Friday, September 30, 2016

Best Books of September

It's once again time to tell you about the best books I read this month. Here are my favorite September reads!

I have a lot in common with the first author I read this month. She wrote a series of chapter books for Aladdin and now she has a new middle grade book out for Aladdin M!x. I did both of those things, in reverse order. But even if we didn't share that in common, I'd be a fan of Allison Gutknecht's books. She's just pure awesomeness.

In The Bling Queen, a 12-year-old fashionista named Tess decides to enter a contest held by her favorite fashion blogger. Only her friend-turned-arch nemesis decides to enter, too. In addition to the bling battle, Tess also has an ailing grandma with a missing locket, which makes her even more endearing as a character. Allison has a knack for creating likable characters and plenty of twists and turns in her stories.

Next up is another Aladdin M!x book--this one by a very accomplished author. I remember reading Barbara Dee's books when I was still trying to get published. Her books are always page-turners.

Truth or Dare is all about honesty vs. deception. The main character, Lia, tries hard to fit in with her group of friends, but she seems to be losing ground. So instead of going with them to camp, she decides to spend the summer with her aunt. When she returns, she makes up a detailed, bold fib during a game of Truth or Dare...but this book has an underlying theme of honestly. Not just being honest with your friends, but being honest with yourself.

My next book is from one of my favorite blogger-authors, Sandra Cox. I want to just take a month off to read everything she's ever written (it would take that long--she's very prolific!). Her latest is this beauty:

In Sundial, a sundial transports a woman back in time, to a place where she meets a man named Jesse, whom she keeps confusing for "Aaron." She can't explain her confusion, but she follows him through adventure after adventure. He also feels there's something familiar about her...but to find out the rest, you'll have to read the book! With unforgettable characters and rich historic detail, this is one time-travel romance you'll have a hard time putting down.

If you read blogs regularly, you'll likely know all about the next book I read. Jacqui Murray made her way around the blogosphere with her tour for this one:

From the first word of To Hunt a Sub, I knew that the author was someone who was a truly intelligent woman. The research and technical details she included in this book had me in complete awe. A cybervirus is crippling submarines--and as subs sunk to the bottom of the ocean, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It's up to Zeke and Kali to save the entire country using their brains. If you love thrillers, this is definitely one you can't miss!

Murees Dupé is another familiar face in the blogosphere and her book is one that catches your eye from the start:

The Amaranthine focuses on a highly relatable woman named Claire. Claire works for a nightmare boss and is largely unrespected by everyone. It reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman! This ordinary Cinderella-ish woman just happens to exist as the soul mate for a hunkalicious immortal warrior named Alex. As Claire begins to realize her place is with the immortals, she tries hard to fight her growing feelings for Alex. If you're a fan of vampires and werewolves (or just romances in general), you can't miss this one!!!

What are you reading now?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Glamour Jobs Don’t Pay the Bills

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress or singer. Someone famous. Actually, I really wanted to grow up and become exactly what this woman was in the late 70s/early 80s:

I didn't really "get" that acting and singing required, you know, talent. Ironically, I learned I had neither of those talents when I auditioned for my first musical in high school: Grease. I landed a role as one of the people who stand in the background and sing.

Throughout high school, I learned I was my drama teacher's choice for human background scenery. That's okay...unless you're a megastar, actors and singers make very little money.

In college, I chose broadcast journalism as my major. I started out working at the radio station. One night while working at my part-time job at the movie theater, the morning DJ I'd been listening to for most of my adolescence was there for an event. 

I told him what my major was. His advice. "Major in something else. Radio DJs don't make any money."

I don't think I quite grasped what he was saying. I switched to TV journalism. I even did an internship. I spent countless hours at my college TV station. Senior year, I started investigating the average starting salary for a TV reporter.

Back then it was $12,000-$15,000...and you had to move to a "small market." My classmates graduated and moved across the country. Today starting salaries are in the mid-20s, with the overall average for TV reporters of all experience levels in the high $30,000s.

After college, I accepted a job in PR. For six years I did that job, topping out at $23, 1999. Then I was offered a huge pay raise to go into I.T. HUGE.

I tried to leave, since taking computers apart was not my thing. I learned to do that, I'd have to take a ten percent pay cut. I stayed...and stayed...and stayed. Techie jobs paid better than anything else where I worked. When I started writing freelance, I learned something else. If you can write about tech and finance, you can make more money than writing about most other topics.

Supply vs. demand. If you can get someone to take a TV reporter's job for $23,000 a year in Nowheresville, Iowa, why pay $30,000? Or $40,000? People are lining up to stand in front of a camera in a corn field somewhere for little to no pay, after all.

Plus, if you ask a classroom full of kids what they want to be when they grow up, how many say, "I want to be a software developer" or "I want to manage a company's network security infrastructure?"

I'm guessing none.

What did you want to be when you grew up?