Wednesday, November 6, 2019

November IWSG: Are We Having Fun Yet?

YES! 

Happy National Novel Writing Month, everyone! I usually use NaNo to work on a project that I will later revise over and over (and over!) in the hopes of querying or submitting or self-publishing. But the last couple of Novembers, I changed all that up. The focus now? Fun! 

Don't get me wrong, I still take it seriously. Writing is what I do, a huge part of who I am. And sure, if at the end of the month I have a story that has legs, no matter how shaky, I'll consider walking the project down one of my usual paths. But if it doesn't have legs? If all it has are thick nose hairs that have rooted themselves into the ground? That's okay, too. 

This November, it's all about the creative muscle. If you've been coming around here for any length of time, you know by now how much I hate exercising but somehow, working that creative muscle makes me so very happy. Working that creative muscle feels a lot like play. And I don't play nearly enough anymore. 

I've got wild cliffhangers and plot twists galore! I use exclamation points everywhere! I've got lurking monsters and poor, unsuspecting characters! (Because, really, what else are those monsters going to eat?)

So, if you need me, you know where to find me. You don't? I'm in my writing cave. Come on in. I'm all the way in the back. I know it's dark. Watch your step. That noise behind you? Oh, that's nothing, nothing at all . . . .  

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Are you having fun this November? What are you up to? NaNo-ing? Working on another creative project? 

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Piece Meal - Shallow Waters Vol. 3: A Flash Fiction Anthology

What happens when a gumball machine dispenses something far more sinister - and sweeter - than candy?

Find out . . . in my story "Piece Meal."


*** AVAILABLE ON AMAZON ***

From the Publisher - 

Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried!

With twenty-one dark tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the pain between them.

Volume three includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of hauntings, monsters, clowns, twisted love, and the beauty beneath it all.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

October IWSG: Wishing You All The Wins

As someone who should have the word "insecure" tattooed somewhere on my body, I am extremely hesitant to say out loud that things are going well in my writing world. (And now the tortoises have ducked inside their shells, sure the lightning is about to strike. . . . ) After a long and ugly drought, I find myself in a deluge of "wins." (More about this in a future post!)

But before those wins was the work. A whole weeping-hot-mess lot of it. Creative, emotional, mental, you name it. 

And it was worth it. 

For the record, let me just say that I am not so cocky as to think the work is over. Pffft. Some version of that drought will come again. Writer's block/burnout. Rejections. Not so nice reviews. Breakdowns. Meltdowns. And sometimes it just doesn't matter how hard or how much you work, it still feels like you fail. 

Do it anyway. 

Keep working. The work makes the wins even sweeter.

Keep winning. Whatever those wins look like for you. No matter how big or how small or how silly they may seem to other people. (Some days just getting out of bed is a win for me.) A win is a win.  

I will keep working, keep winning. 

And I will keep cheering for all of you and wishing you all the wins.

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What are some of your recent wins? Creative, health, life in general? Come on, I know you have at least one . . . .  

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Monday, September 16, 2019

You Are Not a Bulldozer

Every once in awhile, my writing life starts to feel like an assembly line, like my stories are widgets I'm just churning out. This happens when I stop paying attention – attention to the craft, to creativity, to passion and to purpose. And, to my regret, I haven't been paying attention for longer than I care to admit. 

But this past summer, I found my way back to myself and to my writing, and earlier this month I read an excellent blog post by Annie Neugebauer over at Writer Unboxed - "Advice to Writers Who Are In It" - that reinforced a lot of what I recently realized. Here are a few highlights that struck me: 

On working harder"What matters is that you do your best work as often as you can without burning out. When you're mid-project, you need to be deep, deep in your high-effort zone every work day for a good chunk of time. It's not about what other people are doing or can do; it's about what you can do."

On thinking more deeply"Thinking is valuable. I'm not trying to sound condescending, but we often forget that. In a society that tells us we have to be proving concrete output to be productive, it's easy to bypass that nothing-to-show-for-it part of the process where we stop and really think. Think hard. Think deep. Think for a long time, if you need to. It's what ultimately makes your work great. Thought. Don't let the word count bogies convince you you don't have time for it."

On not barreling through"Sometimes we need to "power through," yes . . . But for the love of all things literary, stop barreling through. You're not a bulldozer; you're a writer. Writing isn't always a thing you can muscle. Willpower, maybe, but not the craft . . . Sometimes slow is faster in the end."

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How's your writing life? Are you working harder, thinking more deeply? Or have you been barreling through? Can you guess what the tortoises' favorite part of this post is? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September IWSG: I'm Back, Baby! I'm Back!

Way back in June, I set out to have a Summer of George, three months of fun and joy and remembering what it was like to be a kid in the summer. I hoped to find my mojo – creative and otherwise – again, to find my way back to myself. 

And you know what? It worked. 

But not the way I expected. 

Instead of turning outward to activities and people, I ended up turning inward. Some of this was due to the heat – oh, how I love air conditioning! – and some of it was due to conversations that showed me some unfortunate truths. I retreated into my shell, into books and TV and movies, and . . . into my writing. 

Slowly but surely, I'm discovering my stories again. This is giving me the spine I need, the strength, to say enough to some of the negative in my life and to embrace more of the positive. Like brainstorming ideas in prep for NaNo! Subbing stories! Taking care of my mental and physical health! I'm ready to rock this fall!

So to bookend these summer posts, let us once again turn to the immortal words of George Costanza -




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How was your summer? Have lots of fun and/or any serious revelations? What are you looking forward to this fall?   


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Monday, August 19, 2019

The Books of Summer 2019

I know summer isn't quite over yet, but let's talk about those books we read sweating on a beach, sitting in the shade by a lake, sipping iced tea in a cafĂ© or, if you were anything like me, curling up in a chair with the air conditioner on high. 

I read a lot of really good books this summer, more than I can list here, so I'm focusing on the ones I read between May and mid-August that I gave "5 stars" to over on Goodreads.  

These four fall into my go-to genre - mystery/suspense: 


THE INVITED by Jennifer McMahon - Jennifer McMahon is one of those authors where I don't even read the description of the book, I just buy it. 




SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS by Charlie Donlea - If you haven't read Charlie Donlea yet, you are in for such a treat. You won't go wrong with any of his novels.




DEAR WIFE by Kimberly Belle - You might think you know what's going on . . . . 



THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware - Old-school gothic horror set in a new "smart" house, this story not only has scenes so creepy, they made me shiver (and it was not the air conditioning) but also twists that left me gasping for breath.


This next batch is a mix of middle grade and young adult: 



HEROINE by Mindy McGinnis - Mindy writes across genres, but this is my absolute favorite of her contemporary YA.



AUGUST ISLE by Ali Standish - I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this book. 



WE WALKED THE SKY – by Lisa Fiedler - This historical fiction novel reminds me in the best way of Sara Gruen's WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. I'm also a sucker for a dual storyline, especially when both – past and present - are told from the points of view of female tightrope walkers. 


I actually read these next two earlier this year in ARC form, but since they came out this summer, I'm including them here with my reviews from Goodreads.


AFTER THE END by Clare Mackintosh - "This story will shred your heart but will also stitch it back together. The process won't be pretty, and it won't look or feel the same, but it will be whole again in its own way. This is a story of so many things - marriage, family, choices, grief, hope - but at its core, it is a love story, through and through." (I received an ARC through a giveaway on Goodreads.)



NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson - "Joshilyn Jackson takes her much-loved Southern fiction voice and her women's fiction genre and edges them with a sharp darkness that is absolutely thrilling. This is not a flip-the-pages-as-fast-as-you-can suspense novel. This is a sit-inside-the-story tale where the twists and turns are slow and subtle yet leave you shaken by their power. As a long time fan of Ms. Jackson's, I am thrilled to see her take on - and thrive! - in this new genre. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next." (I received an ARC through a giveaway on BookBrowse.) 

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Have you read any of these? Plan to? Did you read anything this summer that blew you away?  Are we Friends over on Goodreads? (If not, let's fix that! Click on the Find Me On Goodreads link in the sidebar.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

August IWSG: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

My husband and I have been watching some old favorite sitcoms lately and, in my opinion, one of the best theme songs ever is from Cheers. And although we don't serve drinks around here (to be honest, we'd most likely serve chocolate and coffee anyway, or banana and basil if it was up to the tortoises), the theme song makes me think of this blog and all of you. 




In my June IWSG and July IWSG posts, I mentioned some things I was struggling with, and let me tell you how nice it was to have a place to go, even if it was "only online", where I felt encouraged and heard and supported. 

Please don't ever underestimate the power of a simple line of recognition or a handful of cheerleading words. It might just be the boost a person needs to get over that next hurdle. Or, in my case, drag myself under it. (Hey, I never claimed to be graceful.

So in this IWSG post, I want to say thank you to all of you. Not only for all the great advice and suggestions for the posts where I need an emotional pick-me-up, but also for coming by in general and commenting, for offering congratulations on my published work, for reading my stories and telling me how much you enjoy them and/or how much they creep you out. (And we all know around here that's pretty much the same thing.)

*** Thank you!!! *** 

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Who or what are you thankful for today? In your writing life? In your life in general? 

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