Wordless Wednesday #24

Pali Lookout in Oahu, Hawai'i (February 2017)

They say that for every good image you take, you have 100 bad ones. I experienced this today as I looked for a shot to edit for Wordless Wednesday. At least the end result was a gorgeous overlook of a beautiful place. :)

Do you ever have that problem? Where you shoot a million images, but when you return home your pictures don't look like anything you saw while you were there?

Live Blogging: 4 Trips/5 Months 10/10/17 Update


Synopsis: In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I'm planning four trips in five months (now, three) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going. I've also included the planning I'm doing for a trip to California that will take place in the spring of next year. I invite you to follow along, offer suggestions, and learn from both my experiences and mistakes.

For Trip #1 (October leaf looking):
COMPLETED!

• Putting all of my plans into Visit A City revealed I had much more on my plate than I could successfully fit into my trip. We ended up just having to go make the drive and see what we could fit in along the way, making changes and adjustments last minute.
• I'll probably add more details on what worked for us and what didn't when we get back. I'll be sure to fill you all in.

Our trip started on October 6 in Boston and we are headed home today. (Yay for post scheduling!)

For Trip #2 (November in NYC):
• Discovered Birdland Jazz Club through Groupon. I've never been to a jazz club, so why not? Love that so many famous jazz musicians were once headliners there!
• Speaking of music, I forgot to mention in any of my other posts that Billy Joel will be holding a concert while we are there at Madison Square Gardens. If I can get tickets, we are going.
• Flight prices keep rising and I'm kicking myself for not booking sooner. Is this trip really worth the price tag? Of course, I'm looking at other places (Las Vegas –> Grand Canyon, Oregon), but all flights are going up in price, so it's not just NYC. Of course, I'm also looking at weird routing. So, like DC to NYC instead of a direct flight; whatever I can do to save money. In the end, every weird route I've looked at doesn't save that much money, so I end up holding off booking. Vicious cycle.

For Trip #3 (November in New Orleans):
• You all had lots of suggestions for New Orleans. I've gotta work my way through them. Thank you!!!

For Trip #4 (December in ??):
• Just watching flights… 

For Trip #5 (April? 2018 in California):
• Learned that there are day trips you can take to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas via bus (so you don't have to drive), but most people recommend at least having a night there.
• So, then, I discovered there are bus/tour trips you can take that includes a one night stay with a bus right to and from Las Vegas.
• While I realize it was not recommended that I include the Grand Canyon in with the trip down the coast of California, I decided to research it anyway. Because why not? When I start planning the details of the trip, it will become more clear what will fit into my trip and what won't.

Did any of you have Columbus Day off? … Did you do anything for it? Have you ever mass planned like this before? (Maybe not trips, but anything?) What worked for you and what didn't?

Jeremy Camp The Answer Giveaway and Review


Growing up in a small town in the south, the local church was always the main hub of the community. Not being from a particularly Christian family, this wasn't something I really knew or understood until high school. And then, all of a sudden, if you weren't a Christian or "born again", it was suddenly a big deal! All kinds of high school events took place at the church … and, likewise, church events took place at the high school. Of course, these were cool church events. High schoolers didn't listen to their parents' gospel music of old. No, we all listened to contemporary Christian music (as well as alternative rock, but that's a different story). And on that contemporary Christian menu? Jeremy Camp.

So, hearing this new album from an old familiar was a trip down memory lane. In particular, I really enjoyed "The Answer", but all of the music was good. There was not one song I felt the need to skip over, and, that my friends, says something. The album was upbeat and offered a positive message which is nice to hear when the world feels so dark.

Now, a little background on Jeremy Camp:

Born in 1978 in Fayetteville, Indiana, Jeremy Camp has released eleven albums throughout his time in the Christian music industry. While I wasn't able to find much information on Camp's background, I feel like his dad had a huge influence on Jeremy Camp's life, not only teaching Jeremy to play the guitar but also involving his son heavily in church since he was the pastor of a local community church. Jeremy Camp released his first album in 2000 and has achieved 32 number one hits on Christian radio in the time since.

The newest album by Camp was written after sharing deep conversations with a plethora of well-respected songwriters, from Ed Cash and Scott Cash, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse, as well as Josh Silverberg and Jess Cates. Camp says, with regards to the album, that “My first record (Stay) came from things I’d been through and I just wrote it out. Now 15 years with The Answer,
it’s the same. I just wrote about this season of life.”



While I can't say whether or not The Answer is the answer for you, I can say that if you like Christian contemporary music, and if you've liked Jeremy Camp's music in the past, you will like this album.

1. Word of Life.  
2. My Defender 
3. The Answer
4. Storm
5. My Father's Arms
6. Never Stopped Loving
7. Tell the Whole World
8. Heaven's Shore 
9. Carriers
10. Love So Great 
11. Awake O Sleeper

GIVEAWAY

Are you a fan of Christian music artist Jeremy Camp? Are you interested in owning his newest album The Answer? If so, you've come to the right place! Leave a comment + your email address for a chance to win! Giveaway ends October 19 at midnight.

To learn more about Jeremy Camp, visit his website here. Alternatively, if entering giveaways just isn't your thing, you can click here to buy his newest album directly.

Best of luck to all who enter!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

IWSG #9


At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).

September Goals –
– Plan travel for October, November, and December.

✗ Talk to dent guy about getting my car fixed.
– Get back into blogging.
✓ Contact Chase about a double charge.

Additional Successes –
Facebook follower count went up!

✓ Made appointment to get a safety recall on my car fixed.

✓ Adjusted plans last minute due to Hurricane Irma.
✓ Did not lose any food during the 24 hours we were without power!! (Thanks to quick thinking on my husband's part!)
✓ Worked extra hours and, thus, made more money when I really wanted to stay at home and sleep.
✓ Planned our trip around the panhandle as we were driving it…
✓ Contacted Schwab about a fee.
✓ Car maintenance: Oil changed, car waxed, car cleaned, leather conditioned.
✓ Found cheaper prices for car rentals coming up in October!

October Goals –
• Finish planning for Boston road trip (October)
• Work on travel plans for NYC in November
• Plan for New Orleans road trip
• Decide and work on travel plans for Christmas trip (London?)
• Talk to dent guy about getting my car fixed
• Get safety recall problem fixed.
• Apply for Hilton credit card.

IWSG Question: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

This question doesn't really apply to me since I don't write fiction. In elementary school, I definitely did. How else do you write except from personal experience? I mean, even if you are writing fiction and the character is completely different from you, you still need some background knowledge about what they like to do, how people will respond to them, what their job is, etc… I really don't see how you can write without using personal information and experience?

The biggest problem I have is writing in a way that others can relate to. I tend to incorporate too much personal experience or information into my writing. I believe you definitely have to keep a balance between using too much personal information and too little.

Your Turn

What is your opinion on incorporating personal information into writing (whether we are talking about an email to your boss, an article for a newspaper or blog, or a novel meant to be published)? Do you think it's possible to write without including a bit of yourself into a piece? And if it is possible, do you think doing that is wise? I'd love to hear others' opinions on this!

I'd also love any suggestions you all can give me for New Orleans, NYC, and London travel. Any must-dos you can think of? I've been to NYC many, many times by now, but I never run out of things to do there. As for New Orleans and London, I've never been, so any suggestions you can share are helpful! … Do you have any travel plans coming up before the end of the year?


Click here to learn more and
link up with IWSG!

Live Blogging: 4 Trips/5 Months 10/3/17 Update


I've been quite busy handling life this past week, but I did manage to get a few things done. (Both for life and for trips.) Anyway, here's what is new this week. I apologize that it is all in list form, but even still maybe you will find a few useful tidbits here and there.

For Trip #1 (October leaf looking):
• decided on a NYC hotel. The one I ended up with was far from my first choice, but my first choices were disappearing like hot cakes. Turns out my husband and I will be in NYC during a big travel weekend. (Or so the hotels seem to think.) Every time I'd research, the prices would sneak up on me. $200s … which ouch, but okay. Then $300s … then $400s. At some point, I was starting to wonder if I could even afford to go. (I probably can't at that price, but what other option do I have?) So, lesson learned. Book as far in advance as possible for hotels.
• Ordered and received Lonely Planet New York & the Mid-Atlantic's Best Trips (Travel Guide) and National Geographic's Four Seasons of Travel: 400 of the World's Best Destinations in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall for research purposes. I'm getting quite the collection of travel books for someone who never wanted to purchase any since they go out of date so quickly!
• I pulled out my copy of Moon's Road Trip USA to see if any of our drives line up with any of their recommendations. For our drive down from Boston, we will be hitting both the Atlantic Coast drive and the Appalachian Trail. I wish I had seen this before I started booking hotels. While most of the hotels we have booked are cancelable, I'm afraid to start over in research since we only have about a week and a half left to work out our itinerary.
• I considered buying tickets for the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens, but because I'm not sure how long a meandering drive down from Boston to NYC will take, the $56 price tag has me a bit worried. I did get Taste of DC tickets, though. They were free.
• I tried the Seated app, so that I would know how it worked before using it to potentially book restaurants in any of the cities we will be visiting during this road trip. The idea is that you get $15 to use toward Starbucks/Amazon/Uber just for trying out a restaurant and booking reservations in advance. Everything went well, got my giftcard, so now I will just need to figure out how to take advantage of this app.
• Moved all of my images onto a USB drive that plugs into my cell phone. Can't wait to blog about it!
• Used pruvo to track my hotels, so that I will be notified if the price goes down.

For Trip #2 (November in NYC):
• Tried to book a top of the crown Statue of Liberty visit. Turns out they are fully booked until December. :(

For Trip #3 (November in New Orleans):
• umm … nothing?

For Trip #4 (December in ??):
• received an update from Google Flights that my (potential) London flight dropped in price to the $900s. Painful compared to the $500s I was looking at, but better than the $1,100s before the drop. Is it a go?

For Trip #5 (April? 2018 in California):
• figured out which parts of the Pacific Coast Highway were blocked.
• Also learned more about California from someone who actually lives there. #WIN!

Anyway, until next week!

Let me know if you learned anything new in this post or if you have any suggestions (both regarding travel as a general topic as well as for individual places, like New Orleans, for example) for me. I always enjoy learning something new!



Alternatively, if you are interested in hearing more about something I've mentioned in this post and would like to see a longer blog post on the topic, let me know that as well. I love sharing the tips and tricks I've discovered for booking travel.

Matt Redman Glory Song Album Review and Giveaway


Gospel choir in your living room?

That is just how I felt listening to the new album by Matt Redman – Glory Song.

Born in the UK in 1974, Matt Redman is no stranger to the Christian music industry. The singer/songwriter began his career simply at St Andrews, Chorleywood, moving to help found Soul Survivor alongside Mike Pilavachi. He then became a worship leader for the Soul Survivor Church in Watford. This was not the last time he was to lead worship; he has continued to be involved in various church conferences in the time since, including helping to plant churches in West Sussex and Atlanta, Georgia. In the midst of all of this, though, he has not lost his true love – taking the opportunity to record various albums for the Christian music industry. He has topped the Billboard Christian Songs Chart as well as reaching No. 1 on American Contemporary Christian Radio.

While I can't say the album was an absolute favorite, having gotten somewhat away from the Christian music scene, I know that it would fit right in for just the right person – a God loving, Christian who enjoys the sounds of gospel music in the church and wants to bring that sound home to their family and friends.

Songs featured on the album include:

1. All Glory, featuring Kierra Sheard
2. Gospel Song, featuring Guvna B
3. Greatest Hallelujah
4. Gracefully Broken, featuring Tasha Cobbs Leonard
5. One Day (When We All Get to Heaven)
6. Redemption Ground, featuring Madison Cunningham
7. It is Finished
8. Questions (You Are Faithful)
9. Still I Will Sing
10. Place of Praise, featuring Kim Walker-Smith
11. Hope is Marching On
12. Simple Pursuit/Glory Song
13. Your Ways

Ready to buy the album? Click here. You can also check out Matt Redman's "Gracefully Broken" video here or learn more about the artist at his website here.

GIVEAWAY

I also have one cd up for grabs thanks to my wonderful partner FlyBy Promotions. Just leave me a comment below and be sure to include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. A winner will be chosen on October 11 at midnight.

Hope you all are having a wonderful Friday so far! And best of luck to all who enter! :)

Winner guidelines:  Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.