Friday, June 23, 2017

Introducing my latest book baby

Just over a year ago, I released Dropped Third Strike, the first in a baseball romance series. I had started that story several years ago, put it down, and then picked it back up again a few years ago. It took me quite a while to finish, but I did finish it, and people seemed to enjoy it.

The follow up, Behind in the Count, has had a little bit of a different life so far. I started writing that story shortly after midnight on November 1, 2015, for National Novel Writing Month. I finished it on the evening of December 9, 2015. Seriously. I wrote a full novel in that time span. Well, the first draft anyway. Since then, there have been edits, re-reads, revisions, and more re-reads. So many re-reads. Writing a novel is more than just drafting the story. That's only the beginning of a very long process.

I am really excited to get this story out into the world. I'm enamored with the main characters, especially the lead guy. There's just something about him that's compelling. I knew it when I introduced him in Dropped Third Strike. I could tell instantly that I needed to delve more into his life and issues. So I did. He's a very emotional character, so writing him was kind of exhausting at times, but it also made me love him that much more.

Here's the summary (because I'm sure no one can read it on the photo above):

Derek Beaman had it all – a career in baseball, a marriage with his high school sweetheart, and a newborn daughter. Then, he suffered an injury that sent him into a downward spiral, and he lost it all. After a break and recovery, he’s getting a second chance at his Major League Baseball aspirations with the Portland Pioneers. His future as a pitcher is bright, but he’s still contending with the demons of his past.

Zella Hansen is pursuing her lifelong dream of a career in baseball management. Her role in the Pioneers’ front office introduces her to Derek. Zella soon realizes her feelings are more than just an admiration of his talent, but Derek’s history may be enough to end the game early.

The book is now available for Kindle pre-order (for delivery on July 1) and paperbacks can be ordered now. Amazon is the main source, but it will be available through other outlets as well.

If you have any questions about the book or this series, please ask away.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This & That 6/22

1 :: Casey had to go to the vet last weekend for a teeth cleaning. I knew there was a chance they'd also need to remove a tooth or two. Thankfully it was just one. She was groggy and pathetic-looking when I picked her up. I was a little more broke when I picked her up. (The cleaning was covered on her wellness plan. The anesthesia, tooth removal, pain meds, etc. were not.) Good thing I'd been putting money aside for my wedding dress. This only set me back about two weeks.

2 :: It's funny how social media has made us somewhat less social. I'm guilty of it. Whenever I find a dull moment, I'm on my phone. I'm trying to be better. When I'm out with friends, I usually put my phone away. Or at least turn it upside down in front of me. I love Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., but I'm trying to be more present with the people around me.

3 :: The Des Moines Arts Festival is this weekend. I volunteer on the event management team. This means I'll be spending a lot of time downtown. And with people. Good thing I took Monday off for some introvert recovery time. Also, after tomorrow, there might not be any new blog posts until Tuesday.

4 ::  I'm revealing the cover and the release date of my latest novel tomorrow. I hope you'll come back and check it out.

What's up with you this week?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer is for fun

I work a lot. And I'm planning a wedding. And working on novels. I don't hate these things, but they are a lot of work. And stress.

To balance all of that, I think I need to make sure to infuse a little fun into my summer.

Here are a few things I want to make sure I do over the next few months:

1 :: Walk or bike to the High Trestle Bridge.
I have been trying to get to this place for the last few years. I haven't made it yet. Ideally, I'd bike out there, but I may have to settling for walking.

2 :: Visit Adventure Bay.
I'm at a point in my life where I don't enjoy amusement park rides anymore, so Adventureland doesn't appeal to me. The water park portion, however, does. I can get discount tickets through my work. I just need to find a swimsuit and head out there. Lazy river and swim up bar, here I come.

3 :: Watch fireworks.
They're one of my most favorite things about summer -- except when people set them off on random nights when I just want to go to sleep. I'm good with them on the 4th of July and at town festivals. Otherwise, no. Anyhow ... I need to make sure as many displays as possible this summer. 

4 :: Take in some outdoor music.
Live music. Beer. Fresh air. It needs to happen.

5 :: Master sun tea.
I used to love this stuff growing up. I don't know what my mom's secret was, but I haven't been able to make it so it tastes as good. I'll keep trying! Anyone have any tips or tricks?

What do you want to accomplish or check off your list this summer?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Monday: My Red + Blue - "It Was You"

Regardless of my relationship status, I've always been a sucker for a good love song. I even have a playlist of my favorite love songs. Yep. Not even sorry about that. As a girl with green eyes, I've always felt there were more songs about brown eyes and blue eyes. Thank goodness I discovered My Red + Blue so I could swoon over this song.

Sigh. I love it. Thanks for writing it, Ben.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Flexible workout plans

I start each week with a fitness agenda. Inspired by Holly, I've started sharing my weekly workout plan on Instagram each Monday.

A post shared by Micah Chaplin (@thebestmicah) on

Sometimes I stick to it 100 percent. But that's very rare. Too often, plans change.

My plans changed a few times this week.

The first time was on Tuesday when my office workout buddy asked if I'd like to start doing morning classes in addition to noon classes. I thought about it for a few moments before agreeing. I used to love morning workouts. They're a good way to start the day. Also, I've been frustrated lately with the lack of change I'm seeing in my body. The scale hasn't moved at all in a few months. So maybe the noon workouts aren't cutting it anymore. Maybe I need to shake it up. To top off all that, I was intrigued by the morning class offerings and was happy to check them out. So we started our two-a-day routine on Thursday. So far, I'm enjoying it. 

The second time was on Saturday. I fully intended to go for a run after I took my cat to the vet for a teeth cleaning. But as I was moving around to get her ready to go, my body just felt fatigued. And after the week I put it through, I shouldn't be surprised. So I decided to listen to my body and just rest. Sometimes the body needs rest more than it needs activity.

As a planner, sometimes it drives me crazy to go off-schedule. But this past week, I think it worked in my favor.  Sure, it means I didn't get a single run in, but I'm trying not to beat myself up over that.

The coming week will be a challenge with the additional obligation of the arts festival, but I'm going to do my best to stick to my plan.

How do you handle shake-ups in your routine?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Total Cardio Xtreme (30 mins)
Tuesday - Booty Camp Class (30 mins)
Wednesday - Tabata (30 mins) + Fit Fusion (60 mins)
Thursday - Warrior Strength (30 mins) + Barre/Cardio Class (30 mins)
Friday - HIIT class (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A mini house tour

I've been promising a tour of our new place since we moved in three months ago. There are still a lot of empty walls and some projects we want to tackle, but for the most part, we're settled. So here it goes. Fair warning -- I did not do any staging, I simply took photos when the house was at its tidiest.

The front door that no one uses because our driveway is in the back. We enter through the garage into the kitchen and usually have our guests do the same.

 The kitchen. We love the amount of space we have (probably double what I had in my apartment), and we like our beer growler collection (on top of the cupboards) too. 

The dining area. The table was Sean's grandpa's before he moved into assisted living. I really like it, and it's nice to have something with some sentimental value. We plan to recover the chair cushions eventually.

The living room. Cleo thought she'd be a model. I love all the natural light and the fireplace. For above the fireplace, we're seeking a print or photo of the Des Moines skyline. We haven't found it yet. We'll probably do a gallery display on the other big wall. Also, yes that's an 'N Sync blanket on the ottomans (covering the corners the cats have destroyed).

 Our little patio off the living room. I love having the view of the pond.

My bathroom. I originally had the one right off the bedroom but the shower was not very conducive to leg shaving. Or all my products. So the one in the hallway is mine now.

The guest room. Nothing fancy. Only Sean's parents have stayed in it so far. Anyone want to come visit?

Our bedroom. That bed is my favorite purchase ever. The room has a music theme (see my Parachute and Ben Rector show posters and his Dave Matthews Band poster). We're still searching for something to put over the bed. And also a headboard.

Sean's bathroom and our closet. It's not picture perfect. This is real life. Deal with it.

There's also an unfinished basement and a half bath off the kitchen, but neither of those things is really photo worthy. The laundry is at the top of the stairs on the second level.

It's pretty basic at this point, but we're just happy to be in a place that's all ours. Once the wedding is out of the way, maybe we'll start thinking about the little projects we want to do.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

This & That 6/15

1 :: June has already been so busy. And there's no sign of it slowing down. I can't do much to ease up the rest of this month, but I've already decided to scale back a bit on commitments in July. We'll see how that works out. Especially since it'll be my birthday month and probably my book release month.
This is pretty much what my calendar looks like.

2 :: The other night, I hosted a Coloring and Cartoons Night with friends. We ate childhood comfort foods, colored (at least for a little while), and watched "Moana." It was a nice way to get together and escape adulthood for a little bit. Shamefully, I didn't take any photos. Blogger fail.

3 :: My workout buddy at work has decided we should try the morning classes in addition to the noon classes. Today was the first day. I'll let you know how I feel about it after we've settled into a routine.

4 :: The other day, a co-worker asked if I was going to take a vacation this year. I told them I was taking a day off for a day trip to Minneapolis. But that didn't seem to count with him. What constitutes a vacation for you?

5 :: One of the benefits of getting married later than a lot of your friends is the ability to see what they did that worked and what didn't work. I've been picking the brains of a lot of my married pals, and I'll open up to whoever reads this space too. What do you wish you'd done differently? Is there one thing you highly recommend to others?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Show Us Your Books: April & May

Life According to Steph

I swear life might never slow down enough again for me to read at my usual pace. It makes me sad, but there's not much I can do about it at the moment. Even though I'm not reading a ton, what I have read in the last two months has been solid.

I've been following Ms. Fowles on on Twitter for quite some time now. When I heard she was writing a book about being a baseball fan, I was intrigued. I pre-ordered it the day it became available and anxiously awaited my copy. When it arrived, it took me a while to get to it. But then I couldn't put it down. I related to so many chapters of her book, which chronicles her journey as a fan and what the game has taught her. It's a good read for anyone who loves baseball. I'd even encourage non-fans to check it out because it might give them a glimpse into baseball fandom.

Lots of people have told me they read this in school. I was disturbed reading it as an adult. I can't imagine trying to take it in as an adolescent or teen.  I haven't yet watched the series on Hulu, and honestly it might be a while before I do. The book was so depressing, I'm just not sure I can take any more of it.

I knew I needed to read this after reading Steph's review. And then my friend Meg told me how she couldn't it put it down. I completely understand now. For the first half of the book, I was so unsure of how to feel. Honestly, I'm still trying to gather my thoughts (I just finished it last night, so ...). Wavy is a very compelling character and it's hard to fathom all she goes through. The relationship between her and Kellen was a little weird at first and there were many times it made me uncomfortable. But I'm pretty sure the author meant to do that. In the end, it all makes sense. Every bit of it. And so does the book's title.

I think I'm going to need to start something lighter after that. But I might need a day or two. The book hangover is real.

What are you reading?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Music Monday: "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen

There are many Broadway shows I hope to see in the near future. I'll get to cross Waitress and Hamilton off my wishlist in the next year. I'm really hoping Dear Evan Hansen will be close behind.

It won several Tonys last night, including Best Musical. I didn't get to see their performance during the show (boo!), and I'm so sad I missed it.

Sigh. I heart Ben Platt.

What show(s) are on your wishlist?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Fighting the bridal body battle


Most girls have a mental image of how they want to look on their wedding day. At least I do. That mental image has shifted and changed over the years, mostly because of the changing fashion and my abandonment of a big fancy wedding (I'm opting for something more casual). While that vision has been scaled back, one thing is the same -- I want to look good in my wedding photos.

I've always struggled with my body image. There was a brief time I definitely had an eating disorder. I don't know if it was anorexia or something else. I only allowed myself orange juice and vegetables. Fortunately it didn't last long. One of my friends (who was using the same restrictions) fainted and fell down some stairs. Plus, I remembered how much I liked food.

In college and shortly after college, I was not active and my eating habits were horrendous. I gained a ton of weight and definitely wasn't taking care of myself.  About six years ago, I did Weight Watchers and started working out more and I trimmed down significantly.

I've gained some of that back since my discovery of craft beer, but I'm still very active. I eat better than I did in those post-college years and I'm trying to improve it all the time. I recently started counting macros, and it's been a very interesting journey. I haven't dropped any pounds, but I'm learning more about my food choices and categorization.

I feel good, but I'm still not 100 percent happy with the body I see in the mirror.

With my wedding date less than 365 days away and dress shopping less than 60 days away, I'm struggling.

I don't want to cry tears of frustration when I try on dresses and don't like how I look. I don't want to get my wedding photos and feel ashamed of how I look.

I also don't want to stress over my diet for the next year just for that one day.

How do I find balance between reaching my goal while still enjoying life? Any advice?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Total Cardio Xtreme + FitFusion (I was so excited to get back to this class!)
Tuesday - Booty Camp Class + 2-mile run
Wednesday - Tabata
Thursday - Barre/Cardio Class
Friday - Off
Saturday - 30-minute walk/run (I wanted to do more but my legs don't like to cooperate the morning after a 7-hour brewery shift.)

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

This & That 6/8

Even though Kristin's "Stuff & Things" link-up is no more, I wanted to continue my Thursday tradition of posts containing random updates. You're welcome!

1 :: I like all styles of beer and will try just about anything. Admittedly the sour ones are low on my list. Except when it comes to those made by Tallgrass. Their Key Lime Pie is delicious!!  Their Raspberry Jam isn't bad either. If you can find them, give them a try.

2 :: Why does Facebook think I "might know" someone just because we have one friend in common? Stop it with the friend suggestions, Facebook. If I want to add more people, I'll find them on my own.

3 :: As someone who works in the service industry (part-time), I have some complaints about advice for the general public. This might be a post in the near future.

4 :: My week started with a draft of the cover for my next book. I cannot wait to share it! I'm hoping to announce a release date soon. Anyone else want to join in the release day festivities like last year?

5 :: Last Sunday, Sean and I had a rare free day. How did we spend it? Immersed in baseball, of course. First, we went to the Hall of Fame touring exhibit at Principal Park. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it to any baseball fan if it comes to a park near you. After a taco break, we went back to the ballpark for the I-Cubs and Nashville Sounds game. It was hot, but still great just to be outside enjoying a game.

What's up with you this week?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wedding Wednsday: Getting started

My wedding is just over a year away, but I'm quickly learning there is a lot to be done in wedding planning. Sean and I discussed some of our ideas for the wedding even before he put a ring on it, but those discussions have evolved as the real planning has begun.  There are just so many decisions to make!!!

I have spreadsheets and lists all over my computer. I feel like I'm organized and on top of things, but it could be an illusion. 

There are a lot of wedding sites out there that give you reminders and tips for planning the big day. A lot of them are super detailed and include things I don't need to worry about (engagement party, engagement announcements, venue tours, etc.). So I'm going to make my own little checklist below and let you know where were are on each detail.

Venue - BOOKED. We looked at a few places online but only toured one. We knew we wanted it even before we set foot on the grounds. It fit all our needs for our vision and was very affordable. Win.

Entertainment - BOOKED. One of my favorite musicians (who has appeared on this blog a lot) will be providing a four-piece band for our party. I can't wait!!

Photographer - BOOKED. A friend of mine (who also took my boudoir photos) will be capturing our big day. I'm looking forward to working with her on this.

Caterer - BOOKED. We're on their calendar at least. They don't need our deposit for a few more months. Which is OK with us.

Beverages - I'll be getting a few kegs from the brewery where I work and some friends of ours have offered to make a home brew especially for us. We'll also have wine, shitty domestic beer, soda, and water.

Cake - Still searching. We think we know which bakery we want to use, but we still need to go taste some of their flavors and talk about details.

Wedding Party - Mostly set. There are a few key players in limbo.

Guest List - This is going to be the biggest headache for me. I'll write more about this in a future post.

Theme/Colors - DONE. It will have a baseball theme, and our colors are gray and red.

Dresses - I'll be going shopping for my dress in a few months. After that, I think I'll have a clearer idea for what I want my girls to wear.

Suits - Decided but not purchased. We've found a solid choice for what the guys will wear, but since we have plenty of time, there's no rush to buy just yet.

Flowers/decor - I wanted to work with a local florist, but her minimum order was more than twice what I wanted to spend. Instead, the father of one of my besties will be helping us out. With the baseball theme, I have tons of ideas (and pins on Pinterest), but I just need to settle on what I like the most.

Am I missing anything important?

By the way, this will be a monthly feature on the blog and not a weekly one. I refuse to let this space turn into all wedding all the time. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wine walk? Sign me up!

A few years ago, I attended Wine Fest at the art center. While there, I signed up for a mailing list for a local business that allows you to make your own wine. I intended to get there for one of their wine-making sessions, but in four years, I haven't made it yet. Oops.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. The business sent out an email advertising a wine walk. For just $30, we would get a walking tour of a distinct part of town, a wine tasting, and a bottle of wine. This was a no-brainer. And a perfect girls night to share with one of my best friends.

Here are some of the photos I took during the tour:

It's crazy to think all of these homes exist just minutes from busy downtown Des Moines. Each one had an interesting story and history as well. I learned a lot.

The wine part was tasty too. I enjoyed all six that we tried and chose the viognier for my souvenir.

The tour combined two things I love -- local history and wine. There was also some cheese. I really enjoyed and still want to get back there to make some of my own wine.

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