Monday, January 22, 2018

There Might Be Dancing . . .

I love to get books - and gift cards for them! - as gifts. When books I request from the library are ready to pick up, I want to rush over, scoop them up and bring them home. And I probably get waaaaay too excited when a favorite author has a new book coming out. (There might even be some dancing involved. And not by the tortoises.) 

But I thought of those things as a reader, not so much as a writer. Until now.


WHEN YOU THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE,
DON'T THINK ABOUT WHO'LL BUY YOUR BOOK.
THINK OF WHO WILL READ IT
AS IF IT'S THE GREATEST GIFT.

It shifts the focus. It's no longer about what we as writers can get from our readers but becomes more about what we can give to our readers. And what can we give them? So. Many. Things. In the pages of our stories, we offer adventure, romance, new friends, mysteries to solve, trips to the past and to the future and to places incredibly different from our own. 

And in my case, I (hopefully!) give my readers goose-bumps and heebie-jeebies. (Okay, the real gift is that no one has to see me dance. Other than the tortoises, and they just hide in their shells until it's over anyway.) 

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So, what do you give your readers? Do you get excited about books? Are you a good dancer? 

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I'm taking a short blogging break. I'll still check in, but no new posts until Wednesday, February 7, when I will once again be co-hosting IWSG. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Popcorn, Please!

Did you know The Exorcist was the first horror film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar?

Did you know Psycho is the first American film to show a toilet? It's also the first time we hear a toilet flush.

For more fun trivia, check out 40 Fascinating Facts About Your Favorite Horror Movies (MentalFloss.com, 10/23/17.) I love this kind of stuff! Here are a few more:

Robert Englund was not the first choice to play Freddy Krueger, and Sissy Spacek was not the first choice to play Carrie. Can you imagine anyone else in those roles?

Gene Hackman was supposed to star in and direct Silence of the Lambs. No Anthony Hopkins?! And speaking of Silence of the Lambs, remember Buffalo Bill's creepy dance? That wasn't in the script, but it was in the book, and actor Ted Levine insisted it be included to help explain the character.

Jaws is one of my all-time favorite movies for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that not seeing Jaws right away escalates the tension and the creepiness. But the real reason the shark doesn't fully appear until one hour and twenty-one minutes into the movie? Because apparently, the mechanical shark rarely worked during filming.

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Do you enjoy watching horror/scary movies? Have any favorites? Have any interesting movie trivia to share?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Round and Round We Go

You all know by now how much I enjoy writing short fiction to prompts or themes. Well, over the holidays, literary agent Janet Reid held a flash fiction contest. But this was no ordinary flash fiction contest. Usually, we have about 48 hours to write a 100 word story that must include all five prompt words.

This time? Rounds. Four of them.

Round One: Prompt Word = bird, Number of Words = 30
Round Two: Prompt Word = ring, Number of Words = 25
Round Three: Prompt Word = colly, Number of Words = 25
Round Four: Prompt Word = sent, Number of Words = 20

Most of the usual rules applied along with a big twist: You could write individual stories each time OR build on a previous "starter" - yours or someone else's (with attribution, of course.)

It. Was. A. Blast.

I chose to build on my story. It was a risk because I didn't know what the next round's prompt word would be until it opened. I kept my story creepy (big surprise!) and my fingers crossed that I could make the prompt words work. My entry is below, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.


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Fog shrouds the house.

A bird flits by a window, the old glass broken from within.

The fog breathes, escapes.

The bird does not.

Inside, the occupants are still hungry.

Long ago, they gathered at the dinner bell's ring.

But the meal was not for them.

The only thing to grow up was their rage.

Now, they're the monsters. Cursed, caged.

Desperate, their tongues, long and twisted, bruised colly and cobalt, lick the walls, tasting memories of blood and bone.

When they turn on each other, it's swift, unsentimental.

Only one remains.

She crunches her brothers' bones, satiated.

For now.

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Would you build on your own story? Someone else's? Or would you write a new one - with that tiny word count! - each round? Do you enjoy writing to prompts or themes or super small word counts? Or do you find them too restrictive?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: Focus, Finish


For More Information

Looking ahead to 2018 was like walking around my house without my glasses on - everything was blurry, vague, and I kept bumping into walls, tripping over tortoises.

I spent the last chunk of 2017 cleaning up and cleaning out, and finally saw a better, clearer view of the new year.

It's about fewer goals, more follow-through. It's about focusing, about finishing. I named two large projects that will probably take the whole year. In the meantime, a handful of small ones will help me feel like I'm accomplishing something. A hobby or two (art!) and some fun experiences (classes! day trips!) will round out where most of my effort and energy will go.

With this plan, I feel like I just slipped on a new pair of glasses, and now I can finally see where I'm going.

* And speaking of positive starts to the new year, my 25 word story "Pillow Talk" made the Best of 2017 issue over at Nailpolish Stories! *

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How is 2018 looking to you? If you're good at following through on projects, what's your secret? If you struggle like I do, what do you think holds you back? Too many projects, interests? Time management issues? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Press Pause, Not Stop

It's time to do some cleaning-up and cleaning-out, so I am taking the next few weeks to do just that.

Papers will be tossed! Furniture will be moved! Goals will be set!

But I'll also take some down time -

Books will be read! TV shows and movies will be binge-watched! Beaches will be walked!

Even the tortoises have plans -

Basil will be eaten! Shells will be rubbed! Basking will be done!

I'll still be around the blogosphere and Goodreads, but the next posting here at TSR won't be until IWSG on January 3, 2018. (2018?! When did that happen?!)

All of us here at The Shellshank Redemption wish everyone a wonderful holiday season - whatever and however you shell-ebrate!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: No Idea


For More Information

Since my birthday is in October, I like to think of that as my new year, using the time between then and January 1st as a "soft opening" of sorts, when I play with new ideas, plan new projects, lay the foundation for the actual new year so I have a head start on those goals.

This year? Not so much.

I have no idea what 2018 will look like. It's all vague and blurry, like the landscape viewed through a steamed-up window. Ghostly shapes emerge - a big writing project, some smaller ones, an exercise routine, a plan to manage the anxiety and other issues - but all their edges are soft, smeared. And if I can't see them clearly, how will I know how far away they are? How will I know how to get there? And will I even recognize them when - if - I do?

These last few months have been rough, and I'm hoping December will be a time of reflection, of quiet, of clean-out and clean-up. Maybe I'll even take a squeegee to that window so I can finally get a good look at all the amazing possibilities that are on the other side.

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How were these last few months for you? What are your plans for December? Do you have a clear vision for 2018 or is your view obscured like mine?

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Got Nothing, or The November-NaNo Blues

This November and this NaNo are kicking my butt. My energy level is so low that the tortoises could beat me in a foot race. (And yes, I know they have four feet to my two but you get my point.) And my creative well is so dry . . . .  I can't come up with a good way to finish that sentence.

So, instead of more blather from me, I thought I'd share some more of my favorite comics from over at Introvert Doodles.












(Marzi's book is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon and would make a great gift for the holidays. I already own it and love it! And the only thing I get from talking about any of it, is the joy that comes from sharing something creative and fun.)

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How's your November? If you participated in NaNo, how was it? Think you could beat the tortoises in a foot race? (You might think twice if you've seen them hustle after a banana....)