Monday, August 29, 2016

A Page-Turning Summer

I don't remember summer reading programs being around when I was a kid, but boy howdy, I would've been all over that. Lucky for me, my county library has an adult summer reading program - you read books, review them on the program's website, and for each one, you're entered in a random drawing for weekly and monthly prizes. Last year, I won a drink tumbler. This year, I won a basket of books! Not only that, but apparently the number of participants exploded. The more people reading the better!

I read some amazing books this summer, and since I love to talk books, here are some of my favorites from June through the end of August: 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - okay, I'm cheating here because I finished this one at the end of May, but I can't stop thinking about it. You want twists? Get ready. 


*****

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis - the description on Goodreads says it all: "True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller--narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim." I mean, come on! How awesome is that? I passed this ARC along to my husband, and he was blown away as well. 


*****

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda - I love a good suspense novel, and this one had the added bonus of being told in reverse. Yes, you read that correctly. Reverse. It's well worth your time as both a reader AND a writer.


*****

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus - I first read this historical fiction novel years ago for a book club. I loved it so much, it's lived on my bookshelf all this time. When it was chosen for a new book club, I re-read it. And you know what? Still loved it. Absolutely loved it. 


*****

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - a locked room mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works? A murder on a luxury cruise ship yet all passengers are accounted for? I am so there! 


*****

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - I've been a fan of this author's ever since I read Between Shades of Gray, a young adult historical fiction novel. Here, according to Goodreads, the author "returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies." I pretty much wept through the last chunk of the book. An excellent - and important - read. 


*****

Watching Edie by Camilla Way - I was going to rate this a solid four stars over on Goodreads, but the last chunk bumped it up to five stars. The structure - two alternating points of view, one in the present, the other in the past - really amped up the suspense. It's a dark story, but one that delves into the concept of what is real, what is our perception - how we see ourselves, how others see us, and the possibility of change. 


*****

If you've read any of these, what did you think? Will you be adding any to your TBR list? What have you read this summer that blew your mind? Looking forward to any new releases in the Fall? If you're not already a friend/follower of mine over on Goodreads, come find me!

*****

(Even though I received an ARC for one book, the opinions here are honest and presented purely because I enjoyed all of these books.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Movies in My Mind

I am prone to weird dreams. Not necessarily nightmares - although, I have those, too - but dreams that seem somewhat normal but leave me utterly exhausted. Although I can sometimes tell they originated from a book or from other media, I've never tried to actually interpret them. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know....

Here's a recent weird one:

I'm attending some sort of conference and sharing a huge hotel room with three other people. One of them is a fellow blogger. (Someone who is familiar in the dream but has no name or face I can place when I wake up.)

Huge heavy drapes are pulled across the windows, and I don't know if it's day or night. Suddenly, a group of men come in, my Dad among them. (My Dad passed away last year, but in the dream he's alive, not a ghost or anything.) He tells me we need to go, there's some sort of alert and we have to leave Pasadena. (This tidbit comes from either a horror novel about a spider invasion that partly takes place in California or from an old episode of The Big Bang Theory.)

I shove things into bags - for some reason, I have lots of stuff for this conference. Whatever is happening is bad because my Dad - a very organized packer - would never let me just throw stuff in bags. He picks up a backpack that's obviously too heavy for him - he's wearing a green sweatshirt and sweat stains form between his chest and stomach. I scold him, and he tells me he's fine. (By the way, that part would've totally happened in the real world.) We head out into a morning that looks normal but has a weird yellow cast to it.

*****

Do you have weird dreams, too? Do you use them as inspiration for stories, for art? Do your characters dream or have nightmares? Do you like to interpret dreams? Any thoughts on mine? Hmm, maybe it's a post apocalyptic story waiting to be written....

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A What If? Post

Scenario: You place an order for some odds and ends. A few days later, a huge box arrives. Aware that sometimes the packaging is deceiving, you're not too concerned as you pull the box inside. After all, it's from the same company and the mailing label has your name and address on it. You open the box . . . .

It's definitely not what you ordered.

What if . . . the item in the box is something you've desperately wanted for a long time? Something incredibly expensive and extravagant? Something you've never told anyone about, ever. Who sent it? And why? And what do you do about it?

What if . . . the box is full of baby-related items, all monogrammed with the name Ella? You don't have children, and you don't know any children named Ella. You contact the company. Yours is the only corresponding order placed. It's bought and paid for by you. But the date on the invoice? Two years in the future. 

What if . . . the item in the box is a little on the naughty side? Maybe something you've been curious about but too embarrassed to check into. Do you call the company and complain or do you keep it?

*****

Come on, let's get those creative muscles sweating in this summer heat! What's in the box? What do you do? And hey, notice I didn't take us down the overly creepy or gross path? And I so could have . . . . 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Things We Do For Love

Lately, I've turned my attention to writing longer stories. I'm submitting to new markets - some with themes, some with deadlines, all horror-related. I enjoy hanging out in my creepy little worlds longer than I'm usually able to when writing flash fiction.

The flip side? I'm hanging out in my creepy little worlds longer than usual.

The air conditioning runs, but it's ghostly breath that prickles my skin. Beneath the rustling of palm fronds, characters whisper, frantic, fearful for their lives. During summer storms, lightning shoots across the sky, pinning hulking and misshapen shadows against the blinds.

But when I came across this quote from James M. Cain, I realized it's all for a good cause:


"IF YOUR WRITING 
DOESN'T KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT, 
IT WON'T KEEP ANYONE ELSE UP EITHER." 


Ah, I suffer so my readers will, too!

You're welcome.

*****

What was the last creepy thing you wrote or read or watched that stayed with you? What was it about that particular thing that made it stick with you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: From Highlights to . . . ?


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This month's IWSG questions - What was your first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published? - made me realize just how long I've been at this writing thing.

I keep copies of most of my publications, especially the ones seen exclusively online. I have three binders full of work. The very first page in the very first binder? A poem I wrote when I was nine years old, published in Highlights for Children Magazine (May, 1983.) The binders are not only a record of my work, but also a reminder of what I've accomplished, of all my successes. Guess how often I look at any of those binders? Go ahead, write your answer in the layer of dust covering them. 

Instead, I recall the missed opportunities - the ones I wasn't ready for, the ones I didn't take advantage of due to fear. I wonder now - over 30 years later - if there will ever be any more of those moments for me and my writing? Or did I just totally miss the boat on the writing career of my dreams?



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Baked Goods Attack

I've mentioned my journey to get healthy, to lose weight - most recently here, where I talk about my love/hate relationship with the "dreadmill." Overall, I'm doing pretty well - exercising more, eating better, etc.

But.

It's all just going . . . very . . .  slowly. Even the tortoises are faster than my weight loss. And when the going gets tough . . . the giant chunk of yellow cake with fudge icing starts calling. (Or is that just me?)

Now, I'm all for moderation, for having a piece of pie or a scoop of ice cream now and then. But it's one thing for me to make that choice; it's another for a thick slice of cheesecake to do it for me.

So, not only does this mantra make me laugh -

YOU'VE COME TOO FAR TO TAKE ORDERS
FROM A COOKIE.
(Unknown)

It also reminds me of all I've accomplished so far, and all I can - and will! - achieve.

What do you tell yourself to keep going while on a difficult journey, weight loss or otherwise? How do you stay motivated when the going gets rough? What's your favorite dessert? (Hey, I can dream, can't I?) 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Magic

I came across this quote/story by author Karen Rivers awhile back and thought it was just a wonderful reminder to keep our "glittering eyes" open . . . 

*****

"ON MY DINING ROOM WALL, I PAINTED THIS QUOTE FROM ROALD DAHL'S BOOK THE MINPINS:

'Above all, watch with glittering eyes 
the whole world around you because 
the greatest secrets are always hidden 
in the most unlikely places. 
Those who don't believe in magic 
will never find it.'

I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO NEVER FORGET TO USE THEIR OWN GLITTERING EYES. IDEAS ARE EVERYWHERE. THEY ARE SOMETIMES FLEETING, BUT SOMETIMES THEY STAY TANGLED WITH YOUR OWN IMAGINATION, AND THEY COME TOGETHER AND FORM STORIES.

THAT IS WHERE THE MAGIC LIVES: IN THE WEAVING TOGETHER OF SOMETHING YOU REMEMBER AND SOMETHING YOU HEARD AND SOMETHING YOU DREAMED AND SOMETHING YOU ONCE SAW ON FACEBOOK AND A CHARACTER YOU CAN SUDDENLY SEE WITH PERFECT CLARITY, WHO IS WAITING TO TELL YOU HER OWN TALE."

*****

I believe in magic.

Do you?