Monday, January 16, 2017

Lists Gone Wild!

It's no secret that I am a reader. I love books. I also love lists. So it's no surprise that I actually keep book-related lists. Books I've read. Books I think other people might like. Books I want to read.

My confession to you all is that my Books To Read list is over 20 pages long. Typed, single-spaced pages. With separate sections including Young Adult, Fiction, and Nonfiction. With notations, like asterisks for books I'm dying to read. With words like "Buy" or "Request from Library."

Is that weird?

In my defense, my husband has books on the list, too. But . . . his Books To Read titles might total one page.

And I do go through the list regularly. But . . . I usually add more books than I subtract.

Sigh. I know I will never, ever be able to read all the books I want to in my lifetime. In the words of Lemony Snicket:

"It is most likely that I will die next to a pile of books 
I was meaning to read."

Well, if that's the case then I better make the most of the time I've got and get reading!


Do you have a Books To Read list? How many pages is it? How do you organize it (Please don't tell me I'm alone on this!) Do you set reading goals? Participating in the 2017 Reading Challenge over on Goodreads? If we're not already "friends" over there, let's fix that asap! 

Monday, January 9, 2017


One of my favorite books of 2016 was I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. It was a great read for a number of reasons, one of which were the twists. But . . . I read a lot of books with twists. Why did this one stay with me? I couldn't put my finger on it until I read this post - "Surprise Me" by literary agent extraordinaire, Janet Reid, where she says:

"I want to gasp. I want to put the manuscript down and just enjoy that moment when the author turns the story upside down."

Yes! And that's exactly what happened to me when I read I Let You Go. I found myself scrabbling back through the pages to see what I missed. But you know what? I hadn't actually missed anything.  

Ms Reid explains it like this: "That's what surprise is: we had the info, but we didn't know what it meant. . . A good surprise makes perfect sense but you just didn't see it coming."

I want to do that for my readers, whether it's in the short form of a story or in the long form of a novel. I want them to have that moment, maybe even more than one. It's certainly something worth striving for, even if it is, as Ms. Reid says, ". . . really, really simple stuff . . . and hard as hell to carry off."

Is there a book that stays with you because of its twists and turns? How about a movie or TV show? Do you aim for that in your own writing? How do you achieve it? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Stuck in a Social Media Rut

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I am not a trendsetter. I am also not one to jump on a bandwagon. You will often find me observing from the sidelines until I'm ready to either join in or to go my own way. Sometimes this works well, while other times I am left mired in the muddy wheel rut left behind by that very same bandwagon.

And that's where I'm waving to you all from right now. I. Am. Stuck.

I fought it for a long time, but I'm at the point where I need to - want to! - do more with social media. I want to add to my online presence, which consists of this blog and Goodreads.

(Go ahead, I'll wait while you all wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes.)

I know, I know, I am way behind, and so I am turning to you, my fellow IWSG-ers. Help a techno-social media-phobe out!

What works for you? Twitter? Instagram? Something else I have no idea even exists? Why do you like it? How was the learning curve?

If you're familiar with me and my writing, what do you think would work best for me? What would you like to see from me - tweets? Something more visual, like photos? A newsletter? 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dark Anemone, Red Heels - Best of 2016 Nailpolish Stories

You will never find me on a Best Dressed list.

You might find me on a Best Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Eater list.

But you can find me over at Nailpolish Stories in their Best of 2016 issue!

“Best of 2016” stories were selected for their use of unique language, breadth of story in so few words, emotional impact, and the complex and original relationship of the titles to their stories."

I hope you enjoy reading my two pieces, "Dark Anemone" and "Red Heels." I am thrilled to be in such great company, including that of blogging buddy, Tyrean Martinson.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why I Believe in Stories


This is why I believe in the power of stories. 

It will break your heart then repair it so you can feel even more hope, more joy.

Warning: have tissues handy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday Wishes and a Blogging Break

(Oprah Winfrey)

The holiday season is not joyful for everyone. Some people are grieving. Others are lonely. Many are stressed for reasons ranging from financial to familial. And society - TV commercials, ads, holiday movies, etc - can often make people feel worse for not experiencing the "perfect" time. 

If you're struggling this holiday season, please try to look beyond the trappings and into the heart of what is good in you and in your life. It's sometimes hard to see it with all the hoopla, but it's there. It might seem small or inconsequential to you, but it's not. It's important. You do have something to "praise and celebrate." We all do. 

How's your health? Is there a solid roof over your head? Do you have a pet that you love? Can you pick up a small toy to donate for a children's charity? How about a stroll to look at Christmas lights? Do you find peace in attending a religious service? How about treating yourself to a book you've been dying to read, a movie marathon while curled up on the couch, a favorite rich food that makes your eyeballs roll back in your head? How about starting a gratitude journal? It might be a lovely way to give the old year a solid goodbye embrace while also opening your arms wide and joyfully to the new year that's arriving.

All of us here at The Shellshank Redemption wish you joy - whatever that looks like for you - this holiday season. I'll pop in and out of the blogosphere, but the tortoises say no more posts until after Christmas. It does take them some time to get things done. After all, the tree won't decorate itself! And Larry is not the handiest when it comes to wrapping presents. So, we need all the time we can get around here.

Merry Christmas! 🎅  Happy Holidays! 🎄

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: Not Done Yet

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Do you know what I'm insecure about this month? Not having a good answer for December's IWSG Question!

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what is your plan to get there?

I love lists. I am passionate about planning. I get giddy about goals. Yet questions like this always stump me. I'm not exactly sure why, other than the usual suspect: FEAR. Fear of failure. Fear of not being creative/smart/tough, etc enough. Fear of other people's reactions, including indifference. Fear of success, of achieving the goals but feeling empty inside, of all that hard work being for nothing. 

But you know what? I'm not getting any younger. And five years from now, I won't be any younger. (Who said writers can't do math?) And Fear and all Its brethren will always be lurking in the shadows, lurching from dark doorways, eager to lick the nervous sweat from the back of my neck. 

Well, they can lick all they want.  

So, while I can't answer the IWSG question exactly, I can tell you I won't be lolly-gagging my creative life away. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know one thing:

I am not done yet.