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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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)

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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.   


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

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

November IWSG: Are We Having Fun Yet?

YES! 

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 . . . .  

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

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Piece Meal - Shallow Waters Vol. 3: A Flash Fiction Anthology

What happens when a gumball machine dispenses something far more sinister - and sweeter - than candy?

Find out . . . in my story "Piece Meal."


*** AVAILABLE ON AMAZON ***

From the Publisher - 

Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried!

With twenty-one dark tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the pain between them.

Volume three includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of hauntings, monsters, clowns, twisted love, and the beauty beneath it all.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

October IWSG: Wishing You All The Wins

As someone who should have the word "insecure" tattooed somewhere on my body, I am extremely hesitant to say out loud that things are going well in my writing world. (And now the tortoises have ducked inside their shells, sure the lightning is about to strike. . . . ) After a long and ugly drought, I find myself in a deluge of "wins." (More about this in a future post!)

But before those wins was the work. A whole weeping-hot-mess lot of it. Creative, emotional, mental, you name it. 

And it was worth it. 

For the record, let me just say that I am not so cocky as to think the work is over. Pffft. Some version of that drought will come again. Writer's block/burnout. Rejections. Not so nice reviews. Breakdowns. Meltdowns. And sometimes it just doesn't matter how hard or how much you work, it still feels like you fail. 

Do it anyway. 

Keep working. The work makes the wins even sweeter.

Keep winning. Whatever those wins look like for you. No matter how big or how small or how silly they may seem to other people. (Some days just getting out of bed is a win for me.) A win is a win.  

I will keep working, keep winning. 

And I will keep cheering for all of you and wishing you all the wins.

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What are some of your recent wins? Creative, health, life in general? Come on, I know you have at least one . . . .  

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Monday, September 16, 2019

You Are Not a Bulldozer

Every once in awhile, my writing life starts to feel like an assembly line, like my stories are widgets I'm just churning out. This happens when I stop paying attention – attention to the craft, to creativity, to passion and to purpose. And, to my regret, I haven't been paying attention for longer than I care to admit. 

But this past summer, I found my way back to myself and to my writing, and earlier this month I read an excellent blog post by Annie Neugebauer over at Writer Unboxed - "Advice to Writers Who Are In It" - that reinforced a lot of what I recently realized. Here are a few highlights that struck me: 

On working harder"What matters is that you do your best work as often as you can without burning out. When you're mid-project, you need to be deep, deep in your high-effort zone every work day for a good chunk of time. It's not about what other people are doing or can do; it's about what you can do."

On thinking more deeply"Thinking is valuable. I'm not trying to sound condescending, but we often forget that. In a society that tells us we have to be proving concrete output to be productive, it's easy to bypass that nothing-to-show-for-it part of the process where we stop and really think. Think hard. Think deep. Think for a long time, if you need to. It's what ultimately makes your work great. Thought. Don't let the word count bogies convince you you don't have time for it."

On not barreling through"Sometimes we need to "power through," yes . . . But for the love of all things literary, stop barreling through. You're not a bulldozer; you're a writer. Writing isn't always a thing you can muscle. Willpower, maybe, but not the craft . . . Sometimes slow is faster in the end."

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How's your writing life? Are you working harder, thinking more deeply? Or have you been barreling through? Can you guess what the tortoises' favorite part of this post is?