Monday, March 20, 2017

Shake It Up!

It's not news around here that I'm a big reader. If I don't read every day, I get cranky. My "To Read" list is more pages than I care to admit here, again. (If you really want to know, check out Lists Gone Wild.)  

Now, I usually say I read across genres and categories but when I looked back at the books I'd read so far this year, I realized this isn't as true as I thought. My go-to genres are historical fiction and mystery/suspense/thriller, in adult and YA/MG categories, and these dominated my choices by far.

After reading an excellent post over at Writer Unboxed - Learning from Reading: Change Up Your Patterns to Gain More by Annie Neugebauer - I realized I'd fallen into a reading rut. 

"So my suggestion for writers today is this: change up your reading habits.... If you always read within your writing genre, bust out. If you stick to literary or commercial fiction, try swapping them. Try mixing them. Risk reading a few things you may hate, because that’s also how you find brand new things you love. (And even things we hate have things to teach us.)
Switch up not only the types of books you’re reading, but the format. Always read paperback? Get an e-reader. Always read digital? Try listening to an audiobook...." 
Excellent ideas! So, while I've read - and enjoyed! - a few novels outside my usual genres, like Abby Fabiashi's I Liked My Life (women's fiction/contemporary fiction) and Alex George's Setting Free the Kites (literary fiction/contemporary fiction,) I'm going to make a more concentrated effort to try new genres and formats.

"Experiment with what you’re reading together, too. For years I was utterly convinced that I could only read one book at a time.... Nowadays I routinely have 3-4 books going at once: a paperback novel or collection of shorts, an audiobook, a book of poetry, and a nonfiction book (usually writing craft or research). This strange assortment has inspired some of my finest ideas." 

Every once in awhile, I'll add a nonfiction title or a story collection to the novel I'm reading but I usually stick with flipping through magazines. But nothing says I can't settle in with a poem or two instead, right? 

Ms. Neugebauer's post has lots of other ideas - too many to mention here! - and I recommend giving it a read. And, in case you can't decide which of her tricks to try, take heart:

"I admit to my stubbornness and foibles here because each time I settled into a pattern, I was convinced I’d found the right one. I realize now, looking at it with a wider lens, that that’s because it was the act of switching up my pattern that sparked the good stuff. Every single reading method, practice, format, and habit is valid and valuable – but none so much as trying them all." 

*****

Are you ready to shake up your reading habits? What will you do first? Anything you'd like to recommend - author, title, format?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Introverts Unite! *

* But, don't worry, we only have to unite in spirit. We don't actually have to go outside or talk to people or anything. 

I am an introvert. My husband not only accepts this but also celebrates it. He wants me to appreciate myself and all my eccentricities the way he does. Because, for a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me and the way I moved in this world. So, when my husband recently presented me with Introvert Doodles by Maureen "Marzi" Wilson, it was with the best of intentions and a heart full of love. 

Here are a few favorites from her book:








I don't know Marzi, and the only thing I get from promoting her here is the knowledge that by sharing her work, we'll all get a laugh or two, along with the realization that we're not the only ones curled up in yoga pants, binge-watching Big Little Lies and eating chocolate chip cookies. Right? Right? Oh, come on, I can't be the only one . . . .


Available on Amazon

*****

Are you an introvert? Do you know one? Married to one? Did these cartoons make you chuckle and nod your head in recognition? Plan on checking out Marzi's website and book?  

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Last Days of Rosalind Kershaw - The Sirens Call, Issue 31


Rosalind Kershaw's body is failing, but her mind is solid.

Or is it?

She has no family, no friends and lives alone. 

Or does she?

I am thrilled to be included in The Sirens Call's Fifth Annual Women in Horror Issue. Not only because I am in excellent company, but also because "The Last Days of Rosalind Kershaw" is a bit of a departure for me. It's not - gasp! - flash fiction. It's a short story, running about five published pages. 

The issue is FREE to download and if you'd like, you can meet Rosalind Kershaw on page 77. Don't wait too long, though. Her days are numbered. 


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: Still Here


Click here for more information

We're about two months or so into 2017, and I think it's time for a pep talk. Or a kick in the pants. Or both.

Those resolutions we set in January? Those goals from 2016 we shifted over to this year? Those dreams we had long ago? Remember all of them? Good. 

Now don't you forget them. And don't let anyone else convince you to forget them.

"THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE 
WHO HAVE GIVEN UP ON THEIR DREAMS 
AND NOW SPEND THEIR LIVES 
TRYING TO GET OTHERS 
TO GIVE UP ON THEIRS."
(Grant Carbone)

I've met those people. Sometimes they look like teachers, family members, friends. Some told me that I couldn't do this writing thing. A lot don't read my work. Some breezily say things about my blog, like "Oh, I don't think to look at it." Others never ask about my writing at all.  

But you know what? I'm still here. I don't know what they're doing, but I'm still creating, still dreaming, still setting goals, still writing. 

And so are you. 

You better be. Don't you give up and leave me all alone out here. 

*****

Are you kicking 2017's rear with all your accomplishments and successes? Are naysayers getting under your skin? Are you struggling with obstacles, with setbacks? Have you had to re-evaluate your goals, find a different path for achieving them? No shame in that - I've been there! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Where the Wild Chickens Are

The other day I posted some photos of the area where I live, and talked about how it's not the country by any means but to a girl who grew up in the city, it might as well be. Now, my husband and I take lots of walks. Outside of our development, we pass pens housing cows and horses. We see the occasional slinky otter, a trudging turtle or two, strutting sandhill cranes. Even an alligator now and then, sunning itself on the far bank of a lake. Keep in my mind, we're still on a sidewalk, near a road, with people and cars nearby. This is my kind of nature. (Otherwise, my imagination takes any kind of isolation scenario and runs cackling off with it into a dark and creepy place . . . .)

One day, my husband and I are walking along, minding our own business when something near a fence catches my eye. I don't have the best eyesight - I've been to know to mistake rocks for critters. But I knew this was an animal because it was moving. It was too tall to be an alligator, too small to be a sandhill crane. And it was round. And kind of . . . fluffy.

And it was coming right for us. 

Remember back in October, I attempted that 5K, the one with the "zombies" that come after you? Well, based on what happened next, I'm pretty sure I would've done a lot better on the 5K if it were chickens that chased me. 

I turned and ran. I prayed I could move faster than a chicken. (Seriously, how am I supposed to know how fast a chicken can move? The only chicken I ever saw was in the grocery store.) Thankfully, I could and I did. And yes, I abandoned my poor husband, left him to duke it out with the chicken, but I knew he could handle himself. Besides, he caught up to me pretty quickly. I'd like to say he stayed behind to defend me from an attack, but I have a feeling he stayed behind so he could laugh hysterically without me seeing.  

Now, to prove I am not the only one with a justified fear of chickens, take a look at a great scene from The Big Bang Theory




*****

Are you frightened by any particular not-normally-considered-scary animal? Could you outrun them if you had to? How do you feel about isolated areas?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Picture It!

I thought I'd go visual with this post and show some photos - taken by my husband or myself - of the area where we live. We by no means live in the country, but to a girl who grew up in the city, it's close enough. (One day, I'll have to tell you about the wild chicken . . . .)


Ah, sunrise!


This guy might need extra postage.


This cobweb is NOT a reflection
of my cleaning abilities.


Sandhill cranes, protecting their nest.
Check out the egg!


Every place has pros and cons,
but I love where I live

Oh, and the tortoises want to make sure you check out their two new photos over on the righthand sidebar near the top . . . . 

*****

Do you take photos of your daily life or do you wait for an event or a vacation? What critters share your space - inside or outside? Do you love where you live?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ask Yourself This

I came across the following in a magazine awhile back and it about blew my mind. I hate to admit it, but I am so guilty of this:

"WAS IT A BAD DAY
OR
WAS IT A BAD FIVE MINUTES
THAT YOU MILKED ALL DAY?'
(-sdevanny1)

Now, whenever I catch myself in a bad mood, I stop and ask myself that question. 

Sometimes the answer is "Yes, it was a bad day, and chocolate better be forthcoming." (That's when my poor husband wishes he had a shell like the tortoises!) 

But most times the answer is, "No, it was a moment of aggravation, of annoyance, of frustration that I let get under my skin." Once I realize that, it's like all the little dust bunnies of gloom scatter, and I can see all the shiny surfaces of my life - all the big things I am grateful for, like my husband, our health, our home - as well as the smaller moments of joy and peace I experience throughout the day - reading a good book while drinking hot coffee, watching the tortoises doze happily under their heat lamp. 

Sure, we all have bad days, but maybe we don't have as many as we think we do. 

*****

How about you? Are you guilty of milking those five minutes, too? Will you try asking - and answering - the question? Have any other suggestions for gaining some perspective? How do you focus on gratitude instead of a negative attitude?