January Wrap-Up

January has been a busy month of reading and writing, job hunting and freelancing, and networking and napping. Believe me, the naps were taken out of necessity, not laziness. On the last day of January and this blog challenge, here are some of my successes this month.

  • I wrote 28 blog posts this month! The goal is 31, but I consider this a win. The days I decided not to post were due to long days, technical difficulties, and a little burnout.  Besides these posts, I have written numerous cover letters, updated my LinkedIn page, composed a few things for submission, and drafted some e-newsletters and social media posts for others. I also enrolled in a writing workshop and put together some pieces that are not yet ready for the general public. Maybe someday I’ll post them. Overall, it has been a productive writing month.
  • I read four fantastic books, which is 1/12 of my reading goal for the year. My book reviews seem pretty popular, so I will continue to put those together. And please keep sending me your recommendations!
  • I’ve been working on a project that has been years in the making. It’s not the book I keep talking about, although I’m making progress with my essay collection/memoir. I can’t give you any details just yet, but I’m excited and hope to share more with you soon.

Looking Ahead

February is my birthday month! I will turn another year older and wiser in a few weeks. I will finish up my Chat GPT certification soon and earn another certificate in social media for nonprofits. I’ve got four more books on my nightstand to enjoy and another month of blogging with a few naps in between. 🙂

Thank You!

Thanks for reading my posts, everyone. And special thanks to my Ultimate Blog Challenge family. It is an honor and privilege to write and share my posts with you. If anyone reading this has a blog for their business or pleasure and wants to learn more about this challenge let me know. We are a supportive online group who want to hear your stories or learn from your area of expertise. The next month-long challenge is in April. Let’s talk.



Nice Networking

A friend recently told me I am a champion at networking. I’m not sure about the champion part. I have no awards to show for it, but I’ve always felt comfortable in a room with new people. I consider it a fun challenge to find ways to connect with them. I’m sure this is why my career has been full of opportunities where I am the driver of the welcome wagon, the greeter at events, and the cruise director in the building.

I admit that I attend networking events with a game plan. I practice what I like to call, nice networking. First, I approach the people who are standing by themselves and aren’t sure who to talk to. I choose them because I know some people find a room full of strangers overwhelming. I see myself as the person to make it less so.

I introduce myself and ask, “So, how did you hear about this event?” I suppose this line is the business world’s version of “Do you come here often?” But it works every time. From there, one of two things happens: either the person engages in a conversation with me, thankful to have someone to talk to, or they are waiting for someone else. Either way, we exchange names and business cards, and I consider it a successful interaction.

Next, I find people I’ve seen at previous events. Usually, there are at least one or two because many of us are members of the same group. While catching up, someone new to me will join us, share their story, and offer a business card. This is the networking trifecta that I strive for with each interaction.

Nice networking puts good karma into the room. To me, it means to always be friendly and approachable first. Yes, I also want people to also walk away knowing I am knowledgeable about my field and willing to be a resource for them in the future. But kindness is always first. I come to these events with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. I ask people questions about themselves, their line of work, and how I can help. I want them to know that I am genuinely interested in connecting with them because I am. And, if they know the steps to the networking cha-cha, they will ask me the same questions. If not, I’ll offer up the answers anyway. 🙂 Networking, like many dance moves, is supposed to be done with a partner. If done right, it’s not a solo activity.

How do you approach networking events? Do you have a game plan or just wing it?



End of January 2024 Book Report

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for another book review blog post! It’s been a good start to my reading year. So far, all four books have been winners. My biggest problem now is to figure out what books to read next. I’m doing a Backlist Book Challenge, where certain pub years are given, and I’m supposed to find books on my shelf from that year to read. The first year is 2014. I’ve had one book on my shelf that I’ve wanted to read for a long time. “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton was published in 2014. I’ve heard people say that this is one of their favorite books of all time. So, because of those rave reviews and the pub date, it is now further up on my TBR list. That is after I finish the three books I’m reading now. 🙂

But before we get to those books, here is what I read at the end of January.

Family Family by Laurie Frankel

This is such a fantastic book but a tough one to review. I hope this makes sense, and I do it justice.

Many films depict negative stereotypes about adoption. Off the top of my head, there is the rescue trope, such as in musicals like Oliver or Annie and, more recently, The Blind Side. Other movies focus on more dramatic or sinister adoption stories like Orphan (horror) or Losing Isaiah (drama). The only film about adoption that I haven’t cringed at and quite enjoyed is Juno, a compassionate story about teen pregnancy and successful adoption (with a twist).

The book Family Family falls into the compassionate category, thankfully. The main character, India, is a woman who is pregnant at 16 and decides to place her baby with a single mother. India goes on to have a successful acting career that she always dreamed of and later adopts two kids of her own. But after she acts in a movie about a tragic adoption, she feels compelled to set the record straight about these types of stories. She lets the viewing public know that most adoptions are without pain and regret. Her comments set off a publicity firestorm that jeopardizes her career but also brings her entire family back together.

This book had well-developed characters, a terrific storyline, and a heartwarming message. All the things I love about a great read. I love how the author shows how dreams of having a family can come true through adoption. While it can sometimes be complicated, family is family, whether biological or otherwise. There are so many more times when adoption results in a loving and permanent relationship as opposed to what you see in the movies. But I guess those films don’t sell as many tickets.

Books written by this author, Laurie Frankel, are a must-buy for me. I also loved her book, This Is How It Always Is, which is about a family with a transgender child. Family Family has a special place in Frankel’s heart because she also adopted her children, so she speaks from experience. Her author’s note at the end was poignant and compelling. I wish it were at the beginning of the book to set the scene, but I guess it wasn’t necessary. But please don’t skip it. It’s a must read, just like this book.

Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center

I try to avoid books that receive a ton of publicity and hype. Too often, I am disappointed. But after many recommendations from friends (Thanks, Meryl! 🙂 ),  I decided to give it a chance.

I’m so glad I did!

Here is the setup for Things You Save in a Fire. Cassie is the only female firefighter in her new firehouse. She has to prove herself to the rest of the squad (I wonder if that’s the correct term… ). She has to deal with poor facilities and a need for more funding for equipment. She also takes her share of teasing and hazing like a champ at first, but then things go a little too far, and she needs to figure out who to trust. Meanwhile, Cassie also moves back in with her estranged mother, and the relationship there is tense but not hopeless.

I didn’t like Cassie at the beginning of the story. She is tough on the outside and disrespectful to her mother, who needs her help. But once she started to melt a little (mild spoiler alert), I liked her more and more.

It was also to have an insider’s look into the life of a firefighter which was interesting. I like reading about different careers that I would never do. I have a new appreciation for these heroes in our communities.

What I’m Reading Next

I’m in the middle of two books right now and have a third waiting in the wings. One is a craft book on writing called “1,000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round.” On the fiction side, I’m reading a 500+ page book entitled “The Most Fun We Ever Had.” I was told that if I like the TV show Parenthood, I’d love this book. So far…so good. It’s a library book, and I hope it is eligible for renewal because this will take a while. I also just picked up John Stamos’s memoir, “If You Would Have Told Me.” I heard one podcaster say he clearly wrote this for the paycheck, but I’m willing to try it.

What are you reading? Also, do you have any book-related questions for me? I’m happy to answer them in a future blog post!

Let me know in the comments.




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