Monday, May 18, 2020

Superheroes and Surprises

Since a number of nice surprises have come my way recently, I wanted to share some of that positivity with you all. I hope you find something here that lifts your spirits!


I'd heard so many good things about Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center that even though it's a different genre for me - more contemporary fiction/women's fiction/romance – I had to give it a try. I LOVED it. Loved. It. It's heartbreaking AND heartwarming. I cried, I laughed, I rooted for pretty much every single character. I can't recommend it enough.


You know that saying about finding heroes in unlikely places? Well, the other day, my husband and I were out walking  – social distancing rules applying (not for each other, although my husband might have wanted a break from me but was too nice – afraid? – to ask.) We're passing by a tree with a plant – orchid? – growing around it. I keep walking, but my husband stops. Laughing, he waves me back to show me . . . 


Photo by Madeline Mora-Summonte, 2020

Of course, we then spent the rest of our walk wondering about that Batman figure. Who put it there and why? Is it some sort of secret code for local kids? Did an adult find it and place it there, hoping the owner of the lost toy would come back for it? How long has it been there? No one stole it? 


The post "Have Shocking Coffee with Your Lead Character" by James Scott Bell is a fantastic tool to get us past those "safe places" in our writing. He mentions a few different ideas in the post, and I hope to try them all, but this is my favorite: 

You, the author, imagine you are seated with your main character over a cup of coffee. She tells you she doesn’t think you’ve quite captured her. That surprises you a bit. I mean, after all, you created her.

So you ask, “In what way?” And your character tells you something that shocks you. What is it? (I have the students write for one minute.)

Then I say: You’ve spit out your coffee. Your character hands you a napkin and then tells you something even more shocking! (Write for one minute.)


After struggling with creativity and focus, I was thrilled to learn one of my flash fiction stories received second place in a contest AND will be published in an upcoming anthology. More information to come!


This month, the tortoises turn 11 years old! The surprise here is that while I like animals fine, I never really considered myself an animal person or a pet person . . . until the tortoises came along. These two make me smile every single day. They're like my own little superheroes, only they have shells instead of capes. 


What pleasant surprises have come your way lately? Read any good books? Seen any superheroes lately? Will you have coffee with your characters? Any creative/publishing/writing news? Do your pets get anything special on their birthday? (The tortoises will get banana but sssh, don't tell them! It's a surprise!)   


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is funny the Batman figure is still there.
How long do tortoises live?

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks, Alex!

I don't know how long Batman was there before we first noticed him, but he's been there every time we've walked by since.

Our tortoises should live a very long time - fingers crossed! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on making second place and getting in the anthology. I love when I read outside my genre and am surprised to enjoy the book. Lately I've been reading more middle grade contemporary and enjoying them.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks, Natalie!

I've got handful of middle grade contemporary novels On Hold at the library, but I don't know when I'll actually get my hands on them! Sigh. :(

Patricia said...

Batman is watching over the tree and flower!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Maybe it's the new Bat Signal? :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love the Batman placement! He's climbing up the flower to rescue ... a cat, a bird, our sense of humor? I like the idea of it being a signal. :)
Congrats on your publication news and happy birthday to your tortoises!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Ha on Batman rescuing our sense of humor! :)

Thanks, Tyrean! And I will let them know. :)

Lee Lowery said...

Yaaay on your publication! Very exciting!

I love James Scott Bell. He always has a unique twist on standard advice. I vote for Bat Code - he's adorable scaling that orchid.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks so much, Lee!

I really enjoyed Bell's book - Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing.

I so want someone to add a Robin figure to the tree.... :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Congratulations on the anthology publication, Madeline! As for surprises, connecting with a bunch of my high school classmates on Zoom for a virtual 60th reunion has been amazing fun.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks, Patricia!

How fun for you! Glad you got a chance to do that.

emaginette said...

I promise to have coffee with my characters as soon as I'm able. Thanks for digging out this golden tip. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Meeting for coffee isn't as easy as it once was, what with the whole social distancing thing, right? :)

Annalisa Crawford said...

Congrats on the flash fiction success!

I love the Batman figure. In our town, we have a tree stump that gets dressed up as Father Christmas, superheroes etc. Over the past couple of months, it's been in hospital scrubs with a face mask to honour the NHS

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks, Annalisa!

Love that about the tree stump! Very clever. :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Congratulations on the contest win/publication! That book sounds like something I could really use right now. Thanks for the rec! It sounds like you just hadn't found the right sort of pet before. I love little details like the Batman in the tree.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks, Shannon!

The book was definitely not my usual genre of reading, but I so enjoyed it. I hope you do, too, if you decide to give it a try. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

First off, congrats on your piece being selected for publication in an upcoming anthology. Woo HOO! That's gotta give you a real shot in the arm, eh?

Thanks for the book recommendation. Sounds like a real feel-good read... and I LOVE schmaltz.

Take care. Oh yeah. Do we give our pets anything special on their birthdays? Of course! (And darned near every other day, too... yeah, they're a tad spoiled...)

Have super weekend.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thanks so much, Susan!

I was a little worried about the schmaltz factor but this had just the right amount for me, and it was cut with humor which definitely helped.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I was on Goodreads, getting ready to fill in my May books, when I saw your post and I thought, Gosh, how long has it been since I've caught up with Madeline?? And I love a good surprise so yay for you and your win! Yay for Batman lurking in an orchid! And though I'm deep into the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series, I wrote down that title rec for later. Thanks, Madeline, for the cheer up and glad you're doing well!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Good to "see" you over here, Cathy! I do try to make sure my posts sync up over on Goodreads.

Thanks for the congrats!

I learned about that book over on Goodreads ages ago and had it in my TBR pile. I'm so glad I finally picked it up. I hope you enjoy it!