Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Pain and Choice

Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.


If you are new to this link-up and wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

If you missed the last round of Write or Die, where everyone shared what makes them uncomfortable, you can check out those posts here. Thanks to all who participated!

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We have begun reading our second selection, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, and you have plenty of time to join in on the fun if you haven't already! We'll be reading and discussing this selection until September 30th. Click here to join!

The prompt for the next two weeks is this quote by Khalil Gibran:


Happy writing!


You guys. I made a vlog! Ahhh. I'm participating in Vlog Every Day August (or VEDA for short) where you submit a video for each day of the month. So I decided I needed to practice a little bit and wanted to submit my #WODW post as a video. I hope you enjoy it. And we should totally start a drinking game and take shots for every time I say "you know." Ha. Also, here is a link to the poem that I mention in the video. Enjoy! 

Click here to subcribe to my YouTube Channel. And don't forget to sign up for the newsletter! xo


    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, July 27, 2015

Read All About It: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green #collaboreads

Yay, it's time for Round 2 of #COLLABOREADS, hosted by Rachel and Amber. It's a book review link up with a monthly theme. The best part is - you get to pick whatever book you want as long as it fits into the theme. The theme for July was: A book with someone's name in the title. {Click here to Check out June's review. The theme was: A book on the NYT Bestseller's List when you start reading it.}

I chose a book that I've had in my TBR pile on my shelf for a little while now: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. 

So, without further ado, here is my R.E.A.D.S. review! 

{Riveting} What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? 

The entire thing! It was such a funny read. I kept giggling at the shenanigans of the main characters. I really love how John Green captures life as a high schooler (at least for me). 

The book is about Colin, a boy who has only dated girls named "Katherine". Katherine #19 has just broken up with him at the beginning of the book and he is really upset. His best friend, Hassan, suggests they go on a road trip to cheer him up and get him out of the house. Colin is a bit of a child prodigy - he speaks many different languages and was on a reality game show for smark kids where he won $10,000. The friendship between Colin and Hassan was so entertaining! The scene about the Frenchman who has Tourette's and hemorrhoids - OMG. I laughed until I cried!! 

Also, there are footnotes sprinkled throughout the book that are hilarious. I couldn't stop giggling. 

{Elements} How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? 

The characters were so much fun. I could relate a lot to Colin because of his nerdy ways - always reading a book, or scribbling down ideas in his notebook. Colin is always doing anagrams of words; when I was a kid, I would always spell words backwards and say them phonetically and make my own 'language'. #nerdalert 

The plot was pretty self-explanatory. Colin and Hassan set out on a road trip, stop in a town and end up staying there longer than they planned and making friends. Colin is also trying to figure out some mathematical theorem as to why he's the "dumpee" in his relationships with all of the Katherines. 

{Associate} What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now? 

An Abundance of Katherines reminds me a lot of Paper Towns - also by John Green. In Paper Towns, there is also a high school boy who is not part of the 'in' crowd who sets off on a road trip with his friends, all because of a girl.

{Design} You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? 

The cool thing about the cover is that a contest was held for the readers of the book to create a new cover design. The winner is the cover you see above by a woman named Sarah Turbin. In the Q&A at the end of the book, John Green says he loves Sarah's artwork design because it "captures so much about the book - its nerdiness, its heart, and its love of footnotes." The perfect trifecta. :) 

{Stars} How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars from me! It kept me interested, it kept me laughing. I would absolutely recommend it to a friend, especially if they love John Green books. 

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

* "The oldest pictures were faded and yellowing, and Colin thought about how even in pictures of their youth, old people look old." 

* "You can love someone so much, he thought. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them." 

Have you read An Abundance of Katherines? What did you think? Do you like books by John Green? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, the theme for next month's #collaboreads link up is: A book set in the summer time. :)

P.S. Don't forget to join Shelly and me for Write or Die Wednesdays, beginning Wednesday, 7/29. The writing prompt for the next 2 weeks is the quote below. What does it mean to you? Come share with us! Happy writing. 

Chase Your Dreams: The Stories of Our Lives

magazine editor Sarah Hartley Holl & Lane

I've talked about chasing my dreams before. The ups and downs and frustrations that come with navigating that journey. Sometimes I feel like I never make any progress or that there are too many obstacles to overcome. And sometimes I get inspired by seeing others chase their dreams and make them a reality.

Sarah Hartley is one of those people and I'm honored to know her. As some of you know, I'm on the social media team for Holl & Lane Magazine which was founded by Sarah and I love every minute of it. Getting to see firsthand how Sarah is kicking butt and taking names has renewed my commitment to my own dreams.

This is Sarah's story.


I’m  seven years old and I’m sitting at a mini table and chairs.  I’m writing furiously into a notebook and occasionally looking back to yell at my imaginary assistant.  We’re running a magazine here, and she needs to get her act together.  There are models to schedule, clothes to lay out, and articles to write (in marker)!  We’re on a deadline, here!


I alternated between a lot of dream careers as I was growing up.  McDonalds fry maker (because I assumed that meant free fries), a teacher, and a magazine editor.  I dreamt of writing for Sassy magazine.  As I grew up, the other dreams started to fade away and magazine editor stayed at the forefront.  After high school I chose a college with an excellent journalism program and was all set to follow my dream.  Until I wasn’t.  Somewhere in the few months before I left for school I talked myself out of journalism, out of the longtime dream that I had.  I was afraid of what life would look like, I didn’t think that I stood a chance in the competitive world of magazines, I wasn’t tall and skinny and blonde (which is what I assumed most people who worked in magazines looked like).  I lost my nerve.  So I went to school, got a fashion degree, followed by a Master’s in business, and put the dream out of my mind.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I’m living in a new city, working from home in an insurance job that I despise and feeling the tug of creativity pulling me in so many directions that I didn’t know how to focus on just one.  I made a list of three dream goals  that I had for myself- I wanted to write a book, I wanted to own a clothing boutique, and I wanted to start my own magazine.  I had no idea how to do any of these things so from time to time I’d put half hearted research into it and then move on again.

It wasn’t until I started my personal blog that the need for another creative outlet became strong again.  The blog helped to fulfill some of that need, but not enough.  I wanted something bigger, I wanted a dream.  

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is listening to someone talk and talk and talk about something but they never do anything about it.  I was becoming that way.  I had talked about these big dreams but never did anything to go after them.  Early this year I knew it was time to pick one and focus on it.  So I thought hard about which one I could easily start (because if it was too hard, I knew I’d never do it).  A clothing boutique would involve too much money, so that one was out.  A book sounded good, but I had no idea what I wanted to write about.  So magazine it was.  I decided in April that it was time to follow this dream I had for a long time.  I picked a launch date of June 1st and then threw myself into preparing.

I had absolutely no idea what went into designing a magazine.  I had no idea where stories or contributors came from and I have no formal design experience.  But I didn’t let any of that stop me. I started thinking about the types of stories I wanted to read, I started polling my friends and family about what they love and don’t love about other magazines.  And then I started soliciting them for stories.  At the same time, I announced on my blog that I was starting this venture.  I bought the domain and secured the names for social media.  Doing all this made it real and made me feel like I couldn’t back out.  I had generated interest and damnit, I was going to follow through.

As I started meticulously designing each and every page, it started to really come together and it became something I was immensely proud of.  Each night after I put my son to bed, I would sit down on the couch with my laptop, open up InDesign and layout the magazine until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  All day at work (I now work a full time job in marketing for an architectural firm) I’d daydream about new ideas and new stories and new layouts.  At lunchtime I’d race to the conference room, laptop in hand, ready to dive in for that short half hour break.

Pretty soon it was June 1st, launch date.  I had already sent the completed issue out to a select group of people I called my focus group and the response I got was unbelievable.  Email after email and comment after comment was filled with nothing but praise and positivity.  It left me smiling for days. So now when it was time to launch to the rest of the world I felt confident and I felt ready.  And thankfully the response has been nothing short of amazing.

I’m now just about to launch Issue 2 of Holl & Lane magazine.  And this one is even better than the first, in my opinion, because I have learned so much in the short time between the two issues.

My focus for this magazine has, and will continue to be, telling other people’s stories in a beautiful way.  So many people have such amazing, inspiring, beautiful, heartwarming and heartbreaking stories but they may not have the outlet.  I want to give them that.  I want to tell stories that don’t get heard often enough.  I want people to read my magazine and feel less alone after.  I want them to feel like they’re amongst friends.  I want Holl & Lane to feel real and approachable.

I want to tell the stories of our lives.

Connect with Holl & Lane on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest


Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your inspiring story and letting people share their own stories in the pages of Holl & Lane Magazine!! 

The 2nd issue of Holl & Lane will be available on August 1st. Sign up for the newsletter to have it delivered directly to your inbox!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Read All About It (The Kids' Corner): Candy and the Cankersaur

Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
"This is the sweet and funny tale of a young girl named Candy and a Cankersaurus Rex! Candy receives a dinosaur as a gift and is determined to train him to be a good pet."

My thoughts:
What an adorable book! My boys absolutely loved it, but that's no surprise, as they love anything about dinosaurs. The basic premise of the story is that Candy's father is very busy with work and she doesn't get to spend as much time with him as she would like. While she has all the latest and greatest toys that money can buy, she is lonely. Her father feels guilty and decides to get her a special present - a pet Dinosaur - to keep her company. Meanwhile, her friend, Chucky, known for his "one-up-manship" becomes jealous of Candy's new companion and that's where things get a little tricky. 

The story itself is great, but what really captured my boys' attention is the illustration. There's artwork on every page and a few sentences to go along with the picture. My 6 year old had no problem reading through the story with me and has wanted to read it every single night since. 

Candy and the Cankersaur is available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

If you are a nanny or if you have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews - definitely pick up a copy of this ebook. I really think the kiddos in your life will enjoy it! 

AND you're in luck because author Jason Sandberg has graciously offered 5 copies of the ebook to 5 lucky winners! Enter below for your chance to win. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: An Uncomfortable Situation

Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.


If you are new to this link-up and are wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

If you missed the last round of Write or Die, you can check out those posts here. We had some really great entries submitted!

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We have begun reading our second selection, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, and you have plenty of time to join in on the fun if you haven't already! We'll be reading and discussing this selection until September 30th. Click here to join!


The prompt for the next two weeks is: What makes you uncomfortable? Happy writing!


"So, tell me about yourself."

OMG. I just broke out into invisible hives just reading that phrase. I really hate talking about myself. I never know what to say. I'm always bracing myself for the silent judgment that I assume is there as I'm talking and then I get self-conscious. And then I stop talking. And the awkward silence begins. Haha.

When someone asks me to tell them about more about me - my stomach gets tied up in knots. They could be the nicest person ever, but there will still be that part of me in the back of my mind that thinks they think I'm an idiot. It's weird. I also just truly don't know what to say. Do I tell them about my job (snooze)? What I do in my spare time (ha!)? I'm just too much into my head.

I think I have a tendency to also downplay my accomplishments so that I don't come across as a braggart. And I also downplay my hobbies and passions because I hate the questions that inevitably follow: "Blogging? What is that? Does anybody even read it? Writer? Oh, so you're one of 'those' people who is working on a book. Is it ever going to be finished? You read? Ew, I don't read books, just tell me when the movie comes out." 

Just... no.

"I am not good at small talk. I will hide in a cupboard to avoid chitty-chat." Caitlin Moran

I don't really know why I'm this way. Maybe it's my introversion coming through. I hate small talk and find that most people don't really care about the answer anyways. You know those people - they'll ask how you are, or how your weekend was, and when you start to answer you realize that they aren't even paying attention to you anymore. So I generally just say, "Fine" and keep it moving.

Being averse to small talk and talking about myself has a pro and con.

The con: It makes me a hard person to get to know. I think most people feel like I'm keeping them at arm's length or I'm standoffish (aka bitchy). I'm sure it feels like pulling teeth when people ask me questions sometimes. Heck, my husband almost didn't talk to me because he thought I was stuck up. And I was over there totally crushing on him. Ha!

The pro: I'm a great listener. Fact: When you don't really talk much, it's very easy to listen to others. I like being a sounding board for people. I've found that most people really appreciate having someone who will let them vent. People are always telling me about their problems and I always patiently listen because I do truly care, and I also want them to know that I'm there for them.

What's funny, though, is that after people get to know me, I don't stop talking. I'm usually goofing off and joking around with them. I love to make people laugh!

So, I guess the moral of this story is, if there's someone in your life - a friend, a family member, a coworker - who doesn't say much, don't immediately write them off. Give them a chance to feel comfortable around you. Keep talking to them - you never know, they may surprise you. :)

What makes YOU uncomfortable?


    An InLinkz Link-up

The Waiting Game

I'm a very impatient person. I don't like to wait - AT ALL. I have a tendency to over-think and over-analyze everything, and so the longer the waiting period, the worse it is for me because my mind comes up with all of these crazy scenarios. I just want to know already!

My husband knows this quite well. I think he has finally learned not to even imply that he bought me a present or planned any kind of surprise because I will hound him till the end of time. And then he just gives in and tells me what it is because he can't deal with my intensity. Haha. 

It's something that has always plagued me, even at a young age. One of my first memories is when I was 3 years old and telling my dad that I was actually 4 years old. Because I just couldn't wait to be 4. And no amount of logic would convince me otherwise - I was 4, damn it! 

I am totally the impatient person who will hang up on you if you put me on hold for longer than a minute. Or get up and leave a restaurant if no one comes by to at least take our drink order within 5-10 minutes. 

Being impatient definitely has its downfalls. It usually means that I forget to just breathe and live in the moment. I'm nitpicking every little thing that could go wrong, instead of looking at the big picture of how it's not really life or death. Like not seeing the forest for the trees, or however that saying goes. 

Anyway, after all of that, I can't even share what I'm waiting for yet. I know, such a tease. But I'd greatly appreciate some positive vibes. And any tips that you can share about how to just sit back and relax and let things happen. 

P.S. Shelly and I want to know: What makes you uncomfortable? Write down your answer and share with us for Write or Die Wednesdays, beginning July 15th and lasting for 2 weeks. Happy writing!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Super Hero Fun

Hi Guys! My friend Sacha came up with a fun idea to give each other a prompt to write about so we could guest post on each other's blogs. I asked Sacha to share what superhero she would be and what super powers would she have. Here's what she had to say. 


Hey, Chronicles of Chaos readers. I’m Sacha from Visualize Authenticity; I want to thank Mia for collaborating with me on writing some fun, creative blogs for my birthday bash this month.

The fun writing prompt that Mia gave me was, “If I was a superhero who would I be and what special powers would I have”.

To answer Mia’s writing prompt I created a superhero profile (my fictional story)


(Superhero fictional story) I am Sacha Astounding A.K.A. Masterpiece, I was born with the ability to teleport, telekinesis, photographic memory, and invisibility. My grandmother gave me the nickname “Masterpiece” since she was the only one aware of my special abilities.

From an early age my grandmother witnessed how I teleported from one room to another. How I moved objects by just looking at them, I can remember details and absorb information quickly. As well as, become invisible every time I'm upset and don't want to be bothered.

At times the ignorance of humankind can tempt me to use my powers for evil. However, I always remember my grandmother telling me that humans hate what they can’t conquer, and fear what they don't understand.

For this reason, I try to have empathy and use my powers for good, and since I never gave into my temptation to hurt humans, before my grandmother died she said that I was the family’s Masterpiece.

Now back to reality, people! LOL! Share with me what superpowers would you love to have and why. Come to Visualize Authenticity to check out Mia’s guest post “If My Car Could Talk”. Thanks for having me over Mia!

Sacha is a creative queen, visual artist and inspirational blogger. She helps creative women recognize their self worth through visual guidance, mixed with a vibrant blend of psychology and motivation. 
Her work encourages creative women show off to the world their authentic self. 

She has been featured on Happiness and Food, Damion Elson, Soulpaintco and Confessions of a Ninja Mom. You can find her at


Thanks for sharing, Sacha! 

P.S. Don't forget to join Shelly and me for Write or Die Wednesdays. It's our biweekly writer's link up and the prompt for this round is: What makes you uncomfortable? See you on July 15th! Happy writing. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Read All About It: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Before I get to my review, here's a brief synopsis of the book from Goodreads

"At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read.
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive...
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves."

I read this book for the Dreams, Etc. Book Club. I was a little late to the party because I couldn't get into it at first. But once it finally got going, I really enjoyed it. I really liked how it made you think about how well you know the people in your life. Are you in tune with what's happening around you? It's scary to think what we don't know about those closest to us.

A few discussion questions

1. If you found a letter like this from your husband, would you open it? Would you try talking to him about it first?

My first instinct is to say that I would absolutely open it. That curiosity would get the better of me. But then I think about how I would feel if it was my letter and my husband found it. Sometimes we are better off not knowing things. But then again, I also think leaving a letter like this is kind of cowardly. Why would you want to ruin your spouse's memories of you? The letter would counteract all of the happiness and trust that you had experienced together. They will wonder whether they ever knew you, whether everything you said was a lie. So I guess my answer is: I wouldn't open it. 

2. John-Paul struggles with guilt over the event that he wrote about in his letter. Do you think he wanted the letter to be found? Why would he want this to be his last communication with his family after his death? Why would he want this to come up when he didn't have a chance to explain his actions?

I think John-Paul definitely did not want the letter to be found, at least not while he was alive. He was frantically searching for it when his wife mentions that she found it. Sneaking up to the attic and tearing the place apart trying to find it. I think he was so consumed with guilt and couldn't tell anyone, and so he wrote the letter as a way of admitting it. A safe way, where he could go to his grave without paying for his actions. Like I said, cowardly. 

3. How did you feel about the revelation in the epilogue? 

The epilogue was too sad. It was sort of like a depressing version of "Sliding Doors." Here's what would have happened if this didn't happen, type of thing. Knowing it only makes it more sad and I'm not sure the story needs anymore sadness. 

BUT I did enjoy the book. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The way the 3 storylines were weaved together really impressed me and helped move the story along. I like how it examined marriages and friendships and made you think whether you really know the people that are in your life and what they are capable of doing. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: 

* "It was unfortunate the way adults had to repress their feelings."

* "Parties had terrified her. Parties still terrified her. It was the lack of structure, the casualness, the not knowing where to sit." {this is SO me!}

* "Marriage was a warm apple muffin."

* "You could try as hard as you could to imagine someone else's tragedy - but nothing truly hurts until it  happens to you. Most of all, to your child." 

* "Marriage was a form of insanity; love hovering permanently on the edge of aggravation." 

Have you read The Husband's Secret? What did you think? If you found a letter from your spouse to opened only after their death, but they were still alive, would you open it? Share below! 


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lessons Learned: June 2015

June is one of those wacky months for me. A sort of weird transition from Spring to Summer. There's Father's Day, my husband's birthday, school getting out - all within a few days of each other. I don't know if I remembered to breathe, but I suppose you get through it like you always do. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned last month, though, was this: 

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone - lessons learned

I'm a creature of habit. A "play it safe" kind of gal. I over-think things. I study and research from all angles. I painstakingly read the reviews. I ask all of my friends for their opinions. I just like to have all the facts, ya know? 

But there are times when you just have to get out there and do it. No amount of reading or listening or studying can prepare you for anything. You have to just DO IT. 

So, at the end of June, I ran in my first 5K race (with obstacles). It was definitely not something I would ever picture myself doing. I'm not a runner. As much as I would love to be, I just am not. But I absolutely loved it. The sense of accomplishment that I experienced at the end just made it all worth it. All of the nerves and uncertainty just disappeared for me when I finished the race. 

That's me in the pink tutu :) 

I'll be running another 5K in September. This time I'll know what to expect. I'll know how much to push myself and how much to hold back. And I'll feel proud of myself for getting out there and doing something completely outside of my comfort zone. 

What did you learn last month? What have you done that pushed you outside of your comfort zone? 

P.S. Don't forget that the Write or Die link up is still going strong. Plenty of time to join us. Come share how this photo inspires you: