10 Things I Learned from The Princess Bride



1. Love is the greatest gift of all.

If your love is true (like really true), many people will help you for no other reason than true love is so very rare. Also, because their own selfish desires led them to use you in their schemes. But, still. Oh, and apparently death cannot stop true love. Bonus.

2. No pain, no gain.

Building up an immunity to poison (like Iocane powder) is extremely beneficial in many situations including, but not limited to, a battle of wits and will guarantee you a win every time you play “which cup is the poison in?” Sweet victory is only a vial away.

3. Make your own fun.

Just because you’re in a sword fight to the death, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Witty banter makes this experience much more enjoyable as does waiting to use your dominant hand until you discern whether your opponent is worthy or not.

4. Be honest.

If you’re only waiting around to kill someone, they may not accept your help. But if you’re honest and disclose this information, that might be all they need to hear. What’s not to trust?

5. React with humor instead of anger.

If your boss is aggravating you, repeatedly rhyming is a great tactic to keep him at bay while entertaining your colleagues.

“Do you know that you are late?!”
“Do you know I had a date?”
“You missed a meeting for today!”
“Yes, I know. Hip-hip-hooray.”
“Stop that rhyming! Stop it now!”
“Okay, dude, don’t have a cow.”
“Keep it up and you’ll be fired!”
“Staying here till I’m retired.”
“Don’t push it, Fred, you’re on thin ice!”
“I’ve got nothing… Lunch break? Nice!”

6. Don’t give up.

Being “mostly dead” is very different from being “all dead”. ‘Nuff said.

7. Self-care is important.

If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything. So put your priorities in order. If those treasonous plans and murderous plots need attention, you may have to miss out on something fun like going to the Pit of Despair. For the sake of your health.

8. Know what a word means before you say it.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That phrase is priceless. It can be used to embarrass anyone, anywhere, anytime. Also, it never gets old.

9. Don’t underestimate the power of a name.

The name is what’s important. Names have reputations, not people. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and co-workers to call you Thor or Captain America. Alternatively, if you’re trying to strike fear in the hearts of men, try Loki or Red Skull. No one will ask for help from Captain Fred. And no one is afraid of Red Fred. See? It’s all in the name. Pass it on.

10. Always have a “Plan B”.

There is no future in revenge. Don’t turn the other cheek, though, as that one might get slashed as well. Do what you need to do. Just keep in mind two things:

1. If you don’t succeed, you’ll need to find somewhere else to focus your energy.

2. If you do succeed… Well, think about it. Once you get your revenge, there is nothing left. Be sure to find time during your years of plotting revenge to study or learn a trade so, post-revenge, you have something to do with the rest of your life. Unless you happen to know a pirate who is willing to let you use his name.


Have you seen The Princess Bride? If so, what lessons have you learned from it? Everything tastes better coated in chocolate? “To the pain” is significantly worse than “To the death”? The Cliffs of Insanity are aptly named?

If you have not seen this film, please, for the love of Miracle Max, go. Watch.



This post is part of the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings#LearnedFromMovies

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to have fun and be silly with my entries.


5 Things I Learned from Monty Python



1. Be yourself.

If an ancient bridgekeeper asks you five (three) questions as toll to cross, answer him truthfully. Do not say what you think he wants to hear or be indecisive in your response or you will end up in the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

2. Know when to quit.

If you are fighting for a just cause and acquire a scratch, bruise, or other minor “flesh wound”, don’t give up the good fight. On the other hand (assuming you still have one), should your arm be chopped off, your leg lopped, or if blood is spurting from various injuries, know your limits and limp away. Live to fight another day.

3. Don’t let looks deceive you.

Do not underestimate a killer, even if he is a cute, fluffy, little bunny. You could wind up decapitated.

4. Stand up for yourself.

If you are not dead and a cart comes ’round to pick you up for disposal, do say something. And be insistent. It could save your life. (Or not. But do try.)

5. Don’t give in to peer pressure.

If you have had too much to eat and are feeling full, do not let someone talk you into having dessert. Even if it is just a mint. And a wafer thin one at that.


What have you learned from the movies? Serious, silly, or otherwise?



This post is part of the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings#LearnedFromMovies

Don’t miss my next installment of *cue music* LearnedFromMovies posting tomorrow. (Hint: There’s a princess, a pirate, a giant, and a six-fingered man.)

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to have fun and be silly with my entries.


Breathe In, Breathe Out… Check Twitter, Answer Emails


Meditation Beach - sig


I’m meditating.

Yay, me.

I’ve tried this before but never stuck with it.

Meditation has always felt like a hand-me-down sweater that looked pretty on my older sister but never fit me quite right.

So, recently, I ditched the books and switched on my phone.

That’s right. I’d decided to turn my phone off to reduce stress. Now I’m going to turn it on again (first thing in the morning—fab way to start the day) with emails, calendars, and social media waiting to pop up and bury me in notifications. Why? To reduce stress, of course.

A soft voice is telling me to take a deep breath in…and out…in…and out, feeling the stress melt away as I become mindful of the TEXT MESSAGE: WHAT TIME IS YOUR DR APPT? in…and out…notice your breath rising and falling…rising…falling…TWITTER: SOMEONE LIKED ONE OF YOUR TWEETS! notice where the tension in your body is…WORDPRESS: NEW COMMENT WAITING APPROVAL ON LEMON SHARK REEF!

Cell phones are an odd place to go for relaxation.

Yet, here we are. Or, as I like to say, “It has come to this.” The digital generation where everything you could ever want is waiting on your home screen.

‘Tis true. There’s an app for pretty much everything now (but that’s another barrel of bananas).

There are tons of meditation apps out there ranging in focus (housework, walking, commuting, work, pregnancy…) and price (free, $100/year, $30/year, $3.99 one-time purchase…). With all the choices available, I’m overwhelmed. I’m spending a lot of time sifting through them. I’m having difficulty choosing one. It’s starting to stress me out.

I don’t write about irony a lot but a lot of things I write are ironic.

This is one of them.

First, turning on a device that’s distracting and stressful to become mindful and reduce stress.

Second, trying to choose one in the enormous collection of meditation apps saturating the virtual world.

Yes, I can turn off my notifications when I meditate. Then turn them all back on. Every. Single. Time. Yeah, that won’t happen. And phones ring with, like, phone calls. Yes, I can turn my ringer off. That won’t happen, either. Also, they have handy things like reminders, notes, and to-do lists that screech, “LOOK AT ME! I’M IMPORTANT!” And you have to yell back at them that you’re on your way to Calm and you’ll get to them later and, by that point, you’ve lost your way.


“How do I get to Calm?”

“Oh, that’s easy. Go to the corner of Distraction and Stress. Take a sharp right onto Digital Way, where you’ll see notes, reminders, and to-do lists. Pass those and keep going straight until you reach Relaxing Scenery. If you don’t like that space, you can dive into the scum-covered Decision Pond and wade through until you find a new Calm. Good luck!”


So. It has come to this.


Do you meditate? If so, have you ever used an app? How is that working for you? (Feel free to drop the name of the app in the comments if you like it. Thank you kindly.) Whether you meditate or not, what are your thoughts on using an app for this practice?


Self-Publishing Is Like Planning a Wedding




If you’re getting married, have been married, or had the unfortunate fate of being involved in helping plan a wedding, these will sound somewhat familiar:

“You can have Aunt Lucille take pictures. Don’t waste money on a photographer. You need a skilled DJ.”

“Have your sister’s boyfriend DJ. Hire a professional photographer.”

“Your mum can bake the cake, but get a designer for the centerpieces.”

“You can make your own centerpieces but not the cake!”

“Have an open bar or everyone will be pissed.”

“Have a cash bar or everyone will be pissed.”

“No matter what you do…”

“If you have to cut corners…”

And so on.

So here I am, planning a wedding. A marriage of words, thoughts, ideas, dreams, technology, design, and marketing.

How I’m to untangle all the information and advice, I truly don’t know.

Self publishing is kind of a DIY project. (Thankfully, not all of it since DIY and I don’t really get along.)

Authors everywhere have their own ideas of exactly what you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT do yourself and what you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT spend your money on. I actually like this because, through their own experiences, they are helping other writers. Which is a lovely thing to do.


The differing opinions are mind-boggling.

“You must hire a digital artist for your cover.”

“You can make your own cover in Canva or even Word!”

“Don’t pay a proofreader. Have your friends look it over. Save your money for marketing.”

“Put yourself out there and sell your own book. You have to get a proofreader.”

“Find someone to format the book or it’ll be a disaster.”

“It’s easy. Just grab it from Word and upload it to Createspace.”

“Take your own author photo…”

“Get an experienced photographer…”

“No matter what you do…”

“If you have to cut corners…”

And so on.

What’s a writer to do?


Okay, gentle readers. I know you. I like you. I have your books. (I think you like me well enough.) I really want to know…

Did you self-publish? What were your experiences? What did you do yourself and what did you hire someone for? Any advice? I’m listening. And I’m ready to hear it.


How I Found Joy in Negativity




In the midst of some recent turmoil, there was one blessed day of balance.

The Autumnal Equinox.

I thought there was no way I would be able to share in the wonder of this day.

During an equinox, when the sun passes directly over the equator, day and night are of equal length—we have the same amount of light and dark. It is a time of balance.

That elusive balance.

I don’t actively seek it because, as I’ve said before, I believe it’s unattainable—a recipe for frustration and resentment. But I do look for it in small quantities, for certain situations.

And every autumn, I have welcomed balance when it arrives on my doorstep, asking politely, with the light of the harvest moon, to be let inside.

September 22nd was smack in the middle of a mess, and I knew that day would go just as badly as the rest of the week had gone. I knew. No matter what I planned or how hard I tried, it was going to be bad. Horrible.

I also knew I was being extremely negative but I couldn’t muster any optimism.

At the time, my attitude seemed reasonable and the terrible outcome more than a little likely.

But the world keeps spinning, seasons change, time moves on. No matter what’s happening in your life, there is always something larger than you.

Taking a simple walk or standing under a tree often gives me this much-needed shift in my thinking.

The equinox provides me perspective. The Earth turns, continuing its cycle whether I’m prepared for it or not.

I tend to get highly disappointed when my grand plans go awry but am delightfully surprised when I anticipate trouble and don’t find it. Negativity in general? Not something I’d recommend. But, once in a while, it’s helpful.

There are two things I need to keep in mind.

The first is that forcing a good day rarely, if ever, works. Often, it backfires. The second is that acknowledging my day will not be as wonderful as I want it to be allows me to let go of all expectations.

And that, gentle readers, is how I stumbled over the roots of a genuinely good day, finding balance and joy in the midst of chaos.


Happy Autumn!

Yes, you’re now officially allowed to break out the pumpkin spiced beer, muffins, coffee, scones, etc. (And, as always, Happy Spring to my friends in the southern hemisphere.)


Can you force yourself to have a good day with positive thinking? Do your positive thoughts keep you going even if things aren’t perfect? Or do you find that your expectations are impossible to meet? If you expect the worst, are you pleasantly surprised or do you dwell in that negativity?


* Apologies for all the post questions. I’m having a yin/yang, light/dark, positivity/negativity bit of a time here and wondering how others deal.


Where Do You Write?




I may get an opportunity to have a few hours to myself each week.

Time to myself, people! Every. Week.

I’m ecstatic.

Because I’m going to use this time to write.

Here’s the catch. (You knew there was a catch, right?)

If I do the whole “drop-off, drive home, drive back, pick-up” thing, I’ll lose an hour.

So, I need to stay put. I need to be out of my house while I’m writing. I’ve never done this. Correction. I’ve never successfully done this.

I’ve tried coffee shops, tea shops, shoe shops, sweet shops. (No, really, not a sweet shop. In those, I just annoy my kids with how I used to buy Raisinets and Nerds in regular sized packages not the sugar-rush, vomit-inducing size they sell now.)

I don’t understand how people can write in coffee shops or whatnot. I can barely write my name never mind a scene or chapter in those places.

I’m so distracted by the noise and commotion, I can’t concentrate long enough to read the sugar packet I just dumped in my coffee.

I could use some advice. Or an alternative. I’m open to anything. Mostly. Let’s not get crazy.


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.



Can you write outside your house? Where do you go? How do you concentrate? Do you have any other ideas? I’m willing to sit in my car if need be.



Don’t Tell Me Not to Sweat the Small Stuff




“Don’t sweat the small stuff”?

Dude, I’m damp. I am sweating all the small stuff. It’s what I do.

Please don’t tell me how small the stuff is (I know this) and how, when it comes down to it, it’s all small stuff (it can’t all be small), and not to sweat any of it (now I need a towel) because all you are doing is stressing me the hell right out.

There is strain, tension, external pressure in our lives. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have it.

We all react differently, of course, but it seems that those who tend to feel uncomfortable about this are vilified by those who do not.

When people stress, we are often told to “relax” or “take it easy”. Yet, when someone does not stress, we don’t tell them to “get upset” or “freak out”.

How is this fair?

When people announce how laid-back they are, it’s annoying. I mean, I can either see that you are or I can see that you’re trying to convince me (or yourself) that you are. Either way, it’s unnecessary information.

If you don’t mind, skip the pleasantries and just get the salt shaker and start pouring it into the wound. It is patronizing to tell someone who is distressed to “calm down”.

It’s so incredibly wonderful that people can be calm, cool, and collected in the face of a stressful situation. It’s good for their health and lovely for those around them.

I recognize that this works for a lot of people. What I’d absolutely love is for them to realize not everyone has the ability to do that.

And, as far as I know, people don’t enjoy being stressed.

Next time you see someone in distress, instead of telling them to “lighten up”, try asking them “what’s up?”


How many times has, “Just calm down” worked for you or, rather, for the person you’re saying it to? Do they calm down? If so, is it immediate? Be honest here…has it ever worked?


Cover Reveal (with a Little Help from My Friends)


I have a few books simmering on the burners. But my short story/flash collection is the one I’m closest to torturing the world with. And it needs a cover, as these things go.

Anyway, there are many choices and it’s overwhelming. I’ve narrowed it down. A lot.

I write kind of “dark” fiction but it’s not horror. It’s not thriller. It’s not really any genre. It’s just sort of…dark. Sad? No idea. But I don’t want to mislead readers with a cover that screams, “Horror!”

That was fun.

I want something that represents the darkness while also retaining some softness. If you’ve read my flash, you know what I mean. Without further ado…

Would you, could you, pretty please (with a cherry on top) take a look at these and vote for your favorite?

The font type, color, size, and placement can be changed. Any suggestions/ideas in the comments would be much appreciated. 

Thank you, gentle readers. I am so very grateful.


Brentyn_Cover1 poll

Cover 1


Brentyn_Cover2 poll

Cover 2


Brentyn_Cover3 poll

Cover 3


Brentyn_Cover4 poll

Cover 4


Brentyn_Cover5 poll

Cover 5


Cover 6

Cover 6


Cover 7

Cover 7


The lovely Rachael Ritchey, author of Chronicles of the Twelve Realms and founder of BlogBattle, designed these for me. I asked her for some advice after reading her post about cover design in her Indie Publishing series and, before I knew it, I had 500 designs in my inbox. I jest. There were only 400. She enjoys designing covers. And is really good at it. And is most generous with her time and talent. 



All images copyright Sarah Brentyn

Being in the Moment


Bee & Flower - Sarah B sig


It’s funny to me how many people write about being in the moment.

Writers are never truly in the moment because, when we have a moment, we’re thinking about writing that moment.

Take my Pause and Smell the Roses post. I was thoroughly enjoying that morning but then I came in and wrote about it. Ideas were floating around my head even as I sipped my coffee and watched the chipmunks.

Actually, I kind of felt like a chipmunk—savoring birdseed and suet while darting back and forth and running in circles. Because, really, that’s what I was doing—mentally running from the outdoors to the notebook in my head and back again.

It’s a crazy writer thing. It is.

Yet here I am, again, about to describe a lovely afternoon I experienced. Blue sky, butterflies, shapes in clouds, the whole nine yards. It was gorgeous and relaxing. Of course…I’m writing about it now.

I’m not exactly sure how this works, but, while I was appreciating sunshine and flowers, thoughts and words were buzzing in my brain.

Was I writing the entire time or did I actually get to pause and smell the roses?


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.



Are you able to truly be in the moment? (Think about this for a minute…) And, if you are, do you write about it after?



Window Shopping for Book Covers


Silly Book Cover


I know I’m getting ahead of myself, putting the cart before the horse and all that, but I like browsing through pictures and playing around in Paint with images that could possibly be my book cover. And there are tons of sites with pre-made covers to set my imagination on fire.

If I have a working title, not just any old working title but one I might actually use, I’m much more likely to talk about my book, think about it, and, most importantly, work on it.

It’s also nice when someone asks me what I’m writing. I can say, “Cool Title” instead of prattling on about the characters, what I think the genre might be, where the story may or may not be heading because I’m really not exactly sure, explaining that I’m a pantser (and then explaining what a pantser is).

If I have a cover? I’m completely inspired.

I write more. Because, now, my book is like Pinocchio. Someday he’ll be a real boy, right? It’s the same thing. Someday it’ll be a real book.

Many will say this is ridiculous. You have to know what your story is about before you can find an image to reflect that. True. But if a visual encourages me to keep writing, it’s well worth the time spent.

And I might find one of the reasons I was sifting through photos was because I needed a break from my writing and now I’m back to it. With gusto.

Whether I wind up using the cover or not, I have one now. In this moment. I can see it in all its glory. The title, my name, an image that speaks to me (literally or figuratively—you make the call).

Window shopping a waste of time? Perhaps. But it’s a helluva lot of fun and fabulous motivation.



Do you design your book cover before you finish your book? (Before you’ve reached page 10?)


* Just so nobody asks, I’ve created a picture for this post (at the top) to answer the question of whether or not I will design my own cover. The answer, quite obviously, is “No”. A resounding NO.