The Nocturnal Journal by Lee Crutchley [book review]

The Nocturnal Journal: A Late-Night Exploration of What’s Really on Your Mind

The Nocturnal Journal helps readers live with greater freedom and introspection, providing a safe place to reconnect with the most important, and often most neglected, aspects of self. An engaging, supportive, and emotionally aware resource for night owls and insomniacs, this journal teases out the pressing thoughts, deep questions, everyday anxieties, and half-formed creative ideas that need unpacking, bringing more peace of mind and a richer understanding of ourselves.

The Nocturnal Journal. How fun is this idea? If you’re anything like me, there are nights where your brain spins out of control and although sleep is needed, it doesn’t come. As a teenager, I learned to pour my thoughts from my head into my journal—I don’t know if it was the writing/focusing or emptying my mind that did the trick (perhaps a combination?) but it always worked.

But my journal pages were blank. Lee Crutchley’s new book (releasing September 5, 2017) guides the restless (and exhausted) mind through 192 pages of hand-drawn journal prompts like determining what the clouds look like or writing a letter to someone you’ve lost. There are silly prompts, serious prompts, and everything in between. It’s customized for the late-night-can’t-sleep brain, with drawing exercises, writing exercises, and even staring exercises.

This isn’t the kind of book you read from cover-to-cover or even fill out in order. When you’re up at night and can’t sleep, go to the spot that speaks to you and get going.

An engaging and emotionally aware resource for night owls, insomniacs, and anyone else who finds themselves awake at all hours, The Nocturnal Journal will help you explore what keeps you up at night, and why. Prompts and illustrations tease out the pressing thoughts, deep questions, everyday anxieties, and half-formed creative ideas that need unpacking and exploring, bringing more peace of mind and a richer understanding of ourselves.

Although I don’t wrestle with my nighttime thoughts as often as I once did, I have enjoyed flipping through The Nocturnal Journal and allowing the prompts to send my mind in directions I don’t often go. This is a nice way to journal when you don’t have much to say (or don’t know where to start). It also aids in focusing your mind, getting your thoughts organized, and leaving your burden on the page. So you can experience restful sleep.

On the fence about The Nocturnal Journal? Maybe this will help. If you grab your copy now, you’ll get a glow-in-the-dark cover! I mean, who even does that anymore? What a nice touch.


The Nocturnal Journal Synopsis

An insightful, supportive and creative journal for anyone who can’t turn off their restless minds when the lights go out.

An engaging and emotionally aware resource for night owls, insomniacs, and anyone else who finds themselves awake at all hours, The Nocturnal Journal: A Late-Night Exploration of What’s Really on Your Mind will help you explore what keeps you up at night, and why. Prompts and illustrations tease out the pressing thoughts, deep questions, everyday anxieties, and half-formed creative ideas that need unpacking and exploring, bringing more peace of mind and a richer understanding of ourselves.

On these creative and colourful pages, night owls and anyone else who can’t sleep will find inspiration, comfort, and just the right questions and prompts to help sort through the unfinished business of the day (or week or year), offering peace of mind and a window into what matters most.

Part journal, part balm for restless minds, this insightful book is the perfect late-night companion when the lights go out but your brain won’t slow down.

**Order early for a glow-in-the-dark cover (limited edition only)**

Although I don’t wrestle with my nighttime thoughts as often as I once did, I have enjoyed flipping through The Nocturnal Journal and allowing the prompts to send my mind in directions I don’t often go. This is a nice way to journal when you don’t have much to say (or don’t know where to start). It also aids in focusing your mind, getting your thoughts organized, and leaving your burden on the page. So you can experience restful sleep.

Get the Hell Over It by Sarah Beth Moore [book review]

Are you held back by what ifs? It might be time to get the hell over it.

Get the Hell Over It by Sarah Beth Moore [book review]

Do you have a creative dream but don’t know where to start?

Do you wonder if there’s a book in you?

Do you wish you were doing your hobby full time?

Do you want to put yourself/your work out into the interweb but are crippled by the fear of rejection?

Do you have “the fear” from going after what you want in life?

If you nodded at any of these questions then Sarah Beth Moore’s book Get the Hell Over It: How to Let Go of Fear and Realize Your Creative Dream (Weenie-Proofing the Artistic Brain) is a must read.

Our digital age makes it easier than ever to put your creative work (be it writing, art, music, etc.) out there but it comes at a price—What if no one notices? What if it’s terrible? What if you offend someone? What if you fall on your face?

Yes, all of these fears could come true. What does Sarah have to say about it? Get the hell over it. Let go of fear and realize your creative dream.

I swear, and I’m speaking as someone who had a book deal within her grasp and lost it (but that’s a story for another time). Failures are painful, but they are rarely fatal.

Ouch.

Or…maybe this is exactly what you (I) need to hear.

In this quick 12 chapter book of simultaneous straight talk and encouragement, Sarah takes you on a journey through dreaming, discovering what’s in your wheelhouse, discerning between hobbies and careers, relying on yourself, teaching yourself, branding yourself, selling yourself, and (of course) letting go of fear. She includes personal examples from her creative life, highlighting times she was afraid, times she was brave, and times she failed. Because sometimes you will fail, it’s part of the journey.

But what if I fail?

You might. You will. And then you’ll try again.

But what if I fail again?

You might. You will. And then you’ll try again.

But what if…

But what if you succeed?

What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

Do you need some tough love? Get the Hell Over It is a vulnerable look inside a creative’s life and what it takes to succeed in today’s world. Sarah Beth Moore shares the points on her writing journey where she had to “get the hell over it” and be brave, make a hard choice, try, and what happened after.


Get the Hell Over It: How to Let Go of Fear and Realize Your Creative Dream (Weenie-Proofing the Artistic Brain) Synopsis

Finally: The Real Way to Claim the Profitable Creative Life You’ve Always Wanted!

Cravings. We all have them. But these days, it’s easier to indulge your sweet tooth than it is to reach your wildest dreams. At least, it certainly feels that way. And you know the type of dreams we’re talking about, right? Everything from living where you want and building a career you can pursue around the world, to accomplishments that stand the weight of time. These dreams go beyond hashtags and high-resolution photos, and the best part is that they’re well within your reach. In fact, they’ve always have been waiting for you. But when we’re afraid, it’s hard to pull back that huge curtain of fear and see our heart’s desires. Don’t worry; you just need help putting it all together.

Using your creative talents to build a lifestyle that’s unapologetically, delightfully, and incredibly all your own is beyond satisfying. Sure, you’ve seen examples of other people doing this. And you know deep down it can be done. Yet you’re stuck in your own personal adventure-movie quicksand, with no handy tree branch in sight.

That’s where this book, Get the Hell Over It: How to Let Go of Fear and Realize Your Creative Dream, comes in. Short and sweet with plenty of ideas, this book will give you a sturdy branch to grab onto when the quicksand starts pulling you down. New opportunities for a profitable, creative life await you…if you dare to reach out again.

In this book, you’ll learn how to dodge those big boulders of fear keeping you from the life you really want. However, it doesn’t end there. You’ll also learn:

  • The real way to use failure to your adventure (no pity party required)
  • Realistic exercises designed to trigger ongoing action (who really wants to save the fireworks for the holidays when every day can be a celebration?)
  • How to set your priorities in a way that pulls you closer to your designed outcomes (hint: this lets you get all your goals met rather than having to settle for just a few)
  • A great way to tell the difference between a dream, an outcome, and a mere fantasy – and why these differences matter
  • How to sidestep the people who don’t “get” what you’re doing (so you can make room for the supporters that are dying to cheer you on!)
  • And other bits of advice to help you reach for the stars (or maybe just a nice dinner on the town, nbd)

Maybe you’ve already read a dozen books on following your dreams. That’s okay too. If you aren’t where you want to be, could reading another book really hurt anything? You can’t just sit still, watching yet another year roll by without any of those big dreams coming into reality. Check out Get the Hell Over It: How to Let Go of Fear and Realize Your Creative Dream (Weenie-Proofing the Artistic Brain) today!

Do you need some tough love? Get the Hell Over It is a vulnerable look inside a creative’s life and what it takes to succeed in today’s world. Sarah Beth Moore shares the points on her writing journey where she had to “get the hell over it” and be brave, make a hard choice, try, and what happened after.

Ben-Hur (2016) [movie review]

From executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes an epic and awe-inspiring story of faith and forgiveness. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film tells the uplifting story of Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans after being betrayed by his brother Messala.  Separated from his family and the woman he loves, Ben-Hur is rescued from near death by the mysterious Ilderim. He returns to his homeland seeking revenge against his brother and an empire, but instead he finds a chance for redemption.

Watching the remake of a classic movie is tricky. On one hand, it’s exciting because you love the movie and want to see it modernized. On the other hand, what if the new movie is awful? Will it be a devastating experience?

I felt this way about Ben-Hur (2016). This is a classic. A CLASSIC! Could a remake do it justice?

Before Ben-Hur (2016) was released I saw a 15-minute preview at a conference. It was still in post production and there were some glitches but it was an impressive preview (they showed the chariot race scene). Feeling confident with the remake, I set my expectations to moderate.

But when I received the new release of Ben-Hur on Blu-Ray I procrastinated watching it. Because the fear. What if the chariot race was the only good part? What if the glitches stayed? What if it ruined the story for me?

Well, of course I watched it. And I thought it was well done. The CGI and filming were remarkable, the acting was emotional and compelling, and the film stayed true to the original story. All good things. It brought out the themes of right versus wrong, love versus revenge, forgiveness and understanding.

I’ve re-watched the film a couple times and although it’s a good film, it doesn’t replace the original. Perhaps they weren’t trying to (and I’m glad about that!). This remake brings the classic story into the 21st century and nothing more.


Ben-Hur (2016) synopsis

From executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes an epic and awe-inspiring story of faith and forgiveness. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film tells the uplifting story of Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans after being betrayed by his brother Messala. Separated from his family and the woman he loves, Ben-Hur is rescued from near death by the mysterious Ilderim. He returns to his homeland seeking revenge against his brother and an empire, but instead he finds a chance for redemption.


When I received the new release of Ben-Hur on Blu-Ray I procrastinated watching it. Because the fear. What if the chariot race was the only good part? What if the glitches stayed? What if it ruined the story for me?

Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas [book review]

Story Sparks Finding Your Best Story Ideas & Turning Them into Compelling Fiction by Denise Jaden

Story Sparks. S.P.A.R.K.S. An acronym of author Denise Jaden’s own making, this concise 166-page book talks us and then walks us through how to come up with ideas and keep the idea train running at full steam.

Seek. Jaden encourages us to change our mindset from coming up with ideas to finding them. Transforming into an Idea Seeker. This means you go out, you search, you look for inspiration. Then when your list feels sufficient, you create. Treating ideas like something to be discovered transformed the idea process into something to enjoy rather than stress over.

Passion. What inspires you? Jaden challenges us to look for what we’re already passionate about and write from that place, rather than writing about what we think we should write. She says for our readers to feel deep emotions, we must write with deep emotions and passion. So, which ideas propel you to write?

Allies. Who do you trust to bounce ideas off of? Anyone? Jaden says we need allies on our writing venture. We need them not only to test ideas but to help spark new ones. But what if our ally steals our idea? Jaden says although we need to choose our allies with care, we shouldn’t worry about idea theft. “Each writer may start with the exact same idea, but each uses that idea to say something unique, perhaps even wildly different or opposed, based on their worldview,” (20).

Resonance. This is the part where we’re warned not to write a book because it’s trendy or selling right now. It won’t resonate. Instead, she says we need to think about what our story satisfies in readers. Don’t worry about the selling part right now, focus on the writing. What about our story will resonate with our readers? Can we make it better? More dangerous? Add higher stakes? Can something go wrong?

Kinetic Energy. At the end of the journey comes the momentum. Action happens first, then momentum grows. Jaden says, “As these elements come together, this ‘kinetic’ energy gives your ideas a unique momentum that will carry you through the actual writing of the story and make the process seem almost easy or effortless,” (31).

And that’s just part one. The following four parts are filled with great tips and inspiration for fanning the spark into a flame, developing the fire along with habits, and useful resources like prompts, themes, and even lists of names.

Reading through Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction I stopped multiple times to jot down ideas, brainstorms, and topics to think about. I couldn’t believe how inspired I was—and that was just from reading! I worked through several of the exercises Jaden suggests and found them fruitful. This is a valuable read for anyone battling writer’s block, perfectionism, or just looking for new ways to keep their ideas fresh.


Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction

Anyone who has been hamster-wheeling a story idea for years or has hundreds of pages exploring various approaches on their hard drive knows there must be a better way. There is. Successful young adult novelist Denise Jaden shows exactly how to create the captivating stories that prevent dispiriting wasted time. Busting the “visitation from the muses” myth, she shows that inspiration is a skill that can be learned by understanding how story ideas work (or don’t), fertilizing the ground for fresh and sound ideas, and moving swiftly through stuck points. Practical and inspiring, Jaden’s approach celebrates the imaginative sparks that make innovations of all kinds possible while pinpointing the precise tools writers need to fan their unique creative flames.

Jaden shares, “I think the idea that everyone has a story in them is universal. I speak with many people who say, “I could never write a book,” but when I start to delve into their lives and the possibilities for stories within them, something lights up.” The truth is, finding great story ideas does not have to be a gift or a talent grown from birth. It is a skill, and it can be learned.

In Story Sparks, you will…

  • Learn how and why stories resonate with us
  • Discover new and fun ways to come up with story ideas
  • Get help in choosing from ideas and then following through with them
  • Troubleshoot ideas for potential pitfalls
  • Find a lengthy appendix of ideas for getting unstuck

Denise Jaden, author of Story Sparks and Fast Fiction, fast-drafted her debut novel, Losing Faith (Simon Schuster), in twenty-one days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Her second fast-drafted novel was published in 2012. She runs a fast-drafting challenge on her blog each March and lives outside Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction releases August 25, 2017.

Story Sparks. S.P.A.R.K.S. An acronym of author Denise Jaden’s own making, this concise 166-page book talks us and then walks us through how to come up with ideas and keep the idea train running at full steam.

Water Bottle Trends

Water Bottle Trends

Water bottle trends

Earlier this spring, my husband came home with a new water bottle for me. I thought it a bit strange, considering we have literally a cupboard filled with reusable plastic and metal water bottles. But he was swept up in water bottle trends!

“This one is insulated, it keeps your water cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours.”

Whoa. Listening…

“And it’s vacuum-sealed.”

Did any of our other bottles do that? Well, I have no idea. Do I need something cold or hot hours and hours? Now I do!

He picked up the Manna Vogue Insulated Bottles at Canadian Tire. I liked the colour (he chose a shiny teal for me) and the size (it could fit in my purse AND I didn’t have to worry about it leaking/sweating) so was happy to try it out.

And, I like it!

There isn’t too much I can say—it keeps my cold water cold, it is trustworthy (hasn’t leaked even a drop), and it’s simple. The only negative I can think of is it doesn’t hold as much water as I’d like so I have to refill it several times per day. Upside is it forces me to get up from my desk and walk around. So I guess it’s not really a negative.

Once I adapted to my new water bottle I started noticing them everywhere. Everyone has one (and yet I had never heard of nor noticed them before this) and everyone’s selling some version of it. S’well, KINGSO, MIRA, etc.

They’re everywhere.

And that’s not just an anecdote. Forbes says so too. But even more interesting is Sarah Kauss (S’well Bottle founder and bottle designer) said she set out to bring chic, reusable water bottles to the masses and could keep up with a busy schedule and satisfy personal style.

And then I think, hmm, yes. I like the look of this bottle and I think it does fit into my busy life. It also fits into my car’s cup holder and keeps my water cold when I leave it out in the garden all day. Etc.

So. Water bottle trends. Did you know it was a thing? Now you do!

Water Bottle Features

  • Non-toxic, non-leaching, BPA free
  • Made of 18/8 double-walled stainless steel
  • Vacuum sealed, keeps drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours
  • Hand-wash only

Oh, I heard there’s also a Target variety called S’ip. So that’s fun.

Earlier this spring, my husband came home with a new water bottle for me. I thought it a bit strange, considering we have <em>literally</em> a cupboard filled with reusable plastic and metal water bottles. But he was swept up in water bottle trends!