Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

holiday-charity-gifts

 

I love this post from 2016 so I’m publishing the ideas again this year. Donations help those in need as well as give your loved ones a gift from the heart.

If you’ve got a couple (or a ton) of last-minute gifts to get, these amazing organizations let you email/text the recipient or print your own card. No waiting, just giving.

Quick, easy, heartfelt. ❤ The perfect last-minute gifts:

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

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Mission: “to improve water and air quality, slow climate change, and reduce poverty by planting trees.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. They also offer “Give-A-Tree E-Cards” to send a holiday greeting with meaning. Because. Trees. Behold the beautiful trees! 🌲

 

Animals / Wildlife 

ASPCA

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Mission: “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected…”

Show your love for our four-legged friends. Give a holiday gift card in honor of a beloved furchild. I can’t stand the cuteness of that puppy. You know you want to help these little munchkins. Available in ecards.

 

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

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Mission: “to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

Choose a donation and print it out, email, or text with a custom message to the gift recipient. Or you can give a gift card (to print out or send via email) so they can choose their own donation.

* My personal favorite gift to give is honeybees. They are awesome. Here are 2 reasons why:

“Food for Life: Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely.”

“Farmers’ Helpers: In the process of searching for nectar, bees pollinate plants. The placement of a single colony can potentially double local fruit and vegetable yields.”

Isn’t that incredible? It’s the bee’s knees. 🐝

 

KIVA

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Mission: “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Print these out or email them to the gift recipient and they can start loaning right away. Change someone’s life, get paid back, help someone else… And on it goes. Making spirits bright.

 

Childhood Cancer/Childhood Diseases

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

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Mission: “Finding cures. Saving children. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Please do check out the site if you don’t already know about St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And, if you do, well… ‘Nuff said.

Printable Christmas Cards

Ecards for Christmas

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Printable Hanukkah Cards

Ecards for Hanukkah

 

   ❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️

 

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At the Zoo (Times Two)

 

The 2nd Annual Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo announced the winners from contest #1.

From lead judge, Geoff Le Pard:

“We describe through setting, body language, and context. But strip that away and what do you have? Dialogue. … That’s what I want. Just dialogue. No descriptions.”

Yup. That was the challenge. Write a dialogue-only story in 99 words. To add a bit of fun, Geoff included a pretty tricky prompt picture from the London Zoo which you can see in the contest post.

 

So I got this:

And…er…this:

What?! I know. But as Geoff says, “So there you have it. The benefits of completely blind judging means our winner and our second placed entrant is one and the same…”

I was surprised to see my name at all, to be honest, so to see it twice was, well… I think I used the word ‘flabbergasted’. And I messed up the entry form—didn’t include the titles. *facepalm* Anyway, I won so…yay! 🎉

Many thanks to the judges: Geoff, Esther, and Chelsea. This must have been a tough job considering all the wonderful entries. (You can read the winning flash and other entries here.) Thanks to Charli for setting up the awesome Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. And congratulations to the winners and to all those who took on this challenge.

Happy flashing, my friends!

 

Hinting at Shadows ~ October Sale

 

Universal Link

 

It’s October, my bloggy friends! 🎃 👻

Colorful leaves, crisp air, cotton sweaters, kick-ass boots, apple cider, pumpkin spice, Halloween… You get the idea.

I love October. It’s a beautiful time of year and I’m celebrating with a sale. For all you Halloween fiends, this is a perfect time to enjoy some bite-sized morsels of delicious darkness.

 

Hinting at Shadows, my first collection of flash, will be just $0.99 / £0.99 for the entire month of October.

 

Here’s what some people are saying about Hinting at Shadows (I’m deliriously happy & grateful):

 

I just finished Hinting at Shadows and had to rave a little about this book of short fiction. Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite and full of pathos with a focus on the poignancy of the human condition.”

 

“beautifully and richly crafted. Brentyn has a skill with the written word that just leaves you breathless…
I was entranced right from the very first story”

 

The author’s haunting prose very cleverly invokes strong images with the minimum of words. Sarah Brentyn delivers something quite different, written beautifully with intuitive understanding and the ability to generate an emotional reaction.”

 

 

If you’d like to download a copy, here’s the link: Hinting at Shadows 🖤

 

Happy reading, all!

 

Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

I’m at Sue Vincent’s blog today with a fun, little post about indie authors. There’s swearing and sarcasm involved as I’m ranting about how indies are perceived by some:

their point is that we indies are incapable of writing high-quality stuff. We are chaff and should be thrown away unless someone somewhere in the distant hills and valleys of La-La Land (or the Big Apple or wherever) decides we are grain. I call bullshit on that.

You can read the post here: Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

 

Ooh, and the post is so pretty! Sue set it up beautifully. My books are there (one’s on sale…hint…hint) and Sue fought WordPress to get my book trailer up on her blog. She won. Round of applause for that one.

Thanks, Sue! ❤

Please check out my sarcastic rant-turned-cheerleading post and be grain, my friends!

 

What’s All the Hubbub About BookBub?

 

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of hubbub about BookBub. It’s kind of all over the blogosphere right now.

From all the posts I’ve seen, it seems to be this fab, new site for authors. Yet, it’s hardly new and it’s not just for authors.

So what is it?

(Sorry. I’m not here to answer that question. I’m asking it.)

It appears to be, mostly, for readers to find books and get deals. But authors can join and put up a bio with their books.

Also…reviews. It’s another place to post reviews. That would be so very, very good. I’m just not seeing a lot of reviews there. Is this a new wave of amazingness that people are starting? Or is this just a trend that’s going to fizzle? I know it’s been around for years but so has Pinterest, Flipboard, Google+ and many, many other platforms we’ve signed up for and left to gather dust in the virtual corner of our online attic.

When I search the almighty internet, opinions vary. (I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am.) It’s wonderful, it’s horrible, it’s useful, it’s useless, you MUST join, don’t bother joining… You get the idea.

There is much ambivalence about the Bub so I’m wondering (among my bloggy friends) who is on it, how they like it, what it’s used for, etc.

Is this a useful platform (or…place? or…site?) for authors to be on?

 

 

I’ve seen a half dozen posts in the past month alone about the Bub but the most recent ones are from Colleen Chesebro who is on there and encourages other authors to get on there, too. And Georgia Rose who is on there and is bringing her reviews with her.

 

Image Source

 

Are you on BookBub? Do you love it, hate it, or are you ambivalent about it? How is it working for you as an author? Do you write reviews on there?

 

UPDATE: Okay. I’ve joined. Click the cute, little button below if you’d like to connect on the Bub:

See you there! 🙂

 

Georgia Rose has created a fantastic tutorial: How to Post Your Reviews on BookBub <- (Check that out!)

 

Blue Sky Tag

 

 

1. If you lived in a house made of jello, what flavor would it be? Any particular reason?

 

I would cry. Or scream. Or both. I hate jello. It’s unnatural and wiggly and gelatinous. If I lived in a house made of sweetened slime, I’d wonder about my sanity. (More so than I already do.)

 

2. What is your first reaction when someone knocks on your door?

 

Hide.

 

3. Does a blue sky or blue ocean make you happier? Why?

 

Both. Neither. I love blues skies and blue oceans but also light, puffy clouds and rolling grey ones as well as crystal, clear turquoise water and stormy seas. I love nature in all her moods.

 

4. If you were out enjoying a beautiful day and suddenly it started raining, what would you do?

 

Dance in the rain.

 

5. Whose name makes you smile as soon as you hear it? Care to share why?

 

Spike. I envision lots of funny scenes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer every time I hear his name.

 

6. Dog, cat, fish, or rabbit?

 

Human. I’m actually human. Or do you mean to eat? Because I do like sushi (sorry, Nemo). Oh, a pet? Cat.

 

7. What’s your favorite mode of travel?

 

Transporter. “Beam me up, Scotty.” Teleportation is awesome.

 

8. If you had to stay up all night by yourself in a deserted building, what would you spend the time doing?

 

Sleeping. Oh. Crap. Never mind. Is there wine? It’s my fake all-nighter so I say, yes, there’s wine. I’m going to go ahead and let you all know just how boring I am: I’d stay up reading and writing.

 

9. Running in the rain or running in the gym? (Even if you don’t run! ha!)

 

Hmm. I don’t run. Ever. I’d probably slip and fall either way so it really doesn’t matter. Though, if I’m in the gym, I’d have to be around people so…rain.

 

10. To stand alone on a mountain peak or dance in a crowded club?

 

I think I just covered that. (Psst…I’m a hermit.) Alone on a Mountain Peak might be the name of my next book…

 

11. Who do you write for?

 

Me. (And I have at least two posts about this.)

 

It’s been a bit since I joined in a blog hop. Thanks to Rachael Ritchey for tagging me and making me answer these questions she made up. Yes, she made them up. That’s in the rules. Yes, there are rules. I broke them. And had fun.

There’s a thing about 11 for this tag: 11 rules…no. 11 cups of coffee…hmm. Ah. 11 tags, 11 answers, 11 questions… Something like that.

For me, I’m going with this…

Consider yourself tagged.

Join in, have a bit of bloggy fun, use the awesome Blue Sky Tag banner (that Rachael designed).

 

Okay, if you’re going to play, here are your questions:

 

  1. Do you judge a book by its cover?
  2. What’s your favorite color? (Specific shade would be awesome…just saying.)
  3. Which animal is smarter: chimpanzees or dolphins? (Except if Geoff Le Pard plays because he will say “mice”.)
  4. What’s your least favorite part about writing: editing, revising, or proofreading?
  5. Are there any mythological creatures you believe are real? (Or wish they were?)
  6. Which ridiculously popular book did you not enjoy?

Do You Prefer / Which Would You Rather questions:

  1. Pen or pencil
  2. Wine or beer
  3. Bean bags or straight-back chairs
  4. A pile of proofreading or a stack of math worksheets
  5. Monty Python or Three Stooges

 

Tag. You’re it. Have fun, gentle readers. 🙂 Let me know if you play…I’d love to see your answers to my questions! Yup, I made up these questions just for you. You get to make up your own for the bloggers you tag. 🙂

 

I Am a Dragon

 

 

Dragons hoard treasure in their lairs. Gold, mostly, but the occasional jeweled chalice or silver goblet can be found.

As you know, Smaug did it. And now all the cool mythological reptiles are doing it. Because. Tolkien.

Actually…

This trope dates back to Beowulf which was written during the time period academics call, “A wicked frickin’ long time ago.” That’s the earliest literature I can think of where a dragon is hoarding gold.

“the…dragon…is driven to hunt out hoards underground, to guard heathen gold through age-long vigils…” – Beowulf

It’s a thing. It just is.

In the wonderful world of Harry Potter, dragons are used to guard treasures in Gringotts Bank. (But, let’s not go there. Evil lurks in the hearts of goblins.) In the Goblet of Fire, one of the trials in the Triwizard Tournament is to get an egg from a dragon. A golden egg.

I know what you’re thinking (or maybe not). Why gold? I mean, the dragon can’t walk into a cobbler’s shop and order shoes. Can’t buy a Van Gogh. The gold is useless. Precious…but not enjoyed. Just hoarded. So…why? And where am I going with this?

I hoard books.

I have a TBR (To Be Read) pile that is large enough to fill half my house. There are books I’ve been meaning to read and ones I’ve already read that I won’t part with. A dragon could sleep, curled up, quite comfortably on top that pile. I could have a party on there with room to spare. I could send invitations with an option to bring a guest and still we’d be able to move about freely.

If I live another 100 years, I will never get a chance to read them all.

I am just like the “dragon jealously guarding its gold hoard…” *

Things don’t usually go well for these dragons. I know this.

Yet…that’s me. The greedy book-loving word nerd who jealously guards its book hoard. Unlike a dragon’s gold, books are not useless, they are priceless. But what good are they if they’re sitting here, staring longingly at me from their shelves? I should be ashamed. That I don’t give my books away. That I breathe fire at anyone attempting to steal from my pile. That I hoard in the first place. Alas, I am not ashamed. And I continue to collect and hoard. *sigh* I’ve learned nothing.

Except that I am a dragon.

 

Am I a reader or a collector? Hmm… Do you hoard books or do you buy, read, give away, repeat, and keep your pile manageable? I’m wicked curious how many book-lovers out there actually have a manageable TBR pile.

 

Photo source

* Quote source

 

Safe Upon the Solid Rock

 

 

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Another of Edna’s poems to ponder and share. Though, honestly, there’s not much to ponder here.

To quote a lesser-known poet, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. (I jest. I actually do know Shakespeare penned that. But we’re getting away from the subject at hand. Which is to say, this poem is brief and witty.)

And it is here today because, yet again, Edna’s words have moved me and I want to share them.

How easy to find stability on solid rock. And yet, what else will you find there? True beauty lies in dreams and desires. These are often found perched on less-than-solid ground. Is instability a part of being creative? Of following dreams? I don’t know.

But if it is, I’m letting my feet sink into the sand where my shining palace stands.

It could collapse.

That beautiful place I’ve worked to build.

I could lose everything.

Or it could remain.

I could gain everything.

Best not to dwell too much but, instead, look upon the ugly houses I don’t want.

Then, I daresay, I will be willing to live surrounded by the glimmer of my dreams or sink with my shining palace.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Can we indulge in our creativity and follow our dreams while still keeping our feet on solid ground? When it comes to your dreams, are you willing to live with uncertainty?

 

 

The Timing of Bad Things

 

 

Pine trees’ branches are pretty resilient. They bounce back amazingly well after the winter. But you still wonder, looking at them, if this is the season they will snap.

When there is already snow and a blizzard blows in, you think about the additional weight on branches that are already drooping.

But…

When spring arrives and there’s a blizzard, you think about how the soft, new pine needles (who were enjoying the warm sun) will deal with being encased in ice crystals.

We have a lot of little sayings about how awful it is to have something bad happen when things are already bad.

 

Kick you when you’re down

Rub salt in the wound

Add insult to injury

 

I guess you could say: When bad things have bad timing

But can we say: When bad things have good timing

???

I mean, what about when we’re happy? Healthy?

Is that when we’d prefer bad things to happen to us? Maybe we think we can manage easier if we’re not already distressed.

I get that. I do.

If we’re beaten down, we don’t have our footing never mind a good stance to do battle.

But, honestly, when things are going well, it’s still incredibly difficult. Just in a different way.

When you’re flying high, the fall is a lot longer and you hit the ground with a hell of a lot more force.

Just pondering the pine trees…

 

My random thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

When bad things come your way, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got your face planted in the dirt or you’re feelin’ groovy. The thing is to take care of yourself. Be well, my friends.

 

 

Shifting Focus

 

 

Self. 

It’s a tiny, loaded, powerful word.

For people whose natural inclination is to take care of others, using time and energy to care for themselves can be upsetting. Depending on the person, it varies from slightly uncomfortable to downright distressing.

When faced with the idea, there may be a freak-out: “What?! Myself? How will…? What can…? I can’t do that!”

You can. You really can.

Here’s a thing I’ve realized.

If you have a tendency to focus on others, it’s difficult to shift that focus. It may seem unlikely to happen. Impossible even. When you begin focusing on your Self, you’ll find a thought popping up often (the persistent little bugger):

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else!”

Wrong.

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of everyone else!”

That’s it, my friends.

 

Take that in. Accept it. Embrace it.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

You can’t do it all.

Don’t be that person. The harried, stressed, wreck who tries to help everyone and tries to do everything to the detriment of his or her Self, family, health, relationships…whatever.

Yes, this means you have to make decisions. When will you agree? When will you decline? Choose wisely. And ditch the guilt. (It can be done. I have faith in you.)

 

A lot has happened since I chose ‘Self” as my One Word for 2018. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. All of it eye-opening. Take care of yourselves, gentle readers.