Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Summer of Getting Stuff Done

For a lot of people, summer is about having fun, relaxing and traveling. For me, this summer is about putting my head down and keeping it down. I really need to focus. Need to. Want to. Have to. My emotional, mental, physical health demands it. My writing demands it. My home and weird . . . uh, unique . . .  little family demands it. (Mrs. Larry does not care for the word "weird" in reference to her, thank you very much.


Some of what I plan to accomplish:


* Get at least one draft of my novella done.

* Write and submit at least two stories to markets.

* Finish the 202.2 miles challenge. Maybe start one of the 100 miles challenges.

* Do some cleaning up, de-cluttering and organizing inside and outside the house.


I will have some fun, including lots of reading, TV show binge-watching and movie marathon-ing.


In the recent free version of Austin Kleon's newsletter, he mentions some advice by poet Jane Kenyon that explains exactly what my hope is for the summer – 


"Be a good steward of your gifts. 

Protect your time. 

Feed your inner life. 

Avoid too much noise. 

Read good books, 

have good sentences in your ears. 

Be yourself as often as you can. 


Take the phone off the hook. 

Work regular hours."



Do you have any fun summer plans? Any "productive" projects? Looking forward to any summer books, TV shows, movies?

Monday, May 2, 2022

What Silence Stirs

Last month, I mentioned trying to be more aware of when I spoke and of what I said, hoping to put less "noise" out into the world. 


It stirred up a memory from childhood when I was told my quiet, shy personality could possibly come across to other kids as me being "stuck-up." As an adult, I worry that those same personality traits – in addition to my now trying to not blather on for no reason - are making me seem aloof or uninterested. 


This whole experiment also reminded me of how much I crave quiet, both outside of myself in terms of sound and hoopla, and inside of myself in terms of drama and turmoil. It almost feels like within the quiet is the only way my brain, my body, my heart can breathe anymore.  



A novella/novel is slowly coming together. It's still in the notes stage but those notes are starting to form a big messy pile so, you know, progress. 



TV – We really enjoyed the first season of Abbott Elementary (cute and funny!). We just started The Queen's Gambit (intriguing!) and Better Call Saul (my husband laughed so hard at a line from the first episode he about fell off the couch.) 



I've recently read a number of enjoyable mystery/suspense novels – my go-to genre! - but sometimes I like to switch it up. I just finished Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang, an historical/literary fiction novel that begins in the 1880s, in China, and takes the reader on a journey that won't soon be forgotten. 



Whenever we take the tortoises out on the patio, Mrs. Larry enjoys sitting under the grill. There are other places to sit with better views, but Mrs. Larry is her own tortoise. 


The other day, the tortoises discovered the grill actually moves. So, under Mrs. Larry's direction, Larry "the muscle" slid the grill a little this way, a little that way, until Mrs. Larry was satisfied with the new location. And, as we all know around our house, if Mrs. Larry is happy then we're all happy.



What's your impression when you meet someone who's quiet? What do you need to "breathe"? Watched any of those TV shows? Have a go-to genre for reading? Think we should let Mrs. Larry be in charge of all things decorating and design at our place? 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Wait, What?

This month, I'm trying something new: I'm paying more attention when I speak. There's already so much "noise" in the world, I don't want to contribute to it if I can help it. So I am applying an acronym I read about over on Austin Kleon's blog


WAIT = Why Am I Talking?   


I hope it'll help me be more thoughtful, not only with my words but also in general. (My husband and the tortoises hope it means it will be a lot quieter around our house.



My flash fiction story made the finals of a contest, tied for second place, but ultimately did not make the top three. I was happy to see, though, the positive comments, the chunk of "likes" and votes it received. I think I achieved my big, overarching goal of entertaining readers. 


Movies – I really enjoyed the creepy and unsettling Superhost. (It just totally confirmed every travel-phobic issue I have, thank you very much.) The actress, Gracie Gillam, playing Rebecca was amazing! 


We also re-watched Sing, which was just as good the second time around. Then we watched Sing 2 and that was fun, too. 



For the first time in a very long time, I'm ahead in my Goodreads challenge = 16/52 books. I'm enjoying the more relaxed pace I set for myself.



My husband and I were out walking when I totally surprised myself – and my husband! – by suggesting we do one of the virtual 5Ks we signed up for. (This is so not like me, I'm surprised my husband didn't look around for his real wife.) But it was early in the day, the weather was great, and I was feeling good, so we went with it. We walked, not ran, another 3.2 miles for our 202.2 Miles Challenge!



What do you think of WAIT? Read or watched anything recently that you enjoyed? Have you surprised yourself and/or others lately? 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Pasta or Progress?

I can't tell which has more holes in it – my attention span or the colander I use to drain pasta. Yum . . . pasta. Smothered in sauce, topped with cheese. Maybe some ravioli. No wait, baked ziti. And garlic bread. And . . . oh. 


See what I mean?



I rearranged my office furniture in an effort to minimize distractions. So now a blank wall stares back at me every time I look over the top of my computer. This might actually be working because I wrote and subbed a flash fiction story for a contest, and I started making notes on a novella. 



I mentioned back in January that my husband and I signed up for two virtual challenges, 100 miles each. Well, we also signed up for a third one – 202.2 miles. (Don't even ask me how this happened. I'm pretty sure my husband distracted me with cake.)

Stats so far = 

43/202.2 miles (walking only)

0/100 miles

0/100 miles



Movie – SCREAM (2022] aka SCREAM, "The Requel", was a fun romp down memory lane, and it made me want to re-watch the old SCREAM movies again, at least the first one.


I'm in the middle of Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea – enjoying it so far!



What creative project - writing or otherwise - are you working on? What do you do for exercise/fitness? Have you read or watched anything lately you enjoyed? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Year is Young

Even though I have managed to stall out already, I am not giving up. The year is young – even if I am not – so I am revving up and getting going! 


I'm focusing more on writing-related work lately. Yes, some of that is pure procrastination, but it's also because I have a couple of ideas simmering on my brain's back burner that are not ready to be served yet. 

I'm cleaning up some around the blog. Since Blogger is less user-friendly than it used to be, I'm streamlining things a bit. I want to keep it easy for readers to navigate and for me to update. 



TV – Downton Abbey was a huge hit around here, and now we're watching Longmire. (Yes, I know we are waaaaay behind the times. Trendsetters we are not.) 


Movie – See for Me was better than I expected. A solid thriller with a couple of nice twists.



I really enjoyed These Silent Woods by Kimi Grant Cunningham. It was a little slow going for me in the beginning, but I absolutely loved the last chunk of the story.




How's your year going so far? Have you stalled a bit or are you revving right through? Are you happy with your blog/website and/or its host? Have you read or watched anything you'd recommend?

Monday, January 3, 2022

Numbers Everywhere

I am not a numbers person, but when I look back at 2021 and look ahead to 2022, imagine my surprise when I see numbers everywhere: 


Apparently, according to my stats, I have written close to 900 blog posts. I would say I have no words but apparently I do. About 900 blog posts worth of words. And counting. 


In 2021, my husband and I signed up to do a virtual challenge of 500 miles. It did not go well. We did learn a lot, though, in terms of energy, pacing, timing and taking into account the seasons (I'm looking at you Florida melt-your-face summer!) For 2022, we decided to do two separate virtual challenges of 100 miles each, one after the other. The focus is on walking, but we plan on adding biking as well. 


For the last couple of years, the goal of my Reading Challenge over on Goodreads was 80 books. This is a totally doable goal for me, but since my focus flaps around like a palm frond in the wind, I barely squeaked by. So I'm giving myself a break and setting the 2022 Reading Challenge to 52 books. I will knock this out easily and have an early win, something I really need. 


The tortoises are now 12 years old. Larry weighs about 11 pounds. He is a sensitive soul inside that solid shell. Mrs. Larry, who is lighter and smaller, refuses to divulge her stats but wants to make sure everyone knows that even though Larry is large, she's the one in charge. Of us all. 


Honestly, I don't even remember my One Word for last year. For 2022, I played with ideas, made lists, searched for the word that will be my theme for the year, that will keep me on a good track. One word jumped off the page – WRITING. Yes, I wrote last year, but it wasn't pretty. My creativity, discipline, focus, imagination, overall oomph fizzled then flattened like an opened bottle of seltzer. My hope for 2022 is that on those occasions when I get anxious, depressed and freaked out (or, in other words, every day) my One Word reminds me of how writing is intrinsic to who I am, that I am not lost, that I am still here, that I am still me. 




How were your "numbers" for 2021? How are they looking for 2022? Do you have a One Word? Any goals or plans for 2022?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Almost There

The weather here is beautiful this time of year – breezy, cool and sunny  – and I hope to let that crisp air snap me out of my long-lasting funk, let it gush out the gunk clogging my heart, mind, and spirit. Yes, that's asking a lot from the weather, so I will help it along as best I can. Even as I take myself outside, I'll also turn inward to figure out some things, like: 


* How do I take better care of myself – physically, mentally, emotionally? 


* How do I stay focused on what's important to me and not get distracted, especially by things outside my control? 


* What kind of challenges and goals do I set for myself so I move forward, slowly but surely, and not end up standing still, weighted down with unrealistic expectations? 


Okay, so I have lots of questions and not many answers, but one thing I do know for sure is this: 


All of us here at The Shellshank Redemption wish all of you a holiday season and a new year full of more joy than you know what to do with, laughter so loud and hearty it drowns out any negativity, so much energy and good health you thrum with it, and hope so strong and sure it pulls you through any darkness that dares show its face.  


Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! 





How was your 2021? Do you have any answers or suggestions for the questions I'm mulling over? Kicking around any goals or making any plans for 2022?