Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

Hinting at Shadows #BookReview by D.G. Kaye

 

 

D.G. Kaye (writer, blogger, and memoirist) featured my book on her blog. I’m always pleasantly surprised and touched when someone who is not familiar with, or is unsure of, flash fiction reads my book and enjoys it. Thank you, Debby! ❤

 

Sarah Brentyn is a master at micro-fiction.

Her stories written in short 100 words or less don’t require more words, but leave us in deep contemplation. The power of words in small micro-bursts have the ability to reveal a whole story open to the reader’s interpretation.

Hinting at Shadows is a wonderful, thought-provoking, psychological read about the human condition.

 

You can get a copy here: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

Debby has an amazing blog full of excellent advice, helpful tips, promotion for other authors, and her take on life. Everything you could ever want to know about her is right here: bio, books, interviews, guest posts. And you can check out her post featuring Hinting at Shadows here.

 

My Life as an Introverted Writer

 

J.A. Allen’s “Scribble Challenge” invites writers to drop a response to a weekly flash fiction prompt in the comment section.

I had to take part in it. I mean. Flash.

It was fun. But the thing is, I won. I was a bit shocked, to be honest. (Thanks to the writers who voted for my entry!) The winner is invited to guest post over at J.A. Allen’s blog: Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins. Squee! So that is what I did. And I am there. A huge thank you to J.A. Allen for allowing me to muck up her beautiful space with my words. 🙂

Please check out: My Life as an Introverted Writer

 

We Are Living in a Distractible World and I Am a Distractible Girl

 

 

I just looked up a book about how to focus in a distracted world and I couldn’t make it through the description because I got distracted.

I wish this was me trying to be funny or something but, alas, that just happened. Seriously.

I’m not sure if this means I desperately need the book or it would be a bad fit because the author can’t hold the attention of his target audience long enough to buy his book.

In my defense, it’s a fairly lengthy description.

And I’m not always that easily distracted but… Ooh! Shiny!

When there is a lot going on (there is) and stuff keeps piling up on top my head (it does), I get overwhelmed then become easily distracted.

This got me thinking, as these things do, and now I’ve completely lost it and am in some deep philosophical discussion with myself about metaphysics and if the phone is actually ringing and if I’m even real.

So that’s the deal with my life right now. How are you?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

How do you focus with all the distractions out there? By the way, should any of you lovely readers like to check the book out, the link is up there and it’s called Deep Work. I (obviously) haven’t read it but Sacha Black recommends it. 🙂

 

 

Why You Need a ‘Contact’ Page

 

 

I’ve recently run across a few blogs where, for one reason or another, I would have liked to contact the writer. I looked for a ‘contact’ page. I looked on their ‘about’ page (if they had one). I looked all around their homepage. Alas, if the information was there, I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I gave up too soon. Regardless, I did give up. That’s the point of this post.

I found something on Sue Vincent’s blog a few months ago talking about the various reasons why it’s probably a good thing for your readers to be able to contact you. It also gives step-by-step instructions on how to create a contact form if you’re a bit wary of sharing your email address on your blog.

Click on ‘my sites’ top left of the screen, scroll down to WP Admin on the blue drop-down menu and click.

Hover over ‘pages’ (or ‘posts’ if you prefer, but it will get lost unless you pin it) and click ‘add new’.

There, at the top of the screen, is a button to ‘add contact form’. Click this and it opens a drop down box.

Click ‘add this’ and it inserts a whole bunch of bracketed code. It will show up with your details in it on the preview, but they are not visible to others.

And there you have a working contact form.

Just so I’m not accused of being a hypocrite, I’ll come right out here and say, if you look at my menu, there is no ‘contact’ page. I’m thinking of adding the form Sue mentions but, in the meantime, there’s my ‘about’ page. I’ve had a way to contact me on there since the beginning of this blog.

That said, perhaps I’ll make it a bit more obvious…

Anyway, do check out Sue’s post:

 

 

 

Do you have a ‘contact’ page? Or a way to contact you on your ‘about’ page or main blog? If not, is it an oversight or something you’ve chosen not to do?

 

Hinting at Shadows #BookReview by Ali Isaac

 

 

What a wonderful surprise to find this amazing review on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday afternoon.

Hinting at Shadows got the star treatment over on Ali Isaac’s blog today.

when I find [a book] which stands out from the rest, I just have to share it with you. So here it is, ‘Hinting at Shadows’ by Sarah Brentyn…your next great read!

beautifully and richly crafted.

Brentyn has a skill with the written word that just leaves you breathless…

Right. Have I mentioned it’s amazing? I am so touched and thrilled and all sorts of other lovely emotions.

Please stop by, check out the review, and explore her blog. It’s a wealth of information on Irish mythology and folklore. If you don’t already read Ali’s blog, you’ll be glad you visited. (And, while you’re there, do check out her books.)

 

ETA: Ali’s wonderful Friday Fiction series is showcasing Hinting at Shadows today! ❤ Please do check that out, too.

 

Character Crush: Spike

 

Spike is dreamy.

He’s also evil, dangerous, and undead. The platinum-haired crush of many Buffy fans is a twisted mess of emotions, poetry, death, and destruction. He’s also dreamy. *ahem*

I’ll not defend William the Bloody (Spike). He’s done some horrific things in his 100+ years on this earth. But I will say that, for a bloke without a soul, he’s pretty sweet.

Spike is a vampire. He has no conscience, yet he manages to have morals. Sometimes. When he feels like it. Not killing people for starters.

Okay… He’s got a chip in his head, courtesy of the demented Professor Maggie Walsh with her underground government agency, group of scientists, and soldier boys. As long as that chip’s nestled in Spike’s brain, he can’t hurt a human. There is that.

But there is so much more. Choices he makes when the chip stops working. When it’s removed. When he’s on his own, has free will, without technology interfering. He helps. Again and again. He helps. There is a bit of the meek poet he used to be in the 1800s still hanging out inside this demon leaving a delicious mixture of sentimental and homicidal. Like the time he swishes off in his black trench coat to kill Buffy with a shotgun and winds up sitting on the back porch consoling her. Because. Spike. Buffy’s crying and he wants to know if there’s anything he can do. When there isn’t, he sits with her. Who has empathy as a soulless demon? He’s a bit of a marshmallow. With fangs.

I’ll just throw in here that he nearly gets himself killed, going through “trials” that really should have killed him, to get his soul back. He chose to do this. He didn’t die, but did get majorly beaten and driven insane in the process.

Not to mention (yet I will) the comic relief he adds to the show. He’s dry. Deadpan. My favorite kind of humor. Though, in the Buffyverse, almost everyone has a side of humor with their evil-doing or evil-fighting. But Spike’s delivery is just…brilliant.

We can’t get too comfy around him. He can’t be trusted. Not entirely. And yet characters do trust him (with their lives and the lives of their loved ones). He offers help when the Scooby Gang needs it. He is deadly, yes. He is also affectionate, sensitive, and loyal.

Alas, at the end of the day (and well into the night), this lovely lad is still a vampire. One who saved the world. Just saying. ❤

 

 

I saw this blogathon forever ago. It’s about crushes. It can’t be an actor or actress, it must be the character. (Big shout-out to James Marsters, though, for his portrayal of Spike.) These movie blogathons are so fun. But then I saw television and book characters were fair game. I mean. Seriously? Awesome! Then…I thought. And thought. And, honestly, I was overwhelmed.

My mind was suddenly flooded with ALL OF THE PEOPLE. How could anyone choose one character from all the books, televisions shows, and movies out there. It’s impossible. So I picked one and created a running list that I plan to explore in the future. A blog series of amazing characters (and what makes them so damn lovable).

 

Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I’m pretty much crushing on, like, half the characters in Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse. My favs are: Spike (James Marsters), Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and my girl crush, Willow (Alyson Hannigan).

Gilmore Girls: Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham)

Northern Exposure: Chris Stevens (John Corbett)

Xena, Warrior Princess: Xena (Lucy Lawless)

And many more…

Film

LOTR: Strider/Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom)

 

Harry Potter: Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)

Good Will Hunting: Will Hunting (Matt Damon)

Ocean’s Eleven: Erm…everyone. Okay, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), if I had to choose.

Princess Bride: Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes)

The Avengers: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)

Blazing Saddles: Jim (Gene Wilder), Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn)

Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood: Viv Abbott Walker (Young: Ashley Judd / Older: Ellen Burstyn)

Grosse Pointe Blank: Martin Blank (John Cusack)

 

Dead Again: Gray Baker (Andy Garcia)

Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)

And many, many more…

Books

I can’t even. My brain hurts just thinking about this.

 

 

After I wrote my list of crushes, I thought, “Geez, Sarah, here’s something to look into, no? I mean, you’re crushing on some pretty unpleasant people.” Indeed. It’s a very interesting list. People who are crass, wicked, dangerous, manipulative… Criminals, demons, hit men…

Shiny, happy people aren’t my thing. Flaws are intriguing. That said, I don’t go for the truly evil. They’re not my thing, either. I find them disturbing. I love the reformed, conflicted, confused (or confusing) ones. For example, the sexist, womanizing, jackass billionaire Tony Stark (Iron Man) who, in The Avengers, consistently risks his own life to help innocents and, at the end, is the one who goes on a suicide flight to save the world. Or the hit man, Martin Blank, who has killed his share (and more) but is having a bit of a crisis and winds up saving a girl, her father, and some random folks along the way.

I think it’s safe to say I like my characters a little rough around the edges.

 

 

Character crushes. They are difficult to narrow down. At least for me. Who’s your crush? (Or crushes?)

 

This post is part of the Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings and Font and Frock#ReelInfatuation

 

5 Ways Twitter Helps You Become a Better Writer

 

I’m so excited to be over at the awesome Sacha Black’s this week. Her intro for my post gave me a good laugh. Much love to her for that and for hosting my words and wisdom. Or my words, anyway.

Check it out and drop a comment completely agreeing with me (or heckling…I’m good either way). Cheers!

 

 

Whether you love Twitter, hate it, or feel a bit iffy, I’ve got news for you.

Tweeting improves your writing.  

Clicking the button on someone’s blog with that little blue bird on it doesn’t count. I’m talking about composing a tweet. Writing something. All the cool kids are doing it. I’ve lost count of how many hashtag games there are on Twitter.

What am I going on about? Here’s what: Twitterature. Get it? Twitter Literature. I know. Sounds made up. It’s not. It’s a real thing. Seriously.

If you’re a writer not taking part in any of the prompts on there, you’re missing out.

Why are you missing out? Here’s why: Microbursts. Get it? Micro fiction bursting with story. This one is not a real thing—it’s something I completely made up for my book but totally should be a thing. (For my fellow nerds, yes, microbursts are real but they are a weather phenomenon so don’t go there. We’re talking about writing. Focus, people!) You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a tweet.

Let’s talk about how this fast-paced platform helps you become a better writer.

 

Way 1 – Learn to Be Concise

You have to be brief when writing a scene, story, or joke in 140 characters or less. Even if you tend toward the dark side of verbosity, you can tweet. If you’re naturally wordy, you won’t be. You can’t be. It’s 140 characters. With a hashtag. You can’t afford to be long-winded. Succinct is the secret. The limit forces you to edit. Every. Word. Counts. Cut the crap, you know? Get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit in that tiny tweet, make it fit. Writers from all genres do this every day on Twitter.

Continue reading…

 

Have You Cleaned Your Book Links Yet?

 

 

Everyone loves cleaning, right?

Yeah.

Here’s a quick and easy (don’t you just love those words?) way to clean something super important: buy links for your books.

 

Hmm… Long, messy link. (Clean-up on aisle five!)

Happy, clean, pretty link!

How did I get that? Easy. Delete everything highlighted in yellow. (That would be everything after your ASIN.)

What are those reference, encoding, string of letters and numbers thingies? Why are they there? If the link works without them (it does), why include them? You need your ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) but after that…?

You could take out the “https” or the “www” (or even the title of your book if you’d like) to shorten it for sharing or just to look nice. But, for now, I’m thinking that stuff at the end there would be great to, you know, not be there.

I don’t know much about the mumbo-jumbo techie stuff like algorithms or backlinks or tracking or, actually, anything of the sort but I still think cleaning links is a good idea. If there’s even a potential problem, why risk it? I read this post on D.G. Kaye’s site a few months ago regarding Amazon links. She gives info on what all this stuff might mean for you and your books. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

And, though I’ve seen many people write about this, I’m still seeing lots of long links out there. Perhaps it’s not crucial to remove that gobbledygook but…what if it is? Get rid of it.

I guess that’s all I’m saying.

So now you’re saying, “Yah, well my links are clean, lady!”

Then I say, “That’s great! What about the links to other people’s books? The ones you’re promoting on your blog or posting on social media?”

Uh-huh.

Clean those up, too, you know? Because. You’re nice that way.

A global or universal link will eliminate the need to do this for your books but a lot of people haven’t gotten around to that yet. *raises hand* Also, that doesn’t help when you’re sharing other people’s books or they’re sharing yours and don’t have your link. If you get into the habit of dropping that gunk after the ASIN (see the highlighted link up there ↑↑↑), it won’t be an issue. You’ll always have clean links. And your fellow authors will, too.

 

Are your links clean? If not, why? Is this a choice or have you just not gotten to it yet? (P.S. Even if you use clean links in your posts, please check your sidebars… Just saying.) 🙂

 

P.P.S. I’m just taking a shot in the dark here but you should probably clean before creating a universal link. I mean…who knows what happens if you use a long link with all those encoded reference thingies to paste into a global link? Does it clean for you? Does it forever track you? No clue.

 

I’m sharing Debby’s comment in the post here for more info:

it’s important to clean off the links of other’s books when you’re promoting them because anyone who…decides to buy from the link provided to get to Amazon can be misconstrued as a ‘friend’ of the author…it’s a target and flag to Amazon that the book was purchased from a tracked link making you look like you knew the author because it was a trailed link, not the clean link you’d see if you actually just went to Amazon direct to the book page. 🙂 [Also]…Universal links should be clean…”

 

Book Lovers Tag

 

 

First spotted this fun, little tag on Ritu Bhathal’s blog, But I Smile Anyway, then saw it on Shelley Wilson’s blog, Motivate Me.

I’m a book lover and both Ritu and Shelley invited anyone to play. So here I am. And here we go.

 

Do you have a specific place for reading?

 

I wish. Like a spot under a weeping willow or in a gorgeous garden blooming with roses or a soft window seat with sheer, billowing curtains. *sigh* No, I read in the car, in bed, while I’m walking from room to room, sitting on the couch…

 

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

 

I have a ginormous collection of the silliest, sweetest, loveliest, most awesome bookmarks ever. Yet…when I need to keep my place in a book (which is often as I’m constantly interrupted), I usually grab a random receipt, scrap of paper, or business card.

 

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

 

I can stop anywhere. Literally anywhere. Mid-paragraph. Mid-sentence. Hell, mid-word. This isn’t my preferred way to read (or, rather, stop reading) but has become that way. I used to finish chapters but, alas, times have changed. Or lack of time has changed. That said, if I’m two sentences away from the end of a chapter, I try to crawl my way to the finish line.

 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

 

Yes. I love sitting with a cup of tea or glass of wine while reading. It’s my “me” time. But that doesn’t happen very often. I’m usually reading whenever I get a spare moment so I’m chugging some water or my morning coffee before I’m on to the next thing. I don’t really eat while reading though. That would be disastrous.

 

Music or TV while reading?

 

I can barely concentrate when the neighbor is mowing his lawn so, no. No music or TV. As a matter of fact, if the kids are awake when I want to read, it’s DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time! (A.K.A. silence-in-the-house time.) Luckily, I have a book-loving family.

 

One book at a time or several?

 

Something a bit more than “several”. Always a few nonfiction/reference books plus a novel or two and some anthologies and short stories. I’m… Ooh! Shiny! *runs away*

 

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

 

Home. But I will read in my car provided there is NO ONE else there and I’m parked somewhere quiet. Never in a coffee shop or even a library because, regardless of how quiet places are supposed to be, there are always distractions.

 

Read out loud or silently?

 

Hmm. Do people read out loud? Now I’m wicked curious who reads out loud to themselves. Do you? Let me know in the comments. (Do I need to say that I read silently?) Although…now I must admit I read out loud to my children. But that’s totally different.

 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

 

No. No! Who does this? Do you? What are these questions? I mean, if it’s a reference book, sure, but not a novel (novella, novelette, short story, whatever).

 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

You could sell my 15-yr-old books in a bookstore they’re so new-looking. And I’m a big fan of rereading. Still…spines intact. (Except my Harry Potter series. They’re like an old, favorite stuffed animal. Worn and loved.)

 

Do you write in your books?

 

All the time. I draw and doodle and make rude comments in the margins. No! No, I don’t write in my books. That’s like… Just no. In my nonficiton/reference books, I highlight. I’m a huge highlighter. (Oh, and I will admit to trying some black-out poetry in a completely destroyed, unreadable copy of Harry Potter that was going to be thrown away and I saved. Because. Harry Potter.)

 

I’m going to follow suit in the nomination/tagging here and say that if you’d like to play, you’re tagged. (You should play. Just saying.)

Have fun, fellow book lovers!