IAAP Summit: National Harbor

The Gaylord National Harbor Resort is a maze!! I can’t believe how huge it is! With 95 different conference rooms and 2,000 guests rooms within the 19 story building, it is any wonder how I didn’t get lost! From the lobby bar and reception area, to the atrium with stores and restaurants. There was even an arcade and an indoor pool! There wasn’t much left to be desired! And that’s all just inside!

The restaurants were good within the hotel, but nothing could beat the lobby bar. It had a perfect view overlooking the river. You could see the bridge, the ferris wheel, and the water taxi all from your seat on the open platform with a drink in your hand. The atrium was a busy place, but the lobby with it’s small bites and amazing cocktails was the perfect place to unwind and watch the sunset.

I could have thought of a better location for the IAAP Summit! Wait, did you say next year will be in Lake Buena Vista, Florida? Umm, I may need to rethink this.

IAAP Summit: Series & Logistics

Welcome to the IAAP Summit Series! The next few posts will be all about the Summit experience and how I managed to get the most out of my attendance. If you don’t know what IAAP is, hop over to their site with this link. For those of you who are familiar, let me explain why I found the Summit valuable!

PROS:

The entire conference was in one place. My lodging, food options, other entertainment, and the conference/ training classes were all on the Gaylord Hotel. It was so convenient and easy to attend, and I felt at ease not having to worry about finding a place to eat or what I was going to do when I wasn’t in class.

Huge classrooms! I mean, most of the conference rooms were referred to as ballrooms, so let’s just out that into perspective. A total of 1,300 people showed up to the Summit, so it was paramount to have these large rooms. There was never a time I felt crowded or a room overpopulated.

Standing desks are a huge deal in my office right now. The flexibility to go from standing to siting every couple of hours is not only good for your health, but it is also a smart commodity to keep you audience awake and engaged. Creates more room for people as well!

There were so many great presenters/topics! My favorite two were Vonetta and Julia. Vonetta Watson provided many technical topics that I loved! Her courses were amazing overviews on the latest office software, tips and tricks! Julia Kristina spoke about difficult people, but with a twist. Her words are still ringing in my ears: “There aren’t difficult people; only difficult situations in which you have a choice to react to.” Overall, the sessions were impactful!

As I mentioned, there were about 1,300 attendees at the Summit. That’s a lot of people! During the opening ceremony, there was a presentation of flags for all the attending participants countries. Such diversity! It was amazing to see and meet so many different people!

CONS:

I found it interesting that there wasn’t a lot of complimentary items for attendees. Even water that was provided was scarce. Sitting in a class all day without water is like sleeping with your mouth open. Your mouth gets dry, and you become distracted by your basic physical need. I’m sure the point was to make people buy their water, but what a waste of plastic!

Even thought some of the classrooms had standing desks, they were fee and far between. They were advertised as if every room had it, but that was not the case.

While most topics were amazing, and I was dedicated to ensure I found at least one useful bit in every session, there were a very few topics that were dry. One in particular was about document retention. I don’t believe it was the speakers fault as the course matter is dry, so it was one that I think should be scratched for the next go around.

Overall, the Summit receives a solid 9.5 out of 10 for me! This experience was amazing from a networking view, an educational opportunity, and an overall wonderful conference! I truly hope that I am able to continue to attend in the years to come.

Hootie & The Blowfish, Group Therapy Tour

For my fifteenth birthday, I asked my parents for concert tickets to see Hootie & The Blowfish. They were playing at the 9:30 Club in D.C., and I wanted to so badly to see them perform. At the time, I had no clue the club was a 21+ only venue, so my parents had actually gotten the tickets, but I wasn’t able to attend. They ended up selling them and buying tickets to another concert for my birthday.

The other concert was for Green Day, the American Idiot Tour. The concert was great, one that I will always remember, but there was a very specific reason I wanted to see Hootie & The Blowfish.

As a teen, we all go through emotional times as our hormones run rampant. We are finding out who we are during that age, and sometimes, life just felt hard. Whenever I would go through a drama filled, high school day, I would go home and blast my music. It would help me release the mixed up emotions in my mind and heart, and find peace to sleep soundly at night. So long as I had my music, I was able to release the stressors of the day and just feel better.

One song in particular always felt cathartic.

Let Her Cry by Hootie & The Blowfish

I’d play this four minute, twelve second song on repeat for the really tough days I felt twisted within myself. Darius Rucker would sing those beautiful lyrics over and over again until I was able to digest the events of the day and erase their negative impact on me. This one song helped me through my toughest teenage years, reminding me that it’s ok not to be ok before it was a common saying.

Now, fifteen years later, I finally got to go to the concert of my teenage dreams!

Barenaked Ladies opened the show. They were entertaining with all their greatest hits, clever quips, and party atmosphere. They were a great preshow! I don’t think I have ever laughed that hard at a concert before! Nice and “lubed up”, as they band said they wanted the crowd to be for the headliners.

Finally, Hootie & The Blowfish came out! They started with their hottest hits, even threw in a few of Darius’s country hits, but when they got to Let Her Cry, I was brought back to being 15 again. I swayed and sang at the top of my lungs the lyrics I know so well. It was an emotional moment as Darius sang the words directly to my soul!

As the final notes were played on that beautiful song, I felt renewed. The power of great music, and specifically that song for me, smoothed out my emotions and allowed me to feel free! It was an amazing experience!

Fifteen years in the making, and I finally made it to see and hear Hootie & The Blowfish sing Let Her Cry. What a night! What a memory!

Good Girls – TV Show

NBC has a real winner! It’s Breaking Bad with a Bad Mom’s twist. All of the aspects of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) becoming Heisenberg with the rebellion and home life of Bad Mom’s Amy, Kiki, and Carla (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn). It’s a huge nod to women can do it, too, and what a housewife is really capable of.

I literally binged watched the first season and am going strong on the second, but dang it! I need another long weekend!

The chemistry in this show is amazing! The three women assuredly have a strong bond. The secondary characters, the husbands and other supporting male, are well developed and not easily forgotten. Especially Rio!

Rio (Manny Montana) is so good at being bad! His voice is sultry as he whispers sweet, threatening, nothing’s into Beth’s ear. Their relationship is toxic, but man, does it burn good!

If for no other reason, watch the show for Rio and Beth’s sexy power struggle! You’ll thank me later. 😉

Chapters – interactive story app

There are a few things in this world that make me feel like me. One of those things is reading. I love to read! I know you’re thinking, duh, since I am also a writer, but I really do. Even if I had never started writing, I think I would still love to read. It’s amazing the power a good book has. It can take you to another universe away from your current woes and build a new world within your mind. A good writer can actually turn on a part of your brain that stops reading words and starts seeing images from those words.

That’s what I hope to give to my readers. I hope to be that writer with every one of the books I publish.

For a while there, I hadn’t been reading or writing. Life just gets so busy, and the things you love to do sometimes get out on the back burner. Now that I found the Chapters app, though, I’m hoping to overcome some of those struggles.

Every night before bed, I look at my phone. I scroll through Instagram and Facebook and all the other RSS feeds Google pins to my phone. It consumes my night before I fall asleep. As much as I like going through social media and catching up on current events, I’m finding reading the multitude of free(ish) books on the Chapters app has started filling the gnawing desire to read a good book again.

Naming my own character. Dressing her. Choosing hairstyles. Picking what she may say. It’s actually also filling my control freak side! Like, who doesn’t read a book and sometimes think: oh, that name could have been way better if it were Dahveney!

Just me?..

Anyway, these stories are on the shorter side, and most all are romance with other lesser developed themes, but each story is providing that world building phenomenon my brain has been craving. There is a huge time and money sink aspect to the app.

Buy these diamonds for greater dialogue selections. Get more tickets for $0.99 to continue reading. Watch an ad and read right now!

It totally sucks having to wait. Currently I have another 1:43.23 before I get to finish the current read I’m on now, but I’m hoping it’s worth the wait.

Pure Barre

As I’ve said numerous times before, I need to get back in shape. Since having my daughter FOUR YEARS ago, I haven’t been taking the best care of myself as far as diet and exercise. I keep telling myself that I had a baby, my body isn’t the same, but how much longer can I use that as an excuse. (Rhetorical, don’t answer that.)

I know I need to get it all back under control, so I let my friend talk me into going to Pure Barre. I was able to take an introductory class for free, and my friend even let me borrow her Barre socks. It’s a thing.

Going into class, I honestly was trying to keep an open mind. I genuinely hoped it would be a ballet type bar class, but it was far from that. The instructor kept mentioning micro movements, muscle isolations, moving by an inch, and contracting all of your muscles. It was a lot to concentrate on. At no point though, did I feel like I was back in ballet class, warming up at the bar.

The class was fifty minutes long. My muses shook with most of the moments, a clear indication that I need strength training, but I missed cardio. The instructor kept saying the shake is good, but I felt like a vibrating chair rolling down a milled up highway with how much my muscles shook! It definitely was a work out! After class, I felt energized and ready to take on the evening. It was kind of hard to go to sleep that night, honestly.

It was a great experience. One that I will probably never repeat, but a memory, nonetheless. Some people love the classes, like my friend, but I think I’ll stick with my yoga.

Those socks were really nice though. 😁

Purebarre.com

Birthright Cover Reveal – Touched by Light series

You learned Riley’s secrets. You worried and strategized with Rey. You were introduced to the world of Guardians filled with Light and the darkness of Midnight’s shadows. You read Guardians, book one in the trilogy of Riley and Rey’s story, but this series is just starting.

I now introduce you to Birthright. Pre-order your copy today!

Riley has always known darkness and shadows were part of her world, but she hoped moving to a new town had taken her away from them. Her first semester at Bradford University is winding down. The race to save her soul is ratcheting up. Riley clings to the one person she hopes can keep her safe, but it is time she faced the truth. Her entire life has been leading up to her nineteenth birthday, a day her supposed Aunt had secretly prepared her for since childhood. With her past revealed and her fate seemingly sealed, Riley must make a decision that could very well end her life.

Reymend has lived two hundred years without breaking a single rule of the Guardianship, but the moment he met Riley, everything changed. He interjected himself into her life. He touched her delicate skin more times than he can admit, giving her glimpses into a world she knows nothing about. But, the one rule Rey swore he wouldn’t break may be the only way to save his Charge. When the greatest evil ever known comes to collect Riley’s soul, Rey has to face a decision no Guardian has ever had to make.

Movie Review: Mortal Engines

3244-11986-mortalenSo my husband and I watched Mortals Engines, and I’m hoping I can get through this without sounding as let down as I feel. I haven’t read the book yet, but the hype around this movie was just so inflated, and the movie itself just was flat. There were many entertaining elements of the movie, but somehow the storytelling aspect got lost in the midst of the beautiful graphics.

Take a look for yourself.

IMDb: In a post-apocalyptic world where cities ride on wheels and consume each other to survive, two people meet in London and try to stop a conspiracy.

Has IMDb suddenly put a word count on their descriptions? Everything description I read for a newly released movie has been thirty words or less. Strange as once again that description leaves much to be desired of what the actual story entails.

I’m not going to go too in deep with this review as there really doesn’t feel like there is much to tell. Towns/cities are built on wheels and travel throughout the broken world for resources. Why? I’m not really sure. Maybe to hunt for their supplies? They never really say. But, the mobile cities are pretty awesome! That is one detail of this movie that seemed really unique. However, there is also a stationary part of the world that doesn’t play nice with the mobile cities. Why? No clue.

The only funny part was twinkies survived whatever apocalyptic catastrophe plagued their world, and we are called the ancients that destroyed the planet with powerful weapons of mass destruction. I usually love every movie Hugo Weaving is in, and his character wasn’t far from one I have seen him play in the past, but this was not my favorite. All in all, the premise sounds interesting, but the execution of the screenplay was not the greatest.

 

Repost: What is Light and Midnight?

Birthright, A Touched By Light Series, Book 2 of 3 – Release Date April 2019img_20180508_205858_570336534470.jpg

You know that moment in the final hours of darkness in the early morning hours, just before the sun’s first light paints the sky and reveals what the dark kept hidden? That is the Light and Midnight. The Light is like the sun as it stretches over the world and warms everything it touches, chasing away your worries of what may be haunting you in the dark. Midnight is like the darkness of night, casting everything into shadows, concealing the world and creating secrets to tempt wary souls. Here’s an excerpt from Guardians explaining the foes in Riley and Reymend’s world:

The Light had been created by everything bright and good in this realm while the dark had consumed and tore at the universes edges, threatening oblivion. The Light was said to have Touched, or blessed, twelve mortals with immortality to fight against the darkness that had begun to accumulate into an organized immortal shadow and attack this realm.

Midnight wasn’t a tangible being like its shadows, minions, demons, or wielders that crossed on to the plane of mortals and divvied out Midnight’s wrath. The shadows and minions followed Riley as if they were her own personal entourage, coiling themselves around her throughout her entire life. Demons and wielders rarely invaded the mortal realm, but there were plenty still around from Midnight’s reign over the world. Midnight itself hadn’t crossed the plane in over two thousand years, but its bidders wreaked its havoc all the same.

The Light lives within our souls, composing an essence of life within all of us. Some of us shine a little brighter, are blessed with a stronger Light, and can become Guardians (see What is a Guardian?). Midnight creeps in the night, an essence of darkness and  hopelessness. Shadows, minions, demons, and wielders all were once mortals, but their souls were consumed by the dark temptations of Midnight. Even though they carry out Midnight’s biddings, the moment they are no longer useful, they cease to exist.

Riley is no stranger to Midnight’s shadows and minions. Rey is a Guardian full of Light. And their journey is just the beginning.

Repost: What is a Guardian?

Welcome to the Touched by Light series ! Here you will find a quick look into the world Reymend lives as a Guardian. It’s hidden within Riley’s mortal day-to-day, but of all other mortals, she has glimpsed it the most. So, what is a Guardian?

Guardians are immortal beings who have been fated to join the Guardianship. The Council of the Wise is made up of twelve of the oldest Birthright Guardians, meaning they were not born from mortals, but from previous Wise Council members. A Touched soul means the Light within someone is brighter, stronger, more likely to withstand the temptations of Midnight. The Wise determines a Touched soul’s fate at age nineteen. If you are meant to be a Guardian, you are granted immortal life and given Charges (Touched souls, typically mortals) to protect against Midnight’s bidders. If you’re destined for anything else, you are left as a mortal to live out your life.

We’ll get to “What is Light and Midnight?” in my next post. Hang in there! For now, enjoy this excerpt of Reymend’s inner dialogue over the course of a chapter explaining from his memories what it is to be a Guardian, and why having Riley as his next Charge is the most defining Guardship he has ever had.

Birthright, A Touched By Light Series, Book 2 of 3 – Release Date April 2019

Rey hadn’t thought that far back in years to when he and Phelix had been young men, barely over nineteen years old. Two of the twelve members of the Wise Council of the Light had offered them immortal life as Guardians. If they accepted, their lives were to be dedicated to protecting those Touched by Light from the darkness of Midnight. Even though the significance of it all flew over their teenage heads, after living their entire lives as vagrants on the streets of a New York ghetto, it had been an easy decision.

He hadn’t flat out lied to Riley when he said he was an orphan. He and Phelix had been when they were kids, but having been in the system was pushing it. They had lived off what others threw out in the streets or what they could beg for, but back then, that was the system for parentless children. Castaways, left to fend for themselves.

They had met Amber, Phelix’s girlfriend, in their early years of immortality during training, but her life had been completely opposite to theirs. She had known the ways of the Light at an early age before her fate had even been determined. Her entire bloodline could be traced back to Guardians and the Wise Council. As a Birthright Guardian, her conception was a carefully mastered plan to keep purity on the Council. Although, some would argue that plan was failing or had failed already.

The three of them had been through hell and back more than their fair share, facing demons of Midnight when no one else could. They weren’t the strongest singular Guardians by any means, but together, their Light always shone brightest against the darkness. Together, they were undefeated, but in their line of work, defeat wasn’t an option.

The three Guardians had left Baltimore two years ago after their Charges had reached the age to be fated. It had been the first time in their almost two hundred years together that they had been separated. Phelix had gone to Richmond for a Charge until she reached nineteen years old, and the Wise fated her for the Guardianship. Amber had two Charges turn nineteen, one in Atlanta and the other in Columbus, but both of the guys destinies were decided to remain mortal, leaving their Light dormant within their souls. Rey hadn’t had a Charge since Baltimore, so he moved to Bradford for the hub of darkness found at the small town’s edge. There was always something to do in the quiet town for a Guardian.

Phelix and Amber showed up over the summer since the Wise hadn’t designated new Charges for them either. The Wise had always seemed to find them individual Charges within the same vicinity as each other, clearly understanding the strength they shared between them, but after their two year stretch apart, Rey knew things were changing.

They posed as students at the University to keep up appearance and be poised in case their new Charges were students in town. There was also a bit of competition amongst them to keep their minds sharp and see who could have the highest grades, but it all boiled down to being ready when a Charge was granted.

Rules.

Light.

Dark.

They had been Rey’s world for so long. Now he bent and outright broke so many, using his Light in ways he shouldn’t to beat out the dark invading his Charge’s life.

The number one rule of the Guardianship was to never become involved in the Charge’s life. Protect them at all cost, but never be seen. A Guardian was to use their Light in the fight against the shadows of Midnight, but never shine it in the direction of the Charge. After years of servicing mortals, Guardians had earned the nickname of Guardian Angels, but Rey knew he was far from angelic, especially now.

Number two: never, ever touch a Charge. Those Touched by Light could transfer energies, memories, and even thoughts through their Light just by brushing up against each other. It took a Guardian years of training to harness their Light and learn to channel it through the transference of randomness and into a true Connection. It was the very thing that had kept him, Phelix, and Amber alive for so long through all of their battles over the centuries. Their Connection to each other flowed easily, allowing them to communicate and act as one seamlessly in battle.

And, number three: without exception, do not sway a Charge’s fate by Connecting with their Light before the Council so determines the Charge’s destiny. After a Charge turned nineteen, the Wise would determine whether the Touched soul would be given the choice to become a Guardian or remain a mortal, or if their fate was meant for the darkness. No one in the long history of the Light had ever Connected with a Charge outside of the realm of the Council of the Wise.

It was the simplest of rules to follow. Rules Rey had never had issues with in over two hundred years, but now, with Riley as his designated Charge, he had broken all but one so far.

When had his immortal life become so filled with gray?

The first twelve Touched souls composed what is now known as the Council of the Wise. They gathered as many more Guardians they could, Connecting with mortals who held stronger Light, and pushed what they began to call Midnight and its darkness as far from this universe as possible.

As millennia have passed, the Wise Council’s duty had become to determine a Touched soul’s fate, to Connect with those souls and keep the balance between Light and dark, and to keep the rules of the Light by sending Guardians to enforce them on any darkness that made its way onto the plane. The Guardians had become the first defense in the never ending war to keep the world from slipping into Midnight’s grasp while the Wise continued to reign on high.

It was Rey, Phelix, and Amber’s job to keep their Charges safe until the time the Wise determined their fate. They were to keep Midnight as far from their Charges as possible and defend the dormant Light within them. That was what Rey was doing.