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 see the roughness of the world around us, regardless of its softness and beauty. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough.

In these moments, I take a deep breath and return to my OneWord for this year: “embrace”. I embrace the uncertainty, the rough edges of life, and only then am I able to embrace its beauty.

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

(This has become an annual celebration of April coming in like an idiot, babbling, and strewing flowers. 3rd year I’ve seen this old post and thought “how fitting…” The uncertainty of spring mirrors life yet again.) 

Here’s to embracing the year as it unfolds. Happy Spring, gentle readers. 💚🌿

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

Conflicted, Hesitant, and Falling Behind #IWSG

I’m typing this out right now (that would be the morning of March 2nd) because it’s the first Wednesday of the month (I can’t believe it’s March) and it’s IWSG day.

So here is the post about my recent writing insecurities. There are many.

Let’s start with the fact that I’m typing a blog post at the 11th hour. (Or the 12th or 13th hour or whatever.) I haven’t been able to keep up online. I’ve let comments pile up and need to get to those. I’ve been spotty on social media. Also, aside from all this, I’m not actually, you know, writing so there’s that. Also…LIFE. There are ALL OF THE THINGS happening and I’m struggling to get the basics done. I’m somehow managing to get through with a “the-show-must-go-on” mindset. So there you have it.

As for the question of the month, that’s an easy yes.

Have I ever been conflicted about writing something? Actually, as I’m typing that, I’m going to emphasize that affirmative to a “hell yes!” So many times for so many reasons, yes, I’ve been conflicted, hesitant, and downright scared to write something. The times I did it anyway, I have some regrets. The times I didn’t do it, I have some regrets. That, I believe, is The Way of the Writer, is it not? I think that’s a common experience we writers share.

What about you, fellow writers? Have you ever been conflicted or hesitant to write something? To put it out there? How did that work for you? Any regrets?

IWSG Question of the Month

March Prompt – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

My One Word for 2022 #OneWord2022


One Word pinecone

 

Over the holidays, I got a visit from… 

The Posts of New Year’s Past: 👻 🥳 🎊 🎉

 

One Word for 2021 was: Allow. This one was awesome. It worked SO well. I allowed ALL OF THE THINGS. I didn’t struggle, fight, flail, or falter. (My sarcasm didn’t translate well here. So, the only thing I allowed was badly-written sarcasm.) 

One Word for 2020 was: Focus. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm? Fab plan, lady. Alas…

One Word for 2019 was: Move. 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.

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

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

Like Scrooge, I have learned from these visits and mean to change my ways. I struggled with a word for this year but, once it popped into my head, I knew it was the one. I thought about it a few more days but, still, it stayed with me. It felt right. 

There are going to be a lot of changes and uncomfortable things happening this year. And here’s what I’m doing: I’m leaning into the discomfort in a big way. Embracing it. 

 

My focus word for 2022:

EMBRACE

It’s a bit like the “accept” and “allow” but giving myself more of an active role. 

Instead of just breathing (breathing is good, don’t get me wrong) and going with the flow (flowing is also good), I’m creating a situation where I must act in order to allow and accept.

 

As always, a definition (*nerd alert*):

embrace
 

[əmˈbrās]

 
verb 
 
  • hold…closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection
hug · take in one’s arms · hold · enfold · encircle · enclose
 
Challenges? Hardships? Change? I’ve got a hug for you here!
 
  • accept or support willingly and enthusiastically
welcome · accept · receive enthusiastically/wholeheartedly · take to one’s heart · welcome/receive with open arms · support 
 
Upset? Uncertainty? Welcome! Have a cup of cocoa.
 
 
noun
 
  • an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.
welcome · welcoming · favorable reception · embracing · approval · adoption · integration
 
Hey there, change. What’s up, uncertainty? Welcome to my humble life. Let’s have a glass of wine. 🍷
 

When these things I cannot control come along, I won’t fight them. It’s exhausting and doesn’t make them go away. I’m not doing a great job passively accepting or allowing them. So, I will take them in my metaphorical arms and embrace them.

It’s tough to welcome uncomfortable feelings and difficult situations but I’m hoping a more active role will help me with the whole accepting and allowing thing. I am choosing to DO something. You hear it a lot: “Embrace uncertainty.” “Embrace chaos.” “Embrace change.” And it sounds good in theory…let’s see if I can put that into practice. 

Here’s my quote of 2022: “If you can’t control it, invite it in for a cuppa.” 

 

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 2022.

Stress #WritersLife #IWSG

Stress? What would a writer know about that? Pfft.

I have so many posts about stress, this could simply be a string of links to those. I won’t do that to you.

Among other things, I’ve written about the pressure of “success”, too-many ideas syndrome, and trying to fit writing into my schedule while juggling the numerous responsibilities of life. Dealing with the technical side of stuff (formatting, universal links, formatting, working in Canva, formatting). Trying to keep up with blogging and social media. And putting myself out there with marketing, promotion, etc.

Trying to choose which of those stresses me the most is like trying to choose which wine I like best. It depends.

I’d probably bundle some themed stress-baskets, as a lot of these go together quite nicely.

Writer’s Stress Basket One: Time (lack of, trying to find some), Success (what that even means to each individual writer vs what the world expects it to mean), Blogging (see “Time”), Social Media (see “Time” and, also, just ugh…), Life (see “Time” and, also sapping of energy/creativity). Add a bow and we’re done.

Writer’s Stress Basket Two: Formatting, Uploading, Downloading, Graphics, Promos/Ads, Word, Anything at all to do with computers, Anything at all to do with platforms, Anything at all to do with file types. This one needs some ribbons hanging off the handle.

Writer’s Stress Basket Three: Marketing and Promotion. Add some metallic tinsel crinkle paper and we’re ready to go.

At any given time, my writer’s life delivers me one of these lovely little baskets so that’s where I’m at on that.

What delights me about writing? Well, I feel I should give an equal amount of time to discussing that. It would only be fair. But I’m not going to. Writing, itself, delights me. It really does. I love it. It’s a lifelong pal. Also, putting something of quality out into the world that I created, that I worked hard on, that I am proud of…well, that’s delightful.

HAPPY DECEMBER!
🎄🕎🎅🏻❄⛄

The writer’s life is challenging. It’s full of stressors. Which ones are your biggest bugbears? What brings you delight in your writing life?

IWSG Question of the Month

December Prompt – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Holiday Gifts from the Heart #GivingTuesday

holiday-charity-gifts

Here it is. My annual gift-giving post. ❤🎁 There’s something for everyone on your list.

I usually post mid to late December for last-minute ideas but I’m posting early for Giving Tuesday (which takes place on November 30th this year). (If you shop on Giving Tuesday, most organizations will match, double, or even triple your gift.) Enjoy!

Quick, easy, heartfelt. ❤🎁 Perfect for Giving Tuesday (and last-minute gifts):

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

arbor-day-post

Mission: “to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, a changing climate, deforestation, poverty, and hunger.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. (For Giving Tuesday, every dollar you spend plants two trees.) They have other fun gifts here like delicious, rich, rain forest coffee. Every sip helps the world. 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 snail mail cards or ecards.

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

heifer-post

Mission: “to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way by supporting and investing alongside local farmers and their communities.”

Choose a donation and mail, print it out, or email 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.”

Mail, 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.

Mail a card or send an email

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

About Giving Tuesday

Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GivingTuesday2021 on social media to spread the word and find tons of ways to help this holiday season! 

 ❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️

The Shadows We Breathe ~ Vol. 2 #NewRelease

3D Mockup_Vol2

It’s here! 🥂🖤 🎉

The Shadows We Breathe (Volume 2) is now available in eBook and paperback!

eBook

Paperback

Thank you to the talented authors who contributed their gorgeous prose to this anthology of short fiction. You are all amazing. 

To Loni Townsend for the beautiful cover art. And to Allie Potts for her help with some icky techy stuff and for creating the 3D image of this book. 💕

Blurb

WE ARE ALL PART SHADOW 

Life promises joy and sorrow. Alongside the light, there will always be traces of darkness. It is the nature of being human.

In this anthology of short fiction, we explore health—how the state of our bodies and minds nurtures us, damages us, and forms our reality.

Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of pain, confusion, acceptance, and courage. They reveal the conflicting and contrasting nature of health.

Whether mental or physical, our state of being can create chaos or bring us peace.

Within these pages, beautiful words are spun into tales threaded with darkness.

Discover the shadows we breathe. 

Contributors 💕

Georgia Bell is the author of Unbound, a young adult paranormal romance about love, fear, and immortality. She was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy and began writing the stories she wanted to read over a decade ago.

Author Page | Twitter

Ruth Daly’s poetry, humour, fiction, non-fiction, and contemplative pieces have been published in magazines for children, young adults, and families. She has written 59 children’s books for educational publishers covering such varied topics as musical instruments, endangered animals, rocks and minerals, and explorers.

Blog | Twitter

Ali Isaac is a writer and blogger living in Co. Cavan, Ireland. In 2020, she was awarded a writing mentorship by Words Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland, working under the guidance of author, Sara Baume. Her writing has been published in The Stinging Fly, Sonder, and Paper Lanterns.

Author Page | Twitter

R.A. Kerr is a life-long classic film enthusiast and has been blogging about old movies for a decade. She is also a freelance writer and editor, and has facilitated creative writing workshops for kids.

Blog | Twitter

S. Mitchell-Jackson writes prose and poetry. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Queen’s Ferry Press Best Small Fictions award. She won the Channillo Short Story Prize in 2020. 

Author Page | Twitter

D. Wallace Peach, best-selling fantasy author, started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.

Author Page | Twitter

Allie Potts lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two children, and spoiled dog. When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day, Allie consumes and creates science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic quests, cozy mysteries, and contemporary fiction.

Author Page | Twitter

Available NOW in both eBook and Paperback! 🖤 🎉 

The Shadows We Breathe ~ Vol. 2 #CoverReveal

3D Mockup_Vol2

It’s almost here! Isn’t the sage green gorgeous? 💚 Thank you to Loni Townsend for that amazing cover art. And to Allie Potts for creating the lovely 3D image. 

 

Coming soon to a theatre near you: Volume 2 of The Shadows We Breathe

I, once again, had the privilege of working with seven talented authors. Some seasoned flashers and few new faces this time around.

The second anthology in this series will be out this fall. (Yes, I know it’s fall right now. Which means… Watch. This. Space.) 

Thank you to the authors who contributed their beautiful words to this collection of poignant stories. 🖤

 

Contributors 💕

 

Georgia Bell is the author of Unbound, a young adult paranormal romance about love, fear, and immortality. She was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy and began writing the stories she wanted to read over a decade ago.

Author Page | Twitter

Ruth Daly’s poetry, humour, fiction, non-fiction, and contemplative pieces have been published in magazines for children, young adults, and families. She has written 59 children’s books for educational publishers covering such varied topics as musical instruments, endangered animals, rocks and minerals, and explorers.

Blog | Twitter

Ali Isaac is a writer and blogger living in Co. Cavan, Ireland. In 2020, she was awarded a writing mentorship by Words Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland, working under the guidance of author, Sara Baume. Her writing has been published in The Stinging Fly, Sonder, and Paper Lanterns.

Author Page | Twitter

R.A. Kerr is a life-long classic film enthusiast and has been blogging about old movies for a decade. She is also a freelance writer and editor, and has facilitated creative writing workshops for kids.

Blog | Twitter

S. Mitchell-Jackson writes prose and poetry. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Queen’s Ferry Press Best Small Fictions award. She won the Channillo Short Story Prize in 2020. 

Author Page | Twitter

D. Wallace Peach, best-selling fantasy author, started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.

Author Page | Twitter

Allie Potts lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two children, and spoiled dog. When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24-hour day, Allie consumes and creates science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic quests, cozy mysteries, and contemporary fiction.

Author Page | Twitter

Available soon in both eBook and Paperback! 🖤 🎉

 

Blurbs Drive Me Batty #IWSG

Blurbs, am I right? They’re the scourge of the writing world. A plague. They must be destroyed.

Blurbs are the bane of every author’s existence. (At least mine. And it’s my blog so I say OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!)

Also, I’ll add, intros. Ugh. Though not quite as bad as blurbs, intros are pretty awful. I have a whole post on rejected book intros that’s totally worth reading. It’s sad and kind of hilarious and 100% true.

Here’s a snippet from that post (which could definitely work for blurbs):

During this time of lunacy when I was alienating friends and forcing family to disown me, I came up with some real doozies.

The following introductions are real. They were not written for your amusement. But I thought I would share them with you in case you are amused. It’s okay, you can totally be embarrassed for me.

  • I like writing. I don’t like spiders. I made a book. Read it.
  • I think I’d rather become dinner for the Swamp Thing than continue working on this foreword. Which is ridiculous because the Swamp Thing protects people (and is probably a vegetarian).
  • Short fiction is like dark chocolate. It’s pure cocoa with no fillers. A small piece is rich and satisfying.
  • I don’t like writing bios, forewords, or introductions. Actually, I don’t care for anything that requires me to tell readers about myself or my work.
  • This pumpkin spice stuff is seriously getting out of control. Here’s a book with NO pumpkin spice in it.
  • I’ve missed meals, skipped family outings, remained unshowered for two five days, typed until my eyes were sand paper and my fingers bled, developed headaches that laughed at Tylenol, and alienated many friends with my writer moods. I do hope you appreciate all that went into this book and that you will take pity on me and read it.
  • I triple dog dare you not to read this book!
  • This is a collection of mini stories… But, wait! There’s more! No, there isn’t. But mini stories are fun and delicious. Like those little cupcakes with sprinkles that you can eat a bunch of without having to explain yourself to anybody because they expect you to eat more than one.
  • Will this torment never cease?!!!
  • I’m seriously considering finding a vampire and asking it (“him”? or “her”?) to turn me so I have an excuse to not finish this intro. No, seriously. Now I’m wondering. What is the correct pronoun for creatures of the night? Are they “it” or do you refer to them by the gender they were before they were bitten? And, technically, they are still that gender. Regardless, if I were a turned into a vampire it would require some adjustment on my part. Would that be an acceptable reason for not including an introduction to this collection?
  • There is nothing (not one thing) in this book that mentions the United States political system, the election, or the candidates.
  • Short fiction is known by many names. Flash, sudden, postcard, micro, hint… Hint fiction. Get it? Hinting at Shadows does hint at darkness but it’s also hint fiction. Cool, huh? *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink* Know what I mean?
  • I’d rather be watching Harry Potter.
  • If I write any more introductions, there’s a real possibility I will spontaneously combust.

Titles? Now that’s a different ball of wax. I love titles. Titles for books, blog posts, short stories, flash… Titles are wonderful. Delightful. Magically delicious. (And easy. And fun. Have I mentioned I love them?)

What say you, gentle readers? Can you write blurbs easily? (If so, I don’t like you anymore. Kidding. But do comment because I may hire you.) What about titles? How easy or difficult are those for you?

IWSG Question of the Month

November Prompt – Which is more difficult–coming up with a title for your book or writing the blurb?

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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

I’m an Online Bartender (Revisited) #IWSG

This month’s IWSG question is about where we draw the line in our writing. This is a post from 2014. I can’t believe it was 7 years ago but there you go. Here’s my IWSG post (a day late and a dollar short).

When I bartended many moons ago, I stuck to the (possibly antiquated) rule of not talking about politics or religion. I kept the conversation light. Superficial.

It worked for me. After my shift, I left with a purse full of tips and my sanity intact. I didn’t take my work home with me. (Which, as a bartender, you really shouldn’t. Unless a rep comes in with free samples of a new raspberry-chocolate liquor. Those you bring home.)

Drunken conversations, disagreements, arguments, anger? Why would you want those in your head while you’re trying to get to sleep at 4 AM?

I’ve seen a few bar brawls in my time caused by “discussions”. It’s really not a good idea to drink and talk about volatile issues. In fact, one can drink a few margaritas, make a cutting comment about another person’s shoes, and that can lead to a fist fight so what might talking about religion lead to? Go ahead and give that a moment’s thought.

I have coined a new term: “Online Bartender”. I’m not going to mix you a martini. (Get your own drink and meet me back here.) I’m also not going to discuss politics or religion or current events. Bet you saw that one coming.

If a person (like me, for example) does not write about the latest news, it does not necessarily mean that said person doesn’t know or care about the issues.

I choose not to write about my opinions on religion and politics (war, abusive sports players, school shootings, terrorism, anti-this or pro-that…) here at Lemon Shark. It doesn’t mean I don’t know about these things, it means I don’t use my blog to talk about them. That’s just me.

Although…

I happen to know that some other bloggers also feel this way so please, while on your blog-reading travels, try to remember that some people are Online Bartenders.

Cheers! 🍷🍺😊

On your blog, are there topics you shy away from (or that are completely off-limits) or do you let it all out? Are you an Online Bartender?

IWSG Question of the Month

October Prompt – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language??

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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Success Is a Four-Letter Word #IWSG

I have a few many tons of posts about success. Fear of success. Lack of success. What is success. Blah, blah. But, the common theme running through these narratives is that I do not believe in a generic, blanket definition of success. I think the word (along with “should” and “balance”) needs to be banned. Alas, it is here to stay. And I will whine about it once more. You’re welcome.

Success is so freakin’ personal. It means something different to everyone.

So when someone says they’re happy to have a never-in-a-million-years-will-this-be-a-best-seller book…maybe, instead of saying, “You can’t think that!” Or “Everyone wants to have a best-selling book!” Or “You’re just saying that because you know it won’t sell.” Maybe just…I don’t know…be nice and believe them.

Some writers want ALL OF THE THINGS. A traditionally published book, a NYT best-selling book, a movie based on their series. Cool. Some want enough to pay the bills and quit their day job. Excellent goal, especially if you hate your day job and your boss is a jackass. Some just want to write. And that’s great, too.

Success is getting into Oxford University, making your first million, being cast as the NEXT BIG THING in some future Marvel movie. It’s also learning to tie your shoe, figuring out your cell phone, losing 5 lbs, catching a baseball. Success is dropping your kid off on his first day of school without crying.

For me, it’s complicated. I have dreams and goals and whatnot but I also have realistic expectations and the knowledge that, whether people believe me or not, I write for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because it’s true.

I suppose, in the simplest terms, I define success (as a writer) by the quality of my books. Success is writing, editing, and publishing something I can be proud of.

How do you define success as a writer?  Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

IWSG Question of the Month

September Prompt – How do you define success as a writer?

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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh.