Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 2020 IWSG: Stay in Your Shell

On a good day, my issues with anxiety, germs, etc. remind me of children playing hide-and-seek. They dart from shadowy corners to poke my nerves with sticky fingers, giggling all the while. Annoying, but manageable. 

Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, those same issues are tantrum-throwing hooligans, hopped up on sugar, bouncing on the bed like it’s a trampoline, laughing maniacally at the top of their lungs. 

So, I act like the mother I would've been if I had children (human children, not hard-shelled ones. Besides, the tortoises know better than to jump on the bed), and I ignore them. Head down, I write. 

Not too long ago, writing had become a struggle. Now, writing is saving me. My creepy tales are actually providing some light in my darkness. I focus on small projects like flash fiction – easier to hold the story in my head – and ones with upcoming deadlines to keep me on task. I'm considering a bigger project, keeping the attitude and the plan loose, seeing what develops. And I'm going to try some brainstorming sessions, get weird and wild on the page. 

I still have bad moments, bad days. My freak-outs are freakier than usual (just ask my poor husband!) But I'm doing what I can to hold it all together and right now, that's enough. 

All of us here at TSR are sending good thoughts and prayers your way. And, in the words of the tortoises (okay, so they say it with their eyes) – 

** Stay safe. Stay well. **
* Stay in your shell. *


How are you all doing? Are you writing? What's one positive thing you can share, something you're grateful for? Not big picture like health, but on a smaller scale - a great book you read, an excellent movie you watched, a new recipe you tried, a night sky full of stars you don't normally look at - that kind of thing. 


Join us!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

March 2020 IWSG: Bye-Bye, Balance

I'm not good with balance, literal and otherwise. As a kid, I was the little girl in dance class who flailed then tipped over. I once ate so much fruit cocktail I broke out in hives. (Yes, I know. Not chocolate cake. Not ice cream. Fruit. Cocktail.) I read my Little House on the Prairie books one right after the other then started over again until they literally fell apart in my hands. 

I was actually pretty happy doing my own thing. (Okay, maybe not so much with the hives.) So, as a younger adult, I purposely made life choices that let me do just that. 

But I often found myself doubting, floundering, feeling like I had little to no emotional support or understanding. I craved balance which, in my world, gave me a sense of approval, normalcy, safety. When I achieved it, I was relieved . . . but also deeply disquieted. 

See, I didn't really want balance. I spent so much energy on finding it and trying to hold onto it I had nothing left for the life I truly wanted. The more balanced I became, the less of myself I became.

"I think balance is for people 
who don't know why they're here." 
(Blake Crouch, Recursion)

For me, balance wasn't about stability; it was about fear. I believe balance kept me from being and doing my best. (Of course, everyone is different, and if balance helps you then go for it! You do you!)  

It'll be a process, this "unbalancing" of myself. Some people, like my husband, will cheer me on, while others won't approve. (So what else is new?) I look forward to meeting myself again in my writing and in my life. I just hope I recognize her. 

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

February 2020 IWSG: My Creative Cave

My husband and I are moving in the next few months. My anxiety level is at an all time high - big surprise! - and I am beyond stressed. We're busy trying to get all our ducks . . . um, I mean, tortoises in a row. Speaking of tortoises, they're happy their new outdoor area will be a bit bigger but they're kind of miffed their indoor habitat set-up will stay the same for now. I tell them, "Sheesh! Hold your shells! One house at time!"

So, as I declutter and downsize, I thought this would be a good opportunity to focus my freaking out and really consider my new creative cave. This is where you all come in:



And when I say "creative space" that's whatever it is to you – a home office, a corner of your living room, a patio, a favorite table in a coffeehouse. I'll have a small room of my own with a door I can close, something that makes the other members of my household – hard-shelled and otherwise – very relieved.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

January 2020 IWSG: Laughter vs the Vortex of Doom

Sometimes I forget to laugh. 

My imagination and my thoughts run "dark." Even as a kid, anxieties and fears were, like my stuffed animals, my constant companions. One particular game of "pretend" that I created involved a plane crash. A story I wrote in high school had terrified kids running through the woods being chased by some menacing presence. 

That past informs my present – my struggles with anxiety and my writing. One way I try to light the darkness is to focus on things that bring me joy, things that make me laugh. But lately, caught up in my own vortex of doom, laughter's been the last thing on my mind. 

Until my husband and I re-watched old episodes of The Office (U.S. version.) I laughed so much I almost fell of the couch. And when I finally stopped, I felt . . . lighter. And I realized that I must - for more reasons than I care to name - do more of that in 2020. 

So that's one of my resolutions - laugh more, lighten up a bit. And keep the shadows out of my mind and in my stories, where they belong. 


What makes YOU laugh? Great big belly laughs, delirious snorts, gaggles of giggles? TV shows, movies, books, podcasts, comedians, jokes/puns, funny videos on YouTube, anything and everything? (For me, the Minions from the Despicable Me movies always make me chuckle, and TV-wise, I love The Office, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory and The Middle.)  

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Wrapping Up! 2019's Five Star Books and Reading Challenge

Now that the year is coming to a close, it's time to put a bow on the box of great reads of 2019. Back in August, I posted about my favorite books of the summer, and now let's pick up where we left off. Here are my five star reads from mid-August until mid-December:  

THE WHISPER MAN by Alex North – forget whispering, I am shouting about how much I loved this book. Billed as a mystery/suspense/thriller, it is all of those things but to me, it's also got elements of horror. Certain scenes will continue to creep up on you long after you put the book down. 


NINTH HOUSE (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo – fantasy is not my usual genre, but this sounded so intriguing and Ms. Bardugo is a hugely popular author, I thought I'd give it a whirl. The result? Loved. It. Dark, gritty and mesmerizing. 


THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS by Lisa Jewell – sometimes Ms. Jewell's books are hit or miss for me. This one? A definite grand slam out of the ballpark hit. The ending was one of my favorite parts. 


DARLING ROSE GOLD by Stephanie Wrobel – I received this as an ARC through a giveaway on Goodreads and it doesn't come out until March 2020, but you might want it on your radar now. I loved absolutely every minute of this warped and wild ride. 


I surpassed my 2019 Reading Challenge goal of 80 books, and I'm excited to set a new one for next year and to get my greedy little hands on some more amazing reads. Here are a handful of books – and this is just in the first half of 2020!– I'm looking forward to:

WHEN YOU SEE ME (#11) by Lisa Gardner (1/20)
DEAD TO HER by Sarah Pinborough (2/20)
BE NOT FAR FROM ME (YA) by Mindy McGinnis (3/20)
EIGHT PERFECT MURDERS by Peter Swanson (3/20)
HE STARTED IT by Samantha Downing (4/20)
IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King (5/20)
THE DILEMMA by B. A. Paris (6/20}
THE SUICIDE HOUSE by Charlie Donlea (7/20)


Have you read any of my five star faves? Plan on adding them to your TBR list? Did you read anything that blew your mind? Any upcoming titles in 2020 you're excited about? If you had a reading goal for 2019, how did it go? Plan on setting one for 2020? And if we're not already Friends over on Goodreads - and you'd like to be! - please join me over there. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

December IWSG: Ugly . . . Yet Useful

I recently dragged my sorry butts – my writing butt and my regular butt - across their respective finish lines, and in both cases, it was ugly. 

The writing finish line was NaNo. I started strong but then stopped having fun with my story idea. So, I decided to switch gears . . . but had nothing substantial to switch to. I was flopping around like a fish out of water. I ended up going the NaNo Rebel route - I pieced together all sorts of ideas and descriptions and flash stories. The end result is some sort of FrankenManuscript - a Mr. Potato Head for the torso, a Barbie arm here, a rag doll leg there, etc.

The actual finish line was for a 5k I thought I could handle walking. Let's just say I pretty much looked like that same fish, only too exhausted to do anything but lie there, gasping for breath. The FrankenManuscript would've lurched across the finish line faster. And looked better doing it. 

Both events left me aching, confused and frustrated, but they also left me with an important realization: it's time to get myself well and truly sorted, writing and otherwise. Sometimes you don't realize how far from the sea you've gotten until you find yourself gasping for air.   


How was your November? Have any wins – ugly or otherwise – lately? How about any realizations that will set you on a better path? 


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

November IWSG: Are We Having Fun Yet?


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 . . . .  


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


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