Where I’m Going

After last week’s post about where I’ve been, I thought it might be worthwhile to check in on where I’m going. Apparently, straight to the psych ward – I’m doubling up on classes again, taking an English Drama course and a Linguistics course. And classes started this week, when the husband and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary with a tropical, much-needed vacation in the Caribbean. I posted a few shots on Instagram, but really, the grad school train chugs along and I’m here for the wild, crazy ride.


Summer vacation, woo!

Anyway, the blogging hiatus, the semester break, the vacation — all of these things have helped put life into perspective and I’m very grateful for that. I feel a renewed sense of purpose and focus and I’m ready to recommit to my passions and keep living my word for the year. Plus I got some great advice from a writing friend that I’ve been mulling over, about where you are in life and creating versus consuming versus connecting. I always feel like when I’m in one lane, I should be in another – a creative, lifelong learner’s “grass is green with envy” mash-up idiom, if you will. But I’m coming to terms that I can’t be all things, that I can’t be in all places, and that it is okay to consume versus create. But I feel rather sluggish and bogged-down by all this consumption of late; it’s time to start transforming again, to convert all that into creative hustle. I hope you’ll join me.

Where I’ve Been

Obligatory (?):


Real talk, though: it’s been four months, and one of my biggest personal/professional goals was to maintain this blog and now I feel like I’ve traveled back to…well, freshman year of high school? I think that’s the last time in my life that I wasn’t maintaining a blog. I’ve had a steady LiveJournal/Tumblr/Wordpress kick most of my life.

There’s a lot I want to write about, so it’s just a matter of planning, drafting, publishing. But for now, here’s the skinny:

  • I’m on break after wrapping my first semester of my MA program. I’m loving it (minus the stress of doubling up on classes and working full-time), and I’m sitting at a 3.92 GPA. Success! My second semester starts on Monday.
  • I don’t write a ton about my non-literary life here, but obviously at least 40 hours/week are spent at my full-time job, which can be packed with tasks. I haven’t been the best at stepping away (literally/figuratively) at lunch or at the end of the day, but it’s something I’m working on (thanks to lots of support, of course).
  • This year has been fairly light on travel, what with not planning a wedding across the country or a honeymoon across the world. Oh, and the aforementioned reasons above – balancing class and work! Luckily, we were able to take a ski trip this winter and will be taking a vacation to celebrate our first anniversary.
  • Writing and reading have really taken a backseat in my life. This has been unfortunate, but kind of necessary. I have to be mindful about burning the candle at both ends, and I am prone to overextending myself.
  • …however, I have been taking care of me. I exercise. I make better choices about my nutrition. When I know I’ve hit my limit, I take some time to rest and recharge.

I mean, sure, I still get crazy anxious and worry about whether I’m living my best life, but that’s pretty normal, right?

New Year, New Adventure

I was sufficiently vague about some of my resolutions last week, but I can at least specify one of my  exciting new initiatives: I’m starting grad school today!

I was accepted into ASU’s MA in English program, a thrilling personal and professional development. My first graduate program was for Leadership, and I know I eventually want to get my doctorate — but would like to do something in an area in which I am passionate. As is evidenced by my blog, manuscripts & marginalia and not “motivation & management” or, you know, whatever.

I’m slightly nervous; it’s been almost four years since I took classes for my last graduate program. Can I remember how to student? To balance a full-time job with classes? I’m pushing myself to hit the ground running, notably with loading up on double classes for Sessions A and B in the first semester. There’s going to be a lot of reading with these classes and a fair amount of writing, too. I had my first anxiety dream in months last night, because I’m putting a lot on my shoulders this year and I’m nervous that I can’t carry this load, and that I’ll burn out. At the same time, I need to see what I’m capable of and test myself.

There are a lot of things I want from this life, in this world. It’s time I started earning them.

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Lofty Goals for 2016

In case you missed it, my first post of the year was about my 2016 word, forge. Go back and read it; this will set the stage for today’s post.

2016 goals

2015 was a good year, but with getting married and going on the best honeymoon ever (seriously, Japan is where it’s at; you’ll be going to beaches for the next ten-fifteen years if you have kids anyway), there was kind of this weird “plan everything around this three weeks of being MIA.” I had some cool ideas for things I wanted to start, but leading up to our wedding was bonkers and it felt odd to start something and then be gone for weeks, and then I just avoided the real world as much as possible after coming back; three weeks away from work is phenomenal and I wanted to put off responsibilities to keep that blissed out feeling burning as long as possible.

Of course it didn’t last, and it couldn’t, and now I’m more than ready to hit the ground running and get shit done for the year.


My broad goal: Write more, write more often. I’m still getting used to my new routine for the year and trying to make all the pieces fit together, but I’m going to try to work on my manuscript every other day. I also want to submit something for publication at least once a month — which means incorporating more flash fiction and short stories into my rotation.

(Oh, and one of the micro fiction pieces I submitted last year was published yesterday at The Drabble! Read “Something Like a Prayer” here!)

I’m also looking at expanding into more creative outlets, still focusing on writing but at a different level. Details forthcoming later in the year, I hope.


Guys like everyone is doing #HamAlong so I guess I’m doing #HamAlong, too. Which makes one of my goals to be actually stick with a readalong!

I’m also going to do Book Riot’s #ReadHarder challenge, though I don’t know where to start and would loooooove suggestions!

I’m also trying to read 50 books this year, my usual Goodreads tally. I barely hit my goal last year, which makes this year — with its own to be announced, exciting challenges — even more of a push. But I can do it.

Of course, I want to read more diversely and plan to incorporate more variety into my reading. Every year I end up focusing on one thing – mystery or horror or SFF – and I want this year to be a little bit of everything.

Also, I should probably clear out some shelves.


I feel like this blog is in a constant state of flux, and I’d like to have more stability and consistency this year. I’ll be resuming the Women in Fiction series next Friday, and I’m looking forward to having a full year to focus and hone that feature. I decided that I’m not going to do anything that I, effectively, can’t sustain – so weekly releases are out. I might talk about some books generally if I’m really excited about an upcoming release, but every week? Kill me. Listen to the All the Books podcast instead.


I don’t talk about a ton of personal stuff on the blog, but I want to be better about managing my time and prioritizing. I have some exciting things coming up this year (more next week on that particular front!), but I want this year to be just packed with experiences.

I’m also (re)committing to being healthier. My day job is the busiest around Thanksgiving (at least for me), and I got laid out by congestion and allergy/sinus shenanigans for most of December. The last couple of months I haven’t been great about fitness because my health goals have been “be able to breathe today.”

So yeah. 2016. Bring it.

What are your goals for the year? 

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Women in Fiction Series Updates & Guest Post Opportunity

First of all, congrats to Jenny at Reading the End! She won the kick-off giveaway and will be receiving the first two books in the Nola Céspedes series.

Some brief updates about the series:

  • Spoilers are happening, people. It’s way to hard to write about some of these characters without including spoilers, because such a big part of their arcs involve, you know, what happens to them and how they respond (or don’t). I’ll include a spoiler tag at the top of the post, too.
  • I’m looking for guest bloggers for November for the Women in Fiction series! If you’re interested, please contact me by Saturday, October 31st with your pitch. I can be reached at erinmjustice {@} gmail [dot] com.

Thanks for reading! 

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In the Margins of a Birthday

This really could be more of a “life lately” post, but I’ve been filtering so much through the “getting older” mindset that I figured I should probably acknowledge it right off the bat. So yep, I turned twenty-eight this week and I don’t feel like that makes me old, per se. But in the days that surround my birthday, I always reflect on my future, where I am and where I wanted to be, and how I can close that gap to end up in a positive place, career-wise.

It’s funny, but it’s something I’ve been very guarded about sharing at work; only a few of my close work friends ever knew I had dreams of being a (traditionally) published author. But lately I’ve been talking about it more and more. I’m lighter now that I’m not carrying around the burden of feeling like I’m living a double life, and I don’t feel guilty for wanting to pursue my own path.

It’s no secret that I want my full-time “job” to involve writing. At the same time, I love books and enjoy carving out my little space on the internet to chat about the ones I love. I’ve always wanted this to be a “writing” blog more than a reading one, but I struggle with those posts. And I love writing about books, and reading, and why my favorite characters are awesome, so I’ll be concentrating more on the marginalia part of my blog and less on the manuscripts, at least for now.

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I Thee Wed, and Other Brief Updates

It’s been forever since I posted. Turns out when you take 3+ weeks off for work for your wedding and honeymoon, you basically need to put in that much work time prior to taking off.



Worth it.



Completely worth it.

Scott and I are just under a week into our honeymoon in Japan. It’s been a phenomenal trip and we still have a week to go! So far we’ve done the first chunk of our time in Tokyo, a blissful retreat to a ryokan in Matsumoto, and the first full day of our Kyoto sightseeing. We still have several days left in Kyoto, a short trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, and the last few days in Tokyo.

You may not hear from me on the blog until we’ve back stateside (but you can check out intermittent photos on Instagram)! I can’t wait to share more personal, lifestyle, and travel posts about marriage  and our trip of a lifetime.

Plus, this change of scenery has done wonders for writing inspiration. I’ve done significantly less reading than I thought – I can’t stop looking around.

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Where I’ve Been Lately

It’s not a place, but a state of mind. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness posted about it earlier this week with a brief snippet in her Sunday entry:

Over margaritas on Thursday night, a friend told me she’d been battling a feeling of ennui — “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest” — most of the week. I’m starting to think ennui is contagious and I caught it from her. I need something to kick start a cheerful attitude.

Well, count me in, too. I’ve been feeling it most of the month of March, at least when it comes to books and blogging and writing. Heck, I’ll go ahead and say it: even taking care of myself and making healthy lifestyle decisions. I just felt blah about everything, and I think I’ve pinpointed the cause.

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve struggled with what to post. I’ve struggled to find my voice, and to find my own authenticity in blogging about books and writing. Shortly before my unplanned hiatus, I decided to restructure my blog and come up with regular features that would require blogging at least once a day. The sheer thought of crafting all those posts – some of which I didn’t necessarily love or believe in but would have filled that day’s slot – was mentally exhausting.

This blog is always a work in progress (just like me!), but I hope you’ll stick around. I’m not going to blog every day. I may not even blog every other day. I promise that when I do, it will be something of substance: worth writing, and worth reading.

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An Update on Subscription Boxes

For a while, this blog was basically a repository to document subscription box excess.

In 2014, I subscribed to fashion boxes Golden Tote and Stitch Fix and beauty boxes Birchbox, GLOSSYBOX, ipsy, and Julep.

I haven’t purchased anything from Golden Tote since the spring, but I’ve been doing the capsule wardrobe thing and it hasn’t really fit. There have been a couple of one-off pieces, but if you’re not purchasing items as add-ons to a tote, they seem crazy expensive. Still, the nice thing about Golden Tote is you buy it when you want/need it. I haven’t been compelled to purchase anything of late, so no Golden Tote reviews. (Full disclosure: I am loving some of January’s current options and may bite the bullet.)

Stitch Fix and I haven’t been getting along of late. In fact, I stopped blogging my reviews because they were…meh. The last one I ended up sending everything back, and I rescheduled my fixes so I wouldn’t get anything until the end of this month. We’ll see what this one has to offer, especially as I’m starting to curate pieces for our big honeymoon trip in May.

GLOSSYBOX and Julep got cancelled late spring/early summer. For the cost, quality, and relevance, these were unnecessary subscriptions. In fact, the Julep formula destroyed my nails for a few months. I know a lot of people love Julep (the colors are gorgeous), but it seems positively ridiculous to shell out cash each month for a product that does the opposite of its intended purpose. And GLOSSYBOX involves more money than I want to pay for high-end brands I will never go out and purchase, though every other box since my cancellation has been fabulous. Still.

Birchbox is what it is. The company has dramatically increased its services to incorporate more choices throughout the process, including add-ons, special curated boxes, and sample selections. I love the rewards program and I use plenty of brands available through the site. ipsy is somewhat of a dark horse, giving me different brand options that I usually find at Sephora or Ulta. Plus I will always have a use for the bags in which my monthly samples come!

The other thing is…

Well, writing subscription box reviews were both boring (ooh! silver eyeliner!) and exhausting (let me queue up half a dozen posts!). I’m not looking to create a subscription box blog, and while I appreciate the traffic and the support, I’d rather dedicate my time and energy to books and writing. That’s not to say I’ll never blog about anything else – I just don’t want all my efforts to go to uploading crappy iPhone photos from our guest bathroom.

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Goodbye, 2014. Welcome, 2015.



I’m back from my holiday hiatus, eager for 2014 to end and 2015 to begin.

2014 was a rough year for me. In 2012, one of my coworkers predicted that 2013 would be my year. And when it was (in so many ways), it made 2014 even harder by comparison. Coming down from a lot of personal and professional highlights wasn’t gentle. It was a hard, rough slam into the ground.

I don’t talk a lot of office life and what happens “behind the cubicle walls” – mostly to respect company policy, but also because I know a few coworkers read my blog and I don’t want to blur those lines. manuscripts & marginalia exists beyond my work life. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that part of the reason 2014 was so hard involved things that did (or didn’t) happen professionally. I struggled to overcome obstacles, some of which will continue to be challenges in 2015.

Writing was all over the place. I feel like I struggled to find my voice. Most of the year I was a muddled mess, and things didn’t coalesce until the end of the year.

I had some odd health issues that I barely mentioned (if at all?) in the first half of the year. Notably, a combination of factors forced me to the dermatologist, who confirmed I had a moderate case of adult acne. Several medications (including a discovery that I am, in fact, allergic to a type of antibiotic – The More You Know!) and a lot of self-esteem issues later, it was knocked out and I’ve learned to be grateful for the occasional blemish (and better quality facial products).

For all of the bad that came with 2014, there was plenty of good – and sometimes, the jaded, cynical pessimist needs reminding. I celebrated seven years with my partner-in-crime, and we made a lot of progress planning our wedding thanks to support from our family and wedding planner. We shared a joint engagement party with Scott’s cousin and his fiancée, and spent a wonderful long weekend celebrating their marriage this November. My parents also hosted us for many wonderful wedding planning trips, including some seriously gorgeous engagement photos and a touching engagement party.

I cried a lot in 2014, but I cried a lot of happy tears.

We joined a gym and I’m the healthiest I’ve been (possibly ever?). I still make bad food decisions, but they’re fewer and farther (further?) between…and also less egregious. I work out regularly, and while I might not be in the best shape of my life, I’m in better shape than I was a year ago.

Blogging was somewhat hit and miss, but thanks to being featured on Goodreads (something I didn’t even realize until my page views went berserk), I had more visitors than ever before. Considering my typical high page views came from Stitch Fix and way outdated Golden Tote posts, this was awesome.

For the most part, I live a life of privilege; the obstacles I experienced in 2014 made me a stronger person, and hopefully a better one, too.

There’s a bittersweet aftertaste from 2014 lingering, but I’ve got a good feeling about 2015.

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