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.

 

WRITING

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. 

 

***

 

READING

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

 

***

 

WATCHING

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. 

 

***

 

WALKING

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! 

 

WRITING

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. 

 

***


READING

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! 

 

***


WATCHING

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

 

***


WALKING

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: 

 

WRITING 

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.

 

***


READING

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!


***

 

WATCHING

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! 

 

***


TORTOISES

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.

 

***


WALKING

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!!! 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Out of the Way

Story A Day September went well. I achieved my goal of writing one story every weekday for a total of 22 stories. Of course, some stink like tortoise poop, while others have potential. 

 

But writing momentum came to a standstill in October. I could not get anything going. Everything I wrote came across blah, flat. I couldn't submit my work anywhere. Nothing I wrote was good enough. 

 

An entry for one of Janet Reid's flash fiction contests had me tearing my hair out (and since I have very short hair, this is a real problem.) I liked my idea but could not for the life of me get it to work. I finally said f@ck it (this is a tortoise friendly blog, people!) and wrote it – fast, sharp, without the usual protagonist and set-up, etc. It was good enough to submit. It didn’t win, but it made Ms. Reid's list of standout entries. Her comments gave me a creative boost and a sense of validation. 

 

Next project – I spent days on an idea I liked, but once written, turned into such a big yawn fest I put myself to sleep. So, again, I said f@ck it (which I really hope is not going to be my new mantra or I'll have to start covering the tortoises' ears.) The new story came together in a day, and off it went to a Crystal Lake Publishing contest. I'm pleased to announce it made the finals!  

 

Both times, I got out of my own way, but more importantly, I got out of the story's way. Sometimes I'm afraid to let the story "go there." To let a twisted protagonist rule. To let an inanimate object own the POV. To let the story roar over the page like a hurricane. To let it slither onto the scene, licking lines with a poisonous tongue. 


To let the story lead the way.

 

*****

 

Here's my entry from the No One Moves to NY for the Weather contest with Ms. Reid's comments at the end. A list of rules apply, like the 100 word limit and the inclusion of the following words: cold, blue, shiver, sox, fox. I hope you enjoy it!

 

She is his oxygen. His passion. His obsession. She just doesn't know it. Yet. 

He is the shiver down her spine. The shadow sliding behind her on the sidewalk. The sly fox slinking in the woods near her house. The presence she senses but does not see. 

He daydreams. His knife traces the cold blue roadmap of her veins. He licks the hot red river it leaves behind. 

She pays attention now. Looks over her shoulder. Watches out her window. 

He has gotten sloppy. She has gotten ready. 

He just doesn't know it. Yet. 


Utterly brilliant. It's not quite a story, but this is stunning writing. 


*****


Are you standing in your own way, with writing or something else? Or have you in the past? Any suggestions on how keep out of the way? 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rattled - Shallow Waters Vol. 6: A Flash Fiction Anthology

What happens when Rosemary finds an old abandoned car seat that might have more life in it yet? 

Find out . . . in my story "Rattled."



From the publisher - 

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

With 20 Dark Fiction & Horror tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the mystery that lies beneath.