Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Hunkering Down

The plan for this summer is to pretty much hunker down and Get. Things. Done. Somehow, life – and that includes everything from health to writing to cleaning - has gotten away from me. Keeping things on track is like herding tortoises back inside the house from the patio (believe me, it's harder than you think.) Time to start moving in a positive direction again!



In publication news, my flash fiction story, "The Perfect Match", is in Shallow Waters Vol. 7: A Flash Fiction Anthology, and I have two drabbles coming out this summer in anthologies from Black Ink Fiction. 


I actually "attended" my first StokerCon – the big conference for horror writers - from the comfort of my own home. I watched panel after panel and learned so much. I took pages and pages of handwritten notes, all of which I'm hoping I will be able to decipher. 




We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker is a little more of a slower paced book than I usually read but the writing! The characters! The revelations toward the end! The ending! The book just blew me away. 




Movies – "Rent-A-Pal" was creepy, sad, and unsettling.


TV – We finally finished watching "Justified" and overall absolutely LOVED it! The last episode was excellent and the very last scene was just perfect. 




Larry and Mrs. Larry are now 12 years old! They celebrated by having one of their favorite treats – banana!  The rest of us had cake.




Seriously, what was I thinking? Why did I let my husband convince me to do this 500 miles walk? Why didn't we just do the 100 miles? We'd be done already! Why did I think I could do this? (Okay, whiny rant over. For now.)


Miles walked as of 5/31/2021 = 137.2/500 (Click here for what this craziness is all about.)




Any projects – creative or otherwise – you plan to tackle this summer? Have you read or watched anything great lately? How about a pep talk, a butt kick, or a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup . . . or two? I need all the help I can get!

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Perfect Match - Shallow Waters Vol. 7: A Flash Fiction Anthology

What happens when a car and driver find that the middle of nowhere might actually be the end of the road?


Find out . . . in my story "The Perfect Match."

From the publisher - 


Take a Deep Breath and Dive Beneath the Surface of Shallow Waters—Where Nothing Stays Buried.

With 23 Dark Fiction & Horror tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the mystery that lies beneath. 

Volume seven includes suspenseful stories with themes of isolation, the drive-in, cars, love, tragedy and loss, post-apocalypse, and camp horror.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Spring . . . Back

Even though we were supposed to spring ahead last month, I pretty much fell waaaaaay back. In time, that is.



I'm pretty sure the last time I wrote poetry was when I was in college  - over 20 years ago, people - so imagine my surprise when I managed to create some horror poetry for a contest. 





I am so looking forward to upcoming releases by some of my long-time favorite, auto-buy authors: Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson, The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon and Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian





Movies - The nostalgia volume was turned to high around here as Pretty in Pink and Footloose had me tapping my feet. I somehow managed to feel both young AND old at the same time. 


TV - When my husband and I heard about the death of Larry McMurtry, we looked at each other and said, "We're watching Lonesome Dove this weekend." I read the novel before the mini-series came out, and it's safe to say it's easily one of my all-time favorite books. I fell in love with the mini-series when I first watched it back in 1989. Did it hold up for me in 2021? You better believe it! How could it not with Larry McMurtry's writing and starring actors like Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and Danny Glover, to name just a few. 





Hooray for progress! When I first started, I averaged about 1-1.5 miles each outing. Now, I average about 2-2.5 miles, and I’m inching up to 3. 


Miles walked as of 3/31/21 = 83.6/500. (Click here for what this craziness is all about.)



Traveled down memory lane lately? Seen either of those movies or the mini-series? Made progress – no matter how little! - on any projects?  

Monday, March 1, 2021

March-ing On

My "one word" for 2021 is FOCUS. To be honest, it's not working all that well. My thoughts are like Yahtzee dice - spilling out from my mind, scattering everywhere. But hey, we're only in the third month of the year. That's still plenty of time to work my word! 



I recently redid my Writer's Manifesto. I love that it reminds me HOW I want to write, HOW I want my writing life to feel, to look. This time around, I emphasized having more fun and trusting the creative process. 




Two books I ended up liking more than I thought I would – Shiver by Allie Reynolds and The Woman Outside My Door by Rachel Ryan. I was pleasantly surprised to get so caught up in them! 




Movies – "Come Play" was my kind of creepy and "Freaky" was the kind of campy horror movie that reminded me of "Scream." 




Seen on a walk: 

Photo by Madeline Mora-Summonte, 2021

Okay, I actually see this every day . . . because it's in front of our house! We had this bougainvillea planted soon after we moved in because we wanted a spot of color, one I'll hopefully be able to see from my office window soon. But we never realized how many people would enjoy our little tree, too. One lady even told my husband that she looks forward to riding her bike by it every day. (Fingers crossed my husband and I won't ruin it with our not-so-green thumbs . . . .) 


Miles walked as of 2/25/21 = 51/500. We passed the first official milestone! (Click here if you're wondering what this craziness is all about.)



Do you have "one word" for 2021? If so, how's it working for you? Do you have a Writer's Manifesto or going to give one a try? Have you read or watched something that surprised you with how much you liked it? Is there anything on your route that brightens your walks or drives? 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Forward into February

For some reason – and no reason – January had me stymied at almost every turn. Even so, I'm choosing to focus on the positives! Here are some highlights: 



Since one of my stories tied for first place in a Crystal Lake flash fiction contest in 2020, I was invited to participate in their Best of the Best challenge, only open to contest winners. Let me just say this: Whew! That was some tough competition! My story didn't win or place, but I'm honored to have been included in that bunch.




2021 started with the suspenseful The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard. It not only gave me the creeps, but also offered a creative twist to the alternative POV structure. So well done! Loved it!




TV-wise, we're trying some old-but-new-to-us shows, like "Justified." I can't even begin to tell you how much we're enjoying it! [Please no spoilers in the comments! We're only up to season 3 or so.]


Movie-wise, we watched "Don't Tell a Soul," starring Rainn Wilson. So well acted and full of great twists! 




We had some cold-for-Florida weather, which meant the tortoises had to stay inside. But it finally warmed up enough for them to wander the patio, taking the occasional break to sit under the grill.




Seen on a walk: A man, dogs on the seat next to him, pulls his golf cart up to the stop sign. Music drifts over from the cart. The song? "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses. 


Miles walked as of 1/29/21 = 28/500. Hmm, this might actually be more miles than I walked all of last year. (Click here if you're wondering what this craziness is all about.


How's your year going so far? Have you read or watched anything good? (Again, please no "Justified" spoilers!) Are you making progress on any challenges or goals?

Monday, January 4, 2021

One Small Step

Other than a few specific goals (see below for one of them), my overall plan for 2021 is to move in a positive direction, to choose projects or tasks that will move me in a "creative" direction or in a "healthy" direction, etc. I have no idea if this will work, but even though 2020 sucked the oomph out of me, I still want to enter 2021 with a bounce in my step. 


"The good life is a process, not a state of being. 

It is a direction not a destination."

Carl Rogers

Speaking of direction and moving, did I mention I plan to walk 500 miles this year?


Yes, for some of you that's a piece of cake, but since my steps consist mostly of me going from my desk to the kitchen to get a piece of cake, this is huge. 


My husband and I signed up for this virtual challenge to encourage a healthy lifestyle, but it will be more than just a physical challenge for me. As someone who has perfectionist tendencies, the thought of falling behind and/or failing altogether makes me incredibly anxious. But one of the things I told myself - other than that I've lost my mind - is that any miles I walk because of this challenge are miles I might not have walked otherwise. Any accumulation will be an accomplishment. 


I'll do the occasional update here on the blog. It will be much like tracking the progress of a tortoise. If I'm lucky.  


Miles Walked as of 1/4/2021 = 5.6/500



Did you make any resolutions, set goals? Or are you keeping it a little looser like I am? Anything you'd recommend for my walks – music/podcasts/audio books to listen to, sneakers, socks, workout clothes, etc? 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Five Star Reads and Farewell 2020

Talking about books and reading is one of my favorite things to do. So, to end this year on a positive page (ha! get it?!), I'd like to share with you all my Five Star Reads for 2020: 


KIND OF COPING: AN ILLUSTRATED LOOK AT LIFE WITH ANXIETY by Maureen Marzi Wilson (graphic novel/comics) - Love her comics!


ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King (nonfiction/writing) - I've lost count of how many times I've read this and/or just picked it up for inspiration.


THE OTHER PEOPLE by C. J. Tudor (thriller/mystery) - My favorite of this author's books!


WHEN YOU SEE ME (Detective DD Warren #11) by Lisa Gardner (mystery/thriller) - This series just keeps getting better and better.


ALONE IN THE WILD (Rockton #5) by Kelley Armstrong (mystery/thriller) - My favorite series by Armstrong.


BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN by Diane Chamberlain (historical fiction) - This makes three Five Star Reads in a row for me by Chamberlain.


HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS by Katherine Center (fiction/romance) - So glad I stepped outside my usual genres and gave this a try!


THE CLOSER YOU GET by Mary Torjussen (thriller/mystery) - Whew!


THEY WENT LEFT by Monica Hesse (historical fiction, young adult) - Wow. Just wow.


DEVOLUTION: A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF THE RAINIER SASQUATCH MASSACRE by Max Brooks (horror) - This was like reading one of those found-footage horror movies I so enjoy.


THE SHADOWS by Alex North (horror/thriller) - Another winner by the author of THE WHISPER MAN.


WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK by Julia Heaberlin (mystery/thriller) - Get ready to be thoroughly absorbed in and by this slow burn story.


PLAYING NICE by J P Delaney (thriller/mystery) - Couldn't turn the pages fast enough!


DON'T LOOK FOR ME by Wendy Walker (thriller/mystery) - Hang on tight for this ride!


THE BRILLIANT LIFE OF EUDORA HONEYSETT by Annie Lyons (fiction/contemporary) - Loved it. Just loved it. 


FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (realistic fiction, middle grade) -This is an important read and should be available to all children. 


HIS & HERS by Alice Feeney (thriller/mystery) - Will keep you guessing!


THE DEVIL AND THE DARK WATER by Stuart Turton (mystery/historical fiction) - I keep describing this to people as Game of Thrones meets The Terror.


THE CANYON'S EDGE by Dusti Bowling (adventure/survival, middle grade) - Another well-worth-it step outside of my comfort zone for this (mostly) novel-in-verse. 


THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig (fiction/fantasy/contemporary) - This won the Goodreads Choice in Fiction for 2020 and deservedly so. I plan on re-reading and marking many, many passages. 


(I didn't receive any kind of compensation for these reviews. I just enjoy sharing the book love!)



Dusti Bowling's THE CANYON'S EDGE, mentioned above, doesn't really have anything to do with 2020, but the following passage brought to mind this past year and the one to come: 


"I've survived this last year.

I've gone half as long as the creosote bush.

I can go another year.

But I want this year to be different.

I don't want to survive the next year

as I did the last year.

I want to live the next year.


I can come back."




Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Any fantastic reads you want to share? Have any reading goals for 2021? (I'm planning to keep my usual goal of 80 books for the next Goodreads Challenge. It's a stretch but definitely doable!) 


All of us here at The Shellshank Redemption 

wish all of you out there 

a new year 

full of happiness, 

health and hope!!!