Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.


Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Blog Tour: Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

Center of GravityCenter of Gravity by Laura McNeill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an intense read. It took me awhile to get into it, mostly because I had no idea exactly what was going on. The story is told from several different viewpoints, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.
I honestly thought that Jack spoke a little too eloquently for an eight-year-old, but he was a good character, who definitely had a lot to say.
I think stories of sociopaths, ruining the lives of those around them are something that a lot of people can probably relate to. You're just going about your day when you suddenly walk into the line of fire. Hearing the story from Ava's POV was familiar, and you could definitely relate to her (at least I could). Every encounter she had with Mitchell was like walking on glass shards. You knew it wasn't a good idea to do it, and you felt every single cut. I was surprised that she didn't just sit in her house, not making any noise because God knows, he would've heard it, and had her arrested. I honestly thought it took a little long for Ava to get a backbone, but once she did, Look out!
Once I got into the story and the groove of the different POVs, I really got invested, but the formatting of my eBook made it really hard to focus sometimes. People would be talking, and then on the same line, someone else would start talking, it got really distracting. That said, I really did like this book. Mitchell was a scary antagonist, and while there were parts that seemed like Jack's character was a little inconsistent (He's eight, but later on, Ava tells her Father-in-Law that Jack is taller than her? How short is she?), but I liked it.

View all my reviews

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Blog Tour: "How Do You Know?" by Meredith Schorr

How Do You Know?  (Seeking Happily Ever After, #1)How Do You Know? by Meredith Schorr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meredith Schorr has a way of writing my emotions into books. I don't know how this is. We've never met in person, and until "Blogger Girl," I never knew she existed.
I don't mean this in a bad way, at all. Just gonna say that right now. In this book, Maggie is about to turn 40. She spends her entire year grousing about turning 40, and if she's ready, what her life should be at that age, based on what everyone around her is doing (Comparison really is the thief of joy). I know exactly how she feels. I just turned 30 two weeks ago, and all my friends are starting to settle down.
I did have a hard time getting into this book. Probably because it kept hitting the notes of how I feel, which is WEIRD. Blogger Girl did the same thing.
I think I'd probably be friends with Maggie. She swears more than I like (I'm such a lady with language, it's not even funny), but she's very sincere, cares for her friends and family, and most of all, doesn't want to be the reason someone's future gets ruined. We've all been there.
I really love that Meredith writes such relatable characters. One of the hardest parts of characterization is writing a person who isn't perfect. I have the problem of writing the person I wish to be into my characters. When that happens, you end up with a Mary Sue. Or worse. Bella Swan. That doesn't happen with Maggie Piper. She's funny, she's nice, she makes mistakes, she says the wrong thing, she can't lie to her family (again, I relate). She's a real person, which is exactly why you wanted to root for her, why you wanted to see her get her happily ever after, by any means necessary.

View all my reviews

This book was received and reviews as part of the Chick Lit Blog Tour. The book was free, but the opinions are my own. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Now that I'm 30...

So, I've been 30 for a week and a half now. Not much has changed. I'm still writing, I'm still broke, I'm still counting down the days until my vacation cruise (22 days!), and I'm still working full time, four days a week. 

But, I do think that I need to focus on a lot of things, and maybe by writing mine out, I can help you guys.
Photo by ellehem (c)Unsplash

Now that I'm 30, I'll try to stop obsessing over numbers. 

I've lived three decades. My 20's are gone. Finito. Just obliterated. 

There is this scene in the cinematic masterpiece, The Decoy Bride, where our heroine, Katie, almost drowns. When she's rescued, she says, "My entire life flashed before my eyes. Halfway through I was just bored!"

Sadly, this is where I am right now. Aside from graduating college, and that year when I thought my book was hot stuff (despite what sales told me), I honestly don't have anything that I want to recall that isn't vacation-related (22 days!). And that is so depressing to me. Which brings my to my next point.

Now that I'm 30, I'll push myself to get outside my comfort zone.

I used to be a social butterfly. In college, I was always out with friends, doing stuff, running up and down Broadway, painting Columbia Red. The year that followed graduation, I was torn down so badly that I'm still trying to recover, six years later. There was a year or two after when I was still going out, making friends, but no bosom friends. All my great friends are from college. I'm still trying to make friends as an adult. Hell, I haven't even had a legit date since about 2008. Talk about depressing.

"I've gone man vegan. They say after seven years, you don't notice."
But, I've signed up for to meet people in the area with similar interests. If I meet a man from this group, color me stunned. I won't be holding my breath. 

I did decide to sign up for a dating service after I return from vacation (22 days!). Probably Christian Mingle. My friends, John and Dinah met there, and CM seems less intimidating (and costly) than eHarmony.

I can't begin to stress how much I DON'T want to date online. But I'm going to do it. Because I'm 30.

Now that I'm 30, I'm going to learn some new skills

Have you ever heard of Codecademy before? It's a free service that teaches you different computer languages and programs to broaden your hireability. How about Skillcrush? They're another company that teaches you to code, but with an emphasis on their Career Blueprints, which can lead you into a new line of work that is extremely rewarding. I just finished their 10 day boot camp, and it was very interesting, and was explained very well. My plan is to save up the money for their Web Developer Career Blueprint, a 3-month class that is offered annually, and hopefully start to build up a side business to really make something of myself. And pay off my student loans. Aren't your 30's when you finally come into money?

Maybe one day I can be this smarmy.

Now that I'm 30, I'm going to go back to keeping a journal.

I used to write all the freaking time. In notebooks, in journals, if I had a pen, I would write on a piece of scrap paper, just to get my thoughts out of my head. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings, and that's how I would get them out and try to solve them.

Last week, the day before my birthday, I bought a journal at Walgreens that is green with dandelions etched on the leather cover, and it's got a ribbon bookmark and a magnetic closure on the front. It also says the word "Believe." I bought it because I wanted to start a prayer journal. I'm terrible at remembering to pray, which is ridiculous, because as I Christian, I should want nothing more than to cry out to my Creator for a good conversation. But how do you talk to the One who made the heavens and the earth? The one who designed the person you're meant to be to find oiut what you need to be? 

That's why I got the journal. I've paired it with a couple Bible Studies from YouVersion, a free Bible Study app which has TONS of studies from big name people like Joyce Meyer, Kari Jobe, and Billy Graham. I'm currently working through three, one on prayer, one on starting your day with Jesus, and also a read through the Bible in a year plan. What have I learned? 

So far? That I'll never be perfect, but that God doesn't care, so long as I have a repentant heart, and a desire to live my life on His terms. And they're not bad terms. At all. 

The journal is also to remember to pray for certain people, because I never remember to pray for people, which is a horrible thing for me to not do, as a Christian. 

But mostly, now that I'm 30, I'm going to get a freaking life.

By now, you've probably figured out that I'm a hardcore introvert who'd rather stay in and watch TV than go out around the people. If I wasn't, then the resolution to get out more wouldn't be on here. I haven't decided if I want to get married and have children or not. I'm so disenchanted with the world that the idea of me finding someone to share my life with is kind of crazy. It's remembered in my prayer journal, but we'll see what happens. 

The point of getting a life isn't to find a boyfriend or husband, it's be be fulfilled, and to be able to give my best to people. I want to live a joyous, active, adventurous life that isn't walled in by worldly convention. I want to la-la-la-la-live out loud, to coin a phrase by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

  • Please tell me I'm not the only one with decade resolutions.
  • Tell me yours. You know you want to.
  • What's your favorite adventure?
  • Have I mentioned I'm going on vacation in 22 days?!

Monday, September 21, 2015

30 Things about Turning 30

Today is my 30th birthday.

Got that?


Holy cow. I honestly have no idea where the past 30 years have gone. I'm almost positive that this picture was taken last week.

Sometime in 1986-87. I'm the short one in the middle.
My mom is slightly older in this picture than I am now.

Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to make up a list of a mix of 30 things I'm glad are over, and what I hope to do in my 30's. And maybe some things you might not know about me.

Without further ado.

  1. I'm glad a went to and graduated college. I might have massive debt, but those are years I'll cherish forever. 
  2. I've discovered that I'll probably never be a famous actress or singer. Now I'm setting my sites on either a writer or TV personality. ;-)
  3. I got to go to Disney World three times in my life. Ages 6 (almost 7), 11, and 18 (almost 19). Each visit was magical and two of those trips I got to share with a grandparent. Fabulous memories. 
  4. I discovered cruising in 2009, and have discovered it is my favorite form of vacation.
  5. When I was 20, I went skiing for the first time on Spring Break in Colorado (2006). My friend, Kristen thinks I never gave it a fair shake. I'm not coordinated enough for skiing.
  6. I'd never been to White Castle until the day before I turned 23. I went to St. Louis with Lauren and our friend, Jess, and on our way home, we stopped through White Castle for dinner. I haven't been back since. We don't have any near Council Bluffs.
  7. I've been Maid Of Honor in one wedding, my friend, Jess's in 2007. I've had several people ask me to eventually be their MOH, though (quite a few are from my childhood, who I haven't seen in years).
  8. I've never really been on a good date. I've had a couple in my life, and was bored to tears.
  9. On that note, the few blind dates my friends tried to set me up with in the past never happened. The guys cancelled before they'd even met me. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~CS Lewis
  10. I love to cook, and have been using Craftsy to hone my skills. My knife skills are pretty awesome now. At least, better than they were a couple months ago. 
  11. I love coffee more than chocolate. Put the two together, and it's the most heavenly combination. 
  12. I went 26 years without getting a single cavity. I'm not even entirely sure they were real cavities. I think I got told weak spots were cavities by a poor dentist. 
  13. I have no idea where my Jane Austen obsession comes from. My family doesn't seem to get it. 
  14. To this day, the greatest burger I've ever had was from this restaurant in or around Orlando, Florida called Jungle Jim's. It was a Peanut Butter Burger, and they had this deal where if you didn't like it, it was free. The waitress came back after I'd practically licked my plate clean, and I said, "I probably can't convince you I didn't like it, can I?"
  15. I miss taking voice lesson. I just can't afford them, but I absolutely loved singing opera and musical theatre. 
  16. You're all familiar with my cat, Jane Austen, but I also have had several cats over the years, and my very own dog. When I was ten, we adopted a dog, Rosie, from the shelter, who turned out to be pregnant. She had five puppies, four rottweilers and a little blonde that we kept and named Charmin. She was my baby. She passed away in 2010 when I was at my lowest. The very next day, I was able to pack and move back to Council Bluffs. 
  17. I'm strangely addicted to Hallmark Movies. When my parents were on their vacation, I started watching in the morning after Golden Girls, and when I realized it was four movies later. #NoRegrets
  18. When I was twelve, Titanic came out, and I became obsessed with it like most girls my age. The only difference was I was NOT obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio like most people. I was obsessed with the spectacle of the whole movie. I studied everything on Titanic, the people, the costumes, the sets, the history. If I could step on theTitanic, I would. I wouldn't stay, though.
  19. I used to be obsessed with heels and wore them all the time. In the last couple years, they've started to really hurt my feet and back, so I've stopped. I've got them in their original boxes in my closet. Occasionally I'll pull them out to look at them, put them on, but that's it. It's a bit sad. 
  20. I'm a Food Network Fanatic. I think my favorite series is Chopped, but Worst Cooks in America is a very close second. I can't wait for Worst Celebrity Cooks premiering soon!
  21. Jamberry has been a super fun business. I made my money back from my starter kit really quickly (like within a week), and it's just a great company to work for. I was telling Kiri that even if I don't stick with the selling in the long run, I really enjoy how disaster proof my nails usually are. 
  22. Parks and Recs was the most amazing comedy I've seen in awhile. It was just so randomly clever. It was another way Lauren and I could bond, and still connects us across two states. She's the Leslie to my Ann. 
  23. I'm a super crazy Captain America fan. It all started with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I keep looking for Captain America comics to read, but I really enjoy the character. One of my goals for my cruise in October is to get a picture with him. Eep!
  24. I'm also a super crazy Little Mermaid fan. A couple years ago, someone at church compared my voice to Ariel's and my friends agreed with it. That is probably one of the best compliments I've ever received. 
  25. I've been playing piano since I was five. Twenty-five years. If I was better at forcing myself to practice, I'm sure I'd be really REALLY good. But I'm TERRIBLE at forcing myself to practice. I do love playing, though. It's a cool talent that I worked for. 
  26. I prefer waffles to pancakes. I used to have a Cinderella Waffle Iron that my aunt Donna got me for Christmas when I was in college. Lauren and I used to do Waffle Sunday with Bisquik Shake 'n Pour in the dorm. When it broke, I was heartbroken. If someone can direct me to where I can get another, I'd love you forever. 
  27. Little Women introduced me to the profession of writing, and every quiz I take about "Which Literary Character Are You?" pegs me as Jo. As I get older, I totally agree with it. 
  28. The Harry Potter Series, when read or watched in its entirety, makes me bawl my eyes out super hard. When our parents went out to Kansas a couple years ago, Kiri and I watched all of the movies and ended with going to see Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the theatre. We were total wrecks. 
  29. My best birthday to date was probably my 21st when my sister arranged to have a bunch of her Ren Faire buddies present me with a black and purple rose at the Kansas City Ren Faire (Going on every weekend from now until the end of October!). That was pretty epic. 
  30. It was really hard coming up with 30 things about turning 30. I either lack imagination or have too many ideas that don't mesh with this theme. 
Here's to a new decade! I can't believe my 20's are now in my past. Here's hoping I become like Jenna Rink on 13 going on 30, and I become "Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving." lol

Peace out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Finds #2

Good Morning! Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your day and weekend are absolutely amazing! I want to take a moment to remember all those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 attack. I can't believe it's been that long and how much the country has changed since that fateful day.

"Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.' " 
-- President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.

We Will Not Forget.
I've got another week of finds to share with you, and I'm pretty jazzed about all of them.

Colour Lovers

Have you heard of Colour Lovers? It's a website where you can design palettes and designs, and use them to make your own web designs! I'm still exploring it a little bit, but I'm hoping to be able to re-design my entire site, eventually! If you join (for FREE!) follow me! Martinbeks.


So, with my new phone and new car, I finally downloaded this app, Podcast Addict, to see if I could find anything worth listening to. I think I inherited my dad's love for Talk Radio, and while I was in the gym this week, I listened to three episodes of KM Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors podcast. I love that she uses nerdy stories to make her points. It makes things very clear to me. I also listened to a couple episodes of Dave Ramsey while in my new car. I think I'm addicted!

OnStar and the New Car Experience

I realize OnStar has been a thing for many years by now, but I've never had a car with it, and since I got my new car last weekend (!), I've been having a ball playing with all the new features. I hope I'll never need to use the rescue portions of OnStar, but on their app, I can start my car from ANYWHERE! I was in the gym locker room, pressed the button, and when I came out five minutes later, it was on and nice and cool for me! 

I was also waiting for my dad the other day, and hopped on my car's WiFi. Yes. My car has WiFi! I don't know why I'll need WiFi, since I have no children that will need to be preoccupied in the car, but while waiting for my dad, I was able to use it instead of my phone data. Pretty cool stuff. 

I can also make hands-free phone calls, use an Aux Cable to listen to Audible, Podcasts, and Music from my phone. I think I'm in new car Heaven. Now to budget everything so I'm not having to LIVE in said pretty new car. ;-)


If you're a person who likes working with your hands, you need to get on ASAP. I discovered them based on a Facebook ad awhile back, advertising a free knife skills class. I got an account, and then forgot about my free class for about six months before I hopped on to check it out. 

Craftsy is a website that has online classes your can purchase to teach you almost anything, cooking, baking, sewing, quilting, woodworking, drawing, painting, gardening, so much stuff! Plus, like the knife skills class, they have several mini courses that are free! 

The Knife Skills class, taught by Brendan McDermott, is VERY helpful and informative. he starts you off slow, showing you how to hold a knife in the safest way possible, and how to do basic cuts, chopping, and even peeling with a knife. After watching the class, I took his tips with me into the kitchen, and I've been a prepping fool ever since! I can julienne carrots now! How crazy is that?! Plus, when I was watching him break down a Butternut Squash, I couldn't help but wonder how I hadn't chopped off my hands in the past. Absolute craziness. I HIGHLY recommend this class.

  • What have you found this week that you're absolutely loving?

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Tornado of Emotions: Leasing A Car for the First Time

I've talked about my car troubles in the past. Here, here, here, and here. Once or twice a year, my car decides to crap out on me. It was a cheaply made car that I've been regretting almost since I drove it off the lot (The visors broke within a month).

My sister and I have been talking about trading out our cars for something cheaper for the last two years or so, especially since neither are worth what we owe. Kiri actually contacted the husband of a friend of ours to help her get a new car with a lower payment. She suggested I come with her to keep her company, and maybe we'd get lucky and find one for me, too.

We decided that leasing would be a better option, potentially, because we'd get a better car, build up credit, and not really have to worry about depreciation. Plus, several months of free oil changes and tire rotations.

All sounds pretty great, right?

It would've great except for one thing.


I can't believe it takes that long to get approved for anything. There's so much back and forth with you, the salesman, and management. It's absolutely exhausting. I can't imagine doing it too often. It's absolutely ridiculous.

While we were waiting, we kept imagining the worst, hoping and praying that the extra time was going to be for our benefit, and that nothing bad would happen.

I honestly hate shopping for a car. I've done it three times now (well, the second time, I didn't do any purchasing, but it was still a learning experience), and the best part was the test drive.

Today, Kiri and I both test drove a 2015 Chevy Cruze, which was great, with a smooth ride, and it looked like I'd be getting that car, but after being left to our own devices for probably close to forty-five minutes, Robert, our salesman, returned, asked us to follow him, and I admit, I was a bit scared.

He laughed, I laughed, I was still not entirely certain what was going on. Then he took me to a 2015 Chevy Malibu, had me sit in it, check out some really cool features (CARS have WiFi now! Why do cars need WiFi?!) including Blu-Tooth, phone holders, XM Radio, OnStar, spacious trunk, and remote start, which can be started with an app on my phone from anywhere. Come Winter, I can start my car from my desk at work, and it'll be toasty when I get out!

Oh, and there were only six miles on it. It's a baby! Almost too little to be away from its mommy!

That left us with the scary part of the day. The cost.

I've been paying $300/month for the last year and a half. Paying a bit more every month than I needed to, as I wanted to attempt to pay it off early. It was rough. Like really, really rough. Things were breaking on it (Remember the visors?) left and right, it was old, questionable, and while I think with the right owner, it would go to 150k miles, possibly more. I know I'm not that person.

For the same price (almost), I could have this brand spanking new car, with all its bells and whistles, everything that's included in the lease, a much safer car just before winter, everything lined up. I kept thinking, "Can I get this down any lower? Should I try to get this down any lower?"

In the end, I agreed to the terms. Winter is coming, having something that is reliable, with new tires, and remote start, that will do well on hills and in the cold is something that I feel I need.

I also have to say, working with the husband of a friend was a lot better than working with a regular salesman. He kept joking that if he didn't help us as much as he could, his wife would kill him. Despite the waiting, the whole process was slightly less stressful than the last couple times, when it felt like the salesman only cared about his commission.

If you're in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, Edward Chevy Cadillac is great, and Robert Simmons very nice and knowledgeable. He's been selling cars for the last fifteen years! If you go, be sure to mention my name.* ;-)

I get my car soon, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll run a full review on it once I get it and drive it around, but I'm seriously excited about it.

  • Do you prefer to lease or buy?
  • What's your favorite car?

*For every person I refer that buys, I get $100. If you buy from them, you'll get the same deal for everyone that you refer!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Finds #1: Blogging Tools

I'm back. My blogging has been sporadic, at best, but I've been trying to find out ways to blog more, My dream is to use this blog to help me be a full time freelancer, but until that day comes, I'd like to share some cool things I've been finding on the internet.

Twitter Chats

I think the most I've participated in Twitter Chats is when I'm watching Project Runway, and need to vent to the world about designers I don't like. Turns out, there are professional things you can do, too!

Wednesday night, I took part in my first Twitter Chat, #NectarChat. The next one is on September 9 at 9 PM PST (I think. Check out The Nectar Collective for more info on that one!), and I was going to participate in #ElleChat last night, but I was too late. I did read up on some great tips, though. It was kind of cool to get my feet wet, and hopefully figure out how to use Twitter for finding writing clients. I feel like such a newbie with certain social media things, but I'm really working to get to know what some are.

Which leads me to


I just heard about this on Wednesday, on the radio, didn't really pay it any mind, but then while I was reading up on #NectarChat, it was a popular topic, so I signed up. Follow me @martinbeks!

Periscope is a way for you to broadcast live to your followers, and they can comment while you're talking. How cool is that? If you're doing a tutorial, people can ask you questions while you work, so you can get back to them right away! I don't think I know how to ask questions on there yet, but I guess if you tap the screen, a heart comes up, and I guess that means you really agree? Can someone clarify this for me? I'll be doing a bit more research in the coming weeks. I'm currently watching Dana Loesch, and DANG! Is she on fire! This is a woman who has some very strong opinions (no wonder I like and follow her!). Hope I enjoy other broadcasts as much as I enjoyed hers!

I have no idea how or if I'll ever do my own broadcasts, but maybe it's something to consider, eventually.

This isn't new to me. I've signed several petitions here in the past, which have been animal and writing related. For instance, a couple years ago, I signed one to change the laws in a friend's town so that her family could keep backyard chickens, which not only provided her family (five children!) with healthy, organic food, but was a way to teach her children responsibility, and life science. I've done a lot of research into backyard chickens myself, and I honestly think that every home having a flock of chickens is a good way to help connect America to what it eats, and how things work. Not to mention, what a way to save money! I mean, yeah. You need to pay for feed and bedding for the chickens, but you'd be getting organic eggs in return that are super fresh. What's not to love there?


Sorry. Getting off my high horse now. Sadly, that petition didn't pass, but I'm very optimistic about this next one.

I signed one today, about changing the dog breed laws in my hometown. For the life of me, I had no idea Council Bluffs HAD dog breed laws! Totally baffling. Anyway, if you have a moment to sign it, I'd really appreciate. Breeds aren't the problem! It's unfair to take a loving animal from its loving family just because he happens to be a Pit Bull. It's just bananas. 

That's all I've got for today.

  • What finds have you uncovered this week? 
  • Any advice you can give me on Twitter Chats or Periscope?