mad men

Melinda Massie – Professional Organizer, Entrepreneur, and Writer

Melinda owns Organizing with a Side of Fabulous and blogs all things organizing and food at She’s recently published her first e-book: “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: a guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start.”

You can connect with her on Twitter (@melindamassie), Facebook (FabulousOrganization), and Coach. me (Melinda Massie). These are her good things.

Good things to read.

“Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. This book simply, clearly, and brilliantly lays out why we all need to slow down to speed up. Our culture applauds “busy” but what are you really doing? When you outline your priorities, let go of the merely good to allow space for the great, and keep single-minded focus on what is most important you’ll not only get more done, you’ll do it FAR better. Basically – stop half-assing everything and do your most important things fabulously instead.

“Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” by Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee. If hoarding has touched your life in any way and you want to try to gain some understanding into a complex disease, you HAVE to read this book. As far as mental illnesses go, hoarding is still very new. They didn’t start studying it until 1993 and it was listed as its own mental illness instead of a form of OCD just the other year. This book is an in-depth look into many studies conducted and outlines the different ways that hoarders acquire their things, the myriad of reasons why they aren’t able to let go, and the feelings behind why they do what they do. When you see how many variables come along with this disease, it’s easy to see why a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t work in treating hoarding.

Humans of New York” by Brandon Stanton. I look at this almost daily and the Facebook page is one of my very favorite. A few years back the photographer decided to photograph the people of New York City. What started out as just photos evolved into more storytelling. Sometimes beautiful, inspirational, heartbreaking, or funny and always compelling. Whenever I need a break or a creative boost, I open up to any random page in this book.

Good things to watch.

Mad Men. Words truly can’t express how much I love this show. Everything is so beautifully thought out and executed from the cool mid-century modern style of décor and costuming to the writing, acting, and direction. Plus, it’s set in the world of advertising which is what my degree is in. But most importantly, it explores human nature and the question of can we really change. It’s the kind of show that’s a slow burn…you won’t see too many immediate pay-offs but if you stick around, everything comes to a satisfying end. For example, in one episode we see that a character has a poster on his wall and the man in it has an eye patch. An episode or two later a character is shot in the face and spends the rest of the show wearing an eye patch. It’s these teeny details that making watching so delicious. Also, the beauty of it having so many tiny details is that if you’re really detail oriented like myself, you’ll always find something new with each viewing. I shamelessly binge watch this show regularly, and yes I’m heartbroken that the ride is over.

Midnight in Paris. For starters, this movie is gorgeously shot in Paris so it’s hard for it to not be at least beautiful to watch. It explores the notion of believing that a prior era to the one we live in was a better time to live or “golden age thinking.” I don’t want to spoil anything by giving away too much so I’ll just say this: the plot takes quite a bit of suspension of disbelief but if I’m in Paris at midnight and a car full of champagne-fueled revelers appears to sweep me away to party with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and many more talented artists of that time, I’m getting in the car.

The Thin Man. I absolutely adore classic movies and this one is my very favorite. It was released in 1934 and based on a book by the same name. This comedic murder mystery was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and kicked off 5 sequel movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy play main characters Nick and Nora Charles. He’s a retired detective and she’s a wealthy heiress. Cocktails flow like water and witty banter abounds. The scenes between these two positively sparkle. All while successfully solving a murder.

Good things to use. This website has given me my email back. This website figures out which emails in your inbox are subscriptions. You then have the option to keep it in your inbox, unsubscribe, or add it to “The RollUp.” The RollUp is an email that you’ll receive once a day that contains all of your subscription emails in one spot. For the first week I used this, I was so confused why I wasn’t inundated with as many emails as I used to be. That’s because they were all in the RollUp.

Songza. Songza is an app and website for streaming music. What I love most about it is their concierge function. It will guide you through music to listen to for anything from cleaning house and cooking brunch to getting ready for a party and even breaking up. I sometimes like to look at it at different parts of the day just to see what it suggests. It will also make suggestions based on the weather in your location so on rainy and snowy days it’s given me special playlists. The options span all genres, time periods, and nationalities. So whether you need a little Bossa Nova for breakfast, 60s French Pop, or the top songs today, you’re covered.

TickTick and Trello. I’m absolutely cheating for my third choice and giving you two because I use these in tandem. They’re both great to-do list/project management apps. I use Trello for projects I need a more visual handle since it’s set up a little more like post-its on a wall – i.e.: creating other products like worksheets, a workshop, and/or an online course all based on my most recent book. Then I use TickTick more as my daily to-do list. It has repeating tasks so it’s super easy to create a checklist of the things you want to do on a daily basis and then check them off each day. You can also set priority of high, medium, low, or none, and order tasks by due date, name, or priority level. Both of these apps has so many more features so definitely play around with them and see if they’ll work to help you be more productive.

Jonas – Storyteller, Creative Director, Tennis aficionado

Jonas pretends to work as a creative director in his daytime and squeezes out words onto pages in his night time. He has published two novels and is half-way into his third one. When he’s not at work or with family, he’s dancing around on a tennis court somewhere, trying to imitate Roger Federer.

Good things to read.

Independence Day by Richard Ford.  This Pulitzer and Pen prize-winning book made me want to become a novelist. A brilliant story without murders. Here the beautiful language and strong realism makes sure you keep turning the page.

On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s hard not to like Stephen King. He sells boatloads of books, yet is still true to his craft. This is his book on writing, which is truly a labour of love and very inspirational.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A book that fits so well in with our chaotic times that I wish I’d written it myself. James’ brain is an exciting place and the honesty and clarity of his writing is both refreshing, thought-provoking and revolutionary.

Good things to watch.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians. (Nah, that was a joke…)

Star Wars.  I’ve loved the Star Wars saga ever since I was a little boy and I’m happy I’ve managed to brainwash my stepson (9) into liking it as much. Not the best dialogue in the universe, but the storytelling is top notch and the visuals give you goose bumps.

Shawshank Redemption.  More Stephen King, I know. But this is his best movie by far and I’m not alone in thinking this (best movie of all time according to IMDB). It’s difficult not to shed a tear at the end of it.

Mad Men.  Having worked with advertising in some form or other for most of my adult life, the TV series Mad Men felt like home. I’m also a nostalgic for a time when you could drink generously in the middle of the work day. Fantastic acting and storytelling.

Good things to use.

Evernote.  For many years I wanted a software that could keep all my notes organised and in one place. Evernote does this wonderfully. Makes me feel creative and calm at the same time.

Dropbox.  Every creator’s worst nightmare is that all his/hers hard work is disintegrated in a hardware malfunction or a wildfire. Dropbox allows me to pour water on my Macbook Air without worrying about data loss (disclaimer: don’t pour water on your computer!).

Kindle.  The perfect travel buddy. Since I used to type newspaper articles on the classic Psion3a, the e-ink screen gives me both nostalgia and less tired eyes. If you love books, but don’t want to carry the weight of them, the Kindle is the way to go.

Follow Jonas’ musings on Twitter: @jonaswrites.

Emma Newman – Author

Emma Newman is the author of the Split Worlds series published by Angry Robot Books, a podcaster and an audio book narrator, these are her good things.

Good things to read.

I’m currently reading The Scar by China Miéville. I say ‘reading’, I should say I’m currently ‘madly in love with’ The Scar. I adored Perdido Street Station and this is just as immersive and imaginative.

I’m also reading the YA novel Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve which is damn good. The world-building is gorgeous and I find a new delight on practically every page. It’s the first part of a trilogy forming a prequel to the Mortal Engines books. Highly recommended.

I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s one of those books which is very simple on the surface but plumbs great depths at the same time. It’s also one of those books that you read as a writer and think, “damn, I may as well give up now”. Funnily enough, I felt exactly the same way when I read American Gods. Oops, that’s four.

Good things to watch.

I’ve started to watch Legend of Korra (about 7 episodes in) and I think it’s fabulous. I loved the Legend of Aang (don’t mention the film) and was concerned Korra would have too much to live up to. The writers have done a fantastic job on several fronts; the world is fascinating and feels wonderfully different to Aang’s setting. It’s more politically complex. But most importantly (for me anyway) is the fact that the lead character is female and doesn’t fall into so many of the traps we see in film and TV. She’s rounded. She’s strong and afraid. She’s not sexualised (hallelujah). In episode 6 there was a battle fought between two women and various attackers and my goodness, it made me so happy I nearly burst. The female fighters were tough, capable, proactive and worked together beautifully as men stood by and watched. There was no damsel rubbish, no “Oh please fight while I stand and watch with adoring doe eyes”. They just got on with it. I want more please.

I’ve recently binged on the first three seasons of Mad Men. I love it. I think the first season is the strongest – having such a mysterious protagonist at its centre really fascinated me. The acting is superb and I have a raging lady crush on Joanie.

I feel almost redundant saying this, seeing as practically everyone I know has been telling me this for years, but please, watch The Wire. It is simply the best television I’ve ever seen. It’s complex, elegant and beautifully constructed. Idris Elba is delicious in it too.

Good things to use.

I was tempted to talk about good manners online, but hell, I’d be pissing into the wind. Instead, I’ll talk about the three things I use when writing novels whilst travelling.

Scrivener is the best thing that happened to me since… since I learned how to use a computer. Seriously, it has removed all of the time-wasting agony of Word and is well worth the investment (small) of time to learn how to use it. Even though it provides templates for screenwriting and other things, I’ve only used it for novel writing, so I can only speak about that. The other things that are great about it? The man behind it is a lovely chap and the support is excellent. Oh and it’s very reasonably priced too.

Plaintext, a very simple app that I use on my iPad when I’m travelling, which I’ve done a lot of this year. It’s free with ads but such a tiny cost to remove them that I happily did so. Coupled with a ZAGG flex keyboard I can happily bash out a few thousand words without feeling irritated by not being at home in front of my PC.

Dropbox is the third pillar of splendid. Plaintext can sync directly with it, so when I get home it’s easy to bring the stuff I wrote on the road into my Scrivener project. That’s in addition to the back-up facility that I primarily use Dropbox for and it’s very easy to use.

Connect with Emma on Twitter, @emapocalyptic.

jlcollinsnh – Money, Life, Business

James Collins is financially independent and writes about money, life, and business at, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

There is nothing you can’t learn, no place you can’t go, if you read. So I’m going to cheat with expansion on this one a bit.


I once had an engineer friend proudly tell me he didn’t read fiction because “he couldn’t be bothered with things that weren’t true.” Nonsense. Good fiction writers are meticulous in getting their background facts right and some of the greatest of all truths are to be found in their works.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier might be my all time favorite novel.

George Pelecanos has a series of novels set in the gritty inner city of Washington DC where the African American and Greek American communities intersect. Fun, light, exciting, sometimes intense books with wonderful tone.

Tony Hillerman’s novels will take you out west to the Four Corners desert reservation where you can ride along with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo tribal police. You’ll witness another way of looking at the world while you do.


My blog is about using money to achieve financial freedom. Freedom being the operative word. Two of the more influential books that shaped my thinking are:

How I found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason.

In another realm, Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall almost makes particle physics understandable for me. No small feat that.


I love magazines. I spent my career in the business. At any given moment I have subscriptions to about half a dozen and the subject matter can be just about anything. The serendipity of what you stumble upon in them can be magical.
Once you subscribe to one, you get offers for others. I’m forever letting subscriptions lapse and adding new ones. I once subscribed to a newly launched glossy magazine called Garbage. It didn’t last long, but how could I not?

Good things to watch.

TV. Yeah. I know. The more common advice is to trash can your TV. Not me. Sometimes you just want to be spoon fed entertainment while sinking into the sofa. At least I do. And the programing has never been better. Dexter, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Hell on Wheels are a few that leap to mind, all more captivating than most movies I can remember.

People, preferably from outdoor cafes. Next time you’re traveling to some exotic – or not so exotic – local, skip one of the endless museum and church tours. Park yourself instead on the plaza with a cup of coffee and just sit. Watch and absorb and, for pity’s sake at least for this brief moment, put the camera away.

Live Theater. Every time I go I walk out wondering why I don’t go more often.

Good things to use.

The Public Library. What a brilliant concept. If they don’t have a book I’m looking for, they find it for me. Why anybody not living in the wilderness ever buys a book is one of life’s enduring mysteries to me. Since I hope to publish one of my own one day soon, I’ll be grateful they do. Baffled, but grateful.

Money. We live in a complex world and the single best tool for mastering it is money. Moreover, if you don’t learn to be its master, it will certainly become yours.

Down Time. The irony of my retirement these last two years is just how damn busy I’ve been. It is all self-inflicted and nothing I don’t relish doing, but it over-fills the days all the same. One of the best uses of time is doing nothing. I need to recapture some time for just that.

James isn’t on Twitter but you can read about more of his good things in his Home Again post and this one.

Jana Lynch – Daily Money Shot

Jana Lynch is the owner of the personal finance blog Daily Money Shot and the founder of Bloggers Helping Bloggers, an online mentoring program, and these are her good things. You can find out more of her likes on Twitter – @dailymoneyjana – and Pinterest.

Good things to read.

The Outsiders by SE Hinton. This is the book that made me want to write. I first read it when I was in high school (maybe 8th grade) and the characters, the subject matter, the fact that SE Hinton was 16 when she wrote it all hit home for me. The storytelling was more like listening to a family member or friend recount a tale than reading a book. I reread this book at least once a year not only because it’s a great book but it’s also motivation that if a teenager can write a book, than I can at least finish the one I started.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. While her books are definitely formulaic and can get a tad tedious at times, this one lives outside of that mold. About a Jewish woman plagued by her own demons whose asked by a Nazi to help him die, it is an amazing, incredible story. The second part of the book, where the main character’s grandmother describes her time in a concentration camp, makes this novel worth reading. It’s not often that I’ll stay up until 1 AM reading a book but I did with this one.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It’s pretty much a tie between this and Mitch Albom’s The Time Keeper for my favorite book of the last 5 years. It’s hard to explain exactly why I love this book so much except for the fact that it’s just so well written and using the dog as a narrator, and humanizing him the way the author did, borders on brilliant.

Good things to watch.

AMC. The reason I can’t get rid of cable. I thought maybe I could pick one show from this channel to highlight but that’s like asking to pick your favorite type of M&M; you just can’t. They’re all so different yet all so tasty in their own way. I mean how can you choose between <Breaking BadMad Men, The Killing, or Hell on Wheels? You can’t so you don’t and you watch them all. 

I Love You, Man. I love this movie. A lot. I don’t know if it’s because it’s hilarious, has Jason Segel and Paul Rudd, is amazingly quotable or because it pays homage to Rush. Probably all of the above. It’s one of those movies that I can watch over and over again and it’s funny every. Single. Time.

Friday Night Lights. I never thought I’d like a show about football but much like the movie, it’s more a show about people using football as the backdrop. If you have not watched this show, I suggest you settle down on your couch with Netflix and binge watch all 5 seasons immediately. Texas Forever!

Good things to use.

Spotify. If you’re like me and have an eclectic taste in music that your wallet cannot keep up with, Spotify is perfect. I love being able to create playlists, listen to whole albums (did I just date myself with that word) or program radio stations. For FREE! I actually prefer Spotify to Pandora for the simple fact of being able to actually listen to the song I want to instead of what it feels like telling me I want to listen to.

Write or Die. Probably the best web app around (also an iPad app but I prefer to use the web/desktop version) to keep you focused on writing. You get to pick the parameters for length of writing time, grace period when you stop, and consequences but no matter what you pick, you will stay focused. If for no other reason than having your computer or tablet make loud, alarming noises at you is a little troubling.

Gel ink pens. Far superior to ball point pens, which always seem to run out of ink quickly. Gel ink pens are kind of fancy and they give a nice, dark ink impression. Unless you’re left handed. Then maybe they’re more of a smudgy inconvenience but I still think you should use them anyway.

Tasha Harrison – Writer

These are Tasha Harrison’s good things.

Good things to read.

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver. A satisfying novel that makes sharp observations about the injustices of the healthcare system in the US. Sounds heavy but the ending is unforgettable.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. An unputdownable story about a geisha in wartime Japan.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. A story about a man’s two wives in Afghanistan who start off as rivals, but who are brought together by their husband’s cruelty.

Good things to watch.

The Bridge. Swedish/Danish crime series with suspense-filled plot and great characterisation.

Mad Men. TV series set in the 50s and 60s in the world of advertising on Madison Avenue, New York. Again, brilliant characters, slick script writing and retro everything.

Defiance. A film starring Daniel Craig as one of four Jewish brothers who flees the Nazis and helps several hundred Jews to survive in the forests of Poland (I think it’s Poland) until the war is over. It’s a true story, so very inspiring.

Good things to use. A good place to read or write book reviews. Handy for putting together mood boards or scrap books of images. I’ve used it to create mood boards for two of my novels.

Animatch – A simple game of matching pairs on my iPhone. I think it’s good for exercising the memory part of your brain!