Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

Third Time Is A Charm!

A few nights ago, I was ready to give up on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I had six posts left to write in three days, and I didn’t think I had it in me to finish. I proclaimed my defeat to my son, who looked at me and said, “I’m not going to let you do that, mom. You have to finish what you started.”

And he was right. Smart kid. Must take after me. 🙂

I’m happy to say that I have finished this blog challenge for the third time. While writing can be a lonely activity sometimes, I know I have many people cheering me on. So, without further ado, there are a few people I want to thank.

Thank you to my family, who reads and comments on my posts and supports my writing. You give me permission to write about everything (to a certain extent), and I appreciate you trusting me with your stories. And thanks for doing the dishes so I can spend more time writing!

Thank you to my friends at Philadelphia Writers Workshop and the Ultimate Blog Challenge community who inspire and encourage me to “blog on.” It is a pleasure and a privilege to be among kind and talented people like yourselves. Special thanks to my writing buddy and accountability partner, Heather. Someday, we will both be published authors; I can feel it!

And thanks to everyone who subscribed to my blog, read them regularly, and/or tweeted them out to their networks. And if you were only able to read one or two posts, I hope you liked them and will come back for more.

This month I tried something new and focused on one topic – my love for books. It turned out I had plenty to say on the subject. While I will return to writing about various topics, books will have more of a presence on my blog to inspire others to read and support their local bookstores.

I have also acquired a regular writing habit and will keep going with more posts all summer long. There is much to write about, and I hope you will be here for it.

In the immortal words of Sylvia Plath,

“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”


Bonus Post – Jeopardy Champions

Last week, I watched the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions. Although it will never be the same after the passing of longtime host Alex Trebek, the thrill of victory hasn’t changed.

This year’s winner, Sam Kavanaugh, is a substitute teacher from Minnesota. He was holding back the tears as the host announced his $250,000 cash prize. I read somewhere that he lost his job during the pandemic, so this win was incredibly bittersweet for him.

His approach to the game was both strategic and courageous. He bet it all on the Daily Doubles and won almost every time. He also started each round at the bottom of the board with the hardest clues. Personally, I love when players never stay in one column for too long. It is much more challenging to answer the $2,000 clues in various subject areas than running the entire category.

Seriously, if you are a librarian or an English lit major, it is a given that you are going to get all the right questions in the Shakespeare category. Where is the fun and element of surprise in that?!

Anyway, back to Mr. Kavanaugh, he was pretty emotional after winning the match against two equally brilliant women. My son, Andrew, and I watched it together, and he asked me why the newly-minted champion was crying. I told him it was because these people train for this show for a long time.

Andrew gave me a strange look because the concept of training for a game show was foreign to him, so I explained.

Auditioning for Jeopardy isn’t like trying to get on The Price is Right. You need more than a fun personality and cute smile to get a spot on Jeopardy. According to Wikipedia, the online test, a 50-question qualifying exam is administered to pre-registered applicants, who have 15 seconds to answer each question. If you pass that test, you get an in-person audition where you answer even more questions and compete against others in a mock-Jeopardy round.

Potential contestants not only need to know random facts in topics from colonial America to world history and pop culture to science and medicine, but they also need to access all of that information within seconds. It is a sprint and a marathon at the same time.

Basically, to get on this game show, you have to be a hard-core trivia buff. These people are usually longtime fans of the show. They have the home game and the app. Friends and family at home support them and help them practice. I know this firsthand because when I was younger, my family helped one of my dad’s friends train, and he went on to become a five-time Jeopardy champion. He thanked us on national television, which was very nice of him.

As you can tell, I’m a fan of the show. When I watch with Andrew, I answer a good amount of questions, and he is impressed. I chalk this up to my age and interest in lots of different topics. But I’m no Jeopardy player. I’ll stick to holding my own in a trivia tournament.

Anyway, congratulations to Sam Kavanaugh. Your performance was a joy to watch and well-deserved.




The May Book Report

May was an exciting month in my reading life. I’m happy to say that I have not purchased a new book in over a month – and for me, this is HUGE! Before finding The Unread Shelf Challenge, I bought 2-3 books a week. After the first month of this challenge, I’ve shifted my focus and rediscovered the books I already own. I’m being much more honest with myself about what I’m interested in reading and getting rid of titles that no longer apply. I doubt I will go back to buying so many at a time.

Thankfully, our local library opened its new location, and I can already tell I will quickly become a regular there. I did borrow one book from there this month – Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A Prescription for Action. I’ve been reading about this topic for a book I’m interested in writing. Also, thanks to all the summer reading lists that have recently been published, I have put several books on hold. I’m hoping they come in soon so that I have plenty to report on in my June book report post.

But I’m getting ahead of myself now. Here is what I read in May.

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is a brilliant writer that I learned about fairly recently. I heard her speak at a virtual book tour event for her latest title and loved her wisdom, humor, and candor. I am on page 165 of this book. It is taking me a while to read it because I want to savor each chapter. Through this book, she teaches a class on writing, and I (along with many fellow writers) am her eager student. I am soaking in her advice and learning a lot from her. I don’t want this book to end, but I’ll finish it eventually.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins-Reid

From the best-selling author of Daisy Jones and the Six (which is still sitting on my nightstand to read), this was the novel our book club chose to read this month. Evelyn is a Hollywood starlet who has said and done a lot to get to her level of stardom. Now, she is telling her story to a little-known writer, and what she reveals will change both of their lives. Evelyn married seven times, and with each husband, we learn more about her, her relationships, and her road to fame and fortune. It’s a bumpy (and fun) ride! This author has a new book coming out in a few days called Malibu Rising. I already put a hold on it at the library.

Books I DNF’d

I also listened to The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory on Audible. This is a title I heard so much about and was looking forward to reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for it, and you can read why here.

In addition, I am donating the following books that no longer suit my reading life. These books were gifted to me. I hear they are excellent reads, but there are so many books and so little time. I’d rather share these titles with those who will appreciate them.

A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Up Next

In June, I am going for an ambitious list of four titles to kick off my summer reading. I will read the Parkinson’s book, and I just started Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. I am only three chapters in and already having trouble putting it down. As a bonus, one of the main characters is named Elisa. 🙂 Our book club picked The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth (who wrote one of my favorites, The Mother-In-Law). But, I am most looking forward to reading Andrew McCarthy’s memoir, Brat, An ’80s Story. Many people are waiting to read this book at the library, so this may be one that I break my book-buying fast to purchase. I hear it will be worth it.

A Quick Note

If you decide to buy any of these books, I hope you will support your local, independent bookstore. Yes, Amazon is faster and probably cheaper, but buying local helps families. Please keep them in business because I shudder to think of a world without bookstores.

Happy reading!






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