books

march giveaway winner announced!

It’s time to announce the winner of the March giveaway, and I’m over here dancing in my PJ’s and desk chair because I get to gift a very lucky reader with their very own copy of Hannah Howard’s Feast. (I’ll let you and your imagination come up with the dance moves.) I’m just a few pages away from the end of the book now and I am so impressed by it. Hannah, I am so grateful to you for partnering with me on this month’s giveaway! Thank you for sharing your work with all of us : )

The winner of Feast is…

Victoria Munn!

Congratulations! I’ll send you an email this morning to work out the details of getting the book in your mailbox.

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Thanks so much to all who entered this month! Don’t forget to come back for next month’s giveaway on April 23. If you didn’t win, I still hope you’ll consider grabbing a copy of Hannah’s book, because it’s really a great read. Check it out on Amazon here, and note that if you purchase through that link, I’ll earn a small fee for recommending Feast to you!

In the meantime, I’m off to do a nine-mile run (half marathon training is heating up!) and finish up some projects here in the office before Matt and I head to Pennsylvania for Passover and Easter celebrations with family. Sending you all the good vibes for a great weekend, no matter what you celebrate (or don’t celebrate)!

I’ll catch you back here next week. I’ll be talking March and April goals on Tuesday!

 

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march giveaway.

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m lucky enough to be coming to you from Chicago this morning. I flew out of snowy New York City late yesterday afternoon  and am so excited to spend the next few days hanging out with two of my very best friends. The three of us live in different cities — New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — and we’ve tried to make a better effort over the last few months to get together for these girls’ weekends on a regular basis. It’s a great excuse to get away for a weekend, too, and I secretly love the way it feels to do a little solo plane travel. Matt’s actually coming to Chicago later tonight because we have another set of friends celebrating their upcoming wedding here tomorrow. He’ll be able to snag some QT with one of his best college pals while I’m with the girls, and we’ll meet up for the couples’ shower. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly!

In the meantime, though, it’s GIVEAWAY DAY… and I couldn’t be more excited to share this month’s prize with you. 

For the first time ever, I’ve teamed up with  an author for the March giveaway. How cool is that? Meet Hannah Howard.

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Hannah and I met at the very beginning of my freelance journey when we both took a Freelance Bootcamp class at the Brooklyn Brainery. At that point, Hannah had recently sold her debut book to a publisher, and although I was having some serious writer FOMO at that point (guilty!), I was so intrigued by the premise of her memoir that I got over it pretty quickly. I was so excited when Hannah reached out a few weeks ago with the opportunity to work together to share Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen with my blog community. Thank you so much, Hannah!

Many of you already know that a healthy relationship with food hasn’t always come easily to me personally, and since Feast (just out this month!) shares the story of Hannah’s own journey to find self-acceptance in spite of her disordered eating — all while exploring the unique and colorful food scene of New York City — I knew even before cracking the cover that it would be right up my alley. I started reading the book on the flight yesterday, and before I knew it, I was 100 pages in. Hannah’s writing is absolutely stunning. I love the way she describes food and the city that I love, and her reflections on how we feel about ourselves as we grow up (just wait until you read about middle school!) are wildly relatable.

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Even if your relationship with food has never crossed the threshold to disordered, you surely have had other moments of self-doubt, and Hannah’s narrative will really resonate with you at that level. Plus, her writing is beautiful and offers a fascinating peek into the NYC food scene.

Here’s a quick summary:

Hannah Howard is a Columbia University freshman when she lands a hostess job at Picholine, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan. Eighteen years old and eager to learn, she’s invigorated by the manic energy and knife-sharp focus of the crew. By day Hannah explores the Columbia arts scene, struggling to find her place. By night she’s intoxicated by boxes of heady truffles and intrigued by the food industry’s insiders. She’s hungry for knowledge, success, and love, but she’s also ravenous because she hasn’t eaten more than yogurt and coffee in days.

Hannah is hiding an eating disorder. The excruciatingly late nights, demanding chefs, bad boyfriends, and destructive obsessions have left a void inside her that she can’t fill. To reconcile her relationships with the food she worships and a body she struggles to accept, Hannah’s going to have to learn to nourish her soul.

The winner of this month’s giveaway will receive their very own copy of Feast! So cool, right?

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 3/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog.

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that!)

… and if, as you’re typing in your own comment, you feel so inspired, I’d love for you to pass the giveaway along to a food- or book-loving friend who might also be interested in entering. Grab that URL at the top of your screen and text it to a loved one or share it on social media. It means so much to me to able to share Finding Plan A with more and more people — and I would be all the more excited to have more eyes on this post in particular, since it will allow us to help Hannah get the word out about Feast!

Happy commenting! And happy weekending! 

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february giveaway.

Friends, you did it. You made it to Friday!

This afternoon, Matt and I are leaving for our spring getaway weekend — and not a minute too soon, either, because after all of the warm temperatures we had here in New York City earlier this week (I was almost too hot in a light sweatshirt!), we’re looking at a colder, rainier forecast for the weekend. For a few days there, I was worried it would be colder in Charlotte than it is here, and that would have pretty much defeated the whole purpose of this southern adventure! Anyway, I’m really excited to get a change of scenery and to enjoy the kind of down time you can only get when you’re removed from your usual routine and environment. I can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get back!

In the meantime, though, it’s GIVEAWAY DAY, which means that it’s all about you and showing my gratitude for your continued support.

The February giveaway prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

This is pretty much the prize of my dreams, and I hope you’re as excited about it as I am. A $30 gift card should be enough to get you a hardcover or two paperbacks. If you’re the lucky winner, I’m happy to give you some recommendations!

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 3/2. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

As you’re getting ready to type those comments below, can I just ask you for one quick favor? Just one? I promise it will be really easy!

If Finding Plan A has resonated with you and you love reading the content and entering the giveaways, could you please grab the URL up at the top of your screen and pop it in an email or text to one of your loved ones? Give them the opportunity to enter for the Barnes & Noble giveaway and to be part of this awesome community! The more we can share, the better. It would really mean the world to me if we could work together to get the word out, friends!

Have a great weekend! xo

 

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new year, new book recommendations.

I think a lot of people out there must have “READ MORE” listed among their New Year’s resolutions for 2018, because I’ve gotten so many requests over the last few days for book recommendations. These are requests that I’m more than happy to get, since there are few kinds of talk that I love more than book talk — plus, they give me the opportunity to put my handy book log to good use.

That’s right, friends — I have a book log.

I started tracking my reading back in 2014, and it’s turned into a seriously hefty Google Doc in the years since. At that time, I was working in publishing, so it was really helpful from a work perspective to keep tabs on exactly what I’d read and how I felt about it, but I loved logging my books so much that I kept it up even when I didn’t “have to ” for work anymore. People know that I’m a bookworm and tend to ask for my recommendations fairly often, so it’s actually been really helpful to have a central list of what I’ve read, what I’ve loved, and what I’ve (sadly) hated. I won’t reveal my organization or ratings system because it’s a little embarrassing (nerd alert! nerd alert!), but I will tell you that if you’re a reader like me, you might want to consider creating your own!

Thanks to my book log (yes, that’s exactly what it’s saved as in my Google Drive), I could go on and on with recommendations for thousands of words, but I’m going to keep it short with a few quick suggestions for the new year! You may have seen me mention some of these in my recent monthly goal recaps (check out the latest one here), but I’m sharing a few more details below so it’s even easier for you to pick your next read!

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#1: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: It’s challenging for me to find a memoir that I stick with start to finish because I just tend to prefer books that are totally fictional, but The Glass Castle was so mind-blowing that it was hard to believe that it was actually a true story. But it is! Jeannette Walls shares the story of her untraditional (to say the least) upbringing in West Virginia, with a father whose alcoholism is matched only by his kindness and imagination and a mother who simply wanted to keep her family together. The author’s journey out of her moldy (literally) childhood home and into New York City is inspiring and emotional, and I found myself wanting to learn even more about her lfe when I’d finished.

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#2: The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe: I read this for the first time just after I moved to New York, and it quickly became a favorite, since it tells the story of young women working in the publishing business (just like I was when I first came to the city!) in the fifties. I recently reread it, and it was amazing to realize the perspective that I’ve gained in the few years in between. It read almost like a different book entirely! I firmly believe that every woman should read this book, especially given today’s extremely important dialogue about professional parity and safe workplaces. You’ll especially enjoy it if you were a Mad Men fan, since it has the same sense of New York City glamour and excitement.

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#3: Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota: The most interesting thing about this book was the extent to which the storyline predicted much of the media landscape during the 2016 presidential election. Author Alisyn Camerota (also one of my favorite CNN anchors) actually wrote much of Amanda Wakes Up prior to the height of the frenzy around Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and yet somehow, much of the events of the book came true in real life! So interesting! The world of cable news is also just fascinating to me, and if you feel the same, you’ll really love this read.

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#4: Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs: I’m crazy intrigued by stories of cults and fringe religious communities in the same way that other people are fascinated by true crime, and this account of life in the FLDS (a more extreme, militant offshoot of the Mormon church) by the daughter of one of its scariest leaders was about as shocking as I expected it to be. I read it cover to cover in less than two days!

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#5: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: One of my friends has been recommending this to me for ages, and when I saw the beautifully lush preview images from the upcoming film adaptation in Entertainment Weekly recently, I knew the time had come for me to finally read it! With the holidays, I didn’t have as much time to read as I would have liked, but this is definitely the kind of book that I would have devoured in hours-long chunks if I’d been able to. The characters are amazing, the descriptions are beautiful, and the whole thing just made me want to jump on a plane to Singapore ASAP.

How about you? Have you read anything that you’ve just loved recently? I’d love to hear more in the comments below!

(Please note that, while I’ve included Amazon links for each of these books to make your life easier, I am also super in favor of you heading out and supporting your local bookseller. If there’s one in your neighborhood, don’t forget to help them out. They’re doing such important work in our communities! )

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december giveaway!

I’ve been writing a lot of astrology content for Bustle this week, and between that and all of the last-minute holiday shopping issues I’ve had, I’m now fully convinced that this whole Mercury retrograde business is very, very real. (Good news, though — retrograde is over as of today! I’m basically an expert now.) The sick irony of the whole thing is that this year, I did all of my shopping online a few weeks ahead of time precisely to avoid the last-minute scramble. Typically, I buy gifts in-person, because I actually like the experience of being in the store, but I tried to catch up to the rest of the world by sticking to online shopping this year. Anddddd of course (as I’ve now been assured by customer service representatives at no less than three vendor help lines), I somehow ended up as part of the very unlucky 1% of people who find themselves at the receiving end of incorrect tracking information and/or items that just don’t seem to have shipped even though I was told they’d been put on a truck days ago. What. are. the. odds? HAH! So, that’s where we are. Thanks, Mercury!

All of that being said, I am extremely happy that it’s GIVEAWAY DAY, because it means I have the chance to gift one of you with something fun — absolutely no hassle required.

The December giveaway prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

You all know how much I love to read, so this is a prize I would definitely like to win myself! The amount should cover one hardcover or two paperbacks, and I’m happy to offer a few recommendations to the lucky winner. I already have a few ideas in mind!

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! As always, I’d love to see you share this link with friends so that more people have a chance to win and ring in the new year with a great read (and to check out the blog!). I run a giveaway every month, so you can count on another opportunity to win something else very soon. I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 12/29. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

In the meantime, I hope that all of those celebrating have a very merry, cozy Christmas! May you eat lots of cookies and stay in your pajamas for as long as possible.

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my fave summer reads of 2017.

Word on the street is that I missed National Book Lovers Day.

I know, I know — I’m so embarrassed.

If you’ve been following the blog for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a serious book lover, so the fact that yesterday’s celebration was so far off my radar feels to me like a failure to wish my mom a happy birthday or to celebrate Valentine’s Day (and I love Valentine’s Day). I can’t believe I didn’t know anything about it until I checked Twitter in the late afternoon to see that just about every one of my favorite authors and publishing pros was sharing their thoughts on the books that had changed their lives. Way to drop the ball, Alli. Way to be out of the loop. (picture me slowly dragging my hand, palm-down, from my forehead to my chin)

I know everything is supposed to be super immediate and quick these days, but I can’t let the opportunity pass to share some book recommendations — even if it’s a day late.  I’ve been planning to put together a summer reading list before the end of August, anyway, and I don’t think there could be a better time than National Book Lovers Day (or, well, right after that) to do it.

Here are five books I’ve read and loved this summer. Consider this your cue to run, don’t walk to wherever you buy your books and pick up any titles that aren’t already on your shelf. While these were my favorite summer reading books, I’m sure you’ll love them just as much as I did any time of year.

the animators

#1: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker: Any book that tops my list is bound to be driven by incredible characters, and this is no exception. I loved the quirky and creative world of The Animators, and I truly fell in love with main characters Mel and Sharon. (Also, I hate to tell you that there’s a twist at the end, because then you’ll know to look for it… but it’s such a good twist that I just have to give it a shoutout. I promise you won’t see it coming, even with this subtle spoiler.)

wangs#2: The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang: I picked this up for our trip to Turks + Caicos at the recommendation of a friend, and I have to admit that it was a total surprise for me. The Wangs is the perfect mix of relatable familial dysfunction, laugh out loud hilarity, and twenty-first century cultural commentary. Also, who else gets addicted to a good road trip story?

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#3: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: It’s been a long time since I fell so head-over-heels in love with a book written in interconnected stories and criss-crossing perspectives. If you’re looking to really get into the thick of a family’s history (we’re talking about some serious baggage here), this is the book you need to curl up with ASAP.

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#4: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly: Every once in a while, you find a piece of historical fiction that breaks your heart and gives you hope and makes you feel totally gutted — all at the same time. I’m still 100 pages away from finishing Lilac Girls, but this book has already made me feel all of these feelings (and more!), so it more than deserves to be included on this list.

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#5: Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss: I’ve already sung the praises of this book several times here on the blog, and each time I mention it, I find it harder and harder to describe just how much I adored it and why it’s easily my new favorite title (like, ever). Read it. Please just read it. Then call me or email me or text me so we can talk about it right away.

What an amazing summer of reading it’s been, friends! As far as I’m concerned, any season that brings me to this many great new reads is an incredible success.

How about you? Have you read anything that you’ve just loved recently? I’d love to hear more in the comments below!

(Please note that, while I’ve included Amazon links for each of these books to make your life easier, I am also super in favor of you heading out and supporting your local bookseller. If there’s one in your neighborhood, don’t forget to help them out. They’re doing such important work in our communities! )

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our first book club meeting.

Since I used to work in publishing, I’ve always wanted to start a book club. Over the years, various friends have told me that they would also love to find a reason to read more, so I’ve toyed with the idea many times, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally decided to make it happen. The book club was one of the “personal projects” I wanted to prioritize when I started freelancing, and while it was a little slow to get off the ground, we finally had our first meeting this past Tuesday!

The book club includes a small group of friends, most of whom live right here in Brooklyn. When I first put everything together, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring together multiple friend groups and to get to know a few friends of friends who I don’t get to see as much as I would like.

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Putting this winter storm to good use as a photo backdrop!

We chose our first book back in mid-November when we were all feeling very fired up about the election results (although, to be honest, I’m more fired up now), so we chose How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. Given the concerns we all had around issues of respect for women, we thought our first book club meeting would be a great opportunity to read something powerful and feminist, so we chose a book from Emma Watson’s book list.

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I never blogged about my experience at the Women’s March in January, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to share my favorite photo from that day — especially since I marched with a few other friends who are in the book club! That’s me on the left in the blue hat : )

Almost three months later (I know, I know, we dragged our feet a little), we finally had a chance to meet and discuss the book this week. The whole group was more or less in agreement — while the author had some funny observations and an interesting voice, we didn’t love the fact that she tried to position the book as some sort of feminist manifesto or universal rule book on how forward-thinking women should act.

Personally, I thought the most interesting takeaway was Moran’s musings on all of the things that women overthink or analyze or worry about — and that men don’t. It’s definitely changed my perspective on a few things, especially when it comes to sending professional e-mails! I’m working hard at not getting myself all worked up over asking questions or asserting myself, because I think that most men in the working world do those things without a second thought. As strong women, I think this is something that we could all keep in mind!

Even better than the book talk (which was great, because I do miss that about my publishing job!) was the chance to hang out with some of my creative, funny, interesting, and compassionate gal pals. Of course, I already knew how lucky I was to have such great friends, but I genuinely believe there’s something about discussing a book that really brings out people’s smartest and feistiest sides. Plus, we got to eat some really good snacks and drink plenty of wine on a Tuesday night, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that : )

I’m already excited for our next meeting in mid-March! We decided to read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about.

Do any of you belong to book clubs? Would you want to read along with ours? Let me know in the comments below!

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monthly goals recap –> january + february.

It’s (somehow) the start of a new month (how did that happen???), which means it’s time to check in on my goals for January and start looking ahead to February. Here’s a recap from last month:

  • Work on my book outline. √ YES! This process is still slow-going, but I’m happy to say that I’ve at least gotten started. I spent the first half of the month researching best practices for book outlines and then started working on research and an outline in Scrivener during the back half.  
  • Hit 45 blog posts. As of today, I have 43 posts (this is my 44th). While I didn’t technically “achieve” this goal, I’m not going to count it as a failure because I actually feel really good about the pacing of my posts this month! Would you like to see me post more or less often? Feel free to let me know in the comments below (or contact me elsewhere)!
  • Run 5 miles. √ YES! Half marathon training is officially underway!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m very close to finishing my third book from the month of January, but I didn’t quite get there. To be fair, I’ve been reading pretty hefty books — but I need to do a better job at making time for reading, which is still one of my favorite things to do.
  • Confirm first copyediting/copywriting gig. √ YES!
  • Write another piece for Bustle √ YES! I pitched a few pieces to Bustle earlier in the month that didn’t quite land, so I wasn’t feeling too confident about this goal. At the very end of the month, though, I had an unexpected opportunity to write this piece about the late, great Mary Tyler Moore and what her show (and its theme song) means to me.
  • Break into at least one new outlet. Not this month!
  • Keep weeknights sacred. √ YES! I’ve been doing a much better job at this so far in 2017. Matt and I are really enjoying having more time together during the week just to spend time together and recharge.

Yesterday, I wrote out my goals for February in my Passion Planner (which I’m still loving, by the way). Here is what I’m hoping to accomplish in the next (short) month:

  • Successfully launch the Bulldog Yoga blog. I’ve been hired to launch and run the blog for an amazing yoga studio near Philadelphia. The content will go live in the middle of February, and I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come together! (P.S. If you live in or are visiting the Philly area, you should definitely check out Bulldog.)
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I got to spend a day at Bulldog Yoga earlier this week… how cute is Gracie, the mascot?
  • FINISH my book outline and start the writing process. I thrive off of organization and structure, so I’m hoping that once I have an outline in place, I’ll be able to jump into a first draft a bit more easily. The outline process is more labor-intensive than I would have expected, but I think it’s going to be key to my success on this project.
  • Write another piece for Bustlereally enjoyed working on my latest piece for their Feature section, so I’m definitely hoping to pitch and write for them again. Let’s get some momentum going!
  • Feel strong and healthy in my first month of half marathon trainingA few days into my training program, I’m already feeling great! My goal is to keep myself healthy so that I can make the most of my runs and lay good groundwork for the rest of my race prep.
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This morning’s run!
  • Continue pitching to Refinery29In early January, my essay about “quitting The Bachelor ran on this amazing site. I pitched a few more concepts to my editor there mid-month, and none of them were exactly the right fit, but I’m going to keep trying in February.
  • Break into a new outlet. The constant freelancer’s goal!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m going to get my reading mojo back!
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The next books on my reading list. Let the record show that there is not a “light read” among them!
  • Finish our wedding album! I started creating our album (using the amazing photos from Bri Cibene Photography) in mid-January, and I’m hoping to have it finished and ordered by the end of February. I’m having so much fun making it — the only problem is that I want to include all of the pictures and there just isn’t space!
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Here’s a sneak peek at the first full spread of our album!

What are your goals for February! I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

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monthly goals recap —-> december + january.

Last month, when I shared my goals for December, I promised I would use this blog to help keep me accountable. If I’m going to stay honest, it seems only right that I come clean about what worked for me last month… and also what didn’t work so well. Here’s a recap of my December goals:

  • Cut down on sweets before the holidays. √ YES! For the first two weeks of December, Matt and I both eliminated sweets from our diet. It made it a lot easier to enjoy our favorite treats for the rest of the month (especially on a day like the cookie swap), because I was feeling less reliant on sugar.
  • Break into at least one new outlet. √ YES! I had my first articles published over on Bustle and Refinery29.
  • Run five miles. Unfortunately, not so much. I was sick in the middle of the month and the antibiotics made me feel pretty crummy at the gym, which set me back. I was up to about three miles before the end of the year, which I can’t say I’m totally proud of.
  • Hit 35 blog posts. Debatable. I had 34 posts by the end of December. Can we count it as a success?
  • Confirm first copyediting gig. I still have some feelers out there for copyediting, but I wasn’t able to officially lock anything up last month.
  • Write another piece for The KitchnI haven’t had any new articles actually posted on The Kitchn, but I did have some pitches accepted by the editor. I actually turned in three more essays this morning! I can’t wait for those to go live so I can share them with you.
  • Expand the reach of Finding Plan A. √ YES! It’s harder to measure this goal, but I did get more great feedback (from new voices) on the site in December. As always, I’d love for you to continue to share the blog, and don’t forget that you can subscribe so it comes directly to your inbox (instructions here)!
  • 20 pages OR a substantial outline for my book. Once again, this goal fell to the wayside. I need to work harder this year to make working on my book a priority.

I jotted down my goals for January earlier this week, which I’m excited to share today. In my last goals post, I talked about how much I love using a paper planner, and I actually just bought a new one that I can’t wait to start using. It’s called a Passion Planner and I think it’s going to be super helpful in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to structuring my goals. It just arrived in the mail yesterday so I haven’t gotten a chance to get it all set up yet, but I’m planning to dig into it this afternoon. I’ll share more in the next week or two, because I have a feeling I’m about to become obsessed with it.

In the meantime, here are my goals for January:

  • Work on my book outline. This is a carryover from last month. Instead of putting pressure on myself to start the writing process, I’m setting the more reasonable objective of having an outline.
  • Hit 45 blog posts. Let me know in the comments (or contact me elsewhere) if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see me post about this month!
  • Run 5 miles. I start my “official” training for this year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon later this month, so this should help keep me on track.
  • Read at least 3 books. Something that I’ve really struggled with since leaving my job in publishing is making time to read. When I was working in the book industry (and spending more time commuting by subway), I was reading an average of one book per week. My reading hobby has definitely suffered over the last few months. I LOVE books, so I’d like to make this a priority again.
  • Confirm first copyediting/copywriting gig. I’m rolling this one over from December.
  • Write another piece for BustleI’d love to build up my portfolio with this great site!
  • Break into at least one new outlet. I think this will show up pretty consistently on my list of monthly goals, because I want to continue to diversify my writing and expand my network.
  • Keep weeknights sacred. Before the holidays, I was having a really hard time saying “no” to social events during the week. While it’s important to me to spend time with friends regularly, I also want to make sure I’m prioritizing time with Matt and down time at home where I can step away from my office. We all need to recharge.

What are your goals for this month? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below?

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five great books for gifting + reading

I’ve decided that I REALLY like being a work-from-home girl at this time of the year.

I’ll be honest with you — last week was a tough one. Coming down from a few days of Thanksgiving celebrations during which I was surrounded by my family (plus our pets), it was hard to get back into the swing of things, especially when I tend to spend so much time alone in my home office. Add in a lot of rainy weather, a few frustrating personal situations, and the general bummer that I’ve always felt between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (doesn’t everyone feel that?), and I just wasn’t feeling my best. Things are off to a much better start this week, not only because I’m feeling great about work, but also because life is a lot more festive around here after our Sunday of holiday decorating!

When I worked in a big office building in downtown Manhattan, we had doses of holiday spirit here and there — beautiful decorations near the front door, a string quartet that would play during lunchtime in the lobby every Friday — but there’s something extra special about spending my work days in my own little wonderland. Matt and I LOVE the holiday season, and after we went a little crazy with decorations last year for the first December in our new apartment, we upped the craziness a tiny bit this time around. As I write this, I have a glimpse of the decorations in our main room, PLUS we picked up this slightly  tacky little guy for my office.

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(I’ll spare you the rest of the photos of our decorations for now. If you’d like me to post more about them, let me know in the comments below!)

With this time of year also comes lots of gifting! As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of buying books as presents, and since my corporate gig was in publishing, I’m also used to getting plenty of requests for recommendations. I’ve decided to share with you five of my favorites from the last few years. Any one of these would make a great gift…or a great read for you if you’re planning to curl up with a book this holiday season!

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#1: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: I love anything this author writes, but this is my favorite of his novels. It’s a hefty book at over 600 pages, but it’s completely engaging and perfectly written. I read it over a holiday break in college, and I would recommend you do the same!
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#2: The Mothers by Brit Bennett: Along with many of my former colleagues, I was lucky enough to read this book a few months ago, and ever since, I’ve been itching for it to hit stores so I could recommend it to everyone I know. This is a really special read about female friendships, love, and race. The writing is stunning and I can’t wait to see what this author does next.

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#3: The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen: On a MUCH lighter note, I breezed through this book on our honeymoon in June, and it was so much fun. It’s pure pop culture and froth, told through the interesting perspective of Bravo producer Andy Cohen. If you or anyone on your gift list is a fan of celebrities or a (closeted) Real Housewives fan (like me), this is a great choice! I recently read Andy’s more recent book, Superficial, but I preferred the Diaries.

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#4: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Markus Zusak is best known for The Book Thief (another complete game changer of a book), but I always like to give a shoutout to I Am the Messenger. I’ve given this to a few non-readers in my life who have all raved about it.

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#5: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: I read this for the first time when I was in high school and have continued coming back to it every few years since then. There are so many coming-of-age stories out there, and this is by far my favorite. Plus, it takes place at a boarding school, and who doesn’t love that?

(I haven’t included links to buy here, because I’m a big believer in buying your books in whatever way makes you most likely to read them! That being said, if there’s an independent bookstore in your area, don’t forget to check out their selection this holiday season :)) 

 

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