On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Graeme Cumming

Every time one of my books gets a review, I’m delightfully surprised and so grateful. Every. Time. When I see a review from someone who either doesn’t like short fiction, doesn’t read it, or prefers epic novels yet loved my collection, well, it’s a remarkable feeling. It is. And I’ve seen more than a few reviews like that.

When someone prefers to sink their teeth into a story with lots of characters, worldbuilding, and/or action, it’s quite the compliment when they enjoy my little book of flash. This review for On the Edge of a Raindrop, by Graeme Cumming, is one of those. It’s brilliant. I’m humbled by the praise from this author:

Her ability to capture the essence of an emotion or a moment in so few words is staggering.

Savour each morsel…

In a single line, she can encapsulate something that I and many other authors would struggle to do in several pages.

Thank you, Graeme! 💖

Please stop by his blog and read the full review here. It really is brilliant.

He’s recently released a book, Carrion, the sequel to Raven’s Gathering, both of which have gathered a number of great reviews. (Pun completely intended.) Do pop over and check out his books.

 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

New Moon & Magic (Summer Solstice)

 

 

There is magic in the air.

Fairies flutter about enjoying the day, preparing for their feast, and, perhaps, causing a bit of mischief. And, this year, they have even more to celebrate. A new moon accompanies the solstice.

This weekend, I’m celebrating with the fairies.

Wine will flow, my friends. And I will run barefoot in the grass like when I was a child. I’ll breathe deeply, inhaling the heady scents of blossoms that, weeks ago, were tiny buds.

At twilight, I’ll light candles and search for blinking fireflies.

Of course, after this longest day of the year, the days will become shorter. But I will bask in the sun and light and magic then welcome the dark half of the year.

When the sun decides to set after its long journey, I will marvel at the pinks and purples of dusk. I will fill my glass and toast the twinkling stars who, in my wine-induced bliss, will merrily wink back at me.

I will toast the dark, new moon who smiles at me from the shadows, offering me a fresh start. I will soak up the night and all its beauty.

Because, if it wasn’t for the darkness, I could not appreciate the light.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

To my friends in Australia, Happy Winter Solstice to you!

(Four years ago, I wrote about a full moon falling on the solstice. I thought this a fitting time to revisit that post.)

 

This is the longest day of the year. What will you do with your extra hours of sunlight? New moons are associated with new beginnings. What will you do with that opportunity? Love and light to you, gentle readers. Cheers! 🥂

 

 

 

10 Perks (For Me) During This Pandemic

 

 

1. The gift of distance. 

People are finally staying as far away from me as I’d like them to. I am loving the social distancing thing. Personal space, for me, is 4 feet…minimum.   

2. It’s the small stuff that stings. 

You know what they say about small stuff hurting a lot more than you’d think? Like a paper cut? Those things are tiny but pack a wallop of pain. Same goes for small talk. Painful. Something I could happily do without. And now, I can! And I am! And it’s not weird. Everyone is partaking in the skipping of small talk in exchange for a distant wave. Woot!

3. Hand-washing. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a public restroom and seen someone emerge from a stall and walk out the door. Holy crap (pun intended). You’ve got germs and dirt and…human waste on your hands and you’re headed to sit down and grab a dinner roll? Dude.

Now people are washing their hands. With water. And soap. And they’re doing it a lot. Shiny, clean fingers crossed this practice stays in effect long past the pandemic.

4. Do. Not. Engage. 

Strangers are not speaking to me or asking me things or trying to engage me in conversation. (See #2.)

5. Tranquility in quarantine.

I’m an introvert. And not the cool kind we writers like to claim we are. I’m talking severe introversion. Like hermit status. So staying in isn’t torture for me. Quarantine is kind of the status quo around here. Except, now, it’s not eccentric, it’s expected. Rock on! (In the comfort of my own home, of course. Alone. With a book. And wine.)

6. The barren land of toilet paper shelves. 

I don’t waste time in the paper goods aisle anymore, my head swaying back and forth between quilted and two-ply, recycled and double-roll. (Why are there so many types of TP, anyway?) Unrelated: I’ve found a good use for printed political ads.

7. Express yourself. 

I’ve always prided myself on knowing people. Not having five hundred friends but knowing people. Catch my drift? I can spot a jerk from a mile away, have a built-in BS detector, and generally get a vibe from folks right off the bat. (Wow. That’s a boatload of clichés right there. Apologies. Let’s see if I can do some more…) Totally lost my train of thought. Damn clichés.

Oh, right. So with this mask thing, pegging people is a breeze. Are you donning a dust mask? Is Hello Kitty hiding your smile? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? (I may or may not have all of these.) You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to wrap around their face. Whether you’re wearing a sports team, cartoon character, political crap, or a medical-grade surgical mask, you are making a statement. Own it.

8. Wild things. 

My lawn is patchy, dandelions are popping up, dead leaves from fall are collecting in every corner of my yard. Paint is peeling, shrubs need clipping, and NOT ONE of my neighbors is complaining to me about it. Bliss. *waves at neighbor* *trips over vole hole* *falls over* Peace out, y’all.

9. “Kkkhhxx… You’re breaking up…”

You know that old “trick” (I’m using quotes here as it never really tricks anyone) where you make a crackling noise into your cell phone and yell, “You’re breaking up–can’t hear you”? Then you hang up on the person pestering you, asking for a favor, or saying that, no, your new haircut does not flatter your face?

Now we get to do that constantly. Because we’re relying so much on technology, we can claim it isn’t working. So that day I didn’t shower and the day I wore my sushi pajamas, my video couldn’t connect. (How convenient.) But the audio worked. Weird, right? Wrong. I’ve been in many meetings where this happened to others so it’s all good. Plus, you get to play a little game with yourself trying to figure out if folks are telling the truth or just woke up late and are chilling in their underwear. Bonus!

10. Social distancing does not apply. 

I can hug trees. In public places. With people around. When they stare, I wave and shout, “Don’t have to social distance with trees!” 🙂🌲🌳

 

 

I’m not making light of Covid 19. This is serious. There is a global pandemic going on. I get it. I do. Don’t throw your non-latex gloves at me. I’m just trying to find a little fun during this time. Hope you are all healthy and safe. Stay sane, gentle readers. ❤️

 

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Harmony Kent

What a wonderful surprise to find a review for On the Edge of a Raindrop. It made me smile all week. I needed that smile. A lovely 5-star review from Harmony Kent (who has a rating system that notes: ‘I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to. I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning…’) Yup. Smiling. 🙂

Brilliantly done.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods.

Thank you, Harmony! 💖

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. A prolific author whose writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

Harmony also writes for Story Empire: This is the home of seven bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

When Beauty Is Not Enough

 

 

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

It’s spring. Though it feels more like a distant cousin. A time of year in which we struggle to find our place during the uncertainty of seasons. When we throw off our jackets and listen to blue jays. Then huddle in our heavy coats and listen to howling winds. When we both turn our face to the sunshine and dance between raindrops.

It is that unpredictability we crave when the earth beneath our feet is frozen solid in winter or lush with summer greens. But the fickle springtime plays in quicksand, leaving us wishing for stability, making us wary.

Sometimes we know what we know, regardless of the beauty around us. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough to quiet us.

It is then we raise our voices. To communicate. To be heard. To say that we will not be lulled into silence with the unfurling bud and promise of a bright and beautiful thing.

 

I found this post from last year and thought how fitting, in a very different way, it was this year. The struggle to find our place during this uncertainty. Our craving for unpredictability then, when it arrives, our wish for stability. The wariness. The need to communicate. The promise of an unfurling bud turning into something beautiful not being quite enough anymore. 

Be well, gentle readers. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Create your own joy. Dance between raindrops and turn your face to the sun when it shines.

 

My random thoughts in (a bit over) 200 words.

 

 

You can read the entire poem here: Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

My Blog is Special

 

pink flower in spring

 

Want to know my secret?

Do you want to know what makes my blog so special? Why I stand out like a fuchsia flower in a mess of dirt and weeds?

It’s the clean lines. The crisp space. The typo-free paragraphs, easy-to-read word choice, frequent fragments, awesome alliteration…

There is nothing special.

 

There is no special here. This blog is just a blog. I am just a girl. Standing in front of my readers, asking them to love me.

I like my bloggy friends. They talk to me. And listen. Which is not easy as I can go on a bit. I ramble. I freewrite and hit “publish”.

That’s bad. But, also, good.

I feel like we’re hanging out in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha latte, you know?

Better still, sitting at a bar with a bottle of wine in front of us. *pours another glass* Cheers!

If you read this, you’ve pretty much met me.

This post? This whole blog? It’s just me. Unfiltered me.

The completely awesome thing about you is that you talk to me even when the popular kids walk by.

There are far more fashionable, trendy, nichey, blogs out there yet, week after week, month after month, readers still visit and chat with me.

And that’s pretty special.

 

My Sunday (on Tuesday) thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you have a nicheless blog? Do you feel like you’re “just another blog” in the big blogosphere? Do you care?

 

My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

my One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always, always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/fōkəs/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends. 

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly. 

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals.  

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2020.

 

When the Year Grows Old

 

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019…what happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I’m waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I’m stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.

 

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

holiday-charity-gifts

 

I love this post from 2016. It’s become an annual tradition here at Lemon Shark. Anyway, here it is, my friends.

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. Donations help those in need as well as give your loved ones a gift from the heart.

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

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

arbor-day-post

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

aspca-post

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

heifer-post

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

kiva-post

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

st-judes-post

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! ❄️