throughout the day. But I need to be better about dedicating hours throughout our day together that are just for him (namely, I need chunks of time when I don’t check my email and social media accounts). I tend to justify looking at my phone every fifteen minutes because you know, it’s my job, but in reality, I don’t NEED to do that, I WANT to. And I need to stop.
Make healthier decisions. Look, I’m not going to sit here and lie and be all like “I love my body no matter what”. I don’t. But I also have no real plans to completely change my lifestyle and/or eating habits. That just ain’t gonna happen. However, there are plenty of times I can make a small swap during the day and do something better for myself and my health and that needs to happen.
Be a rebel all year long. This goal is actually going to get it’s own post pretty soon so I won’t say too much about this, but “Be a Rebel” is my motto for 2017. And yes, it has some ties to Star Wars, which you can read about whenever I decide to publish my “Be a Rebel” post.
So those are my overarching goals for 2017. This month you get a two-fer, yearly goals and my monthly priorities. I’m not going to share all of my monthly minis since some of them will be personal or specific to weddings and jobs I have going on that month. But I will share the ones that seem relevant, and I will share my social media numbers with you.
January’s Mini Goals and Priorities:
–Put together my media kit
–Start planning my sister’s bachelorette party
–Start getting my tax info organized
–Read four books
–Organize stuff for @mynerdycloset (my Instagram pop-up shop) and post more items for sale, and on a more regular basis
It is the season of giving, so today I have for you ten things that I am currently obsessed with. In case you want to buy me stuff, or need gift suggestions, or want to do some holiday shopping for yourself! These are some of my tried and true favorite things!
1. Defy Nail Polish.I discovered this brand at Target when I couldn’t stomach forking over $10 for Essie (my former go to brand). I am now obsessed with Defy. It goes on so easily and lasts a long time. I am tough on my nails, but my manicures have been holding on for at least a week, even with chasing a toddler and setting up a wedding. New favorite brand!
2.The Lunar Chronicles Series. I don’t know how it took me so long to read these books, but I freaking love them. They are sci-fi adaptations of fairy tales, and they are so well written. I have read all of them but the final book, which I am anxiously awaiting as we speak!
3. Romeo and Juliet. Okay, so this one isn’t totally new, but I’m experiencing a resurgence of my love for R and J. I love Shakespeare and R and J was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. I have been rereading the play and watching as many versions as I can. I was not super impressed with the latest Broadway production, Orlando Bloom was one of the few bright spots (and not just because he’s super delicious) but I’m going to cleanse my palette with the Leo version soon.
5. Vanderpump Rules. This again, is nothing new. I have loved VPR from the beginning (as a former waitress, I can attest to it being one of the realest reality shows there is). Now that I am an avid listener of Stassi’s podcast I feel like I have a whole new insight into the cast and their relationships and I love it!
6. Owl Crate. If you are a frequenter of my blog then you have probably happened upon one or more of my Owl Crate reveals. Owl Crate is a subscription box for young adult lit fans like myself and it just keeps on getting better and better. The theme for the December box is Epic and I am so excited to see what it includes!
7. Chapstick, the original. Now that it is winter, my lips have been dry AF and I freaking hate that feeling. I used to use a lot of the trendier “all natural” lip balms, but they seemed to make my lips drier, not more moisturized. So I went back to the original brand and I have been loving how my lips feel!
8. The Crown. I have always been a fan of British history, so I was super psyched to see the trailers for The Crown on Netflix. Well, I of course flew through the first season in a matter of days and now I am waiting on pins and needles for season two–which doesn’t come out for a whole year!
9. Michael Kors Crossbody. This is the perfect bag for a day at Disneyland with Squirt. I can put all my big items (emergency kit, glasses case, etc.) in the diaper bag, but I don’t like leaving my wallet in the stroller when we go on rides. This bag is perfect because it holds my wallet and my phone and it stays out of the way and keeps my hands free to deal with the little dude.
10. Home Goods. From what I can tell, Home Goods stores are not in all areas of the country, and I feel so bad for those of you who may not have access. Home Goods is a discount store selling–wait for it–goods for the home. They have the best selection of cute mugs, plus so many other awesome and unexpected goodies like stationery and kids’ books. It’s basically my favorite store.
Well, that about covers my current obsessions. What are you currently obsessed with? Let me know so I can find some new obsessions for next time!