Saturday, February 7, 2015

A New Adventure

Is everyone staying warm in all the blizzard? I am absolutely freezing, and am so ready for my next Cruise to the Caribbean in October! Warm weather and fruity drinks can't come fast enough! Thankfully, it's all starting to melt.

I am excited to announce, however, that I am now currently a Jamberry Nails Consultant. I've been considering this since my sister's party back in November. I was a bit hesitant on my original first Jamicure, because I don't think I did the best job (I was in a rush to meet my sister to get pedicures, irony of ironies).

A Thanksgiving Jamicure
You can kind of tell that my middle finger is kind of up over the cuticle.

Rumor has it that it takes three tries to get really good at applying Jams. My next Jamicure was much better. And extremely Wintery.

Winters Edge and Reindeer Games
I really liked the Reindeer Games (Ring Finger), which I'd taken as an accent nail from my mom. She filled her fingers with Rudolph, but wasn't sure she liked it. I honestly couldn't blame her. All those reindeer staring up, judging you...

My Jamicures have been lasting me about two weeks before I get tired and wants a change. I've haven't really left my nails bare since I got interested in them. I like having pretty nails.

Icy Boysenberry Polka Dot, Navy Quatrefoil, Sheet Music, Bird on Fire
This was my Christmas Day Jamicure, and it lasted me until New Year's. It could've lasted longer, but I got bored. There are that many designs, and they're all really fun.

I got my cousin the Bird on Fire jams for Christmas, because she loves Phoenixes. I invited her and her mom, and our aunt and cousin over for an application instruction party, which was fun, and we all got to ooh and ah over what everyone else had.

I'm currently in the middle of my launch party, where I'm throwing everyone's name who orders into a hat for a special prize! To check out Jamberry's offerings, including styles that won't be coming back (Like Navy Quatrefoil and Icy Boysenberry Polka Dot, shown above), check out my website, martinbeks.jamberrynails.net. You can also hit the button up top that says Jamberry. If you're interested in checking out my Online Party, go here.

I'm really excited about my launch party. I'm getting to know other consultants who are extremely passionate, and their excitement is contagious. If you're interested in hosting a party, I can do either live (local) parties in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, or online parties, which are even cooler, because I can do a party for anyone anywhere online, via Facebook.

Welcome to my journey!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reading Plan: January 2015


So, as you may remember, I have a goal of reading 26 books this year. I've got about two weeks left in January to finish two of the books I'm currently reading. I've finished one, but I know that I have it in me to finish two more.

I actually started a lot of books last year, but got sidetracked when I was trying to be part of Blog Tours. Sadly, I'm not that great at reading two things at once, especially if I'm not overly fond of what I'm reading (I like to finish books that I read). Another plan I have this year is to finish many of the books I started LAST year.

Without further ado, here is my current reading plan:

January

I've Never Been to Vegas...But My Luggage Has! By Mandy Hale 

Source
I finished this book a couple weeks ago, and read it really quickly. Mandy Hale is funny, fashionable, and has a lot of great advice for single chicks, with a strong, Biblical foundation. I've been reading her blog, The Single Woman for a few months now, and absolutely love it. 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I started the Jane Austen Book Club a few months ago, but then things got super nuts. I love this story, and can't wait to share my thoughts in Book Club format, and I hope you'll join me in the discussion when I share my thoughts in February. 

Once Upon a Winter's Night by Dennis L. McKiernan


The Polar Bear King is one of my favorite fairy tales, and here it's reimagined in an epic tale of curses and true love. I borrowed this book from my sister because I'm working on a fairy tale myself. I don't read many fantasy novels, which I don't know why. I love the genre. I'm 99.9% sure I'm a Disney Princess. Jane (my Cat) doesn't directly talk TO me, but I totally get it. We chat. I can totally read animals' minds. 

This is my January Plan for reading.
  • What's on your reading list this month?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wattpad: A Platform for Everyone

A few years ago, when I was trying to find an audience for my first book, Sugar & Spies, I was turned on to the web-based platform, Wattpad.

What is Wattpad?

From what I'd heard, it was a place for teenagers to write for other teenagers, but it had grown that people truly wanting to find their audience put their stories up in serial form to find an audience. The audience votes on your chapters, and the more votes it gets, the more exposure it gets from the site. Wattpad's whole aim is to make the solitary art of writing into a social art.

Don't you want to publish to make money?

Wattpad doesn't hold the rights to your work, so you can publish it anywhere you want. Wattpad's aim is to find you an audience. I'm sorely lacking an audience, and to be completely honest, I'd really love to find my love of writing, and make it less of a chore. If I'm writing and getting immediate feedback, then it might reignite my passion.

Do people really do well on Wattpad?

Some really do. They have great success stories, and it'd be so cool to be one of them. 

How do you promote your work on Wattpad?

Since they're a social platform, it's encouraged that you get really involved, read stories, comment, and take part in the social group they've got on the site, as well. 

What are you going to do on Wattpad?

I've had these short stories swimming around in my head that take place in the same universe as a bigger mystery series, and I'd like to advertise for my series by writing these smaller stories about people you'll meet in the main stories. I'm hoping it fleshes out my universe into something great. 

Have you written anything on Wattpad yet?

Yes, I have! It was something I'd written awhile back, but I uploaded it this afternoon, and even used Canva, as well as a some royalty-free photos to create a book cover.

Click Here to Read!

How can I publish on Wattpad?

Easy Peasy. Here are instructions taken from The Writer's Circle.

  1. Setup a Wattpad account. You can either sign up with an email address and create a password, or have it go through your Facebook account. If you use Facebook, you can also see which Facebook friends are using Wattpad and follow them if you like.
  2. Check out the copyright agreement/rules. Though Wattpad is pretty lax about publishing, there are still some guidelines about copyright infringement and posting content that is obscene or hateful. Read those guidelines carefully before creating content.
  3. Click “Create.” In the toolbar at the top of the page, you’ll see a few options – you can search for stories based on genre, recommended reads, featured stories, or what has recently won awards; view your own library of saved stories to read; or create a story of your own. Click “Create.”
  4. Start writing. The template here is simple: There’s a spot for your story’s title, a word count tracker in the top-right corner, and simple HTML tools for bolding and italicizing words. There’s also a helpful spell checker that can spell-check in eight different languages, which is another cool feature.

    You can either write directly in the text box, or upload a .txt file from your computer by clicking “Upload a File” in the bottom-left corner of the text box (it’s easy enough to convert files to .txt, since it won’t accept .doc or other file types).  You can save drafts along the way by just hitting “Save,” and you can hit “Save & Publish” when it’s finished and ready for the world to see.
  5. Pick categories, tags, rating, and language. Along the right side of the text box, you’ll see a series of dropdown menus. These selections make your content more searchable, describe your story, and also will help bring in readers looking for your kind of story. You can pick up to two categories (e.g. “Short Story” and “Science Fiction”) and also can free-form tags. 

    Tags are more specific descriptors to help readers find your story – maybe your Science Fiction story would be tagged with “vampires” and “werewolves.” Think of things you might type when searching for that kind of story, and use those as tags. You’ll also want to give your story a rating – G through R, much like the movies – so it’s clear what kind of content is in there.
  6. Copyright. If you publish using "advanced options," you can also add copyright language to the story like "All rights reserved" or a "Creative Commons" license.
  7. Add a description. If you're using a computer, you can click "My Works" and then "Manage" to add a short description of the story and to mark whether it is an ongoing series or completed story. (It's a little different on the apps, but you still go through the "My Works" page.) 
  8. Publish! Once you’re ready, you can hit “Save & Publish” to share with the masses. Readers can send messages and comment on the story, and you can see that all in your inbox. That direct interaction and feedback can be really helpful in growing your readership and perfecting your writing skills.
  9. Add dedications or photos. After you publish, you can also add a dedication or photograph to the story. You'll see those options along the right side of the screen, next to the text.
  10. Check out the stats. Wattpad keeps track of how many reads, votes, and comments that each story gets, so you can see in real time how many people are reading it.
  11. Add chapters. If you want to add chapters, then go to “My Works” and simply click “Add Part” for the story you want to add something to.

See? It's really pretty simple. Plus, there's a free app you can download to your device to read stories, or write stories anywhere! 

If you're wanting to give writing a try, and want to check out some free stories, Wattpad is a great resource! If you want to follow me, my username is martinbeks

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blessed

When I look back over the year, I have this really negative habit of seeing only the bad. Unfortunately, It's easy for me to do on days like today. No, it's not some anniversary of a nefarious happening. But today, on my way to work, I blew a tire. A tire I'd just gotten replaced not very long ago.

I tried to replace it myself, but I couldn't remove the nuts. I then called my dad, who drove out to 72nd and Grover to save me. Together, we got the nuts off, but then the tire had gotten frozen onto the car. Had to call a tow truck for help. $75 later, my car made it to Lyle's to be replaced, and the nice guys at Lyle's found a decently priced used tire for me.

While I was waiting for my dad, I decided to read Day 2 of my Bible Study, The One Year Bible, which I found on an app, YouVersion. I keep trying to read the Bible throughout the year, but I stop about a third of the way through the year. In order to keep a positive attitude and find God's plan for my life, I am determined to stick with it.

I know that I just did a post of things I'm thankful for, but I really have to remind myself of how good my life really is.

January

I finally got my new assignment at work, and was on a team again, after feeling lost and listless for two months, wondering if I even had a future at my company. 

February

I got to go to Cozumel and Grand Cayman on the Disney Wonder with my family. It was a wonderful trip, and I'll always be a loyal DCL customer.

Tiana was the sassiest of the Disney Princesses

March

I got to see Veronica Mars by myself on a Monday morning in a theatre, and finally got a bit of closure (though it also left open doors for more sequels). I hope they continue!

April

Lauren came to visit me. We had a blast, and I always forget how much I miss her.

May

I saw a lot of great movies this month. Maleficent, The Amazing Spiderman 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Lots of fun times with my family.

June

I took the first step of taking my blog to the next level by buying a Domain. It was a huge learning curve for me, but I took that step, and am very proud of myself.

July

We found our new home, and started getting it ready to move in. 

August

I got to see one of my favorite cousins get married. I can't believe how much he's grown.

September

I turned 29. I love my birthday. Growing older never used to scare me, but now I think it's starting to scare me into action. My 20's were a big time of inaction, but now I'm determined that 2015 will be the year I work my butt off to make things happen.

October

I went to Denver. I got to stay with Lauren, and see Kristen, see my aunt Julie, cousin Andrew and his family, and just relax over four days. It was heaven.

November

I started building my new blog to focus the efforts of The Modern Jane Austen, and really learn about blog building. 

December

Despite the fresh hell that the end of the year brings, I really enjoyed Christmas. I enjoyed spending the day with my immediate family, and I enjoyed spending the previous weekend with my cousin, Lu.


Despite how stressed I got today, it's just so important that life, like good stories, have their ups and downs. There are mountains and valleys. If your life events are just a straight line, like on a heart monitor, it means you're dead. It might suck, but at least it keeps things interesting, and teaches you lessons. I asked God to help me get my finances straight, and he's pushing me to do it to protect my own personal interests (I wouldn't do well in prison).

My money goals for the new year include visiting OctaPharma to start giving Plasma again, trade in my car to something with lower monthly payments, and I hope I can start selling Jamberry Nail Wraps to work as a part time job. I enjoy the wraps, and think I could really work the business hard. I need to do whatever I can to get myself out of debt, and live like no one else so later I can "LIVE like NO ONE else."

Okay. I'm feeling a bit better. Have an awesome day!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Favorite Blogging Tools



I learned a lot about blogging in 2014. I wanted to be able to replace my job with a blog income by the end of this year, but I was honestly in way over my head. I had no idea what that entailed, but you all know that I believe in magic and fairy tales.

Some magic blogger genie was going to pop out of my computer and grant me three wishes, right?

After a lot of google searches, I discovered a lot this year, found new bloggers who were a fount of information that helped me gain experience and build my blog to what it is today.

Buying a Domain

I spent a lot of my blogging time thinking that buying a domain was expensive, useless, and hard to set up. When I got serious about my blogging, I started researching how to set it up, and was directed to Dana's blog, I Can Build A Blog, where she has a step-by-step process in buying a domain and setting it up in Blogger.

Click here for instruction
I decided to stick with Blogger (as opposed to Wordpress) because it is hosted by Google. There are a lot of pros and cons of sticking with Blogger, but being an inexperienced blogger, I wanted to learn as much as I could about building a blog from scratch through Google. For more information on why I stuck with my choice, see Dana's other post.

Dana knows a lot about building blogs, and explains them in a very concise way. She's great.

Buying a Domain

There are a log to different domain purchasing services out there, but I opted to go through GoDaddy.com, because Dana had a coupon code (inside the Domain setup link above) for $1.99 for the first year. After the first year, it was about $10. I bought two years, so my cost came to about $12 and some change. That's about $.50/month, which I can find on the floor of my car at any given time. Not expensive in the slightest. 

Designing Images For Your Blog

I've been directed to several different websites for designing graphics for blogs, but what I've discovered that I enjoy working with is Canva. It's got mostly free graphics, and the graphics that aren't free are only about a dollar. I haven't used the graphics that cost money yet, but I can see myself using this when I design book covers in the future. 

How to Build Your Audience

When I started blogging, I'd been commenting on blogs for awhile. It was pretty exciting to be able to put my own blog on all of my comments, and I hoped that I would be able to build an audience from there. I wanted people to comment on my own posts. I did get some comments, but I am still working to build the community that I want MJA to be. I think a lot of it involves focus, which I'm trying harder to focus my blog more toward writing-related topics. 

I have found some sites that explained audience building to me. They've been helpful, and informative. Most of them say you should look toward sponsoring other blogs to help build your own. I've spent last night and this morning using Canva to build Ad Buttons, and request permission to sponsor other blogs through Passionfruit Ads. I offer ads myself, and got my first request the other day. If you look to the right, I have places for ads, and if you want more info on sponsoring MY blog, just click on Sponsor up at the top. 


A 300 x 150 Ad

How to Make Your Blogger Blog Not look like a Blogger Blog

Blogger blogs have a reputation of looking a bit cheap. When I was perusing different design websites, I came across Carrie's blog, who had a whole slew of things you could do to make your blog look professional. I used about all of them, and am impressed with what I was able to do. I'm still learning, of course, but the kind people of the internet are extremely helpful. 

Source
There are a lot of helpful links in that blog, so feel free to share the wealth!

Anytime I find a great resource, I add it to my "Blogging Topics" Pinterest Board. I'm all about Pinterest, and if you'd care to follow me, you can do so here

I hope you've found this helpful. I've even used these tips again for my other blog, Built By Beks, where I'll be writing about my weight loss journey (so you won't be seeing much of that on MJA anymore).

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I almost made my mom cry this Christmas. How'd you do?

I have a hard time giving gifts. I love to do it, but only if I can really get a handle on what the person wants. I like to make an emotional impact on them, and give them something that makes them truly happy.

I think I did pretty well with my dad's and sister's gifts this Christmas. My sister got Chameonaire Jamberry Nail Wraps (I've recently discovered Jamberry and am positively in LOVE with them! Check out my Instagram for my "Jamicures" over the last few weeks!). I honestly thought my sister knew, because when I had a Jamberry party a few weeks back, I was trying to figure out what my Hostess wraps would be, and I knew I wanted to get my sister something, since her party didn't do so well. I called her into the living room, and asked her what she liked when she was looking, so I could get ideas (There are a lot of wraps. It's mind-boggling!). She was surprised this morning, and told me she honestly had no idea. We did our nails this afternoon.

(L-R) Icy Boysenberry Polka Dot, Blue Quatrefoil,
Sheet Music, Bird on Fire, IBPD
I got my dad a new lapdesk for his computer. He's been using my grandmother's old writing desk that's warped, and about 2/3 of the size of his computer. The new one has a wrist guard, and is big enough for his gargantuan computer. It was what he'd asked for, and he seems to like it. I know he'll get a lot of use out of it. I even heard him mention today that his computer isn't overheating like it was, so score! I did have a hard time hiding it from him. He's a bus driver, and had lots of downtime since school's on break right now, so he was always home. I finally had to make him cover his eyes so I could bring it into the house. It had been camping out in my back seat since Monday!

My mom was the hardest for me to buy for. I honestly had no idea what to get her. I was going to get her a hat and scarf set to go with her new coat, but before I had the chance to go out and look, we had a dish-related casualty at our house.

To kind of set this up, my parents had been planning to move for about the last five years. They tried back when I was in college, but nothing. One thing they'd been told is to pack up the things you don't use very regularly, so they packed up a LOT of coffee mugs. One of these mugs was a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves mug my mom had gotten at Disney World back in 1981, which was her first trip there.

When we moved into this house, we were sorting the boxes of mugs, and I pulled out the Snow White mug. Snow White was my favorite movie when I was a kid, so I used it a LOT. It got put into the new mug rotation, and I used it all the time.

One afternoon, however, it slipped from its hook, falling to the tile floor, and shattering into hundreds of teeny pieces. My mom played it cool, saying that things aren't forever, but I could tell she was bummed. I hopped on eBay to see if they had it. And let me tell you...

THERE WERE TONS!


I made mom open mine first this morning, because I've been keeping this a secret for about a month now. I just wanted her to see it. She was absolutely stunned, and touched, and couldn't believe that I'd been able to find it. I'm pretty sure I got a couple tears out of her, too. I wanted to find her something she loved.

Mission: Accomplished.

It was a great Christmas. It was low-key, and I stayed in my PJ's all day, and was just the breather I needed before I go head first into overtime at work.

Merry Christmas from The Modern Jane Austen, and have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hanging with my Best Gal

This past weekend, we celebrated Christmas with our extended family, since my darling cousin, Laura, was leaving the day after Christmas for Disney World with her high school band. They're going to perform on New Year's Day at the parade. So exciting, and I wish I could be there to see them (though, seriously, I don't need an excuse to go to Disney World).

They came in on Friday night, and introduced us to their new puppy, a spotted dachsund named S'mores. She was adorable and loved giving kisses.

Photo by Laura
Saturday afternoon, we went to a local Game Board Cafe called Spielbound with my mom, her mom, and our aunt Janet and her kids. We played a game that none of us had ever played before: Mousetrap.

Surprised? Yeah. We were all surprised that none of us had ever played it, too. But it was fun.

video

After playing games, Laura and I went to ConAgra Ice Skating Rink, a temporary rink down by the Old Market at 10th and Harney, where all the proceeds (I believe) go to the Omaha Food Bank. For just $5, we got in and got skates, and we skated around the busy rink for about an hour and a half (It was cold and crowded!).

An Artsy Pic of the lights
I haven't been ice skating since college, when I took Lauren for her birthday. That wasn't a smart idea, because she fell and hit her head. No harm done, but it certainly wasn't fun.

Laura and I, waiting for the ice to get buffed
 Laura hadn't been skating in a long time, either. We both hung onto the wall for the better part of the first hour we were there. Problem was, so was everyone else. We had a hard time getting started, until we could stay up on our own.

You can see the shaved ice, before they Zamboni'd it.
It was very slick (which, ice. Duh). But there was also a lot of shaved ice, which showed it probably hadn't been gone over with the Zamboni in awhile. We'd been skating for about an hour before they called us off, and went over it once to sweet the snow off, and then another time to polish it.


It was a beautiful evening, though cold, and I've never ice skated outside before, which made it seem almost magical, and definitely Christmasy.

Kiri, Lisa, Matt
Kiri was there, but didn't skate. We met our friends, Matt and Lisa (Of Evengard Improv, a local Improvisational Troupe) there, too. We rarely see them, so anytime we get to spend time with them is a treat.

Afterward, Laura, Kiri, and I went home and had soup, before we watched the finale of The Amazing Race with my parents. I'd never seen it before this season, and only watched it because I'm a fan of Bethany Hamilton. While we were a little sad that Bethany and her husband, Adam didn't win, but it was an exciting season, nonetheless.

I'm sorry that I didn't get to spend more time with Laura. We've always been, ever since she was about eight months old. She's like a little sister that I never got (Her brother is also like my little brother.), and I can't imagine my life without her.

Save travels, Love! I'm glad we got to spend part of Christmas together!