Posts By: Stacy Millican

7 Must-Have Blogging Resources for #AMonthofFaves

December 7, 2016 Blog Tips 15


The lovely bloggers at Traveling with T, Estella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO have once again produced December prompts that are both laid back and informative. I’m fascinated to learn the tools each of us use and have already incorporated a few from reading the bloggers’ posts who are participating.

These are just a few tools I consider must-haves for blogging.

First though, a disclaimer. Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that should you make a purchase using one of these links, I may make a very small commission. Please know I will only recommend products and services that I use and love.

Number 1 tool is my MacBook. I’d be so lost without it. Scary to admit, but my MacBook is my ‘precccciiiooouuussss.’

Learning Photography ~ The absolute best instructor I’ve ever taken an online course from is Emma Davies of A Year with My Camera. She is not only an expert photographer but also has the credentials and personality to teach. Her methods are encouraging with recommendations on tweaks that take your photos to whole ‘nother level. Now she’s got a workbook that’s as amazing as she is!

SiteGround. Thanks to a recommendation, I’ve updated my hosting to SiteGround, massively upgrading my page load time. The customer service is prompt, helpful and they never make me feel like a ditz when I ask a question. . .17 times.

I’ve used Mailchimp ever since learning I ‘must have’ an email list. And I still like Mailchimp…but, I’ve found an email service that delivers the moon. So of course I went with moon delivery! Have you tried ConvertKit? OH. My. Goodness! So worth the investment!

Social Media Scheduling Tools I’ve tried several other social media scheduling tools and so far, CoSchedule by far, rocks my world. Their blog is chock full of goodness and information. Their response time is immediate. And, when I first signed up for the free 14-day trial I didn’t have a chance to try it out, let them know, and my trial was extended for another 14 days! Loved this company ever since.

UBB – Ultimate Book Blogger. I’ve been using UBB ever since it first came out and I’m using one of Ashley’s WordPress Themes at the moment. If you’ve been blogging about books for any length of time then you’ve probably ‘met’ or at least heard of Ashley at Nose Graze. Her book review plugin – ultimate book blogger is a great way to keep track and sort book reviews. Her theme is responsive and easy enough for me to tweak {the one who knows almost nothing about back end design}. Plus Ashley is incredibly quick to respond to questions or issues and I’m happy to support a fellow book blogger in any endeavor to earn a living from blogging.

Design Your Own Lovely Blog. Chock-full of ideas, tools and tips, Marianne’s ebook has been a tremendous resource for me. Plus, she’s always posting tutorials on her blog. If I have a question about anything blogging related, I check Marianne’s site and ebook first.

What tools do you use for blogging? Please do share in the comments!






13 Amazing Author TED Talks

December 3, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 4

13 amazing author talks on ted


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook then you know my sweetheart and I are going back and forth between Georgia and Arizona for his job. We’re fortunate that most of my work can be done remotely, and I’m not waiting weeks at a time for him to come in from traveling.

When we are in Arizona, the sunshine and perfect weather beckon me outside, a lot. I like to skip the gym and walk to the park to get in my daily steps, and what better way to stay up to date with the world than to listen to TED Talks?

Are you familiar with TED? Such a tremendous and varied resource. There is not a single talk I have listened to that I haven’t gleaned some valuable nugget. The following list of 13 Author TED Talks will inspire you with their passion, honesty and creativity. Let me know if there’s an author talk I’ve missed! I need more talks for my walks ~ hey that rhymed!

First though, a disclaimer. The links below are affiliate links. This means that should you make a purchase using one of these links, I may make a very small commission. Please know I will only recommend products and services that I use and love.

Favorite TED Talks

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you know Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, is somewhat of a hero to me. I love her book. And both her TED Talk and book reveal the benefits and power of being an introvert. I’m a true introvert and raised one introvert and two extroverts. If you are or know an introvert Susan Cain’s TED Talk will give you great insight.

Then there’s Brené Brown, author of, most recently, Rising Strong {review here}. A shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené has profound insights into how we can overcome our self-talk of guilt and shame. She’s also pretty darned hilarious, a great storyteller and incredibly relatable.

Shonda Rhymes. Oh how I am a glutton for her shows. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are all queued and ready to binge watch at any given moment. Her book, The Power of Yes, had me nodding along and feeling like Shonda’s bestie. Her TED talk only enhanced those feelings!

There’s J.K. Rowling‘s talk about failure. We’ve probably all read, at least a few times, about J.K. Rowling’s path to success. And even after her Harry Potter success, J.K. Rowling still had trouble getting published when she used the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. This talk will encourage you to keep striving for your goals. Don’t give up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie author of Americanah, We Should all be Feminists. Yes. We. Should. Need I say more?

13 author TED Talks on inspiration, overcoming fear and creativity. Click To Tweet

Mac Barnett, children’s author on why a good book is a secret door. I love reading stories to my grandson and Mac Barnett has so many great ones like Extra Yarn! and How This Book Was Made. His talk is like going through that secret door us readers are all familiar with – that of opening a book.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and most recently, Big Magic, on creative genius. Another favorite TED Talks. A bit of brutal honesty on the creative process. Gives just the right amount of kick in the pants to get up and get busy!

Author of The World Between Two Covers, Ann Morgan, completed the self-challenge of reading a book from each of the 196 countries around the world in one year. She has since had her first thriller published and given quite the TED Talk on cultural differences and how we are the same.

Amy Tan on where creativity hides. Another talk on creativity – can you see where my focus has been lately!

Karen Thompson Walker on the age of miracles and the connection between fear and the imagination. Creativity and fear seem to be close cousins, at least in my mind. Karen’s talk is as beautiful as her first novel, The Age of Miracles.

Author, poet and publisher Chris Abani on Africa and humanity. Still relevant over ten years later, Abani’s talk will move you to tears.

Angela Lee Duckworth from her popular book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to study resilience in children – what makes some kids overcome overwhelming odds, abuse or neglect and go on to be successful adults while other children can never seem to move past the pain. Grit goes further than resilience delving into commitments we make and can keep for years to come. It’s a brilliant talk that will have you reconsidering all you thought you understood about showing up.

Amy Cuddy author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges gives a motivating talk on “You’re Body Language Shapes Who You Are” – she taught me how helpful it is to do the Superwoman stance before any important meeting. A must listen to TED Talk for women!

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? Share in the comments!



Who Is The 4th Man + Enter to Win Phone Consult with Lisa Gardner

November 29, 2016 Book Review, Giveaway 0


lisa gardner phone consult

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s since reading The Perfect Husband so many years ago. When I found out she was offering a phone consult to kick off her new book, Right Behind You, I knew I had to share the opportunity with you! Wouldn’t it be so amazing if you were chosen to consult with an author at the top of her game! Imagine all the possible ways the conversation could go “Hi this is Lisa Gardner, so you like my books?”….

“Hi, this is Lisa Gardner, you have a concept for a possible book you want to write? Let’s talk…”

“Hi this is Lisa Gardner, you’ve written a book and want to know if it’s ready for publication…”

Ok, you can probably tell I’ve been imagining all kinds of things to talk about once I got over the absolute fandom act. If you win, you’ll have to share with me all the details – inquiring minds want to know!

the 4th manIf you’ve been around The Novel Life for any length of time, you’ll know I thoroughly enjoy the book that delves into the reasons behind the action. Give me a book that digs into the behavior that led up to the crime or the climax, and I’m quite the contented reader.

Which is why I enjoy Lisa Gardner’s books so much. She not only creates unbelievable plots, but she gets at the why.

In The 4th Man we have a college student found strangled on a stairwell in the library with only her sneakers missing. Three men become possible suspects. It takes ten years and FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer, to solve the mysterious murder. There’s no motive, no sign of sexual assault and no physical evidence other than the body.

Though it is a short story, only 40 pages and therefore a quick read, The 4th Man is a great escape from politics and news. It’s the book you can enjoy while taking a long bath, waiting at the doctor office, or while in the school pickup line. A quick read with a satisfying ending only made weirder by the fact it’s based on a real case!

Are you a fan of short stories? Share your favorites in the comments.




Nonfiction November: Reading for Health and Wellness

November 23, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 8

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. I only recommend and link to books I love myself!  Thanks for supporting The Novel Life.

nonfiction november


Final week of Nonfiction November, hosted this week by JulzReads. This week’s prompt is probably my favorite topic ~ what books have you read that make you the expert? Not that I profess to be an expert by any means, but I do enjoy learning. And what better way to learn than by reading lots and lots of books on a subject?!?

Having lived with multiple sclerosis for sixteen years and chronic migraines for over twenty-five years, I’ve given almost every fad wellness plan a go. Whether it’s yoga, acupuncture, paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, reiki, and more plus all the medical procedures that can be done, I’ve experienced. Just call me the human guinea pig!

Through it all, I’ve learned a few things from reading books that have helped: stay away from sugar and processed foods, stretch and walk daily, and eat as many vegetables as possible {you can ask my family – this one is probably the most difficult one for me!}.

Between Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Diet Way to Lose Weight and 100 Days of Real Eating: Fast and Fabulous, I’ve created meal plans that make a tremendous difference in the way I feel. The brain fog is lifted, the pain in my legs and back is greatly reduced and oh my gosh, the migraines are down from 17 a month to less than 10!

When I read Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps over a year ago I was inspired to actually do the steps. Then I listened to the audio of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and committed to a walking and yoga schedule for overall health + brain health.  While I don’t see myself becoming a marathon runner, I am consistently walking and feeling so much better!

I already knew sleep was important when I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder but reading it validated and gave permission for a sacred sleep schedule.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business helped me to figure out how best to create a habit for my personality, my needs and my values. I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives on habits but it got so confusing. Listening to her podcast has helped clarify some of the finer points from her book so wanted to at least mention it.

These six books + an honorable mention, have been game-changers for me. Do you have any you can add to the list? Leave me a comment with your favorite health or wellness book!


6 books on wellness for a happy healthy life



Questionable Women, Dirty Cops and Murder in The Kept Woman

November 18, 2016 Book Review, reviews 1

Questionable Women, Dirty Cops and Murder in The Kept WomanThe Kept Woman (Will Trent, #8) by Karin Slaughter
Published by William Morrow on September 20th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 461
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble

A couple of days ago I took Karin Slaughter’s latest book, The Kept Woman, outside to read for just a bit. I only planned to read for an hour or so, but three hours later I had to finally move inside because the sun was going down so fast I couldn’t see the words to read!

Karin Slaughter is brilliant when it comes to pacing and plot. The Kept Woman is #8 in her Will Trent series based in Atlanta, Georgia. Normally I prefer to read the all the books in the series, in order. But with Karin Slaughter I will make an exception! Believe it or not, I did not start reading her books until the standalone Coptown came out. This is only my third novel by Slaughter and she’s become one of those authors I will automatically buy.

Back to Will Trent ~ oh my goodness what a flawed man he is! He grew up in the foster care system, married his teenage sweetheart, Angie Polaski, who also happened to be in foster care with him. The novel begins with a gruesome murder of a cop no one liked or respected in an abandoned club being built by a basketball star who got off on a rape charge. While investigating the crime scene they figure out Angie was involved and is critically injured. Will loses it in front of his ME girlfriend and goes on a frantic search for Angie.

[Tweet “Brilliant pacing and plot in this thriller! “]

I plan to go back and read the previous seven books in this series. If those are half as good as The Kept Woman, I may come up for air in a few weeks! Learning the background of how and why Will and Angie became the people they are is sad and realistic. Their childhood is in stark contrast with that of Sara, the Medical Examiner. I’ve noticed in the three books of Slaughter’s I’ve read so far, crimes against women and children are the focus. She does a fantastic job of bringing awareness to the pitfalls of the foster care system; the hard-to-explain cycle of abuse in domestic violence situations; the flawed police who investigate crimes and finally, the resilience of some children after surviving horrific circumstances.

The Kept Woman is one of those thrillers that you can’t put down. Every page is another revelation. There are underlying plot points that surprised me even though I figured out who the killer was early on. Karin Slaughter knows Atlanta well, writing about Buckhead and downtown with equal aplomb. Highly recommended with one caveat:

Trigger warning ~ The Kept Woman addresses crimes against women and children. Please be aware before going into this book if these types of triggers are detrimental to your well-being.

If you like The Kept Woman, you may also enjoy One Kick by Chelsea Cain or The Fixer by T.E. Woods