Friday, October 31, 2014

New updates on Wattpad

I uploaded new chapters for both my chick lit/romance, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, as well as my science fiction/thriller, FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST, on my Wattpad account. Feel free to check them out:

Acapulco Nights

First Cut is the Deepest

Currently, I have 9 chapters uploaded for ACAPULCO NIGHTS and Prologue and 2 chapters uploaded for FIRST CUT. My plan is to upload a chapter each week (most likely on Fridays) for both books. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fix #7 From Stitch Fix - October 29, 2014

I am a Stitch Fix Junkie. It is true. Despite a few box fails and some disappointments. I always happily anticipate the delivery of my next box. Today I received box number seven, and it was absolutely my BEST BOX EVER!!!!!!!!!! W00t!

If you are unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, please read my first fix post for the details:

Fix #1 - May 2014

If you want to read up on my other fixes, here are some easy links:

Fix #2 - June 2014
Fix #3 - July 2014
Fix #4 - August 2014
Fix #5 - September 2014
Fix #6 - October 1, 2014

Why was this Fix so incredibly awesome, you wonder? Why, let me take you through a journey of my seventh box...

I love opening the box. This time, they included two wrapped bundles, instead of just one!

Hmm, what could be inside???

Look at all the beautiful colors, patterns and fabrics!

As is my usual habit when unboxing, I do not look at prices. I don't want to freak out over prices before I try anything on. I want to give each and every piece a chance to win me over before I reject it. I returned an item over the price once, and I still regret it (Stitch Fix #1 - May 2014 will live in infamy).

Let's get to the individual items, shall we?

1) The first item I decided to try on was a wrap dress: Pascha 3/4 Sleeve Printed Wrap Dress by Uttam for $88.00. I loved this the minute I hung it up. Wrap dresses are incredibly flattering for most women, and this one had some unique features...little ties on the 3/4 sleeves and this interesting tab that held the front part of the dress to one side. The fabric was a heavier weight, cottony feeling polyester blend that I knew would keep me warm in an Idaho winter. The construction was very good, so I knew there would be no gaps when I sat down. The inside part of the wrap was sewn completely down one seam.

I had asked for more long-sleeved dresses, just with a slightly longer hemline than the dress I kept from my last fix. I'm no spring chicken, so a shorter hemline can look a little too youthful for my taste. Gotta age gracefully, folks!

Then, for the moment of truth. I tried it on. Fabulous! I loved the fit and the interesting fabric. I knew it could wear this over and over to church (with a tank top underneath) or out on a date. With a tank it would also be great business wear (once again, the longer hemline makes that doable in an office setting). I could dress it up or dress it down. Love, love, love. Definite KEEPER!!!!!

I am looking forward to wearing this on Sunday. 

2) The next item I tried on was the Lida Faux Leather Detail Pencil Skirt by Margaret M for $88.00. I had looked at the style cards (which I forgot to photograph this time around) while trying things on to get an idea of how to wear each item. I recognized the Margaret M brand name from my July fix when I received a pair of 'clown' patterned pants (IMHO - I am sure a different person with different taste could've loved the print).

'Clown' Pants from July 2014 fix
The best thing about those pants had been the tummy control waist area. I was hoping the pencil skirt had the same feature!

It's hard to see in the picture how interesting this skirt actually is. You can barely see on the left hand side a little faux leather stripe detail. This is on both sides of the skirt. The rest of the skirt is made out of a very hearty, thick stretch material. I'm guessing that Margaret M is known for its awesome stretch fabrics!

I tried on the skirt with one of my favorite cowl neck tops. I should've tried on something with a little more contrast...this picture makes it look like a dress! However, as you can see, the length is just above the knee (plus) and the skirt is not too tight (plus) and the waistband had magical properties that held in certain spots that most women would like to hide (plus). All in all, a KEEPER!!!!!

Not only was it flattering from the front, the side view was amazing. The skirt clung just enough, but not too much, to ye olde derriere. Bonus!

I had a black skirt in my closet for years that was comfortable and easy to wear, but one of those bizarre lengths that makes you feel a little bit dowdy. Since I had not found a good replacement skirt, I held onto that baby for way too long (more than 10 years!?!). So glad Stitch Fix somehow knew what I needed.

3) The next item I tried on was the Burke Ombre Knit Sweater by Creative Commune for $74.00. Absolutely gorgeous sweater. Just hanging this up, I knew I would love it.

I mean, my goodness, isn't it pretty?????? It had a dropped shoulder type of sleeve, and since I have mega shoulders, I always appreciate a dropped shoulder. It also was shorter in front and longer in back. The colors were to die for...a purplish blue fading to a muddier blue in the middle. I couldn't wait to try it on!

I put on some jeans and got to trying this baby on. The drape of this sweater was lovely. It is a really fine fabric, so it definitely needs a tank top underneath. But I am always layering in the fall/winter around here, so that wasn't a problem. The sleeves were nice and long. And, interestingly enough, the shorter front was quite flattering as it emphasized my waist. I would not have guessed that.
100% KEEPER!

At this stage in the unboxing, I was so excited to see that I was keeping the first 3 items I'd tried on. Was this going to be the moment that I went five for five? Would this be the moment when I checked out on the Stitch Fix site by saying YES to everything and achieving the 25% discount of legend? I was very hopeful.

4) The next item I tried on was the Dorrian Graphic Knit Draped Cardigan by Moon Collection for $68.00. When I hung up the cardigan, I liked the weight and thickness of the material. I knew that this type of cardigan would get worn a lot in the middle of winter. The colors were not that me (I'm a winter, which means jewel tones look best on me or other cool turquoise and coral, plus off white are not my friends), but I wanted to give it a chance.

Overall, it looked very pretty hanging there on the back of my bedroom door. With all of the bright colors, I thought I could overlook the off white and perhaps find a way to fit this into my wardrobe. Then, I tried it on...

Hmmm. The picture actually doesn't look so bad. But to my eyes, I felt like I was wearing a horse blanket. The extra blankety fabric around the collar and down the sides was copious and did not fall/sit easily on my body. I kept having to figure out how to readjust the lapels to hide the seams that were on the inside. I had a very hard time getting this to work.  Then, I checked it from the side:

I could not even tell my body was under there. No, I did not think this would work at all. This made me very sad. My attempt at a five out of five box had failed. NO.

5) The last item in my box was the Sandra Abstract Print Infinity Scarf by Octavia for $34.00. I will confess, I love love love infinity scarves. I have never in my life been a scarf person, until my teenage daughter pointed out these scarves at a JC Penney. I threw one on, and a week later, I'd accumulated two more. For an Idaho gal, I had no idea how much warmth an infinity scarf can add to your outfit. Wow! I knew that this year, I would want to buy some more, and enlisted the aid of Stitch Fix to find me some.

The scarf my stylist, Sari, sent me was thick and soft and lovely. The colors were perfect for me. Red and black and gray...I have plenty of possibilities for this scarf. Now, it was a thicker scarf than I was used to, so I did have a little spark of fear deep down inside that it would be too much fabric bunched around my neck. So I tossed it on...

Heavens, this was pretty, pretty, pretty! I wish I'd paired it for the photo with a more complimentary top, but, as you can see, I'd selected the ombre sweater for a full day's wear. The infinity scarf was a KEEPER!!!!

Now, I am sure you would think, "Wow, she loved 4 out of 5 items. That rocks."  And, yes, I was ecstatic over achieving a 4/5 box. My very first. It was thrilling to know I'd get to keep so many lovely things from this box. However, a wrench was thrown in the works.

I looked at the prices and the receipt. If I'd kept just the 4 items in my box that I liked (minus the $20 styling fee), the total would be $264. BUT, if I kept all 5 things in the box, my total would be $249. Argh!  Dilemma of the highest order. I'd never been in this position before. I really really wished that the cardigan was something that was 'ok' that I could see myself wearing from time to time...but I really did not like the cardigan and could not imagine wearing it out in public.

However, after some thought, I decided to save the $15 and keep everything in the box. Either I will sell the sweater to someone, give it away, or keep it in my closet to wear around the house. The unfortunate thing for me is that I am tall and most of my friends/acquaintances are NOT. Harder to find someone who can buy the sweater from me.

I have decided I will try to sell it for half-price ($34) and see what happens. Can't hurt to try.

UPDATE (10/31/14): Found a buyer for my cardigan. A family member. Hooray! So glad this will get used by someone who likes it. :-D

Meanwhile, for any of you out there who may be reading my reviews, but still haven't pulled the trigger on a Stitch Fix box, I would very much appreciate if it you'd use my link to sign up:

Sign up for Stitch Fix!

Honesty Moment: I will get a $25 credit for your first order.

Thanks for considering the idea!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wattpad Experiment

Call me behind the times, but I just heard about an app called Wattpad that lets writers share their writing for free through their app. As a reader, you can read a ton of books, stories and poetry on the Wattpad app and discover new writers without spending any money. For authors, it's a great way to test out your writing, get some feedback and maybe gain some new readers.

From what I have read, some young writers have garnered publishing contracts from this interaction through the app. Some writers on Wattpad have thousands and thousands of followers with tons of comments.

I saw this as a unique opportunity to share some of my writing with a new audience, so I signed up yesterday for an account and downloaded the app to my phone. I can either upload files from my desktop through their website or write from my cell phone directly in the app.

Since I've been writing seriously for over 10 years, I have a few stories/books that never saw the light of day. I also have a book I've been wanting to finish writing for several years that has been languishing in a folder. So, I decided to start uploading a couple of things to Wattpad to share them with the world and see what comes of it.

Of course, since I'm a newbie to this app, I am probably doing things all wrong.

1) I don't have any fancy book covers to upload for my stories. Most of the works on Wattpad have very professional-looking covers. For the time being, I just used the cover backgrounds offered by Wattpad for use. I think I need to whip up a book cover or two to make my stories look more appealing.

2) I don't know how to connect with people on this app. There are a LOT of people who read and write using Wattpad. I haven't explored the app enough to figure out where to meet people and how to connect in a way that draws people to my writing.

3) I need to figure out how to release my writing. I read somewhere that people who decide to read your stuff want a regular release (maybe once a week?) of a new chapter to your story. If you don't regularly release stuff, the readers get bored and drop you. Or never comment on your story. I did not know this at the time I started uploading some of my I have 2 chapters for one story and 8 for another story loaded into the system. I need to create a weekly schedule of release so that people know there will be consistent material flowing from me.

Originally, I was thinking I could use Wattpad to motivate me to finish my one book - First Cut is the Deepest. But now I see that could be a mistake. People might start reading this story, have an interest in reading more, and then drop me because I am not posting updates on a weekly basis. Could be a problem. I have about 5 or 6 chapters of this story that could be uploaded...hoping this makes me produce more story NOW so that I have more chapters to upload as time goes by.

It does make me nervous to upload this story as I write it, because I am not a planner when it comes to writing. I write with a basic idea of where the story is going, but typically discover the rest of the details as I write. That means I sometimes have to re-write parts of the book and edit to accommodate this 'discovery' process. Which could be interesting through Wattpad.

But the whole point of Wattpad is to engage readers in your writing and get feedback. If I garner enough interested readers, maybe they can help me shape the story or fix it as I go. Who knows? I am willing to give it a go!

The other story I uploaded is Acapulco Nights. This is a chicklit/romance book that I wrote about 10 years ago. It is complete and it did go through the rounds of agents and such before it died a sad death. I am sure it is flawed. I am sure my writing has improved since I wrote this book, but as I uploaded it chapter by chapter yesterday, I thought it wasn't half-bad. It's different than my other books because it is written in first person and has no paranormal elements. That book I can upload in its entirety, since it is already complete. I have 8 chapters posted right now, and will release a new chapter every least, that is the plan. I think it has about 20 chapters or so in total.

So, if you have a Wattpad account or are interested in checking out Wattpad, please look me up!  Here are links to my stories. You can add them to your Wattpad account and then read and comment as you see fit:

Link to First Cut is the Deepest on Wattpad      
This is the first book in a series of three I want to write about Charlie (Charlene) Cutter - a navy cryptologist who is recruited to the mysterious NCIS-A, a secret division of the navy's investigative services that is assigned to look into alien activity on earth.  

Link to Acapulco Nights on Wattpad

Suzie's fiancé is pressuring her to pick a day for their wedding. She's cancelled three dates, and he's starting to wonder if she really wants to get married. But how does she go about telling her fiancé that she's already married to a man in Mexico? She needs a divorce, and she needs one fast. Her marriage has been a secret from her best friend, her fiancé, even her own mother, and she wants to keep it that way.

Thanks for checking out my writing. I would love any feedback - even if it means you hate my stuff and think it sucks! Really. Honesty is what I want. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fix #6 from Stitch Fix - October 1, 2014

Up for another Stitch Fix review? I've got number six on tap today...although I received it yesterday (Sept. 30th), I am labeling it as an 'October' fix. I will be getting a 2nd fix this month (around October 28th), since they ship every 4 weeks. Inevitably you get to the point where you have 2 fixes in one month!

Since I've done several of these reviews already, I don't go over the basics of the service any longer. If you want to read up on my other fixes, here are some easy links:

Fix #1 - May 2014
Fix #2 - June 2014
Fix #3 - July 2014
Fix #4 - August 2014
Fix #5 - September 2014

After last month's dreadful pants fail, I requested that Stitch Fix send me no more pants unless they are trouser-style or true curvy fit jeans. I asked for 'patterned' or 'colorful' cardigans, long-sleeved dresses (since those are really hard to come by for some reason), skirts, long-sleeved tops or sweaters, and scarves. I also specifically asked for a new stylist who would dress 'a hard to fit woman in her 40s.'

The box arrived, and it was much smaller than my mega-box from last month. I expected I would have an accessory and a lot of tops based on the size. Here's what it looked like when I cracked it open,  and what the stack of stuff looked like piled on my bed.

Some good patterns in there, I thought. Looked like a multitude of tops. I was okay with that, since I've had very good success with Stitch Fix finding me cute blouses and shirts. As I pulled out each item, however, I was happily surprised to find out that I had more than just tops!

1) The first item was a dress: the Cecil 3/4 Sleeve Aline Dress by Papermoon for $68.00. I hung this one up on the back of my bedroom door and really, really liked it--the pattern was unique, the color was something that could work well with my wardrobe, and it was close to be long-sleeved. I was excited to try it on. The only thing that worried me was the length....

I am a lady in my early 40s. Above-the-knee skirts seem too 'young' for someone in my age group, plus my legs ain't what they used to be! I first tried this on all by itself. I am almost 5'10" so it might've been close to knee-length on another woman, but on me, it was way too short. I had a picture of me in this dress bare-legged, but knew I would not wear it this way in real life, so I will not be posting it. I have a pair of dark gray leggings that I thought might look good with the dress, so I grabbed them out of my drawer (this is one of the benefits of Stitch can try on clothing items with pieces you already have in your wardrobe) and gave the dress a second look.

So super cute!  I loved it. The shape was flattering. The tie around the waist was a great detail that emphasized my waist (very important for the kind of figure I have). I also liked that the neckline was more conservative...not only does that help in cold weather to have more skin covered up, sometimes you need something that works for all occasions without fear: work, church, etc. The styling card also had a cute idea to wear this paired with a jean jacket...I don't have a jean jacket, but I do have other cardigans that would definitely work with this dress. This was a definite YES. In fact, I am going to wear it today!!!!

2) The next item I hung up on the door display area was the Courtney Printed Knit Back Blouse by Collective Concepts for $58.00. I took a picture of both the front and back because the back was a different fabric.

I was a little surprised to see such a sheer, summery blouse in my box. I told them in my notes for the next fix that I live in IDAHO, and it is getting COLD, so no more summer stuff. I suppose they were hoping to rid themselves of a summer item and thought they'd toss it in there to see if I'd take the bait. However, I was a little annoyed that they wasted one item in my box on something I specifically DID NOT WANT. Oh, well. I try on everything they send, so I kept to my word and put it on.

First, I want to mention that this blouse was very sheer. Weirdly, this time they did not send a nude tank like they did in a previous fix that contained sheer blouses (August Fix). I was pretty dumbfounded by that one. Second, I actually did like the blouse. It was pretty cute. The front was a little short for me (it is one of those blouses that is longer in back than in front), but overall it was something I could see myself wearing. However, I was not interested in paying $58 for a blouse I could not wear until next May or June. My assumption was that next spring they would send me something I'd like just as well that would be more suited for the season. I voted a big NO on this one. I mentioned in the notes, by the way, that I would've appreciated a nude tank, such as the one they sent me in my August fix.

3) The next item in my stack was the Sia Floral Embroidery Peasant Blouse by Skies Are Blue for $58.00. I was wary of this particular item for two reasons: it was off-white, which looks terrible with my skin tone, and it was a blousy, shapeless style, which bodes badly for my curvier body.

I liked the embroidered detail, though, and thought it could possibly look okay depending on the fall of the fabric. Once I put it on, however, I knew my original fears were correct. Hello, dumpy and shapeless:

I actually think I look pregnant in this top. Even the bust area looks horrible. In addition, the 3/4 length sleeves were weirdly tight on my forearms. I do have areas of my body where there is some extra padding, but it is NOT on my forearms. I thought that was a strange place for a tight fit. I know it does not appear that way in my photo, but when my arm is extended, the sleeve rides up higher on my forearm. Overall, pretty terrible. I quickly took this off and tossed it on the 'NO' pile.

4) Item number 4 turned out to be a maxi skirt - the Livvy Multi Color Maxi Skirt by Gilli for $68.00. It was quite a wild pattern, but I am not afraid of patterns when it comes to skirts. The waistband looked to be very forgiving, so I had high hopes for this one.

I grabbed a red tank top out of my drawer and put it on. The first thing I noticed was, yes, the waistband was really nice. It wasn't too tight, and it folded down, so I could fill in the uneven areas around my waist to make for a smoother look. However, the fabric was quite thin and clingy. It gave me dimpling on the side of my thighs and around my hips that was just terrible. You can't really see the horror in the picture, but trust me, it was there. Also, the pattern was pretty busy and ended up making me look too wide.

Once again, I was a victim of the curvy lower half. The waist was perfect, but I needed more fabric below to allow for the fabric to fall in a more flattering way. Plus, the pattern started to give me a headache. Big old NO.

5) The final item in my box turned out to be a cardigan! Thank goodness! I was really worried my request for a cardigan had gone unheard. They sent me the Margerie Stripe & Dot Open Cardigan by Market and Spruce for $68.00.

I really liked this one. I loved that it had a polka dot lining inside the whole cardigan. Very cute. I was a little disappointed that it was another navy striped cardigan, as Stitch Fix send me one in my very first fix that I kept. However, navy is a neutral for me, so I didn't see a huge problem adding another navy cardigan to my wardrobe. This one was also a fall cardigan made of heavier fabric. I tried it on:

Hello! I did not notice when I first hung up this cardigan that it had an elastic piece in the back that added this really flattering shape to the whole thing. In fact, the cardigan was constructed much like a tailored jacket, so the side and back view of this was really, really cute. The stripes were a tad dizzying, but I loved the fit of this item so much, I knew I had to keep it. Plus, the polka dot lining was so much fun!! I couldn't wait to figure out what else I could pair this with in my wardrobe. I wore this sucker straight out of the box with a light gray top I have. Loved it! KEEP!!

So, overall I was pleased with my 6th box. I still have yet to hit the Magic 5 to receive the whole box discount. I'm wondering if I'll ever get there. My typical result is keeping 1 or 2 pieces a month. Even with the steady pace of returned items, I still love the Stitch Fix service. I think my new stylist did a pretty good job this time around, so I asked to keep her for another box. Hopefully, she will get a better picture of my style and get me closer to a full keeper box!

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet, but would like to give it a whirl, I'd love for you to use my link below. FYI, I do get a $25 credit if you order, just to be on the up-and-up.

Referral Link to Stitch Fix

I write these reviews merely because I love reading other people's Stitch Fix there is nothing, really, beyond that inspiring me to post. Please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you think of my choices or your experiences with Stitch Fix.