technology

Book Review: Origin by Dan Brown

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When Origin, the fifth in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, was published last Fall, I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, I had several ARCS, giveaways, and commitments that forced me to hold off until just this week to read it – nearly 5 months of misery. I cried when my fellow readers published reviews and I couldn’t look at them. I kicked things when the book mocked me on the shelf. Then my wonderful blogger friends voted for this as the book they wanted me to read in February on my Book Bucket List! So I survived and made it my priority this week… in the end, it was a good read and I will always enjoy Brown’s style, plots and characters. I’m giving this one 3.5 out of 5 stars and will rate either a 3 or 4 on each of the book sites depending on their ratings meanings.

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The story is quite intriguing, as always. A man holds a press conference to reveal that he has found the answers we’ve all been searching for: (1) Where did we come from, and (2) Where are we going? It kicks off a series of events including his murder, the ire of many established world religions and the envy of historians and cultural icons. Langdon pairs up with the future Queen of Spain who runs the museum where the murder occurs, then they travel the country to discover all the answers.

The scenery, setting, and backgrounds are marvelous. Brown is highly adept at giving readers exactly as much as they need to picture the story without coloring it in too much… a few blurry edges for personal imagination. The sheer intensity of the research he must have done in the worlds of science, religious, museums, Spain and art is admirable. The volume of characters, the who is good versus who is evil balance, the red herrings, the small and large steps during the chases… all of these facts and the enveloped tone completely make this a 5 star read from those perspectives.

But then I started comparing it to his previous novels, to other works in this sub-genre and to his overall approach in telling the story. It fell short for me. There weren’t enough side stories. The characters were flatter than usual. I would love to have seen a bigger story about the Spanish royalty’s influence and history (other than Franco) in regard to science, evolution and romance. There were no scenes except a memory between the prince and his future consort, so I didn’t root for them. Langdon almost felt like a secondary character in the book. And the various sects of religious and military groups involved in the story seemed too fluid and/or disorganized in terms of the bigger picture. It made the story less interesting as I couldn’t really latch onto any specific character. Even Langdon had a minimal connection to the man who was murdered… despite being professor and student, we saw very little memories of a bond between them. Throw in a few conversations at a pub bonding over a theory, or an argument over the church, something to connect them for us in the present.

That said, I do enjoy these types of novels and there was enough to keep my interest. It just wasn’t a consistent page-turner throughout the whole book. I’ll still read the next one. And I’ll always be in awe of the author’s intelligence, world knowledge and style.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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365 Challenge: Day 325 – Monetize

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Monetize: convert into or express in the form of currency

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Today’s post is short as I am focused on editing Father Figure. As I was reading my overnight WordPress notifications, I noticed that somewhere around 4am while I was soundly sleeping, I reached 100,000 visits to my blog in the last 14 months. I’m a statistics and numbers guy, so this was very cool to learn. In the last few weeks, I received at least one email per week asking if I would consider linking my site to another company’s web page and allow some marketing graphics. In return, I’d receive income dependent upon any traffic directed to their site from my blog. This is what people refer to when they say monetize your blog. I’ve thought about it before, but ultimately, this blog is not something I ever want controlled by anyone else. If it’s only checking traffic and paying based on views and clicks, is there really an issue if WordPress already displays ads without my control?

I’m curious if anyone else has done this, had a positive or negative experience, or had any input and suggestions… my inclination is if I don’t have to do anything, it doesn’t impact anyone reading the blog unless they choose to click the marketing advertisement, and it is truly legitimate, maybe it’s worth it. I ask only because having small income streams from multiple sources without having to do a lot is helpful for an author in the beginning when trying to focus on writing but also needing to pay bills. It’s also important for me to decide how to position the blog when the 365 Daily Challenge is over in 41 days (5 1/2 weeks)! Will I post daily? Will I break the blog into a few different ones to focus on (a) books / reviews / author content, (b) my author website, and (c) general / inspiration / fun… or will I keep it as a single blog separate from my author page and have content be consistent by day, e.g. Mondays are writer updates, Wednesdays are inspirational messages, Fridays are Author Alerts, Sundays are book reviews, etc.

I welcome input on all these topics today. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas, or even just reading my posts. I’m grateful for everyone I’ve met in the last year & 100,000 visits.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

365 Challenge: Day 308 – Bottle (LIST: Objects I adore)

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Bottle: Bailey’s Irish Cream two friends drank during college, where life started to get easier, and I will always remember the fun times

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Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I chose objects I adore or that have some huge importance to me. We’re in our second week and I’ve gone with bottle because of the treasure you see in these pictures. It’s an empty Bailey’s Irish Cream bottle from 1996, the last week of college during my freshmen year. I’ll explain more later, but of course, as I was only 19 at the time, I didn’t drink anything that evening. I participated only in the conversations and not the imbibing! 😛

I’ve mentioned two things in the past: I’m an only child and I am very shy. I was even more shy 20 years ago. After a decent freshmen first fall semester adjusting to a new life, I found myself considering changing colleges to stay at home, rather than live on campus two states away. My family convinced me to return for the spring semester and give a full year a chance. So… I did. And it worked out. I met a fantastic group of guys, and joined a fraternity. I also met a fantastic group of girls in a sister sorority. Friendships bloomed and everything was feeling great. I finally became a full brother after the pledging period ended, completed my final exams and had a few day before my father could pick me up on the weekend to head back to Long Island for the summer. I had met two girls (they were graduating seniors) and grew quite attached as friends. Everyone else left for home for the summer, but I had the extra few days… luckily, the senior class was around for another week until their graduation. I was staying to say goodbye.

One night, we sat on the front porch of their sorority house for several hours, just talking about life and our goals for the future. It continued for 4 or 5 days in a row, sometimes til 5am. Anette was going back to Finland. Gina was returning to New Jersey. I was going to miss all my new friends, but these two were quite special — especially since they were graduating and I knew it would be hard to keep in touch once they started teaching and working in the business world, while I was still in college for three more years. Our bond would be tough to maintain given the distance… but they did something a few days later which made it all the more special and long-lasting. They gifted me the first bottle from the first hour of the night we hung out, as there were many more bottles of other things after that — not that I had any, of course!

There are phrases on the bottles that are obvious, and there are some that were just the ramblings of a few drunk people. But it will always be in my memory as the beginning of when I pushed myself to be comfortable with new people, to take chances on friendships and to trust others. While we will still send an occasional message on Facebook, we’ve all moved on in our lives, but if I could ever transport back to a time in my life for a few hours, I’d pick one of those nights to discuss our hamburger theory, to listen to someone telling me to grow a backbone or to dance the macarena together. Life was simple. Grades and classes. Nothing else mattered besides our time together.

I’ve had this bottle for over 20 years. It’s moved with me to California and back. It’s been on my bookshelves and locked away in a closet for safe-keeping. I often pick it up to remember the days of my past. Sometimes to laugh at us them for going from tequila to wine to beer to Bailey’s Irish Cream all in the same night. Other times to just feel that connection. Thank you, Gina and Anette, for being one of my first amazing college friendships, and giving me this permanent reminder. xoxo


Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres
  • Week 38 – 42: Holidays
  • Week 43 – 47: Objects I adore
  • Week 48 – 52: TBD

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Watching Glass Shatter – Feedback & Thoughts on Change Today and in the Past

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I met a new blogger this week who had provided some feedback and a fantastic review of my book, Watching Glass Shatter. A few days later, she surprised me with a really thoughtful and analytical set of questions about how some of the characters handled change in the book… in particular the growth of Olivia, in how she accepted all that happened around her, comparing it to how someone may have handled it 80 years earlier… These are the types of conversations that make me so happy I took a chance on writing a book and connecting with bloggers around the world. This is a must check-out post. I’m confident you’ll find someone new to follow. Thank you, Michelle @ ReadingMinds. Read more via Book Inspired Musings

365 Challenge: Day 168 – Technology Jobs

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Technology Jobs: jobs I held in the technology field across multiple companies over the last 15 years

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived

The current set of 5 Sundays covers the major groups of roles / jobs / positions I’ve held over my career. Though I have had about fifteen titles over the years, when I broke it down into smaller groups, week four is all about the jobs I held in the largest portion of my career — technology management. I worked in the three primary industries and companies during this period: (1) telecommunications, (2) retail consumer products, (3) entertainment, media and sports industry.

  • Senior Vice President
  • Vice-President
  • Director
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Business Analyst

 

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In last week’s segment, we ended me with working as a process analyst, designing and documenting all the policies, procedures and processes that were used to run the technology department in the company where I worked. Once that project was completed, they broke apart my group and assigned us to different parts of the organization based on skill-set. I’d apparently picked up on the requirements gathering, testing and training components of software development, which meant I would become a Business Analyst (BA). In this role, you meet with all the prospective users of new software to document their needs and requirements. You then work with the programmers and developers who code them. Once the software is built, as a BA you participate in testing the new features and then training the end users in how to make it work for them. I held this role for about two years, promoted to a Senior BA, focusing on the software our company built for email, cable on demand and internet-based phones in the telecommunications industry. I enjoyed it most when I delivered a product that made my customers happy. I also loved building and writing the testing and training plans.

My mentor pulled me aside one day, noting that I have incredibly strong management and organizational skills. She wanted me to become a project manager, which would oversee all these initiatives to build the new software rather than be the person on the team actually building them. I thought it would be a good career option, so I took courses, got certified and became a project manager. Around this time is when I took a one year hiatus and moved to California, where I worked for Sephora US in their corporate division. I blogged a bit about this in the San Francisco post, so I won’t repeat it here. I enjoyed working there and wish I was back in the wonderful world of consumer products and retail.

After returning to NYC, I implemented at least 30 new systems over the following few years until the financial crisis in 2005 when the Sarbanes-Oxley financial control regulations were implemented on all public companies. I was asked to lead this initiative for one of the parent companies subsidiaries, which meant I had to commute into NYC every day to meet with the various business areas. I took this initiative on for about 6 months and when it was completed, the CIO asked me to join her as a Director in her organization. Soon after, I found myself living in Long Island, taking the train 90 minutes each way into Manhattan to work as a middle management level leader in the technology department.  This is when my career took off and I developed a very special bond with my mentor. She’s now someone I consider family and we talk all the time.

Over the next 8 years, I climbed the corporate ladder and ran nearly every part of the whole department during my tenure. I also worked heavily with our legal, procurement, human resources, communications, operations, finance and audit departments, building my full range of corporate skills. By the time I left in the summer of 2016, I’d amassed an enormous amount of knowledge about how companies work. All of these skills are things I apply every day in my personal life, but also that my personal life taught me how to best do in the business world. When you’re organized, and you take a very holistic approach to things you do, these are known as transferable skill sets. Even now, as I focus on building out a plan for launching my first book and then the second one, it’s all these skills I’ve learned, which will contribute to making me successful in the future.

While I was very good at all of these technology jobs, it was not my primary passion. Choosing to leave this life was not an easy decision, but it was the best step in my career last year. I may go back in the future if I decide writing doesn’t work out for me, but I will be very cautious about the type of environment and industry I choose. I want to have a passion every day when I “go to work,” not a feeling of being disconnected from the things that make me happy. And this will lead us into the fifth and final portion of my list of careers, next week, when we conclude with “writer.”

Or is it comedian???

If you really want to know more about this side of my life, I have another professional WordPress (WP) website called “The Art of the Balanced Perfectionist,” where you can see my resume, projects and philosophy @ https://jamescudney4.com.  Anyone else work in a company for over 15 years? In technology? Have thoughts on these worlds? Share away…

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 131 – Friendly

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Friendlyfavorably disposed; inclined to approve, help, or support 

friend

Have you ever wondered how you choose a friend, or how many different types of friends might be part of your life? I’ve touched on this topic on a small scale in a few posts about being neighborly, social and grateful; however, I thought it might be time to devote an entire post to the concept of friendship. As I become more familiar and connected in the blogging world, you start to think about how you choose the people you want closest to you in your life. There is only so much time in any given day, shouldn’t you maximize your hours by filling them with only the best?

For many years, our closest friends were the people in our family, especially hundreds of years ago when you spent all of your time working with them simply to attain food, water, shelter and warmth. As the world grew, people began connecting more with the neighbors and extended families, determining whomever was closest to them in proximity as their friends. And when the wheel was invented, traveling to neighboring villages occurred, then cars enabled short-trips, trains fostered mid-length journeys, and planes or boats delivered long-distance travel. But it’s technology which has truly enabled us to choose our friends by any means possible. And the definition of friendship has completely changed as a result of such advances with mobile applications, wireless and social integration.

Let’s play a little game, as you know I’m quite fond of them. What if you could start from scratch and choose your friends all over again? Would you do anything differently? Where would you start? How would you make these decisions? For me, I’d probably begin by dividing this task into two focus points: (1) Selecting people I think have similar interests, personalities and goals, and (2) Leaving room for a few you just happen to click with, perhaps for unknown reasons initially, but recognize the potential for a long-term friend. When I think about the concept of friendship, it has a few different meanings:

  • I have friends who I am social with, but wouldn’t see myself confiding in or asking for guidance.
  • I have friends who I could text with all day long on both important and frivolous topics purely as we enjoy the banter and connection.
  • I have friends whom I would take great leaps and bounds for to ensure they were protected or assisted.
  • I have friends who in another universe could actually be even more.

Friendships are unique and distinct, which are not often the same thing. Unique implies there is nothing else the same. Distinct simply means noticeably different than something else. What you get from one person is often not the same as what you’ll get from another person in a friendship. And at times, as we change, our friendships must also change in order to build the best possible support structure in our lives. Sometimes you have friends for life, other people come in and out of your world during different periods. My world of friends grows every day, especially as I’ve become more prolific on social media and blogging. I’m finding that I have so much more in common with people than I had previously experienced. And none of this would have been possible without the great expansion of technology.

{Aside: Technology certain brings many problems, too, but that’s another day’s post!}

In a previous post, I recall mentioning that the word friend is an important word to me. A friend is not someone you occasionally chat with, see from time to time for a drink or know very little about. When I call someone a friend, it is because we have truly taken the time to get to know many details about one another, and I want that person in my life as someone I feel I can truly turn to when I need support. The rest are more acquaintances, which is not a bad word. I sometimes say electronic friends or online buddies. It’s not meant as a negative comment; quite the opposite. If I’m commenting or chatting with someone, I obviously find that communication important enough to continue. I wouldn’t spend time with someone if I felt it was tedious, painful or useless. I’m simply saying there are different levels of contact between people, ranging from strangers to soul mates (if that exists, but again, that’s another post).

Friendships are important to me, as they are to everyone else. When I see the words best friend or bestie, I feel the need to over-analyze. Can you have more than one bestie? I’m playing with semantics, but just like the definition of semantics, I feel the same about the definition of friendship. It’s a privilege. It’s special. And I mean the words I say. I often struggle with choosing what to say in a conversation, partially why I am shy, because I don’t just say something for the sake of saying it. Semantics are important to me for those reasons. My best friend (while growing up) and I hardly ever get to chat anymore; however, when we do, it’s right back to where we were as kids. It never changes. I miss her and all that we had, but I know we are still connected.

So back to my little game: how do we choose our friends in this day and age when an entire world’s multi-billion population is nearly at our fingertips? And can you afford to have multiple intense connections without giving away so much of your energy, love, and time? Today’s post is mostly just a stream-of-conscious list of thoughts and questions, but not something we often find ourselves truly thinking about. And in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it’s not all that important to discover or decide. If you’re having fun with the people in your life, isn’t that all that matters? But it’s still a great question when you think about it… your friendships can be so different and varied, distinct and unique, yet did you choose them, or did they fall into your lap due to proximity and timing?

That’s enough philosophy for me today. My brain can handle only so much, especially when it’s time for me to be working on my novel’s outline. I’m looking forward to everyone’s thoughts and inputs on the varying levels of friendship in our lives.

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Kate @ MeltingPotsAndOtherCalamities. Kate and I met about 3 months ago via someone else’s website where we were both nominated for tags. And since then, we have been tagging each other all the time, learning more and more each day. We both love Harry Potter, The Book Thief and Sherlock. Kate’s giving me ideas on anime and sci-fi, not normal genres for me. And who couldn’t love the name of her site. Bet you want to know what that’s all about???  But truthfully, she has a very fun website with great color schemes, cartoons and branding. And she’s a published author! I won’t reveal anymore as you need to click the link above and go check it out for yourself. A few things she tells us about herself in the About Me section:
    • “Some things about me include that my favorite books tend to be in the mystery, thriller, or sic-fi genres. That typically goes with my T.V shows and movies too, but I do enjoy some things that are different. I’m more of a cat person than a dog person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like dogs; actually, I like them a lot! Typically I just like animals. I have two cats, and there may be an occasional post about them too.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Meet and Greet: 5/26/17

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What a great concept — by a fantastic guy! Please take a look at this one… an opportunity to meet new online friends and see tons of great blogs and content. -j

Dream Big, Dream Often

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It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!! Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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